How Terribly British

Celebrity wedding planner Susannah Richardson knows what to expect, come rain or shine

There’s nothing more British than the weather. Goodness, how we love a good old chat about “the heat”, “the wind” and “the rain”. When it comes to weddings and our inclement weather, bumbling Hugh Grant meets the stiff upper lip of Prince Charles.
Despite advance knowledge of changeable weather, we always seem to be shocked by it and our inability to deal with it is astounding. Many a time I’ve conducted a site visit and the couple say how gorgeous the terrace would be for a drinks reception. When you dare to mention that they may not be able to use it, the Paddington Bear stares appear. I recall one particular August where I spent a week trudging through a muddy field while a tepee was being erected in a storm. Cue frantic phone calls to guests asking them to bring wellies and embrace the Glastonbury-style festivities of the day. It was fun, of course, but I am certain Granny will never put me back on her Christmas card list.

NO-SHOWS ARE NO-GO
Then there’s the other great British tradition of being polite. We really do take great pride in our manners. However, it’s not so much the case when it comes to RSVPing, and this can result in unexpected guests and even no-shows. So maybe we aren’t as polite as we’d like to think.

BRING ON THE PURR..
One truly gorgeous British tradition is the wedding car. I mean, does anyone make cars like the Brits? A Rolls, a Bentley or a Daimler… I just don’t think they can be beaten. I’ll admit that I am often a little bit sad when a couple opt not to have vehicles to arrive/depart in. There’s something opulent about a chauffeur in a peaked cap collecting the bride and her entourage for that butterfly-inducing drive to the ceremony.

SAY CHEESE!
Photos. Now who doesn’t love a posed, awkward family portrait? The “formals” as they are known must be the most fraught part of the day. Trying to get Great Aunt Edie away from the canapés, to stand and smile on demand, while wrestling with devilish cherubs in tulle is just not cricket. Everyone gets hot, tired and grumpy. The bride and groom demand we stop, but when the photos arrive, invariably moan that “there are no pictures of Grandad”. You have to laugh.

KEEP SMILING
Joking apart, there is nothing lovelier than a great British knees-up. Our resolve to keep calm and carry on helps to make the best of any changeable situation (yes, even when a bus breaks down on the way to the ceremony and all the guests have to hitchhike – it’s happened), and you can’t buy that. We see the funny side and find a way to make everything work. This makes for wonderful stories post-event and some of my best wedding memories have involved rain, naughty children and missing grannies. The makings of a very British wedding, indeed. Receiving lines are another incredibly British tradition. However, I shall give them no airtime. They are banned at all my weddings as they’re utterly time-wasting and ridiculous. The end. 

wedding bus
Andie McDowell and Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral