Trevor Laffan: 2,500 wedding guests: imagine the state of the Irish mammy!

Ahead of his daughter's wedding Trevor Laffan looks a wedding traditions at home and abroad
Trevor Laffan: 2,500 wedding guests: imagine the state of the Irish mammy!

PRICELESS DAY: Trevor Laffan was told about a wedding in Cyprus which had 2,500 guests — all of whom had to be fed!

TWO major events happened simultaneously in Ireland in June, 1984, and that caused problems for the media because they were anxious to cover both.

U.S President Ronald Reagan was visiting Ballyporeen in Tipperary, and I was getting married.

In the end, they concentrated on Ronnie.

The wedding marked the end of a couple of busy years for me and my queen. We bought a site in 1982 and built a house on it. It was all go.

We moved in before it was finished so we had to improvise a bit. We managed fine and gradually developed it over the years as our finances improved.

We had no wardrobes, so we hung our clothes from lengths of timber that were nailed together to form a rough clothes horse. It looked unsightly but did the job.

We had no central heating either, so we dragged a ‘super ser’ gas heater from room to room on concrete floors until we got the heating sorted. That was a noisy job, as anyone who remembers those things will testify.

A ‘super-ser’ was a tin box on wheels and every part of it rattled. It carried the gas bottle inside, and it made an awful racket rolling around the house on the bare floors.

It was all we had, and it only heated the room we were in. A glass of water sat on top to absorb some of the fumes because they were a bit smelly.

We took our time doing up the house and completed it in stages. That was the way people did it back then, but things have changed.

Young people these days don’t want to wait for anything. They want the fully furnished perfect home and they want it now. And that’s not all they want.

A financial planner was telling me that lots of middle-aged couples are seeking advice on how to prepare for their children’s future. They specifically want to be able to pay for their children’s wedding and provide the deposit for their house.

He said that today’s children have an expectation that mam and dad will cough up for the nuptials and provide the down-payment for the house. I didn’t like the sound of that.

My daughter is getting married shortly, and we fully expect to be involved and we’re happy to do what we can.

I know it’s going to cost me, so it’s all about damage limitation. I’m hoping to get away with just paying for the bouquet, but I doubt it.

I have a few ideas though about where costs could be reduced.

We could use public transport to get everyone to the venue. I could take a few photos with my phone and post them on Whatsapp to save on a photographer. Everyone could bring some sandwiches to the reception and we could use the piped music in the hotel instead of a band.

Or there might be an even better way to go.

A Cypriot friend of mine was telling me that he was invited to a wedding and there were two and a half thousand guests at it. At a previous wedding, there were so many guests that they ran out of space in the hotel and had to direct some of the guests to another hotel nearby. It wasn’t a problem though.

In that part of the world, when a local girl is getting married, the whole village is invited. Nobody knows how many will turn up or how much food will be needed, but it seems to work and there’s no panic.

The weather was unsettled then too so they weren’t sure on the day what church they would use. They wanted a very small old church which meant some of the ceremony would be held outdoors but if the weather was bad, they would move to the larger venue.

So, they had two churches on stand-by, and the decision wouldn’t be made until the last minute. Imagine the state of the Irish mammy!

Cyprus has a few different wedding traditions too.

On the day of the wedding, the groom and his family and friends make their way to the bride’s house to collect her and they all depart for the church together. If the wedding is taking place in a village, they all walk.

Before entering the church, the bride’s parents give her away to the groom and they walk up the aisle together. Their parents join them and stand with them throughout the ceremony. Early in the festivities, the unmarried friends of the bride write their names on the soles of the bride’s shoes. At the end of the evening, the bride removes her shoes and the woman whose name remains written there will be the next to marry.

Midway through the celebration, the couple perform the newlywed dance, offering their guests the opportunity to pin money to the couple’s clothing, to help with the wedding expenses.

When my friend told me there were more than two thousand mouths to feed, I had a weakness, until he explained it properly to me.

You see, everyone who turns up must pay for the privilege — a brown envelope kind of thing — and there can be considerable amounts of money collected to help the couple get off to a good start in life. So that gave me an idea.

I’m issuing a general invitation to the lovely, generous people of Cobh, Midleton and surrounding areas, to attend my daughter’s wedding in April.

I don’t know where it’s going to take place yet, but don’t worry about that. Just stuff as much as you can into that A4 size envelope and hand it to me.

I’ll be standing on Belvelly Bridge on the way into Cobh and you’ll easily recognise me. I’ll be the guy with the big smile on his face.

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