Your wedding day is supposed to be the most beautiful day of your life but in our case, it was the funniest. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. I found our preparation checklist a while ago when I was tidying up and couldn’t stop laughing.
It was June 2013, Andalucía, Spain. We decided to have the wedding there as we had friends with a hotel in the beautiful village of Alcala del Valle and could rent out the whole place. It was sunny and warm and the place was charming and small, hidden away in a valley. It was the perfect place to get married. A wedding planner seemed like a stupid idea. It wouldn’t be formal and we just wanted to have fun. Anyway, here is a list of everything that went wrong in no particular order.
The guest list
I was told that it’s important to do a risk analysis on your guest list and identify your liabilities. Who is the most likely to cause problems? Who is the most likely to drown in the pool? Thankfully we only had two. The first one was my wife, who can be a bit unpredictable sometimes after one too many drinks and the second one was our friend and wedding photographer, who had been mentioned in gossip magazines several times that year for public misconduct, involving whipped cream and soap opera actors. For these two people, we had assigned guardians who were instructed to keep a close eye on them at all times. My wife was at her best behaviour, apart from the morning of the wedding when I caught her climbing out of the window with a glass of vodka, trying to escape her fate. Shortly after the panic had settled, she was fine though. Our photographer tried really hard but after two days of being good before the wedding day, she couldn’t resist the temptation of cocktails anymore. After four pm, most of the pictures on the camera were selfies.
The only bakery in the village had an array of hideous looking cakes in their brochure, so we thought we would play it safe.
What we ordered: A simple rectangular lemon cake, covered in smooth white icing. We would put fresh roses on top of it just before the cake was served. What could go wrong?
What we got: A rectangular (they got that part right) cake of unidentified flavour with tons of whipped cream and fancy piping work smeared on the top. Next to the plaque advertising the name of the bakery (!) there was a bride and a groom they had thrown in for free with all the best intentions. We quickly ate the plaque before anyone could see it and the hotel owners made a toilet paper skirt for the groom.
When we arrived back at the hotel after the ceremony, people were hungry. The hotel owners had promised to cook us a Spanish barbeque feast on a long table outside, looking over the mountains. We all sat down but there was no food and by now, the Champagne was getting to our heads. I went into the kitchen to check what was going on and found them both sitting on a freezer, a bottle of wine in between them. They were drunk and there was no sign of any food or prep whatsoever. Luckily, one of our guests was a great chef. He put a team of people together and our own guests whipped up an amazing meal in under an hour.
We love our two fur babies very much and really wanted them to be ‘bridesmaids.’ Unfortunately they are not obedient enough to be ring bearers. We paid a fortune for six months of dog training for our first dog, El Comandante. He’s a funny Chihuahua mix from a rescue not far from the wedding venue where we got him seven years ago. Until this day, he still won’t ‘stay’ anywhere for longer than five seconds and will hump anything in sight. We have come to realise that he’s very intelligent and knows exactly what we’re asking from him but he’s strong minded and simply refuses to do anything he doesn’t feel like. When we got Buddy, three years later we didn’t even bother with training because we’d lost all hope. I had ordered crisp white shirt collars and black bow ties for them and they looked incredibly cute. Just before we were getting started with the ceremony, El Comandante had decided to go on an adventure of his own. He finally showed up, covered in blood, poo and chicken feathers and smelt so bad that no one wanted him close so he ended up sitting in the back of the chapel, sulking. When it was time for the group picture outside, he photo bombed the moment by doing a shit in front of everyone. I must say, it’s the funniest wedding picture ever. After that, he spent the rest of the afternoon sleeping on my trail, even when I was walking around. The next day he joined a gang of street dogs and attacked me along with the rest of them when I was trying to get him to come back with me.
After I had calmed my wife down and talked her out of her escape plan, we made our way to the chapel where we nervously waited for our guests. We were supposed to stay in a small annex next to the chapel until all guests were seated. After half an hour, there was still no sign of anyone. Accompanied by our dogs, one of my brothers and the photographer, we called around and found out they had taken a wrong turn and were lost in the middle of nowhere. My stepfather was supposed to lead the way for the convoy but the nerves had gotten the better of him and he couldn’t remember how to get there. Sat-nav does not work in the mountains of Andalucía and a lot of roads have no names. It’s a Unesco world heritage site with a gorgeous medieval chapel and breath taking views but it’s also a very, very hidden gem. My wife and I decided to light the candles in front of the altar, as the organizers were absent too. Our photographer was walking in and out, eagerly taking snaps. When she closed the heavy door behind her, we were locked inside. No one had a key so we waited in the dark for another forty minutes until the organizers finally arrived with our guests. They had spotted the twenty-five cars on a deserted road, not far from the chapel, where people were aimlessly wondering around in the fields, trying to get cell-phone reception. They looked tired, sunburnt and dehydrated. The groundskeeper was called to bring the key so we would be released. Surrounded by people, we walked out of the chapel while we were actually supposed to be walking in.
