Muireann taking photos in Uganda


Mac Cool's Uganda Letter

Photographs and Stories by Muireann Mac Cool


B l o g

The Wedding Planner

18 Jul 2007

- A simple Notebook

Last June I picked up one of Fxs free medical freebie notebooks. I ripped off the plastic faux leather cover that was emblazoned with some tablet brand or another. I looked through my bag of saved 'you never know when you'll use it' recycled odds and ends for some wrapping paper determined to make the book look special. The bag was stuffed full of old padded envelops, bubble wrap, wrapping papers saved from various celebrations and cute ribbons that were a little too short to wrap a gift with but too long to throw out. I had a cute selection of Ugandan style wrapping paper which isn't technically paper at all but shiny foiled plastic. I chose a purple one with heart shapes that appeared when the light caught the paper or when you moved it. Despite a lack of selotape, I wrapped my notebook and stapled an old Chanel gift wrapper and ribbon as a front decorative panel. I opened the notebook, neatly penning the words “Wedding Planner” with my name and that of my fiancée and our wedding date of May 12th on the first page.

This simple note book was to remain my close ally for over a year. I stuffed it into every bag and stapled receipts, magazine cuttings and business cards continuously into it. Not long before Christmas did the Chanel ribbon fall off and the pages became dog eared. Over the months I filled the pages with notes from shops, venues or hotels I visited or “To Do” lists and wedding meeting notes.

Whenever FX had a question about a price or a place we had visited I would flick through the pages to find a business card or note and would get him his answer. When I look at the pages now I see all the research and hard work we put into our wedding and to organising the itinerary and accommodation for the guests flying in from abroad. I pounded the streets and visited practically every decent bridal shop in town only to end up flying to Ireland in November and finding a great dress on my first day back in Dublin. I can see on certain pages the way I wrote notes on a particular venue or hotel that I really thought that venue or that hotel would be the one for us or our guests. You can be so sure for a moment then something happens- It's funny how places closed down (like Blue Mango) or suddenly became too expensive or far away.

One entry on the 4th of March is very poignant for me. It marked a definite turning point for my fiancée. It was the day myself and FX had planned to visit his sister R and her partner AM. It's also the day FX's brothers partner went into labour with their first child, baby Denise. FX and his brother left C at the hospital in good hands and joined me R and AM in their small living room. FX reassured everyone that no action was going to take place in the labour ward as she was only 3 centimetres dilated having quite a few more centimetres to go before baby Denise would arrive. The father to be was not reassured and his mother kept ringing every thirty minutes demanding his immediate reappearance at the hospital. He stayed but kept jumping up every time his mobile rang. Unfortunately for him the conversation was just on fire and he didn't really want to leave. AM was giving FX and I the talking to of our lives. It was the mother of all pep talks and it really emboldened FX.

He started talking and suddenly I had the notebook out and pen in hand trying my best to keep up with all his advice. If he was Irish he would have shouted “Cop yourself on!” but instead he was tactful using metaphors and idioms but his point was clear. He talked about the need for FX and I to get into gear and start holding wedding meetings and making hard and fast decisions. “Get a guest list together listing relatives, friends, VIPs, grooms friends, brides friends, employers and colleagues” Where does it end with numbers? “The venue can limit people if it is a bit far away. Or you can put a stranger on the door for security instead of a family member. You can restrict on the card though that usually gets ignored. Remember this is YOUR function, your first and only chance to invite the people that matter to you and to do the function your way.”

AM talked about the demands from parents and reminded us that they will get other chances to hold functions with other marriages, anniversaries etc but that this function will reflect on us when it is bad, not on the parents or the organising committees but on us! Managing your marriage preparations will be a guide on things to come, most notibly for AM, how you will manage your home and your in laws and family for the rest of your lives. It is a time to “Stand on your legs” and say “This is my function. It was my decision to have this function”. The battle talk continued over meatballs and chicken. At 10pm we finally rose to bring the expectant father to the hospital. Later in the morning baby Denise arrived.

Over the past 12months my thin A5 notebook has filled and thickened. Lucky enough there were a few last pages to fill on our return from the honeymoon. I filled 4 pages with the names and gifts that we received on the wedding day. Our spare room had been filled on one side with brightly coloured boxed (again with the shiny metallic plastic wrapping paper). It took two days to open each gift. FX and I made a few cultural observations, possibly making a new in joke that no one other than ourselves will understand. He noted that Ugandans like to give glasses (we've over 60 glasses) while the Irish like to give Wild Goose and Genesis gifts which have meaningful symbolic messages. Ugandans have to at all costs put their gifts in a rectangular card board box before wrapping them while the Irish wrap the gift or gifts as they are no matter the shape. One lovely gift made us howl with laughter- It was an envelop with a 50,000 shilling note in a shoebox! One thing was the same and that was their support and happiness for us.

Now that the wedding is over I'm not really sure what to do with the notebook. Friends in Ireland are getting married as are relatives of FX her in Uganda. My notebook is filled with pages of notes from my searches in Dublin and Uganda and I don't know how it will be of any use to any of them. I've passed on the magazines my aunty sent me and the cut outs and relevant photo copies from hotels but I don't think I can let go of the notebook. So I will tuck it away on a shelf or in a drawer as a reminder of all the hard work one puts into such an event but that one magically forgets after the big day is over. Ripped and torn in places I hope no one will throw it out by mistake. Perhaps I will place it beside the guest book and the wedding day photos, in a place of importance!?

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