I’ve got to the age where I attend a lot of weddings. Every year another friend finds the man/woman of their dreams and invites me to share a day with everyone near and dear to them, declaring their undying love and celebrating in style. There have been weddings in castles, weddings in tree houses, weddings in cricket grounds and barns. I have been with my other half 13 years, we’ve been engaged for 11 years and still remain what they call ‘common law husband and wife’. We have a mortgage together, a joint bank account, two dogs, 6 chickens and 3 ducks together. As relationships go, we’re pretty committed.
People often ask us why we haven’t got married. We’ve thought about it. We even started saving for it. Then on a whim as few years ago, we booked return flights to Kuala Lumpur, took a month off work and backpacked around Malaysia, Cambodia and Borneo. It was literally the best money we’ve ever spent. We trekked through jungles, boated up rivers, saw elephants, orangutans, crocodiles and snakes. We sunbathed on paradise beaches, snorkeled with sharks, turtles and pretty much every colour tropical fish you can think of. We watched the sun rise and set on a backdrop of ancient Hindu temples and climbed Mount Kinabalu, quoted as the 20th most prominent mountain in the world, at 4095 metres (13,435ft) above sea level. Still the most challenging and hardest thing I have ever done, but by far worth it from the view at the top.
Since then, we’ve bought our flat and expanded our animal menagerie, but still not got married. We’re not necessarily against marriage, but we also know that doing it, wouldn’t change what we have. I want to grow old and senile and could not think of a better person to have by my side. Do we need to get married to do this? No. Would it be nice to get married? Sure. If and when we do get married, we have a lot of family and friends that we would want to share it with. To accommodate all those people, feed and water them and ensure they have as much of a good day as we do, it will cost money. Money that every time we start saving, gets spent on something else. It’s not a problem, we’ll get round to it one day, much like having kids. We both want kids, but again it’s expensive and we both enjoy sleep. Sleep, wine and cheese. Not things that generally go hand in hand with pregnancy/kids. I am also waiting for my womb to suddenly wake up one day, flood me with maternal instincts and tell me that being a mother is the most natural, wonderful thing in the world. Not, that it is the most terrifying, worrying and painful thing (emotionally and physically) you can do to yourself, which is how I feel about it right now. It is probably all of those things, but I’m not sure we’re ready, just yet. There’s still puppies and pigs to adopt.
In the UK, we have a programme called ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’. Basically, it’s a TV show where the husband to be gets given a load of money and has full control over every aspect of the wedding. The location, the venue, the guests, the dress, the food/drink and hen/stag do. Now you would think that the man that you have chosen to spend your life with, would know you well enough to know how to organise one of the most memorable days of your lives together. Unsurprisingly, to make good TV ,more often than not they get it horribly wrong. There are tears and tantrums but it does end up with them getting married nevertheless. The programme generally shows the groom as a clueless ‘lad’ who hasn’t the first idea what organising anything, let alone a wedding involves, and the bride as an ungrateful fussy cow, who has essentially agreed to this in order to get a free wedding, what does she expect? They all live happily ever after at the end though, but it really makes me think that maybe these people aren’t really that well suited after all and this show exposes that.
Maybe it’s because I haven’t obsessed over my wedding day like some people, but I really do think that if my other half were put in that situation, he would get it right. I think he’d think of the important things, wouldn’t humiliate me and spend all the money on a stag do in Magaluf. Sure, he’d probably leave it to the last minute, wear flip flops and serve hotdogs at the buffet, but surely weddings are about both people? It’s a day you share together, a representation of your future together, so I’d want him to be as happy as I am about the day. As long as my family and friends are all there to celebrate with us, as long as there was wine and cheese flowing, I think I’d be pretty darn happy. So why don’t we apply to go on the show? Because it’d be boring! No one wants to watch happy people being content and smug. They want drama, they want tension and the possibility that the wedding might not happen. That’s what makes good viewing. That is car crash TV. And we enjoy watching that shit.
It’s also what makes good writing. Every book, every story needs conflict, tension, tragedy. An issue to resolve, something overcome, a dream to accomplish. But real life is not that dissimilar. Everyone has a story. Everyone’s life is a potential best-seller. You just have to write it that way……