I never had Barbies when I was growing up. But several of my friends did. And those Barbies ran shoe shops, owned palatial houses, met friends for coffee and gossip, drove sports cars and, in one long-running storyline, had a torrid affair with Ken involving hot tubs, which ended when he ran off with her friend. (No, I have no idea where that came from at age 12. Too many books pilfered from my parents’ shelves perhaps.) But they didn’t get married.
As far as I can tell, every little girl dreams of her big white wedding day, sussing out basic details like where and what kind of dress and bridesmaid colours. Right? Certainly that’s what any number of books, movies and magazines tell us. Well, recent attendance at the marriage of friends plus the engagements of others (and reading the gloriously trashy Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet books) have put weddings on my mind. And I’ve realised that I have no concept of what my wedding (which, I hasten to add, is in the unforseen future) might look like. I’ve planned out the speech that I’m going to beg my best friend to let me give at her wedding, but don’t even have a concept of the location I would choose for a ceremony. The closest I’ve got is knowing I’d want to swing dance for our first dance — because it’s such a glorious dance style and I love jazz. But that’s it. And with all the wedding fever in the air (must be spring!) that makes me slightly worried. Shouldn’t I have some plans? Or even mild opinions? Just in case?
Of course, it’s not the first time my life hasn’t conformed to the expectations that the aforementioned books, movies and magazines set up. I’ve never achieved glamour at the beach, for instance — despite my best intentions, I just like swimming too damn much. I suppose no one really does achieve all these expectations (which, in fact, often contradict each other) and that’s probably a good thing. I mean, what would the world be like if everyone dressed stunningly, applied their makeup perfectly and had crackingly hot sex? (The answer is supposed to be, quite superficial…)
Sometimes I wonder whether the whole wedding thing wouldn’t be easier if you took yourselves off and just did it. I recently read a beautiful story written by a colleague who had flown to the Whitsundays with her two friends, their son and their mothers to photograph their elopement on one of the tropical islands. And I still remember going with my family to a barbecue for friends of my parents where said friends revealed they’d secretly been to the celebrant that morning and this was the wedding reception. But then in many ways I suppose a wedding isn’t just about you and your partner, it’s a celebration for your families and friends who all love you and share in your relationship. And it would be a shame — and selfish — to cut them out of that.