I think I'm a dying breed - I still buy magazines. Copiously. Seriously, ask me anything from what Victoria Beckham is currently doing with her eyeliner, to how to pot up a hardy geranium, and I'll have an article squirreled away somewhere. Magazines are - to me - a source of joy and fascination, where you can make a fresh start every month. With one caveat: wedding magazines are the actual worst.
When I got engaged last summer, apart from being connected for life to my soul mate and all that, I was really excited about a whole new world of magazines being opened up. Giddily I headed to the cash desk at WH Smith with my new treasures - each baring (white, young, picture-perfect) brides grinning out at me - all teeth and veils (and no grooms to be seen).
After re-mortgaging the house to pay for them, and almost breaking my puny arms carrying them (those glossy adverts are weighty) I settled down with a cup of tea to discover... that weddings are now essentially a Mad Hatter's tea party on stilts, at Disneyland, where everyone is on acid.
I was clearly very naïve. I thought: two people in love + ceremony + speeches + friends/family + food + dancing = a wedding. It might sound a fun formula but it doesn't lend itself to 300+ pages each and every month. I mean, that's only 12 words and I've pretty much covered everything right there. So, it seems, in their infinite wisdom, these magazines not only have to convince readers that weddings have infinite possibilities and changing fashions, but also that it's completely normal to buy things that you've never considered/heard about/wanted to do.
'Must-haves' include (in no particular order): donut walls; paper pom-poms; photo-booths; laser-cut paper birds; jugglers; pick n mix stations; romantic guest fingerprint keepsake (your guess is as good as mine); pre-mixed cocktails based on your personality; bespoke ribbon wall (again, no clue); Cupid totes and matching confetti pouches for every guest; bamboo parasols; new socks for your groom (seriously, aren't men allowed to take charge of anything?); lanterns ('essential'); bags of wildflower seed (for guests who are birds?) and cakes with projections of 'meaningful'(?) buildings on them. I could honestly go on all day, but then where would I find the time to knit my own bunting/rear my own wedding sheep/collect a vial of my blood for every guest?
Imagine my Best Woman's disappointment when I asked her in person if she'd be part of my wedding, rather than sending her the obligatory box of thoughtful, pricey gifts, including a personalised bottle of wine on which I've 'popped the question' to her. And I'm not sure she'll forgive me for not booking a spa break, to help us 'relax before the hectic hen do weekend'.
Suggestions for the bride to 'get involved' (because really getting married and organising a wedding implies a lacklustre level of involvement) include a £75 jelly-making class, so that you can provide your guests with wobbling, partially-set gelatinous treats on your special day. I find it hard to think of anything I'd like less than, on the morning of my wedding, being elbow-deep in boiled pig bones and food colouring, sweating and hounded by wasps, as I wonder whether the perfect jelly will equal the perfect marriage.
As for wedding favours - if you think I'm making 140 iced biscuits for you to drunkenly crush into your clutch bag for later, you can go and choke on my veil. Except I'm not having one because really what are they even for? He's seen my face now on numerous occasions.
Apart from being mad as a box of uninvited in-laws, it flies in the face of what modern couples actually want, with the current trend for High Street dresses and DIY touches meaning that the average cost of weddings has (according to research by CollectPlus) dropped to £11k.
It's all quite funny really, except for the thought that some women (especially young brides) might well buy into all of this crap. The magazines seem so certain, so authoritative in their stance - weddings are the whole world, and need to incorporate all of your interests, personal tastes and most polished group dance routines into 12 or so hours. It's enough to make anyone elope.