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Secrets they don't tell the bride-to-beBy Kate Coral
So, he's got down on one knee, a ring (possibly not the ring) is on your finger, the phone calls have been made and the Facebook status has been updated. But what next? The road to wedded bliss and happily ever after? Well yes, but there's a lot to think about first.
As a bride-to-be, everybody wants a piece of the excitement. Specifically, they want to know how he asked, what you said, if you cried and where the whole romantic tale took place. It's up to you to provide an epic story - even if it really was as simple as a question and answer over a cup of coffee - that makes friends clasp their hands to their chests in a romantic reverie. Embellish, if necessary.
Just as expectant mothers find perfect strangers keen to feel the baby kicking, with a ring on your finger, your hand is from now on public property. That means you need neatly painted talons all the time and you need to develop the appropriate mix of enthusiasm and embarrassment for those who want to know the carat of the diamond and quite possibly the price.
Older women - not exclusively, but it's mostly them - will quiz you on every detail of your upcoming nuptials, including at inappropriate moments, such as during someone else's chupah, a funeral or the rabbi's Rosh Hashanah sermon. Avoid causing offence by perfecting a downcast glance, as if to say: "It's just so overwhelming".
One thing they don't tell you beforehand is how many things you have to do just to legally wed, from registering with the council (note to alarmed husbands-to-be, filling in the form doesn't actually mean you're married) to informing the synagogal body, finding a rabbi and learning the ins-and-outs of a Jewish wedding ceremony. Just remember, it's for a good cause.
Some brides have a passion, developed from playing "weddings" as a toddler, for all the trimmings of the big day. In the planning stage, you will be expected to offer definitive opinions on such accessories as serviette colours, flower arrangements, invitation styles and whether the chairs during the chupah should be covered in material. Just because you don't have any interest in the video, or what starters the vegetarian guests will get, doesn't mean that nobody else will. Mothers and future mothers-in-law do not tend to be amused by a Vicky Pollard-esque "Am I bovvered?" when such considerations arise. But make no mistake - you will eventually offend someone. It's nigh on impossible to get from engagement to sheva brachot without causing some kind of upset, whether to do with who is on the guest-list, whether your fourth cousin's new boyfriend is invited, who gets to be a bridesmaid and who gets to make the toast. Unless you've got the peacemaking skills of Gandhi, you probably won't be able to entirely avoid this, but the key is to keep everyone well-informed.
Wedding lists are a good thing. Of course it's chutzpah to send every guest an itemised account of every tea plate, kitchen appliance or bedroom lamp you want in your marital home, but most guests would rather they didn't have to guess. And without a list, you will end up with peculiar ornaments, animal-shaped dishes and "quirky" vases that have to be wheeled out whenever their giver stops by for a visit.
If you compile your list in-store, you will be given a scanner with which to zap your chosen items. In my experience, this will be excellent at bleeping, not so excellent at recording the item scanned. If this happens to you, do not despair - it's just the technology. Easier to do the list online.
Thank you letters: a chore, but the price you pay for a fully-furnished flat. Leaving the whole lot until after the big day will make the honeymoon period fraught with accusations about sloppy handwriting and unimaginative messages. Do them as you go along.
The dress is, for most brides, one of the more appealing aspects of a wedding (although one hopes, not of a marriage). Beware of snooty saleswomen who think that they are Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, and do not be afraid to ask for alternatives, demand alterations or "suggest" that a style could be improved by the addition of lace or the removal of diamanté. Trust your instincts; after all, you can always go elsewhere.
And you thought finding The One was the hard part!