All the fun of the bridal fair
Have you ever seen those wildlife documentaries about migrating wildebeest? Where the ground begins to tremble and plumes of dust rise from the horizon, before the great mass of stampeding animals come into view.
Getting married is a stressful time for any woman. We all know what we like, what colours and clothes suit us, and what make-up looks good in everyday life. But when it comes to the Big Day, it's back to the drawing board. Sure, you can take inspiration from other weddings, magazines, family and friends, but it's your one big chance to show your loved ones and peers just who you are.
You'll be judged, more than any other day of your life, not just on how you look, but on the food, the tablecloths, the music, the flowers, and on aspects of the day you may not have thought of. I heard a girl who was beside me at a mutual colleague's wedding utter the words "the loo paper in the toilets is a disgrace. It's like greaseproof paper."
As someone who is getting married later this year, I now have something else to add to my list of worries. Toilet paper.
It's no wonder then, that weddings bring out the Veruca Salt in most brides-to-be. It's as if women have a tiny, hidden 'Bridezilla' switch on the fourth finger of their left hand and, unbeknownst to them it is flicked to the 'on' position by the donning of an engagement ring.
I thought that since I am not 21 anymore, I wouldn't feel this sort of pressure. But I do. And so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I walked into a wedding fair last week.
I've always thought of them in the same way I think of circuses. Not modern-day circuses with contortionists and acrobats. I mean the ones of old with dancing bears. On hot plates. Being poked with sharp sticks. Those kind of circuses.
The idea of a wedding fair makes me feel a little queasy. Yes, I know there are decisions to make about dresses and flowers and venues and alternatives to sugared almonds that say "look how cool we are", but surely if you never thought of them before, then you don't need them? Planning a wedding these days is all about impressing other people rather than having a day that reflects your relationship and personality.
After initially deciding I was keeping things simple, I left with the wedding fair equivalent of a goldfish in a plastic bag and my face painted. I had business cards for chair cover companies, Take That tribute bands, plant-your-own-tree gifts for the guests, and a flyer from a cosmetic surgery company offering a 'bridal package' of Botox, teeth-whitening and liposuction. Just in case your wedding idol was Barbie.
Modern women who seem to know their likes and dislikes in every other part of their lives will pay good money to be told what and where they should be wearing/ serving/ drinking/dancing to/honeymooning, by people who just want to make a sale.
This year, apparently, one of the biggest inspirations was all set to be the Amy Huberman/Brian O'Driscoll wedding from Ireland's loveliest celebrity nuptials last year. Until Kate Middleton set a date to hitch her wagon to the balding prince. Now, I am told, even the Irish are waiting for as long as possible before ordering a dress to see what trends Middleton might set in April. The designer is rumoured to be Bruce Oldfield, the colour likely to be ivory. But will she break with tradition and go for something unexpected?
Personally, I'm thinking of turning my back on it and taking my inspiration from Channel 4's My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. If I dragged myself down the aisle in a cross between a flamenco dress and a pole dancer's ensemble, at least no one would be talking about the loo paper.