I HAVE long suspected that my life may not be running on a par with that of my peers - that I'm missing out, that my friends have nicer clothes, homes with all mod cons, holidays that don't involve tents and cars that don't need a built-in mechanic.

For a while I've wondered what I'm doing wrong. Now I know - it's all down to our wedding.

If only I'd gone down the road most couples take and opted for a wedding list. Furniture, crockery, pots, pans, bedding and - of course - the token toaster - it would have been ours for free.

We'd have been spared years of frugality, as we saved up for the likes of a bedside lamp, a lawn mower, a set of fire irons (you can only use a fork and trowel for so long) and a decent frying pan (for years we cooked with the small charred affair with a loose handle that my husband bought as a student).

As readers of this column are aware, we've only just bought a washing machine, we desperately need a new vacuum cleaner (all my friends have Dysons) and our ten-year-old (is this a record?) kettle is on the blink.

This could all have been avoided had I not been so totally against the idea of a big posh do and the accompanying wedding list. Call me silly, but I've never liked asking people for things. Okay, if a friend or relative rings and asks "Would you like this or that?" But to make a list of items and stick it in the post just doesn't feel right.

It doesn't feel right to receive one either. For some reason wedding lists make me feel uncomfortable. You automatically look for the cheapest items - but then feel a tinge of embarrassment because you don't want to be seen as "the ones who bought the tea towels", the flannels, or a single pillow case.

We once received what I can only describe as a nightmarish list from a former friend of mine. My jaw dropped as I read down, past dishwasher and freezer, to food processor and juice maker. We pounced upon the can opener - but even that was a stylish designer affair costing more than £30. In the end we threw away the list and bought a vase from Habitat. They haven't thanked us to this day - probably because they had to buy the can opener themselves.

Couples could eliminate all that awkwardness felt by hard-up mates by abandoning Harvey Nicks and M&S, and drawing up a list from their local 'Pound Shop'. It would be a great test of people's creativity - what they could come up with that didn't look like it cost under a quid. Because, with any present, that's the ideal - something that cost next to nothing but appears to have cost the earth.

If I'd opted for a list I'd be quids in now - with all the cash I'd have saved I could have furnished my house top to bottom. Still, to justify a list we'd have had to have a wedding instead of a 15-minute out-patient's job at the register office. And we'd have to have invited more than ten people.

Of course, we did get some presents: a double duvet cover (with matching pillow cases), a salad bowl, a pepper mill and a milk jug. Very useful, but not exactly setting us up for life.

And the gifts that have brought most pleasure were a pair of walking sticks hand-crafted by my dad, plus a picture from a friend, whose mother embroidered a lovely scene complete with our names and the date.

I know money and possessions don't guarantee happiness. Yet I do wish I'd nudged our handful of guests a little in the direction of our wants and needs.

Six years on, we still need a toaster and a cocktail shaker would spice up my life no end.

Instead I held back. I can clearly recall one of my husband's more wealthy relations asking "What would you like?"

Typically, I replied, "Oh, it's so nice of you to ring, but nothing, really." And - irritatingly - that's exactly what he gave us.