The Venue: A Playground for Parents – Rach M

Readers…I have a confession to make.  There has been a scheduling MISHAP (gasp of horror).  No really, there has.  By me.  It’s like the apocalypse happened.  And as a result…you’ve had to wait until today to read the final (unplanned, but hotly requested) installment of Rachel’s engagement story (and I hope it won’t be the last, who’s with me?)

Rachel’s story has spanned family, expectations, disappointment, joy, love and a hell of a proposal in Florence.  You’ve loved it so far.  This is the story of choosing a wedding venue, and the visit of Rach’s parents to said wedding venue.  I cried laughing more than once.  So will you.  Over to you Rach, as you do best:

We’re getting married in autumn 2013 (“why aren’t you doing it sooner? You really should do it sooner, X organized hers in 6 weeks”, yep, you know it yourself, the Greek chorus think they are being ever so helpful). So far I have a venue. I visited it just the other day with both of my parents. M and I chose it as we love it and it’s where we very first met. Luckily for him, he had a gig that night so it was just me taking them on the tour. I love my parents dearly but I can’t really take them anywhere without feeling like I’m the parent and they’re the children.

I haven’t introduced my Dad before – he’s proper sarf London, tells it like it is, salt of the earth, unable to think a thought with it coming out of his mouth first. He has a childish excitement about everything and never stops talking. He’s tall and broad and Mum tells me, “used to often be mistaken for a policeman” in his youth. Hmmm.


Back to the venue.

“What’s this then?” Dad says, walking into a room, unbidden.

“On the day it’ll be a cloakroom” says the lady.

“So people come in here and put their coats on the chairs?” He then demonstrates laying his coat on a chair, so help me God.

“No, it’ll be a fully staffed cloakroom with a rail.”

How she said this in a matter-of-fact friendly way without being condescending I don’t know. I take my coat off to her.


“I’ve already been to the toilets and they’re grand”, my Mum announces to her, touching her on the arm as if letting her in on a big confidence.

“Oh good” says the lady, unflappable.

Unfortunately in some common sense short-circuitry I had told Mum that the only downside of our venue was that the corridors and toilets were “a bit municipal”. This was on the phone, and she called back to my Dad: “apparently the toilets are shite!” I have since learned that this observation then made its way through the Mary telegraph too, before she’d even seen it. Grrrr. Luckily the trump card lies with me, as it’s the very place M and I first met.


We go into our ‘drinks reception’ room.

“Where will the string quartet go? Where will the tables go?” asks Dad, waving his arms about.

“That’s up to you” replies the lady.

“I’m going to take a picture!” Dad announces. Bear in mind the room we were in is a dance academy by day when it’s not being a wedding venue and,at this very moment, is full of warming-up dancers.

“You need to ask first Dad.” I hiss through gritted teeth.

“Is it OK if he takes a picture?” I ask the lady as brightly as I can.

The lady turns to answer me with an “I’ll just ask” but he’s already off.

He gets ready to point and shoot

“Stop it Dad!” I hiss.

He storms into the centre of the room, anorak shining under the spotlights and launches the flash. The dancers are surprisingly nonplussed.


“Oh love! You’re dreadfully embarrassed aren’t you?!” The lady says to me sympathetically. But this time I have squashed up against the wood paneling of the room and am trying to bang my head against it.


“Where do the caterers go? Can we have roast dinner? Can we put things in the toilets? Is there parking? Where?”

“I need for you to talk one at a time!” the lady says, still smiling, but I suspect she’s starting to crack.  When I ask if she needs to go soon she replies with a very quick ‘yes’. Yep, she’s definitely cracking.


“Come along you two!” I call like an exasperated Mum. Dad has disappeared behind some no-access wood paneled doors, Mum has run off ‘ to take a picture of the toilets’. I smile benignly at the lady, rolling my eyes in a ‘kids!’ type way.


The lady smiles with relief as she waves us off.


“I’ll give you a ring”, Mum calls back to her. “My sister in law Mary is DYING to see it when she comes over in the summer.”


Ma & Pa M, snapped after their 35th wedding anniversary tea at the Ritz. Mortifying me since 1980.

Categories: Engagement, Wedding Planning
19 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Katielase
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    I nearly died laughing into a bowl of Alpen.

    Rach, never stop writing! Please let there be more of this.

    K x

    • Katielase
      Posted May 1, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      Ps: we’ve had a 2.5 year engagement and I’ve had so many “what are you waiting for” type comments. “Oh, well, I’m just keeping my options open as long as I can” was my standard reply.

      K x

  2. Becca
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    We’re having a long engagement and whatever. We have things to DO first like work (and get thin obvs – very unfemimist of me) and people asked us the usual shite too. Whatever.

