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No fairytale ending for the brides who are wedded to a big budget

During a recent bout of insomnia, I found a new late-night horror channel -- Wedding TV.

I became addicted to watching fervent, skinny women intent on marrying slightly balding, slightly overweight, very worried men.

But when I saw one couple being given a $100,000 wedding, I'd watched one horror movie too many. It is upside-down ridiculous to spend that amount in 24 hours.

I've always been uncomfortable with our wedding culture, even though I have been someone to wear a white frock and sit at top table. Back then I thought you had to, but now I see no one makes you but yourself.


I accept most little girls are waiting for their chance to be princesses. It's a long time to wait, after your communion, to dress up and have a whole church to yourself again, so why shouldn't you push the boat out?

Because it's 2009 and the boat is leaking. Weddings are lovely if you have the money for them and ruinous if you don't.

I just got a press release which tells me that the wedding industry is one of the only sectors in the country which seems to be doing well in the face of the downturn.

My guess, after watching too much wedding telly, is that girls are loath to grow up and accept that gowns, tuxedos, flowers, rings, favours, churches, hotels and honeymoons all have to be paid for, so they get to be Cinderella at the ball.

And my guess was confirmed by a male colleague this week. He is mid-30s, the time men get married at now. Though he has a long-term partner whom he loves, he is not going to process down any aisle soon, because he resists the pressure many of his friends are under to turn into Prince Charming and bankrupt themselves.

"It makes my blood boil to see how they're trapped into this overspend just to show how much they care about the women they're with," he said.

No wonder the wedding business is booming, propelled by hormonal, outrageous, brainwashed, unfulfilled fairytale syndrome sufferers. The Mills and Boon misapprehension is that if you get the Best Day of Your Life, your life suddenly transforms into Happy Ever After.

Me a*** it does. The more you spend on a wedding, the bigger the letdown. I got my chance to be Cinderella, but if I had the money now, I would take it rather than the day.

The thing I loved was the ceremony itself and the celebrant Fr Eamonn McCarthy who, among other things, saw no reason why women should not be priests too.

He was a wise man and a laugh and officiated with the Reverend Billy Wynn, who founded the Samaritans in Ireland. They made that memory incredible for me. Not a morass of vol-au-vents, canapes, beef or chicken and profiteroles.

I have sat at the back of too many churches in second-hand dresses, watching too many brides in hock, in designer gowns they can't afford, looking dazed and confused.


I never see the indescribable joy of the storybook. I see fluster, prenuptial arguments, hen and stag nights in the strange array of rituals created in a single generation.

When my parents got married they had a wedding breakfast and were back to work after a weekend in West Cork, not a month in the Seychelles. They bought things beforehand, so there was no question of a wedding loan.

Women are the main perpetrators of this 21st century crime. In a secular society we choose fabulous churches and professional singers. We book bridal suites and gourmet menus in top hotels that wouldn't give us the time of day for the other days of our lives.

We want to be Coleen Rooney, even if the man we are with doesn't earn enough to keep Wayne in boots. It doesn't matter what the groom thinks. His shoes must match her handbag. He's not even allowed to choose his cummerbund. The cummerbund, the thing he will never wear again, is worn out of love for the bride and makes him broker.

It's radioactive bridal lunacy at this time of year. I know a couple who flew abroad to buy the rings. I bought my ring in England. Because I lived there. No ring in Ireland would do Mrs-To-Be. Mr-To-Be was not impressed, but told me: "It's her day."

No it isn't. It belongs to a couple, not to a train-wrecked woman with a book full of lists and collection of ragged friends, asked to be bridesmaids, wearing a colour they didn't choose, dragged to every fitting and talking dresses like they were a degree subject.

It would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Every day I pass a house that hasn't been finished because the couple spent so much on their wedding. I thought the recession would have chewed up a lot of this romantic nonsense, but it seems a new trend, for 2009, is not one designer dress, but two. Some brides find that one is not enough, so they are using a mini dress for the reception.

Give me strength. That used to be called a going-away outfit, now it's called the sent-down outfit, where the couple give way to the strain of preparations and kill each other five minutes after New York, New York is played.


If men had their way they'd go in a pair of clean jeans, to a priest or registrar, say a few words and have a few pints and a meal with a collection of friends and family they (A) see and (B) care about. That sounds like a great day out to me.

I would love to see a survey done on how many couples who say "see you in church" end up saying "see you in court?"