We saw an astounding sight in Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens yesterday after our picnic. No, not the non-blogger Birdman above - that was an unexpected heartwarming sight (the sulphur-crested cockatoo that can just be spotted on the other side of the Birdman's ponytail walked down his outstretched arm to intimidate the crested pigeon into flying off - every time that the pigeon was enticed by soft cooing onto his hand, the cocky waddled menacingly down from the shoulder, and by the time it reached the elbow the pigeon had fluttered down to the ground - this seemed to be a habitual game).
Apparently this chap has been turning up to the same bench in the gardens regularly, to commune with the birds while he listens to his music. There are worse ways of spending a Sydney afternoon. The tigtogsprogs were thrilled that they managed to sit on the end bench and have one of the cockies stay there, begging for head-scratches then sneakily beaktweaking their sleeves. Morgan was happily snapping away just as I was, and Tim missed it, having already left (apparently a large goofy dog needed walking). All the birds were very confident and calm as quite a few people walked around them with cameras.
So this was a loverly (abso-bloomin'-lutely) way to end our day, which turned out better served by the weather sprites than had been feared. It was distressingly gusty when we arrived at 1pm, but we set ourselves up behing the windbreak of a large garden-bed and started tucking in. The usual Sydney harbourside parade passed us by, the sprogs ran around and around and around, the wind calmed and the sun came out and then we saw the preparations begin that culminated in the astounding sight.
It was really very considerate of the wedding to take place on the lawns just in front of where we'd set up our rugs. Free entertainment! First there were the trestle tables, then the folding chairs. The classical trio had just set themselves up when we saw the groomsmen arrive to oversee preparations.
This was where we got a bit snarky, because eight men in matching black suits striding across the lawns wearing wraparound sunglasses has an unavoidable whiff of the Sopranoes around it, and we started speculating about Bridesmaids with Big Hair, aka the Backcombed Bridesmaid Posse (not a bad band name). Being nerds, we speculated that having seven groomsmen attending the bridegroom made it possible for a Pastel Rainbow of Bridesmaids to sally forth. We were getting impatient to see just how bad it might be, but we had to have patience.
There was a lot, A Lot, of black worn by the female guests, which I am certain my granny would have considered a serious faux pas. And much of it was the current floaty fashions, which ordinarily look lovely for an afternoon garden wedding, but don't work all that well when it's windy. And who wears stilettos to a lawn wedding? Apparently, just about everyone, but buggered if I know why. (My gardening mags recommend regular aeration of the lawn using spikes, so perhaps it was quid pro quo.) We continued to amuse ourselves with horror stories of how much the average wedding costs these days ($28,ooo according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures cited by the wedding industry, at least $10,000 according to the budget wedding planning sites) and how unnecessary much of it appears to be (Tim's missus spent less on her wedding togs than I - I hate losing a skinflint brag!).
And then we saw the Astounding Thing - a bride confident enough on "her big day" that the bridesmaids' outfits, all six of them, were flattering and the women wearing them looked comfortable as well as chic. Who could have thought such a thing was possible? We came over all Miss Bingley, "all astonishment".
They were all dressed in the same soft pale green, with various permutations of the chiffon over satin theme, styled to suit varying heights/figures. The bride also looked lovely, and did not appear to have totally sacrificed comfort for fashion. And when the ceremony was over, and she'd wandered back through the crowd in our direction giving and getting hugs, we heard her say "that's enough of that. Where's the champers - it's time to celebrate!" Definitely a bonza broad of the finer appetites. Go girl.
I hope they didn't go mad on spending for the reception, as the ballooning costs of the perfect consumer fashion wedding bemuse me. Why should any wedding cost more than 10 times what one spends on the 21st? I'd be hesitant to spend more than 3 times a 21st party. Yes it's an important day, but bugger that "most important day of your life" bullshit. Standing up in front of kith and kin with your chosen one, vowing to be true to each other, is a powerful ritual. Spending a fortune on it is just a fashion statement.
As a general rule of my own invention, I don't think any wedding should cost more than the honeymoon. Actually the honeymoon should cost twice as much as the wedding IMO. Don't stress out so much, get everybody to let their hair down, dance your feet off, and relax together on a truly excellent honeymoon. And be nice to your bridesmaids - dress them in something flattering.
And the Botanical Gardens on an early autumn afternoon is a damn fine place to get wed.
PS: For rampant bridal industry consumerism abroad, try Spirit Fingers' HK Bridal Series: