Is your wedding ruining your relationship?
Amber McNaught writes why brides shouldn't be ashamed of wanting a traditional wedding - or that sinfully expensive dress...
I'm getting married this month. It's the most controversial thing I've ever done. Why? Well, marriage is so not cool right now, didn't you know? Or, let's be fair, here: maybe it's not marriage that's so déclassé after all. Maybe it's just weddings that are slipping so far down the "hot or not" scale than even footless tights and Kevin Federline are more popular. Weddings, on the other hand? Hot they are not. Oh, hell no.
How do I know all this? Well, the same way I know everything else: I read it on the Internet. (Oh, and in The Guardian) You see, every time the subject of weddings comes up on the Internet, the same thing happens. First of all, someone starts a discussion along on one of the following themes:
"Oh my God, my best friend has invited me to her wedding – THE BITCH!"
"I'm going to a wedding on Saturday – how should I kill myself?"
"All Weddings Suck Ass: Discuss."
With the subject thus introduced, some bright spark will pipe up and comment sadly on the sheer wastefulness of getting married at all. Someone else will smugly explain how when they got married they just rifled through the neighbour's garbage for some clothes, and then took all their guests down to the chip shop before donning a hair shirt and apologising profusely for the absolute impertinence of requesting the pleasure of their company.
Once this first person gets their story out, the floodgates are opened. Instantly, there'll be a slew of responses from people, all competing to have had the cheapest, most joyless wedding possible. "You actually invited guests?" someone will cry. "God, I didn't even invite my husband, why make a fuss?" Or "Oh, you bought your dress from eBay?" someone else will smugly say. "I just tied a pillow case around my waist and had done with it. I mean there are children dying in Africa you know…."
And so it goes on. The general consensus appears to be that if you absolutely MUST get married (and really, there's no real reason why you should), you should do so as penny-pinchingly as possible. You should ideally invite no guests other than your witnesses (bonus points if you drag them off the street!) and, if you do decide to be inconsiderate enough to ask your nearest and dearest to witness the happiest day of your life, you must apologise for your presumptuousness and offer to pay for everything, from their outfits to their bar tab. You must give any presents you receive (Not that you'll receive any as you will have threatened to kill yourself if anyone dares spend money on you) to charity – maybe those children in Africa would appreciate the toaster and towel bale, you never know!
When did this happen? And, more importantly, perhaps, why did it happen? How did weddings become the kind of events people talk about with lowered voices, while glancing furtively around them, afraid of being overheard? Why are we so ashamed of wanting to – God forbid – share our day with our nearest and dearest? Why all the self-flagellation from brides who've been made to feel ashamed that they bought a new pair of shoes to get married in and didn't just walk barefoot? Over hot coals, ideally?
The idea that prevails at the moment, you see, seems to be that the cheaper the wedding, the better the marriage. That your relationsip has a better chance of survival if it kicks off in a council registry office with only the cleaner for company. If you go down the more traditional route, meanwhile, you'll be hightailing it to the divorce court before you've shaken the confetti (which has been carefully chosen to match the bridesmaid's knickers, natch) from your sinfully expensive dress. Personally, I blame Hollywood. Those pesky celebs are to blame, with their flashy weddings and high-profile divorces. (Yes, Britney, I am talking about you.) They may not have done it deliberately, but they've certainly helped perpetuate the idea that the best way to avoid divorce is to avoid marriage first.
Well, we're going to test the theory. Can a marriage survive a wedding? I'm about to find out.
I can only hope that all those children in Africa will forgive me.
Amber McNaught is a freelance writer based just outside Edinburgh. She blogs for various Shiny Media sites and works solely to support an expensive shoes and handbags habit.