IF you are happy in a long-term relationship, should you “take the next step” and get engaged with a view towards marriage?
I don’t know.
This isn’t an advice column, more a succession of unsolicited opinions on everything from rubbish foodie 'culture' to whether or not you should join a gym that costs more than £40 a month.
Today I feel like offering some thoughts on weddings. The reason for this is my better half likes watching that programme called Don’t Tell the Bride, where the groom is charged with a few grand then let loose to make the occasions happen.
If she likes a programme I end up watching it too instead of the cycling (one TV, one boss) but to be fair this one is better than her other favourites Location, Location, Location (pushy peddlers of false Tory dream) or Keeping up with the Kardashians (characters not nearly self-centred enough for my liking, the mother far too passive).
Don’t Tell The Bride makes you wonder how you’d do it all yourself if handed 20 grand and a blank canvas. It even makes you wonder how you’d do it without 20 grand, this being the more realistic scenario.
Most of the usual complaints about weddings I can put up with. I don’t care that you’ll land invitations on people whose first thought will be: “f***, another wedding.”
Spending months’ worth of wages on a jewel is a nice idea. I can put up with the boring speeches, the dodgy dancing, the rip-off nature of everything connected to a wedding. Raging against that stuff makes as much sense as complaining that the sea is cold.
There is, however, one element of the traditional wedding with which I have a problem. Again, it’s futile to give out about this, but I will. Wedding dresses: I really can’t understand wedding dresses.
To me, these things are the centrepiece of everything that is horseshit about weddings. The idea is that, in her bridal gown, a woman looks the best she has looked in her life. That just isn’t true. Here’s why: no matter how much money you spend, or how much time you spend thinking about it, you’re not going to look your best with a frilly curtain wrapped around you.
In my experience, pretty much every woman looks better on any given Saturday night than they do on their wedding day. This is because they’re wearing something that suits them and accentuates their better features rather than a swirl tailored for the would-be Mrs Whippy.
Nevertheless, everybody from the groom to the guy serving the beef or fish has to gasp and state that he has never encountered such a vision. They’re all lying. I’ve lied myself in this situation and I will do so again – you’re obliged to.
The truth is that all these dresses look the same to men. Take the last three weddings I went to. If you lined up the three dresses and asked me to match them to the three brides I wouldn’t get it right unless it was a lucky guess.
The dress is central to the conflict and drama at the heart of Don’t Tell The Bride. There are two main characters. One, if the stereotypes are true, has thought about what kind of a wedding dress she would like every 40 seconds since toddlerhood. The other main character, in his honest heart, believes that she’d look better in the £30 red number she got in H&M last week.
So he’s thinking, what do I like? “Hmmm, not too long, not too loose, and that’s about it”
And what does she like? “Hmmm, she said ‘Classy and flattering’ … oh no, how do you have both of those things?
‘Timeless but not clichéd’ … oh help me please sweet Lord.
‘Bold but elegant’ … I think I’m going to feint … just give me a medium please.
The most dramatic moment of the show by far is when the bride sees the dress. She’s there with her mother and her best friend, neither of whom are overly affectionate of the groom anyway. The gown is revealed, she starts to cry. Then a good few moments later she’ll say, “I knew he’d get it wrong.” Queue pursed lips from mother and pal.
Or sometimes she’ll cry and cry and cry and then nod and then blurt, “It’s beautiful”.
Then you think about the groom and mutter, “you jammy f***.” He had no idea – just happened on the long straw.
Whoever thought up this idea has a brilliant, evil mind. The rest of the show you can take or leave but here you have a garment which is invested with a crazy amount of meaning by one party and hasn’t been given an honest thought by the other. And you make the unthinking one of the pair make the choice, not knowing where to begin but knowing that the happiness of his wedding day – and quite possibly his married life too – depends on this blind roll of the dice.
Most of us could live to 800 and never come up with a television idea so perfectly cruel.
So, should you take the next step and get engaged?
I don’t know.
But if you understand that every decision from who chooses the wedding attire to who holds the TV remote is better off out of your hands then, probably, yes you should.
… But I don’t want a man who is a pushover!
Okay, let’s watch the cycling then.
No, that’s so boring.
But that’s what I like.
Yeah, it’s all about what you like isn’t it?
How is it about what I like? We’re watching Don’t Tell the Bride!
Why can’t you just watch it without being in a huff about it?
No you’re not.
Yeah I am.
No you’re not. If you had to pick a dress for me, what would it look like?
Ehh … What channel is the Kardashians on?