As all of our friends know, we became engaged on the last day of July, and will marry in January next year. Three months in, we're discovering that planning a wedding is all consuming.
To begin with, every conversation with friend or family alike begins with:
"So, how is the wedding planning going?"
As I mentally run through the empty tick boxes from the 'Brides & Setting up Home - Wedding Countdown' that week and begin to feel rather guiltily that I went out clubbing, stayed over at friends, and got drunk rather than spending the weekend discussing 'my colours' with florists.
The magnitude of the Wedding grows with each visit to the bride shop.
"The most important day of our life" quotes the assistant at Virgin Bride as I am being asked to seriously consider spending 1200 pounds on a dress I will wear once. One hundred pounds an hour. Yet, the store was packed with young women buying into the dream.
The kindly baker from whom I buy 65p pastries quotes me £100 for a 12" cake. "You only get married once", he says, "it's your wedding". The 'w' word provides the licence to charge 10x a reasonable price.
The 'w' word also appears to be linked with very strict instructions, completely unknown to anyone unfamiliar with 'Brides' or 'Wedding & Home'. We visited our photographer with a very comprehensive brief. After listening for 10 minutes, Maurice agrees:
"It's your day. I'm very flexible and we'll do it how you want it" he begins. And continues: "We'll start at the brides home"
"No, no", I explain, "we live together. I don't want photos in our flat."
"Then the bride arriving at the church, coming out of the car", Maurice continues
"No, no, as I explained, we're not getting married in a church, or using a wedding car. Both the ceremony and the reception is at the Lanesborough."
"Oh, yes, the Lanesborough, of course, we'll do the photos opposite, in Hyde Park."
"But we're getting married at 8 in the evening, in January. As I said, we want all of the photos inside."
"However you want. The park is a great location, I use lots of natural light."
The next photographer listened a little harder, but she was just as confused by our brief. I guess wedding photography is for people who like people, but also like to get up each morning and take the exact same photos of a girl in a white dress getting out of a car, walking into a church, signing a registrar and cutting a three tiered white cake.
I see my wedding differently. I see my close friends and close family enjoying a great party after sharing in a ceremony that joins my life to that of the man I love. The bridal magazines were as useful to me as Vogue Living is to the beginner DIYer wanting to know what colour to repaint the kitchen.
I feel that I am going against the rest of the world by trying to do the unthinkable and rejecting or modify several modern bridal traditions. Fortunately, both my parents and parents to be are very supportive of my plans. I think that the advertisers in 'Brides', and the stockholders of the 1.5 billion pound industry that earns its living from every little girl's fairy princess bridal fantasy may not be so empathetic.