x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The year of the wedding: 2011

How to build up the wedding brownie points by attending friends' celebrations.

Although there are still a few months to go, it's fair to say that 2011 has officially become, for myself at least, "The Year of the Wedding". As I type, I'm currently mid-flight on my way to number four, and there are at least two more to go (both requiring lengthy journeys), although I'm not ruling out any last minute marriage announcements to suddenly appear before January.

Unfortunately, it seems my friends are far too self-centred to coordinate with each other and arrange all their weddings over one long weekend, in one location, so I can save on airfares and dry-cleaning bills (yes, I would probably just wear the same suit throughout - I'm not concerned about it appearing in multiple Facebook photo albums like many out there). Instead, they've thoughtlessly spread out their nuptials, sometimes months apart, sometimes just a few tantalising weeks, meaning that every single time I'm expected to jump on a plane, rock up at some fancy house in my suit, behave in a civilised manner (which means trying not get annoyed when I'm asked for the umpteenth time, "So what's Dubai like? Do they have cars there?" by some well-meaning but utterly befuddled grandma), and then, once it's all over having not really had a chance to chat to the "happy couple" because of the scrum of relatives around them, jump back on a flight, usually straight into work. Those who have thought to include a "wedding list" with my invitation have been left disappointed (I have found that for Dh20 you can buy a mosque-shaped Alarm Clock, which has - every single time - become the most talked about gift on the table).

I even had one friend who earlier this year decided to have his wedding in New Zealand. Fine, I thought, I'll take two weeks off and turn it into a cheeky - albeit pricey - holiday. He then invited me to his stag do. In Las Vegas. "Mate, I'm a journalist, not a hedge fund manager."

Living in Dubai, it seems that, while I'm expected to attend all my friends' weddings, wherever they may be, if I can't afford to go to the stag do, that's absolutely fine. This means that I miss out on the actual fun aspect of getting married, the big final farewell-to-freedom blowout with all manner of raucous activity (party poppers?) and instead have to go through the smiling, clapping, multiple handshaking, father-of-the-bride speech listening and, finally, dancing stupidly to cover bands aspect of the main time-honoured ceremony.

In any case, I've certainly built up my wedding brownie points (and frequent flyer miles), so if I ever have the time to get married myself, it should be a busy affair. Just to even things out in terms of travelling, however, I think I'll have it in Djibouti. And they'd better come.