Almost 263,000 marriages will take place in the UK this year, most of them between now and October. And at time of writing, my friends haven’t so much as popped a register office quickie in the diary. One of the tragedies of middle age is that the number of wedding invitations drops exponentially. Whereas my late twenties and early thirties were a blur of drunken hen weekends and nana-dancing to ABBA with toddlers in bow ties, now my weekends stretch before me with little excuse to buy a new frock or browse John Lewis pepper mills. All I’m left with is the desperate hope that just one of the subsequent divorcees decides to pick themselves up and roll again – as long as it’s not me, of course.
I miss weddings more than I miss school discos, teenage raves or practically any other night out of my youth. Truly, there is nothing more enjoyable, more uniquely heart swelling than seeing two people declare their love before a congregation of daytime drinkers who would never normally find themselves in the same room. I love every part – prayers and hymns I don’t believe in, terrible speeches downloaded off shitebestmanjokes.com, Robbie Williams songs I’d never listen to under any other circumstance, bridesmaid dresses that I – and, more’s to the point, they – wouldn’t otherwise be seen dead in. I just love the pomp, ceremony and undiluted goodwill in the room, the pure and hopeful glee directed at two people in love.
We are all surrounded by gloom... Some people saying, 'Yes, but whatever else, we’ll face it together' is the kind of uncomplicated, joyful act of humanity that can recalibrate my perspective for weeks
And it needn’t be fancy. Some of my favourite weddings have been in a little boozer, or stretched out on a blanket in the park, guests bearing Tupperware of coronation chicken instead of expensive gifts (not that I’m at all against some spendy extravaganza complete with synchronised swimming troupe and ice-sculpted vodka luge either, in all honestly). I can do hipster or trad, cathedral or bingo hall. I don’t care if the dress cost eleventy billion pounds in Vera Wang or thirty quid off ASOS. I barely mind if I don’t know the couple from Adam and Eve – I’ll still buy a frock, book a hotel, turn up with a bottle of champagne and mingle with the kind of enthusiasm I’m unable to summon for any other social engagement.
My capacity for Facebook photographs of strangers’ weddings, featuring not a single guest I’ve ever met in my life, is apparently limitless. I’ll look at every detail – every sweaty face on the dancefloor, every cupcake tower and blurry shot taken on a white disposable camera, through eyes on the brink of flooding because I’m not just touched by the sight of two loved ones pledging their troth, I’m utterly moved by the genuine, uncynical optimism of any two humans making a lifelong commitment to be together – however unpredictable their future. We are all surrounded by snark, by gloom, by stories that come close to convincing us the world is on the brink of disaster. Some people saying, “Yes, but whatever else, we’ll face it together” is the kind of uncomplicated, joyful act of humanity that can recalibrate my perspective for weeks.
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You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m projecting, of course. For suspecting that in craving the nuptials of others, I’m actually harbouring a meringue fantasy of my own. But, truly, I can think of nothing I’d like less than to throw a wedding (I did it once and absolutely loved it, but much like a cruise or Zumba, once is enough). The fact that I’m not the person having to hold in my stomach all day, or worry about the weather, stress about the table plan or be on tenterhooks about the racist uncle having a Stella too many, or the cousin who takes umbrage at all of the things all of the time, is exactly why I’m aable to have the time of my life. I’m even done with being a bridesmaid (my best girls are all either happily single or already hitched), much as I embraced my duties at the time with boundless enthusiasm and pride. Nowadays, all I want to do is sit, grin and get merrily tipsy while someone brings me a cornfed chicken breast and petit fours. Is it really so much to ask?
Apparently, it is. And so, in desperation, I have literally invited myself to the wedding of some complete strangers who got together via a mutual love of Lauren Laverne’s show on 6 Music. She’s going to DJ and I, desperately trying to crowbar a wedding into my schedule, have volunteered to do the bridal party’s make-up (it was a lightbulb moment – I was on the verge of claiming silver-service waitressing as a skill). They’ve foolishly agreed and I can’t wait. So that should keep me going until autumn – just enough time for you to open a saving account and plan your big proposal.