INTERIORS

A GUIDE TO BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES

MP X Belle Magazine talk major milestones.

February 4, 2020

BIRTH

Even in this digital, Instagram age, don’t thrust a camera in a mother or newborn’s face. Neither probably wants to be photographed at that moment. Allow new parents to release and post the first few images of their baby – don’t deprive them of that key, modern parenting moment.

Over-sharing

Similarly, parents, as with any topic on social media, less is very much more. We don’t need to see every waking moment of your child’s life.

Look but don’t touch

Some people are just not comfortable holding a newborn. You can politely decline the offer to coddle the child by simply saying ‘I’m fine, thank you’, when asked, with a smile. Read more, ’20 Little Social Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow.’

DEATHS

It’s amazing how often funerals are done wrong. We know people have an excuse. Someone they love has died, they’re upset and have to make thousands of decisions during the worst few days of their life.

But funerals are social occasions – at least as remembered as a wedding – so it’s important to get them right.

The funeral industry is getting a shakeup. It’s a hospitality business first and foremost. It’s about taking care of people, from picking up the body to providing caskets, cremation or burial. People can choose a natural service where there is the capacity for 120 for dinner and guests to stay, if people want to spend more time celebrating someone’s life. Many people frustrated by the experience of their own beloved’s funerals, have been prompted to revolutionise the Victorian-influenced approach, all black and lace and ‘death hidden behind a curtain’, reframing the sadness of death into a celebration of life. Read more, ‘How To Be The Perfect Guest.’

Lee Radziwill’s Funeral in February 2019. Image via Daily Mail

Get it wrong and everyone will talk about it. Whether the death has filled you with despair or lifted a weight from your shoulders, it is your duty to play the generous host for a couple of hours or more. The only good look is for you to be a loyal, stoic, self-effacing and generous host who is honouring the life of someone who has died and to give those who have made an effort to attend a decent and, yes, enjoyable experience. Even though it’s the end of life, you might choose to turn the event into a celebration. Read more, ‘5 Golden Rules on Etiquette 2018.’

Don’t – and this is a big don’t – use a funeral as an opportunity to show off or social climb.This is not the opportunity to take people on guided tours of your lovely house, or to invite grand new friends who hardly knew the person.

A good eulogy should make those present laugh, smile and cry. It should include some biographical facts, a couple of good anecdotes, a mention of their best anecdotes, and idiosyncrasies. It’s fine for you to shed a few tears on the day but Oscar-winning displays of emotion – wrenching sobs, howling, rocking – look selfish, as if you want to draw attention to yourself, rather than the funeral’s real focus.

This is also no time to stir up old feuds with estranged in-laws, former wives and hypocritical hangers-on.

No matter how distraught or exhausted you are you must invite people back to the house or place that has some connection to the family – to reminisce and recuperate. Many of those attending have travelled far, or taken time off work, and have memories they want to share, and should be refreshed and honoured.

Arrangements

If you are too upset to do the arrangements, find a friend or relative who can take on the task, but make sure you can tell them what you want.

Arranging a funeral is the ultimate act of love and friendship you can perform for someone. Start by telephoning people about what’s happened, and putting a death notice in the paper. You want anyone who knew the person to feel they can attend. Keep the wording simple and informative, avoiding flowery descriptions of the person’s many virtues (no rhyming couplets).

Composure

At the funeral keep the focus on the person whose life you are celebrating. Wear clothes that suit the occasion. As for words and music keep them appropriate to the life and tastes of the departed. Hold back form overly personalised touches like a huge floral coffin in the shape of a guitar, or the sound of “You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me Lucille” on the PA system. Read more, ‘A Manner’s Manifesto: Rules to Be Live By.’

Make sure the minister knows something about the person in the coffin, so their words are meaningful.

If you or a close family member feel you can deliver a eulogy, do so; words straight from the heart go straight to the heart.

If the task is beyond any of you, ask the best public speaker you know from your inner circle. It’s a big job summing up an entire existence in five minutes while standing next to a dead person in a box.

The order of service

Whatever you do, the congregation is going to be staring at it for the best part of an hour, so make it special.

Lee Radziwill’s Funeral in February 2019. Image via Daily Mail

The flowers

Turns out you can actually say quite a lot with flowers. Make them a reflection of the person. Read more, ’10 Flower Design Pros and Hate, And The Ones They Love.’

Cars

The day of the black-car procession with uniformed drivers is over. Arriving at the church for one of the toughest days of your life in a mode of transport you understand is far better than stepping into a huge black chauffeured car with someone you’ve never met.

Music

If your loved one’s favourite track actually was Elgar’s Nimrod, then stick with it. If they would have hated muted organ tones as much as the rest of us, then do something different. ‘Read more, ‘How to Get the Party Started; How To Be The Perfect Host.’

Food

The food does not need to be elaborate, but it has to be generous and comforting. Nothing beats lashings of chicken sandwiches, and cake served with tea and champagne (a big occasion wine that works well with simple food).

Also have whisky on hand, it’s a good stiffener.

Cake

Everyone wants to feel helpful when someone dies. Hence, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”. Stop asking, and just think of something and do it, or at least buy a present. Or take a cake to the funeral.

MARRIAGES

Do

Try not to give too much away about your wedding and remember, no one cares about your nuptials as much as you do, so keep it brief. Read more, ‘Yes You Can! Plan A Wedding For Less (And No-One Would Know!)

Don’t

On your wedding day, don’t make social media top of the list. You’re not going to have this much attention in a long time so make the most of the day, be present.

Do

Be clear about whether you’re happy to have guests take photos and upload content of your wedding on the same day. Read more, ‘The Wedding Social Media Rules All Brides Need to Know.’

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