Why would a serial wedding hater get engaged, you might ask...
Ten years ago, I met the man of my dreams; he had unruly curly hair, a wash of tattoos up his arms, the coolest Adidas zip-ups known to man, and the biggest heart I’d ever encountered. Ten years and myriad happy memories later, we are about to walk down the aisle.
My problem, is that I have always found weddings the very definition of everything that is utterly unromantic.
My problem is that I have always found weddings the very definition of everything that is utterly unromantic. Engagements, yes: weddings, no: a proposal maintains a semblance of spontaneity, an almost (excuse the crass pun) virginal innocence in such an unbridled outburst of love. Dare this realist say it, they are sweet.
Don’t get me wrong, my engagement was less than perfect. Largely, because the feelings that I ascribed to felt prohibitively prescriptive. Yes, I was happy – but I was also nervous, scared and wrestling with the very idea that I was ‘grown up’ enough to finally get married.
I said yes in a hotel room overlooking the Amalfi Coast, with a slightly shaky hand and an overwhelming mortification that the couple on the balcony next to us would interrupt this scene at any moment.
Yes, I felt love, overwhelming love. But it didn’t feel like the fireworks-and-violins moment that’s been etched in my mind of how a proposal should be (noughties rom-coms have a lot to answer for, particularly to my 12-year-old self). Mostly, it wasn’t how I thought it should be. And for that, I felt overwhelming guilt.
The idea of a wedding? Forced, clichéd, and from a lot of my experiences, at times tacky. How can such a laboured display quantify the love between two people? And that’s before you even take into account the fact that so many weddings these days turn into a next-level game of Celtic Tiger-era one-upmanship.
Perhaps it’s female roles. In most cases, the engagement is still the domain of the male; whereas the wedding is, a lot of the time, left to the woman to decide, to dictate, to live up to the reductive stereotype of a ‘bridezilla’ (even if they are purely an assertive female who knows what they want). The fact that the term ‘groomzilla’ isn’t in circulation is equally as problematic.
No Bullshit Guide to Matrimony
As I approach the eve of my own big day, I am striving towards one big idea. Instead of gifting a newly engaged friend a wedding organiser or a bridal magazine, I would issue a survival guide. I would call it the 'No Bullshit Guide to Matrimony', and it would be very clear.
It would say it’s okay if bridal gowns leave you in a state of induced nausea, that your mother-in-law will probably grow on you over time, and that, yes, I too, would rather stick pins in my eyes than buy bride-to-be chintz. I would make it as mandatory as the post-engagement manicure, or obligatory Champagne selfie.
I would make it as mandatory as the post-engagement manicure, or obligatory Champagne selfie.
Before I’m misquoted or branded the love equivalent of a Debbie Downer, know this: I revel in a love note, I never scowl at a PDA, and the sight of octogenarians holding hands damn well brings a tear to my eye every time. I find romance in a takeaway and a bottle of wine, a shared smile or knowing look, or simply just a feeling that no-one else in the world can make you feel the way the other person does. And that’s when you cue the violins and fireworks.
Lest we forget, realists have feelings too, we just express them differently, and I think that’s pretty okay.