I am sitting in a church, in heels and a dress, clutching an Order of Service and waiting for something to happen. A girl in a white gown arrives, jittery with nerves she asks the middle-aged man offering her his arm why everyone is looking at her. A ripple of laughter at this overheard question moves around the church. Music plays and she makes her way down the aisle to an equally nervous yet excited-looking man. In barely an hour’s time the couple walks back down the aisle, legally and symbolically bound to one another for the rest of their lives.
I have attended plenty of weddings in my time. At one stage (when I was young and cute – many years ago!) I was a regular bridesmaid on the wedding circuit amongst friends and family. As I grew up, and as puberty then cynicism decreased my cute factor significantly, I attended more as a mere guest – the older brothers and sisters of friends, relatives, acquaintances. But there was something different about this wedding. This time the couple were my contemporaries, peers, people my age. And it made me feel very peculiar.
After hours of wedding photos, drinking pre-dinner drinks and finally eating dinner, there were speeches by the families of the two young people who had made this lifelong commitment. The standard wedding disco whirled into action and as the grannies grooved to Rihanna (blissfully hard enough of hearing not to be able to understand the lyrics to ‘S&M’!) I couldn’t shake a thought at the back of my mind.
Nothing has ever made me feel more young, and at the same time, more old, than watching people the same age as me get married. I felt young because the commitment of saying ‘Sure, I’ll spend the rest of my life with you and even make a legal contract with you to prove it.’ seems to me such a huge, daunting step to take. And to add to my dismay, the vicar casually asked the couple to confirm that they would raise a family together. Children? Not even on my radar right now; except in a get-their-horrid-sticky-fingers-away-from-my-expensive-coat sort of a way. Because the thought of giving up possibilities and opportunities presented to me, due to what someone else would rather do, makes me worry that my life will be dull. Or worse, resentful.
And yet, as I watch this couple, so sure of themselves and each other, I feel so old. I want to scream at them the fatalistic statistics about how many marriages end in divorce, and how hard it is to make a relationship, let alone a marriage work. I look at their shiny new rings and their crisp new certificate and think ‘Honestly? You reckon this is going to be fun forever? How naive are you people?!’ But I swallow my inner turmoil, because this is the happiest day of their lives.
I fear I will just have to get used to it as we all get older. In a year or two I predict the wedding invites will be arriving thick and fast. I have visions of myself like Hugh Grant (but female and with better hair) in 4 Weddings and a Funeral, sliding into yet another pew next to my friends and asking ‘Who is it this week?’
I’d better start stocking up on hats…here come the brides.
BY FLORA TONKING