Today marks a leap year; it's the only day women are allowed to propose and, according to centuries-old tradition, their potential husbands aren't allowed to say no. This sentence is all kinds of cringe. Of course, women can propose whenever the heck they like, and men are free to accept or otherwise. Personally, I'm surprised marriage is still so popular.
I don't want to get married. I've had to explain this, in turn, to my would-be mother-in-law, an elderly relative (not mine, ironically) at a wedding (clearly not mine either), all my friends and my boyfriend of some 11 years. I'd have been questioned less were I to flounce down the highstreet wearing a long ivory dress and tiara. Or if I said I was getting married in one, obviously.
I don't have much to tell them. Surely it's more up to those people who want to get married to explain why, anyway. I'm not actually doing anything at all by not getting married. Seriously, I'm doing you all a favour. You won't have to buy a new hat, book into a hotel, come on my week-long hen do to Bermuda with a load of people you've avoided meeting during our whole friendship, or log into my wedding list at johnlewis.com a couple of days before the big day only to realise there's just the excruciatingly expensive hand-blown glass lampshades left, and simply buying the replacement bulbs probably won't cut it.
Don't get me wrong, I love weddings. I was lucky enough to blub my way through six last summer. I am the first to offer my services as chief coat holder for visits to wedding dress fitters, I spend ages happily making bunting and buying little trinkets for engagement presents; I even make that withering 'aww' face when couples recount their proposal stories. Looking at me, you'd think I would already have chosen my colour scheme, made a bridal scrap book and designed the dress, all before the advent of puberty, several years ago.
If I'm honest, the constant questions - particularly those directed at my partner about how he's managed to avoid getting 'dragging up the aisle' yet - probably have a lot to do with my aversion to getting married. We've been together ages. We know how to make this work. We're not religious, so we really don't need to consummate anything in front of God. We've consummated plenty already (sorry mum). And I'm a stickler for getting the facts straight; if we have to wipe the last decade and start celebrating anniversaries from the big day, then no-one will appreciate the time I've invested in this relationship.
Sure, it's been fun, but then so is snakes and ladders - no-one enjoys sliding down to the start again and celebrating 'paper' anniversaries when they should rightfully be on 'steel' by now (I know, 11 years together and you've bought me a teaspoon?!). I also really don't like the thought of being 'given away'. I know it's all tradition - and I'd be as aghast as the next wedding guest if it wasn't all there, present and correct - but I draw the line at anyone putting a ring on it (and by it, I of course mean me, which is lovely).
On a serious note, I would really like heterosexual couples to be allowed to have civil partnerships and gay couples to be allowed marriages. And if anyone today tells me I'm allowed to propose to my partner, I'll be reminding them that I always was, and I still didn't.