While the traditional requirements of a lifelong marriage – fidelity, eternal selflessness and so on – are deeply unfashionable, getting married in 2019 still feels very “in”. I cried happy tears right through a gorgeous wedding last Saturday, and not just because of my blistered little toe in four-inch heels: it was that heroic sense of hope, faith and love that infuses the room at all good betrothals. Plus merging families, choked-up speeches, in-jokes, all-day drinking and happy guests who’ve scrubbed up nicely.

Yes, we live in an age where eschewing one’s “authentic” sexual urges is frowned upon (because you only live once!) and home ownership is so precious that making anyone legally entitled to swipe half of your property feels frankly idiotic. Nevertheless, we are still marrying. (Some are divorcing and marrying again. We continue to be those idiots.) For this, I blame, in no small part, Instagram, where getting married has never looked so wonderful. With roughly a billion active worldwide users, over half of whom are under 35, Instagram is the planet’s greatest modern-day advert for spending at least £30k – often much, much more – on a big blow-out do.

In the summer of 2019, anyone who’s been single for longer than they’d possibly prefer knows the pain of bedtime scrolling through flower-festooned village churches, sandy-toed mothers of the bride, cupcake towers and, of course, that end-of-the-big-day shot where two people cling together laughing, in black and white, above a caption that simply reads: “Finally married THIS one.”

Of course, getting married has about as much to do with being married as attending the Academy Awards has to do with spending six months in the Philippines filming Apocalypse Now during Typhoon Olga. A wedding involves fittings, sculptings and your very best self drinking champagne and being adored. Marriage, on the other hand, is standing in your kitchen going, “Where the hell have all these ants come from? You said you’d buy poison” and “Is this a spot on my back, or a boil? If it has a head, can you squeeze it?” None of the latter involve sugared almonds in tiny gauze bags or a harpist playing Bryan Adams. You’d think by now we’d have worked this out, but seemingly not.

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Despite giving my divorce lawyer carte blanche to thwack me over the head with a big mallet and lock me in his stationery cupboard if I ever mention marriage again, I have caught myself, of late, staring at Instagram stories of women with good arms in Vera Wang nude-and light-ivory tulle with hand-finished gold Chantilly lace bodices, being 100% that amazing bitch, and I have thought: “Oh, but could it really hurt?” To cure myself, I scour Mumsnet and Reddit for tales of brides and grooms going fully bonkers in the run-up to their big day. Their insanity keeps me sane. My favourite this year is a bride who wrote to one guest insisting she buy tattoo camouflage cream, as her blue arm inkings would spoil the wedding colour scheme. Another bride sent out a weight chart decreeing anyone over 80kg wear only dark colours, or have the common decency to loiter at the back of the group photo.

My other favourite sport is tracking, via Instagram stories, groups of relative strangers on week-long wedding jaunts to the Algarve or the Carribean, involving dinners and group activities night-after-night. Is it wrong that I enjoy scanning the crowd for bulging eyes and bitten lips? We are ripe for a Midsommar-style horror movie about a group trapped in Mauritius, forced to barbecue every evening, disappearing eerily one by one.

Still, it’s little surprise that, first millennials, and now Generation Z, in the face of all this hashtagged Hefe-filtered glamour, are still falling like dominoes around the age of 26. Pray for the poor man in a long-term relationship, still holding out at 32, not really wanting to propose, but already the last of his group, swimming fruitlessly against a tide of #famalam first babies and surprise #shesaidyes Christmas proposals. Think of him enduring a long, passive-aggressive day with his partner watching more friends tie the knot; the silence of the journey home; the terseness of the “Oh you beauts! Perfect day!” comments that his partner leaves under every single photo.

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I thought for decades that many people got married because it was easier than the fights about staying unhitched. Then along came Instagram, filled with ceremonies in small private vineyards where the bride arrives by carriage, or the grooms both leave by hot-air balloon. And weddings in stately homes where the guests play croquet, and a hog is roasted, and the bride’s waist is so waspish – and have the couple had their teeth bleached, because it seems so? These wedding days are filled with love, the giddy kind of fresh love that looks great on camera, rather than the love that is begrudging, sore-hearted or enduring “in spite of everything”. No wonder it is still so amazingly fashionable. Being married can be a ball-ache, but every one of us deserves a wedding.



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