Now I am engaged to be married, people ask me about my wedding. “Will you have a big wedding?” they ask, looking at me with such joy that I wonder if my mouth has become a cashpoint. What they mean is: will I pay for 300 people to hate my wedding dress and whisper how great it is that I found someone to drag me up the aisle at the ancient age of 37, while I have a panic attack because crowds upset me and crowds of relatives upset me even more? The answer is no.
No big wedding and not even the discovery that you can rent an inflatable church (inflatablechurch. com), or get married on a fake pirate ship in Las Vegas (treasureisland.com/ weddings), which provides a fake pirate to climb down the rigging with the rings, can change my mind.
My own fantasy wedding is five minutes in the making: the sort that a serial killer has with a deranged pen pal in a high-security prison. I will wear a normal dress and maybe shoes. I might brush my hair if my mother gives me enough of an evil stare and I will definitely rub the dry skin off my nose for the Big Day. We will marry at a registry office, eat at a curry house and then, like criminals on the run, take a train to the continent for sex and arguing in foreign places. Photographs will be provided by the photo booth in London’s King’s Cross Station. There will be no doves, favours, witty bouquets; no synchronised dancing to Lady In Red, although I wouldn’t mind releasing some crows. I will invite my immediate family, but only to stay in their wills. But there is a problem with my wedding fantasy. He is the problem that is also the solution. He is the groom and he is, poor soul, a Bridezilla.
“He says he doesn’t care about the reception but I caught him singing Lady In Red to himself last night”
Women stand in the bridal industry puddle up to their necks. We spend a lifetime dreaming about the perfect day, creating tiny variations on what is, essentially, the one and only theme: I’m a princess! Wedding magazines, including my personal favourite, called Obese Bride, sell the fantasy in incredible detail and it is a brave bride who resists the barrage of marketing which insists: the smaller your wedding, the smaller your love. Don’t you want Big Love, Bride? This explains the rash of women wearing the kind of make-up which in saner moments they know makes them look 3,000 years old, wearing Victorian dresses and marrying in rented castles, brandishing tiaras, and sometimes doing evil things to swans – for the photographs! The one-size-fits-all fantasy makes me sad because it feels like a rejection of our own lives; why should I feel I have to copy Kate Middleton’s wedding? I want my own and I don’t particularly want to be a princess, merely a woman.
But the transformation of my dear love – with his custard yellow T-shirts and slow smile – into Bridezilla was a surprise. I thought men did all this to play along, like you play along with babies, pretending throwing custard at you is really fun. But no. He wants me in white, like a ghostly blob, and a wedding in his local church with, and I quote him in full: “flowers round the door”.
I bought him Everything For The Groom magazine for a joke and he loved it, slept near it, and told me that one engagement ring company it features (christianbauer.com) also makes precision parts for NASA. He is clearly mad and so, because in love you must pick your battles, we are embarking that dangerous path that I have heard of but have never trod myself – compromise.
He says he needs “a spiritual element”. He means God, and God and I are ever at odds. He says he doesn’t care about the reception but I caught him singing Lady In Red to himself last night.
What about me? What about what I want? At all this I squeak and, when very threatened, cry. Because I only cry when I have lost. He accepts we cannot have a wedding list, because I have called them evil in print, but he does keep going on about lilies. What about a blade of grass, I say. The trench warfare in our bed will go on but I am Bride. I will get my Dream Wedding. So, people have asked about my wedding. Now you know.
Main picture credit: Rex Features
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Stylist's regular columnist Lucy Mangan is on maternity leave.