Sunday, December 02, 2007


In a state of complete indifference, I can announce that plans are in the pipeline to sell off the Register Office that I got married in. I don't have any sentimental reasons to object to it being sold off, and merely think that it's a sign of the capitalist times. These things happen nowadays.

You may well ask why someone who still admits to having unfashionable feminist beliefs would get married at all. Er, you may well ask.

Hmm ... I was certainly not a prime candidate for sitting around believing that a knight in shining armour would sweep me off my feet. I've always hated weddings, brides, hats, crying mothers, plans for weddings, having to socialise with relatives and *friends* that I haven't seen for twenty years, engagement rings and all that crap.

Even from an early age I didn't believe that would make me happy. What's the point of thinking your life is only valid if a mayy-ernn gets down on one knee and proposes, you have a big tacky wedding, and the only things you have to look forward to in life are squeezing out babies, baking, pretending you have a mental age of 8 and, eventually, babysitting your grandchildren. Yeuch!

Still, I got married after living in sin (which still sounds sooo much more appealing) for four years.

The decision came about NOT because of a tacky romantic proposal over a tacky romantic meal involving a couple of starry eyed twentysomethings who would no doubt be going through a long and painful divorce a decade later. It was a mutual decision made by a clapped out, been around the block couple in their mid thirties who wanted to put their financial matters in order.

The year before, my dad had died. Despite his telling me at regular intervals that YOU HAVE TO MAKE A WILL AND GET EVERYTHING SORTED OUT FOR THOSE YOU LEAVE BEHIND, in the last months of his life he went a bit loop-de-loop and mislaid the will in his house. When he died, it was nowhere to be found. Months of stressful dealings with solicitors later, we managed to find the will by chance, nowhere near where it was originally supposed to have been.

Nope, I didn't care about getting my hands on his money (well, aside from paying for funeral expenses and the other gubbins that gets tied up with someone's death). It's just that, at the point when all I wanted to do was mourn someone, I was having to deal with all that hassle, which could've been avoided with a few simple procedures beforehand.

I swore after that that I'd make my own will, keep it at a solicitor's office and for things to be very cut and dried. Getting married made things easier.

So married we were, on a Monday morning, with four guests, no rings and the most basic ceremony on offer. My dress cost a fiver from a second hand shop (all part of my principle to go completely against the idea of a silly over the top wedding). We only had a handful of pictures taken, and there was no official photographer.

Rather predictably, A LOT OF PEOPLE DIDN'T APPROVE. Disappointingly, this included some people who I thought would have been more, shall we say, enlightened.

Surely this was a lot less bother than forcing people to attend a long, drawn out boring ceremony and reception, pay out for a present, have to travel long distances and take time out of their annual leave? What did anyone have to grumble about exactly?

I'm still married, I still don't have a wedding ring, and I still use my maiden name. I rather hoped that I wouldn't have to explain why this is the case in the year 2007, but I still frequently do.

Still, when I get all those Christmas cards addressed to Mr and Mrs (Contains Mild Peril) in a week or two, I'll just shrug my shoulders. It's all you can do.

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Betty - I'll swear you can read my mind. After 'living in sin' for 10 years we have 'lived apart in sin' for 11 more.
Procrastination is my middle name so I haven't made a will.
The word marriage scares me - I'm just waiting for hetero civil partnerships to be made legal.
Hurrah for Betty and Geoff! Unless you're religious, I don't really get the marriage thing, and especially not the big wedding thing. And don't get me started on gift lists for couples who've already been living together for years.

(Though I wish someone would bring into fashion gift lists for single people - I would like PAYBACK for all those bloody coffee pots and photo frames you have to purchase, when I move into my new place...)

I have got FIVE weddings to attend in 2008.

One of them involves doing a reading AT MASS.

Good on the both of ya.
Neither of you is answerable to anyone else so you both did what made you happy. There is no problem, seems a simple enough solution. But then the problem lies with the others who can't grasp a non-hypocritical concept.
Similarly, we had three wedding guests and my dress cost a fiver - though it was new. My ma-in-law snapped a few pictures and took us out to lunch.

We did have a party a few months later, but no present list.

More to marriage than squeezing out babies etc though, isn't there?

