The wedding planner

Manjula Padmanabhan | Updated on October 26, 2019

“Where’s Ms Muriel?” Bins asks. “You have not seen her since we came back! Has she grown tired of you, at last?” In his view, all friendships are doomed to failure. “Not at all,” I say to him with a superior smirk. “In fact we are going out this very afternoon! And before you can ask: NO, you cannot come along this time!”

I explain to him that the reason Muriel has kept herself out of bounds all this while is her grand-daughter’s wedding. My friend has been preparing for this event for the past TWO YEARS. “Don’t be crazy,” says Bins, tapping the side of his forehead. “Even the Empress of China does not need that much time!” I assure him that I’m not kidding. “Whenever we go out, “ I say, “along with the grocery shopping, she buys something for the wedding preparation.”

Muriel is a perfectionist who likes to make decorations, invitations, party-favours and all the other special effects of a celebration, herself. Plus she’s extremely cost-conscious. So from the moment the date was fixed, Muriel has been drawing up lists, working out costs and chasing down bargains. “Hmm! But when is the wedding?” Bins wants to know, his face clouding over with tension. “Don’t worry!” I say with a grin. “She knows that I hate weddings!” So he and I have been exempted from attendance. “It took place one week ago. And that’s why she wants to meet me alone,” I say.

“Whoa!” says Bins now. “Information download! Damaging to the ears of all men!” And so it is. Muriel and I usually go shopping for groceries before the ice cream and coffee with which we conclude our outings. But this time, we head straight for the Creamery. Over coffee and two giant ice cream sundaes, she tells me about the three days during which her 24 months of careful planning all worked out.

The venue was a beautiful wooded area in Maine, two hours north of Elsewhere. The granddaughter and her now-husband are both nature-lovers, so the theme of the wedding was greenery, environmental awareness and the great outdoors. Fifteen members of the main wedding party stayed together in a condominium at the venue. Muriel had made food in advance for all three days! “No one went hungry,” she says with a satisfied smile.

Muriel’s planning extended to providing warm lap-blankets for the evening functions. “Everyone was so grateful for the blankets,” she says, with the autumn chill setting in. Amongst the going-away gifts were small bottles of her very own home-made limoncello, individually sealed and wrapped — 150 of them! As for the confetti, she says, “Paper isn’t environment-friendly, you know?” So for two years she collected petals from all her floral bouquets and shredded them to produce sixty pint-cups of impeccably biodegradable confetti!

“Everyone says, do it professionally!” she says, laughing but shaking her head. No one can buy this kind of devotion. Not even the Empress of China.

Manjula Padmanabhan, author and artist, writes of her life in the fictional town of Elsewhere, US, in this weekly column

Published on October 26, 2019

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