Weddings: a cigar haven?

Having had the great honour of seeing his friend married off, Tom Chamberlin contemplated important matters, such as cigar-smoking tactics at weddings

I have reflected on cigar smoking at weddings, having been to one last weekend in the south of France. This was, of course, an extraordinary place to head to for a wedding. The nectarine-coloured night sky, the sweet dusty smell of the Var and Provence regions, too inland for the saltiness of the coast to reach, not north enough for the sun to be any less forgiving.

            I was honoured and greatly overjoyed to be an usher at the wedding, a wonderous ceremony of Christian worship and commitment to each other in Holy Matrimony, between two agnostics (makes you proud to be British). Everyone was travelling far so the occasion was not scrimped, there were the drinks the night before the evening as well as the day itself. Having bribed our way through Heathrow’s clusterfuck with the words “I know the Proprietor,” we were in France tout suite and off to get stuck into festivities. The wonderful thing about weddings is that they are very rarely held exclusively indoors and everyone is having such a rollocking good time that the tobacco naysayers park their objections for the duration.

            My own wedding had a box of Wide Churchills and a box of Epicure No2s for people to take at their leisure, imagine my delight when either the cigar smokers had bought their own or people were too shy as I ended up with plenty left over to take home myself.

As you may have seen on my profile, I got through a Partagas Lusitania, which I lit on arrival at the al fresco frivolity. The terrace (which, by jove, was beautifully turfed, soft like a fairway) of the Bastide de Gordes Hotel must have had HGV deliveries of champagne for weeks ahead of the party, and as a non-drinker, it was a decidedly people-watching affair with my very best friends sinking the lot. A very fine and respected jeweller whose beloved grandfather smoked cigars all his life and was “his” smell to her, came and sat next to me as I puffed away on the Lusitania, giving me all the social currency I needed for the night, owing to her belle-epoque beauty. It is important that even as a guest but certainly as an usher, you don’t overdo things on the evening as the big day comes tomorrow and one’s duty as a guest is to support and be there for your chum, not to be taking yourself off to vomit in the church’s chasuble. So bring something two more cigars, one robusto to round off the night, in my case a Ramon Allones Specially Selected, and another for a friend who may join you.

The big day: Suits and sunshine are not happy bedfellows, you must prepare accordingly, in my case with a luke-warm bath to keep one’s body temperature regular, and then four cigars for the day, a Cohiba Talisman – which was the main celebratory cigar of the night, you can see how much I love my friend – a 2001 Punch Double Corona, an El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme and another Ramon Allones Specially Selected. The latter was seen off during the Usher’s lunch and then while we waited for the guests to arrive at the church, the blue smoke of the Choix Supreme lingered in the air and was much appreciated by a troupe of German tourists, who were rather jealous of the cigar, but less envious about the suit I was wearing in the 35-degree heat in Gordes. The Talisman was smoked on arrival at the house for reception and finishing the evening with a double Corona after supper did feel like I made the most of the weekend and not scrimped on my duties as a groomsman.

Smoking indoors is still something people are not relaxed about but weddings are a reliable occasion to always have someone with you while you smoke. Tactics are required to make sure you are not caught short because you have to head indoors for something, but if you plan ahead, you can find the wedding brings joy that exceeds “true love”, it even brings that elusive period of time which can be dedicated to a good cigar, and this is perhaps what can be celebrated.