Is that sunlight I can see? The first tentative signs of the winter thaw mean two things: one, from this point onwards in any given clothes shop you will not be able to move for swimwear, and two, you should brace yourself for an avalanche of save the dates, be it via letterbox, inbox or Facebook 'other' folder. This is the time of year when all the couples that got engaged over Christmas / New Year begin to make concrete plans.
In the spirit of spring weddings, here is a taster of some of the more left-field ceremonies you can expect in the months ahead. Happy wedding attending/planning!
For most couples, the very last thing their wedding cake needs is an infestation of spiders. However, in one of the most bizarre recent trends, cake makers have been hiding a miniature Spiderman somewhere in their designs. The cartoon character has been spotted peering over cake figurines or poking his head out of the fondant icing.
Weddings between dogs
Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase 'puppy love', dog-owners in America have played cupid and arranged a wedding between their pets. The bride and groom, Missy and Saxon, are both pugs and work as therapy dogs at a care home for Alzheimer's patients, where their Valentine's Day ceremony was set up to entertain residents. The congregation included a canine bridesmaid and best man, and all the animals dressed in their best formalwear.
Cardboard cut-out grooms
As we know, love doesn't always work out - especially when your sweetheart is a fictional character. Fortunately, when that happens, you can always marry a photo of them, which is exactly what Laura Adkins from Tennessee did in January. Back in 2010 she purchased a cardboard cut-out of Edward Cullen, the character played by Robert Pattison in vampire film franchise Twilight, and quickly got to work planning their wedding. She took her 2D fiancé to Las Vegas and described the whole thing as an 'escapist fantasy'.
Anything but white
It was Queen Victoria who brought the notion of the white wedding dress to the masses; before this, white was a colour associated with mourning and superstitious brides made a conscious effort to avoid it! In fact, medieval brides would dress themselves in the brightest materials they could afford as a symbol of wealth. Today the gloomy connotations might be gone but, once again, women are turning away from white in favour of bold, bright colours. In 2013, Vera Wang's punchy shades of red will compete with fresh and outdoorsy mint wedding dresses, perfect for a spring ceremony.
In this vindictive new trend, engaged couples are apparently sending 'anti-invites' to those people they do not want as guests at their wedding. It is difficult to imagine in what situation this would be a necessary or appropriate step; perhaps as a thinly-concealed 'in your face!' to exes? A way to prevent irritating old acquaintances from turning up uninvited? Whatever the reason, this is one trend that brides- and grooms-to-be can do without. If you really want to keep numbers down, just stop posting your details and engagement photos on Facebook!
But don't worry if you receive an anti-invite from some half-forgotten classmate from primary school; just smile quietly to yourself and don't invite them to your dog's wedding.