If your in-laws don’t turn up, it’s hard to pretend you’re a princess – and even harder to hide your humiliation. Believe me, their deliberate absence definitely tarnishes the fairytale dream.
So, while Rebekah Nicholson’s wedding to Leicester striker Jamie Vardy bore all the hallmarks of Disney – a lavish ceremony in a bona fide castle, celebrity guests and a rags-to-riches groom fresh from victory in the Premier League – it was missing one magic ingredient: his parents’ blessing.
Vardy’s mother Lisa and stepfather Phil, who raised him from a baby, apparently kept their distance (as did his grandparents) due to their long-standing disapproval of his new bride.
Who knows if they were even invited. But no matter who snubbed who, I can tell you no one likes to feel disapproved of, particularly on the day when you should feel most special. The new Mrs Vardy may have put a brave face on it, but beneath the immaculate make-up, I know she will still have been smarting.
My own wedding day was always intended to be a full family celebration. I certainly envisioned it that way when my husband-to-be and I chose an ultra-posh London hotel big enough to accommodate his relatives and mine for our big day.
We paid particular attention to the seating plan. I thought I was on good terms with my in-laws. Our relationship was cordial, if not exactly warm, so of course they were to occupy a prime position on the top table.
It was to be bride and groom with his parents on one side and my mother and sister on the other. My father had died many years before, so my father-in-law was to be the only senior male member of our families to flank us. Except that’s not quite what happened.
Read more: 10 things I learned on my wedding day
On the morning of the wedding, they dropped a bombshell. We got a phone call to say they weren’t coming. There was talk of a sudden illness and the long car journey. The illness was an excuse: my groom’s parents did not approve of me or our wedding and were staying away in protest.
I was furious because if they hadn’t intended to come, I wished they had told me earlier.
So why did they do it? My husband had been married before and they did not support the end of that marriage. They were close to his ex and her children and so, I assume, they stayed away out of loyalty to her.
That they left it so late, I think was because they were wrestling with that decision.
On they day itself, a kind of fury rumbled away inside me. I was so hurt and humiliated, but determined not to show it. In the longer term, too, it hung over our relationship. It made me question whether my in-laws’ hospitality had ever been real.
My husband and I had been together for seven years when we got married, so it wasn’t as if I was new on the scene. We had spent time with his parents at their home. They had never expressed anything other than politeness towards me.
When they didn’t come to the wedding, it made me question the nature of their feelings towards me and my son, their grandchild. Did they disapprove of him too? I wasn’t responsible for the end of my husband’s first marriage, but I wondered if they blamed me.
All these feelings swirled in my head on my wedding day. They also continued to plague me after the wedding. The subject of their no-show was never discussed.
They continued to spend time with our son, and they opened a savings account for him and diligently put money into. Even so, I never completely trusted them again.
The marriage didn’t last, though not because of that, and we divorced.
I married for a second time five years after my first and it almost happened again. Three weeks before the wedding, my husband-to-be was summoned to a family meeting. It consisted of them trying to persuade him not to marry me, a woman who already had children with another man.
My partner refused to call off the wedding and it went ahead, this time with the in-laws who disapproved of me present. I had to pretend I didn’t know they were against the marriage.
So, Jamie Vardy, perhaps you should thank your lucky stars your parents didn’t come. At least you didn’t have to pass them a slice of wedding cake knowing they were going to choke on it.