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A few weeks ago, a selection of glossy magazines assumed residence on my desk next to the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Each features an identikit blonde sporting a diamond the size of a spaceship, a strapless meringue and a lobotomised simper. These Stepford Brides are, the editors tell me, are Happy.
They, I discover, gingerly leafing through page after page of cakes, flowers and vintage gypsy caravans, are adherents of the laws of 'Aisle Style!' and 'Reception Perfection!' In this new world where I'm told I must model myself on Kate Middleton (which I imagine includes maintaining locks as intensely, dazzlingly glossy as the mane of a Newmarket thoroughbred and fuelling pregnancy rumours by refusing peanut products), I now realise I am far, far out of my depth.
Yes, in the immortal words of Beyonce, my partner put a ring on it.
Which was, obviously, really quite lovely, but in the face of 21st century wedding culture possibly a naive move on our part. Because according to the lobotomy-brides with their judging eyes no one gets hitched for less than £30,000 nowadays, darling. Which seems downright distasteful when we're all hurtling down the proverbial creek to Recession-ville once again.
I've been told apocryphal stories galore. Everyone knows someone who pushed the money boat out for a staggeringly expensive wedding and has been sending out ship-to-shore SOS messages ever since. The most chilling one I've heard was told involves a nice couple taking out multiple loans at an interest rate that'd burn your eyes, blowing over £40k on a lavish reception only to getting divorced 18 months later.
Kids, eh? There's a statistic being bandied about that the financial and emotional stress alone convinces 25% of newly-married couples to fall asleep in their plush hotel rooms after the whole 18-hour ordeal.
And they're just the ones that admitted it.
Breaking the news to my mother – the self-christened 'MOB' – that we weren't going to be putting six hornbeam trees in Westminster Abbey was surprisingly less of a wrench than I thought. We just needed some manuals, she said. Hence the glossies.
My current reading list includes such titles as 'You and Your Wedding, 'Perfect Wedding' and 'UK Bride'. They are all unanimously perky, pretty and pastel pink, with subtitles that shriek 'Hot Hair!', 'Dream Dresses!' – and 'Genius place cards!' No. No, no, no. Here I draw the line. The 'You and Your Wedding' editorial team is woefully mistaken. 'Genius' is a term reserved for people like Einstein, Beethoven and that little boy down South who's quite good at painting and stuff.
I further draw the attention of fellow anti-brides to the various features that help you count down to 'W-Day', which does indeed lower itself to the astonishing crassness of comparing a day when you frock up as vulgarly as you can get away with and your uncle gets as inordinately pissed as he can get away with to the 1944 Normandy landings.
My battered, second-hand, 'bridal self-help book' (cue hilarity on behalf of gift-giving friends) informs me that I should factor in 9 months to have my dress made. Yes, you read that correctly. The gestation period of a human child. For a dress. The cost of which would be roughly equivalent to a year's university tuition. For a dress. I'll give you a paragraph break for that to sink in.
But actually, despite the madness, I'm finding that planning a party is really quite nice when you've got friends willing to pitch in and a MOB whose iPhone has recently fused itself to her cheek in a feat of evolutionary engineering.
One friend is doing the flowers, another is helping me string fairy lights into the trees in the back garden and another is making cupcakes that look outrageously delicious – although I've heard I'm not supposed to be consuming more than 900 calories a day in order to fit into THE dress. So it's all looking rather gravy.
And, according to my handy 'Countdown Checklist!' all I've got left to do is wear in my wedding shoes at home, get my Dad to write his speech and remind the groom to turn up on time and not get distracted playing Call of Duty 4. And then get working on my Middleton mane.
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