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Whats a Goldfish Doing at a Wedding?

Time was when you'd open a wedding invitation you'd find an understated high quality piece of parchment, with an uncompromisingly clear font, requesting, ever so formally, the honour of your presence.

Then came radical changes, described by those in the know as, giving the wedding back to the people. The creation of the ubiquitous Civil Marriage Celebrant – and anything goes era.

Stealthily at first came sneaking on to the front page of the invitation miniscule wedding bells, intertwining wedding rings and peaceful doves with their wings folded as if wondering what the heck they were doing there.

Traditionalists – and those too poor to follow the trend – cried out against this bad taste. Nor were they wrong to fear the full thrust of indulgence to come. Invitations, masquerading as old time scrolls, and delivered by Knights right from King Arthur's court, began to appear at suburban doors. Following the Knights came Wizards from Ali Baba's enchanted cave.

There is no saying where all this would end, when the PC was born and stemmed the tide.

Overnight, so it seems, the excesses transformed themselves into cottage industry, and the traditionalists who had howled at the excess engendered by the coming of the Civil Marriage Celebrant could only stare in horror at the shambles created by the advent of the PC and its companion, the Bubble Jet printer.

Out the window went the parchment and the honour of your presence. Taking it's place was a piece of brown recycled paper, with some unrecognizable font, proclaiming cheerily, "Jim and I are getting married, come and have some fun with us next Sunday."

"Fun?" my husband of 40 odd years snorted. "They're getting married to have fun?" Being something of an etymologist (fancier of words for the rest of us) he began to thumb the well-worn dictionary to find out what fun meant and when he'd had it last. But that's another story.

Getting back to the invitations, and the appearance of computers, the wedding bells and the hearts and rings and flowers were given a swift shrift. Instead we puzzled at wedding invitations covered with cats, dogs, butterflies and yes, the latest one, two gold fish.

There they were on the envelope, swimming demurely side by side on the sea of white, while the invitation itself was awash with them. It took an hour, plus a strong magnifying glass before I could decipher the words.

Bring no gifts, was the first bit of welcome information I fished out of the jumble. We have everything we need. We have each other. Oh, the naiveté of infatuation! "But if you would like to bring a gift," continued the missive, "please bring something for our goldfish."

About the Author

Vlady is one of Australia's longest serving Civil Marriage Celebrants. She is the author of 'The Complete Book of Australian Weddings' and 'The Small Organisation Handbook'.

Visit her at

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