    We are taking the whole wedding planning thing like an assault course I.e. one thing at a time. One thing a month around payday. We haven’t noticed the cost yet (but am certain we will). If we had six weeks I would be a wreck (mental and financial) and I would have no bridesmaids as they are all currently AWOL.

    I vote for Rach to replace Bella as the resident AOW bride. Obvs.

    P.S. I want the Mary’s to comment on a post.

    Can you tell Obvs is my new favourite word?

  3. Rach M
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much ladies, glad you’re enjoying it! I have to tell you that three days after the visit, the venue lady emailed me, opening with this paragraph (proof they really are like this!)

    “Dear Rachel
    It was lovely to meet your parents on Tuesday. They really were a pleasure. To be honest they were like two small children in a sweetshop. It was magical to encounter their enthusiasm. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

  4. Posted May 1, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I love Rachel’s story!
    We were naughty and didn’t include the ‘rents in this process. Well I kind of did – I sent them my potential venues spreadsheet and pinterest boards but that was as far as it went. In the end we’ve gone for the one most local to my folks, which in theory is a good idea because they could be helpful and get things done/pop in for a chat about things – AS IF that’s how it’s going in real life. Thank goodness for the internet that’s what I say.

  5. Posted May 1, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Oh great start to the morning! Side splittingly funny. Rach’s stories are the best. I hope there’ll be lots more instalments please thanks x

  6. Peridot
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    You’re very good. We wouldn’t have dreamt of consulting our parents on any of this! I think the only potential for embarrassment would have been fiance’s father who we CANNOT take anywhere without him knocking on walls, wood etc to comment on its durability etc. He used to be a builder and he just can’t stop himself. He was very sniffy about the holes in a 15C pub’s beams. It’s OLD! It’s ATMOSPHERIC! He’d rip it out and put something practical in. Not sure what he’ll make of a 17th C castle – he’d probably be knocking rooms through, replacing windows and taking the fireplaces out to instal central heating if given a free hand! (It does have heating)

    Our loos are municipal too – any ideas?

  7. Rach M
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Peridot – My Mum’s solution for the municipal loos are to send in her friend Theresa who (I quote) ‘is a fairly handy with nice soapy things and bows’. God only know what it will end up looking like, probably a Narnia of bows and petals, but I’m letting this one go!!x

    • Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Agree, Rach…pick your battles…and I for one can’t wait to see Theresa’s loo Narnia – that will be a post all by itself! x

  8. Peridot
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Bows? Really? I have a vision of one round the loo-bowl now. But hey, send her our way!

    PS I think you will need to do pics of the loo transformaton. I’ve never seen a Narnia-esque loo and I think I need to.

  9. Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious and wonderful. My own parents are exactly the same, genuinely want the best for me but totally not ‘with it’ or ‘with’ anything in the modern world. Only probably only not a hazard to others if their own little world of two of them.

    I kind of hope that me and my fella will be like that when we’re older – an embarrassment to our kids and still totally on the same wavelength (but on no one elses!). That’s romance, that is.

  10. Rach M
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks ladies, you are making me grin from ear-to-ear. I promise you loo pix. In fact I promise you a pic of Anna K in the Narnia loos – you up for that Anna? xx

    • Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I will wear a White Witch headdress in tribute…

      • Peridot
        Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        And take along Turkish delight too!

  11. Frances
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    We were very non-committal to parents about venues until we’d picked one (Lord knows it took the two of us long enough without overexcited parents) – the downside to this is that the parental “venue” conversation went something along the lines of:
    Us: “We’ve picked X, we think it’s great”
    Them: “What about [insert some very obvious detail here, like "are there toilets" or "how many people does it hold"]?”
    Us: “Yes we asked about that, it’s fine”.
    Them: “Well yes, but what about Y?”
    Us: “(sigh)…yes, we asked about that and we decided it didn’t matter”
    Them: “Oh….[sounds of slightly begrudging niceness]”
    Fifteen minutes later, they tell us they really like it and well done to us. *mind boggles*

    I am in awe of the idea of Narnian loos to be honest. Pictures please…

2 Trackbacks

  • By F is for (well-meaning) Families on September 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    [...] love the bones of my parents but they drive me mad. Without going into too much detail (see here for that), I’ll tell you that my visit to the wedding venue with them went down in the venue’s [...]

  • By What I Read Last Year… on January 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    [...] Rachel bought me this one, and it warmed my heart.  Peggy Dewey is an American Air Force wife stationed in Norfolk during World War Two.  The book follows her story and the stories of her best friends through the war and back in America through the decades that follow, through marriage breakups and hard times and how America changed.  It’s less twee than the Ya-Yas but reinforces that in every group of friends, their has to be one person that stitches everyone together, who relentlessly keeps in contact, because without them, friendships fall apart and stories get lost.  And that without your friends, you’re not half the person you can be if you let them in. [...]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

More here.

image by Lucy Stendall Photography

Find me a random post