I'm guessing it didn't come with a bonnet.
Kaz - I don't think I would've minded if we'd had a gay-style civil partnership ceremony. At least that way there would be a chance that the reception would've been less boring than usual.

Annie - I know, all those people who make lists of presents. Bloody cheek really. If they hadn't wasted all the money on a wedding they could have bought all that stuff twice over!

Spinsterella - at least it proves that you're popular, I suppose. Can't you get out of doing the reading? Sounds more like the sort of thing that would happen at a funeral, that does.

Istvanski - problem is, you try to question people about what was wrong with what you did and they tend to say "but it's not normal!" That's about all they can think of as an explanation.

Z - good on you. A lot of people have huge weddings as some sort of gesture, then they get divorced after a few years. Is it possible they liked the idea of the wedding more than the marriage?

Boz - the internet won't be seeing the dress because it went to another secondhand shop after the ceremony. Environmentally aware, me (or very unsentimental, more like). There was no bonnet.
I don't see what there is for any friend/loved one to get mardy about. Just because you chose to have an 'under the radar' ceremony, doesn't mean they can't be happy for the both of you and express that in some alternative way: drag you down the pub, send you a gift or a card, tease you for a week and get over it etc.
Honestly, some people!
I'd only want to get married if it meant I'd get a nice coffee machine.
Me and my mrs went under the radar to get wed, for the same legal/financial reasons you cite. Did it in France, and only invited one of my sisters.

I try to avoid all rites of passage: weddings, funerals, christenings, graduation ceremonies. I've done pretty well at it, too.

I especially resent the idea of buying gifts for people who are spending £20k on a buffet and a disco.
We got married because we fancied throwing a big party (but rather less than 20K, f'fcksakes). Small Boo kept her own name: as a result I often get called Mr [Small Boo]. I think it's because British people don't like asking "what's your name?"
Yeah, but, I mean ok, right...but...but...you must have had sausage rolls, right? You gotta have sausage rolls!
You try getting married down at the reg when you're other half and her militia are all rabid Catholics!! It was all I could do to persuade them not to have a human sacrifice at the altar. If I'd have gone for anything else they would have hunted me down "lakka daaawg"!
They do divorce in a much less complicated way, however. Apparently, I get cast down into the eternal fires of Hell and damnation - but I get to keep the fish tank and the copy of Atmosphere by Russ Abbott.
Arabella - I didn't know they were called under the radar weddings before, but as two people have used the same expression in the comments here, I assume they must be! As for the people who criticise ... well, they tend to be the sort of people whose entire conversation consists of slagging off other people. It's what they enjoy.

Billy - that's as good a reason as any. There are probably a lot of women who only get married because they get a nice engagement ring!

Max Bob - congratulations on avoiding all the rites of passage stuff. Having to socialise with relatives is always such a bind. I'm now reaching the age where there are less weddings, but more funerals, which are more difficult to avoid attending.

Tim - because I've got an East European name, people can't remember it anyway. if I'd taken my other half's surname, then I wouldn't have to keep explaining that I'm not Polish. Still, who wants an easy life, eh?
Reg - there was always a stigma about registry office weddings years ago. My mum and dad wanted one but apparently my gran threw a real strop about it because she reckoned that people would think that my mum was up the duff and it was a shotgun wedding!

It's a good thing that you get to keep the fish tank if you're damned to Hell though. At least you'd be able to adhere to the rule of eating fish on Fridays and win some Catholic kudos.
yup. lived together in sin for 13 years, married because we purchased a house. seems to have taken.
mazel tov, betty!
FN - it's the not living in sin bit anymore which is a bit disappointing. Oh, and a happy Hanukkah to my literally millions of Jewish readers worldwide.
Well done you for keeping your name. I tried to go for a halfway house - maiden name at work and on bank account - but married name everywhere else. That didn't really work so then I tried to add my maiden name to my name as in 'first name' 'second name' 'maiden name' 'husband's name' - no hyphens.

Funny thing was, my driving licence, share holdings etc all accepted this but not the Passport Office so, in the end, I had to change it by deedpoll.

Really annoying, it's my name no-one else's so why did I have to get it changed legally - daft system.
Officialdom is very slow to catch up with the changing world, isn't it? I've not had any problems using my maiden on passports: perhaps things have moved on recently (... unless I did the wrong thing submitting my pre-marriage name and have broken the law!).
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