Die Hochzeits-Saison (engl. Originalversion der Kolumne in der htr vom 04.09.2014)
Of course ninety out of a hundred Icelanders – i.e. half the population – feel sunnier when it’s sunny! But even summer has its drawbacks. And the two most frightening things about summer are a) blindingly white calves bursting out of tight white capri pants and b) Weddings. No summer is complete without Weddings, and often they’re even scarier than white semi-transparent cotton trousers.
When you’re in your twenties, weddings are great. Long blurs of legitimate drunkenness, snogging people you’ve never met and blaming the legitimised drunkenness, and lots of unidentifiable free food. After you’ve been to a hundred weddings, you realise that they also entail hangovers, the disappearance of large sums of money, painful footwear, and the high probability that you’ll find yourself in a top-notch restaurant with an inventive menu that you can’t partake of, being force-fed instead on a pre-set wedding menu of endless canapés and bland white wine provided by the bride’s cost-cutting father.
Not long ago I was in Berlin’s Tegel Airport when I got an SMS that nearly made me miss my plane. ‘Since you’re coming to England, would you like to attend our wedding?’ I sat for eighty minutes in Seat 27C, wondering why I’d believed I could avoid this. Weddings are to summer what ice is to winter, and Björk is to Iceland: Part of the Deal.
London is the most casual city in the world. You can wear jeans and flat boots everywhere – except to a late-summer wedding. I headed to the nearest high street, where sirens wailed day and night. It was awash with one-pound shops and offers to unlock stolen iPhones. No one stocked emergency dresses suitable for nuptials.
In Oxfam I chanced upon an Agnès B. dress for £8 and congratulated myself on not succumbing to that temporary wedding-guest madness that makes one buy a hideously overpriced outfit one will never wear again. Then I took Agnès B. to the cleaners. ‘French silk? Hmmm…’ The drycleaning bill came to about what the dress would have cost new. Then a few alterations were necessary. And shoes. And a bag.
Scooting out of the taxi and into the townhall, I felt the same reluctance as before a dentist’s appointment, and told myself the same soothing mantras. It’ll soon be over. You’ll be glad you went. Then I saw the bride, and her visible happiness took my breath away.
In the Spanish restaurant afterwards, I met a large likeable history teacher. ‘I usually avoid weddings,’ he confessed. Someone overheard him. ‘Me too!’ Soon there was a whole group of Usual-Avoiders, all in agreement that this wedding was exceptionally nice. And looking at the glowing couple, I realised another truth: occasionally, just like Icelandic volcanoes, weddings can surprise you.
I cast one last longing glance at the ‘free’ diners in the room next door: free to order what they chose, wear what they wanted, and leave when they desired. And then I committed to the day. The waiter brought us some passable Cava, we ate lots of canapés, and summer dwindled to an end.