The table plan
Although it wasn’t a very traditional wedding, we had a couple of dilemmas. The first one was that my mother would to be in the company of my father’s ex-wives. They’re all great women but we can’t expect them to all get along, considering they have stolen each other’s husbands. The second one was a family member, known as the ‘boob grabber’, whom we had to keep far away from anyone with a large cup-size. Needless to say, boob grabber managed to get his hands on at least four women with his signature hug. Apparently, the trick is to wrap your arms around someone as far as you can and then push your hands into their side boobs. My manager was placed at the end of the table, far away from anyone most likely to light up a spliff after dinner.
The room plan
We were informed way too late that the hotel was too small to hold all the guests but we had a brilliant plan in mind. It’s a personal thing, getting married, so we didn’t want anyone there that we didn’t know anyway. All plus ones we had never met were banned and so a lot of people came on their own. We didn’t invite family members we didn’t like so that group was pretty small too. Our room plan was way more important than the table plan as strangers had to share a room together for at least three nights. We tried to be courteous but when you are trying to put the men together in rooms and women in others, it can lead to strange combinations. The result was a Peruvian pan flute player sharing a room with a Dutch rapper and two girls who apparently hated each other so much that one of them slept in between us for the duration of her stay, including our wedding night. People who pissed us off last minute got a roommate they didn’t like. Too bad for them. We had so much fun with it. Although it was a last-minute panic solution, the ‘room mating’ led to the development of unusual friendships and a pregnancy.
Looking your best
Everyone has this idyllic picture in mind on how they are going to look on their wedding day. I had black hair at the time and figured I would look really angelic going back to blonde. It’s a known fact that it’s a long process to strip dark colours out, especially when you only have three months to do it because you couldn’t be bothered before. Going to the hairdresser is boring and it’s something I try to avoid at all cost. I managed to get it blonde eventually but it had a funny orange undertone and looked damaged. I also had the genius idea to sunbathe for a couple of hours a day, four days prior to get a nice tan. My wife always gets a lovely tan but I usually go red. Despite the fact that I’ve had numerous disasters with sunbathing in the past, I went for it, even using some shady Thai frying oil instead of sunscreen. I only had four days after all? The result was disastrous. I was bright red and my skin was peeling off. I also swell up when I’m in a hot country and I’m not going to lie, I did binge on tapas too as it was simply too good to resist. I needed two people to get me into my wedding dress, which fitted me perfectly only a week before. Combined with a hangover from hell, I can honestly state that I’ve never looked worse. My wife however, did look amazing. Hangovers always make her eyes look really blue and her skin clear and flawless. It’s one of those unfair things in life that I can’t seem to get over but if anyone deserves this blessing, it’s her.
Four weeks before our wedding day I asked my wife what she was wearing. She looked at me in confusion.“It’s not until next month, I don’t have a dress yet. No big deal, I’ll get it next week.” Now we don’t have much experience with weddings. None of our friends are married and wedding talk is just as boring as going to the hairdresser so we usually zone out when people start talking about it. A week later, we went to a local bridal shop. The shop assistant was astonished when she picked a dress after looking over the collection for no longer than a minute. We hadn’t booked a consultation because we had no idea that was the norm. I had ordered my own dress straight from the factory in China because it seemed like an easy option.“I like this one,” she said. “Can I try it on?” There was a lot of confusion from both sides when we walked to the counter to pay for the dress. It looked perfect on her so we were under the impression we could take it straight home. We couldn’t believe it when they told us that buying a wedding dress was a six-month process, that the dress she wanted to buy was a showroom model and that it took several fittings to get it right. Since we only had three weeks left, it took a lot of begging and persuasion until they finally gave in and sold us the showroom model.
Our lovely friends, the hotel owners, also known as the ‘organisers’, were shady tax evaders from Amsterdam who owed the taxman millions of euros. They fled the Netherlands, got a quickie divorce and moved to Spain in the hope of not getting caught out. Missing their friends and country, they were delighted when we asked them to organise out wedding. We had a lot of friends in common and although they never responded to any practical emails, they were delighted to have us there. We love them and didn’t expect them to excel in hotel management but it was pretty obvious from day one we had to be creative and rely on our friends and the only other person of Staff, an American who worked for free and got food and board in return. Instead of organising the wedding, they treated it as their own party and spent most of their time drunk, having a wonderful time with our wedding guests.
We never bothered arranging bouquets or flowers upfront. With the warm climate, we thought it would probably be for the best to get fresh flowers in Spain. Little did we know that flowers are a precious commodity in rural Andalucía. The only company that sold them was the local undertaker and it seemed a bit grim to buy them from there. One of my ex stepmothers who also happens to be a flower fanatic, saved the day. She took care of it by flying flowers in from the Chelsea flower show in London. Combined with wild flowers and greens from the fields, she created the most beautiful bouquets we could have ever hoped for.
After reading this, you must think out wedding was a disaster. Well it wasn’t. It was amazing and I’ve never laughed so much. I wouldn’t have traded the best wedding planner for the memories we made.