Wednesday 3 October 2012

REVIEW: Wedding Babylon, by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous (4*)

(Bantam Press, 2009)

Another hit from the guilty pleasure that is the Babylon series, in which Imogen Edwards-Jones teams up with a bunch of top players in a given industry, extracts their best tips, tricks, behind-the-scenes secrets and scandalous stories, then packages them all up in a neat week-in-the-life semi-fictional demi-novel for our entertainment.  Oh, how I love 'em...

This installment, as the name suggests, is all about the wedding industry, as seen from the perspective of a top London wedding planner.  Babylon enthusiasts can probably already guess the rest - the helter-skelter pitch through dress fittings and flowers, bridezillas and warring relatives, celebrity nuptials and wedding day mishaps.  Alongside the day-to-day running of the business and the memorable weddings the planner has survived (or heard about through the grapevine), there are also plenty of interesting details that go beyond the obvious: How finely tuned do even the most dull and practical of details have to be?  How does a planner network with all the other companies that make up the wedding industry?  Which readings are guaranteed to bore your vicar to tears?  And what the hell is a bridal potty?  As always, this book gave me a renewed respect for the hard work going on behind the scenes in the service industry, showing the reader all of the lovely highs but also the stressful lows, the egos and the tantrums, deftly demonstrating just how far these professionals have to go to serve the ridiculous demands and passing whims of their high-maintenance clients.  

For me, it seems like Edwards-Jones is becoming better and better at this formula, streamlining her books with each new release.  I find that the newer books (like this one, and Beach Babylon, which I read last year) seem to feature more likeable narrators, and offer more detail and genuine insight into their chosen industries to balance against the gleeful gossip and outrageous horror stories.  I think I'd be torn between wanting to read this book before my wedding (for the tips) and wanting to stay the hell away in case I had nightmares!  Great literature it ain't - it's very easy reading and some of the dialogue, in particular, is horrendously clunky - but it's super-fun, extra-frothy and an absolute pleasure to come back to at the end of a long day at work!

Notable Quotables:
  • "As I sit there, listening and nodding away, I can feel my hangover creeping up the back of my neck, giving me a thumping great headache.  I start to frown hard, trying to concentrate.  I look across at Bill, who is slowly sliding down in his chair.  There really are only so many photographs of fancies a bloke can look at without losing the will to live."
  • "Whatever happened to a quiet dinner and a few drinks for a wedding?  Or even a bit of cake and a drink, like in the olden days?"
  • "The number of extremely pretty girls I have seen done up like Polish prostitutes on their wedding day does not bear thinking about.  No matter how many times you impress upon the bride that she shouldn't have a tan for her wedding, and that her hair and make-up should not be too dramatic or different from usual, they all still make the mistake of shoving on the slap and crimping their hair, teasing it into curls so they end up looking like some Best in Breed at Crufts."

Source:  I have no idea.  I think I stole it from the shop when I spotted it in a bag of incoming books!