x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dear friends - in every sense

Attending a friend's nuptials brings home just what a financial burden a wedding invitation can impose.

I had never paid attention before to how pricey attending a wedding could be.

It was a long time coming, this realisation. How did I not notice the dent each celebration made on my wallet, after years of attending wedding parties and receptions? It took getting invited to a wedding during a time when I was shopping for furniture and trying to decide whether it would be more prudent to spend money on a stove or a couch, that it struck me how much I have to fork out to attend another person's wedding.

Mr T and I were invited to a wedding the other night, the first since our own celebration 11 months ago. It gave us the excuse to get away from the bulky cardboard boxes dotting our new apartment and the layers of bubble wrap carpeting our hallways to the much more enjoyable activity of dressing up. Which brings me back to the expense of the whole matter. Those pesky post-marriage pounds meant that no dress in my wardrobe would fit. There are downfalls to being this happy, I can tell you.

A new dress was in order. Also, this was the UAE. No simple, knee-length cocktail dress would do. A bejewelled evening gown, preferably with a minute train, would be the minimum expectation. Hair had to be styled, fingernails and toes had to be painted, and various accessories had to be purchased.

We bought a card, we selected a present, and we paid to get it wrapped. Mr T headed to the barber for a haircut and a shave - nowhere in our boxes could he locate his razor, so that particular task had to be outsourced - and we readied ourselves for the evening.

The wedding was beautiful, the bride was glowing and the dancing was vigorous. And, as is typical of Arab weddings, the evening commenced almost two hours after the invitation card had stated, and it was rumoured that dinner would make an appearance at midnight. By 11.15, Mr T was stifling yawns and I had rubbed my eyes devoid of any make-up. We headed home early, choosing to forgo the buffet dinner we had been thinking of all day long in favour of sleep. We had work the next morning.

"Do you realise how much we spent just to go to this wedding, and we didn't even have any dinner?" I asked Mr T, as we prepared to go to sleep hungry, with no stove and an empty fridge, thanks to our recent move.

"I know, and this doesn't even include travel and hotel stays, like so many of our guests had to pay," he pointed out.

I have never thanked my own wedding guests for their willingness to take time out of their lives and money out of their pockets to celebrate my nuptials with Mr T. I finally understood why the whole notion of a "thank-you card" had been invented, and I was 11 months behind on mine.

I wonder - would an email suffice?