I’m a romantic. A hopeful, hopeless romantic.
If you went way back in the mists of time you could trace the seed of this affliction to Ladybird fairytale books, I remember thinking that Cinderella’s yellow ball gown with lace and bows was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen.
Watching Fred and Ginger quick step their way to romance in black and white films, the dapper gentlemen in top hat and tails, the glamorous ladies and oh, the dancing. Such a wonderful fantasy. It wasn’t until many years later that I realised that the dressing up to dine out wouldn’t have been the everyday life of Americans in the 1930s.
In literature my girlhood heroines were Anne Shirley, Susanna of the Mounties and Jo from Little Women, young women at odds with conformity but who, none the less, had vibrant romantic lives, if only in their heads but eventually finding a soul mate that would be their equal.
My own romantic journey through my teens and twenties was dogged by lack of confidence and an assumption that boys and men wouldn’t find me attractive; after all men don’t make passes at girls that wear glasses. I didn’t have my first boyfriend until my mid-teens, we finished because the distance was too great – 18 miles and poor public transport can seem the world when you’re 16. Ah how impatient we are in youth. Now I see it as less than 40 minutes on a pretty train journey.
To today, and romance. I love it, I love the fantasy of it, the hope of it, the notion of triumphing over adversity merely by emotion; though of course I know that love doesn’t conquer all, love is fluid, living and like all living things in need of nurturing and is at risk of withering under the unforgiving, unrelenting dirge of troubled times.
And being a romantic I love weddings. I loved getting married, of being married, its irrational and nonsensical. There’s no religious element of it for me as I don’t believe in any god. There’s no sense that being married is better or more permanent than being in a committed relationship that isn’t marriage. I don’t treat my friends in married or unmarried relationships any different to each other. I don’t think one state has a moral authority over the other, I don’t think, and my own personal experience is testament to this, that a marriage guarantees a relationship to last and yet I’m a fan.
Which is why I adore the TV show Don’t Tell the Bride. For the uninitiated the premise is simple; a couple are given £12,000 and a month to plan their wedding, except the bride to be has no say in the matter, all the money and the plans are in the hand of the groom.
Every episode follows the same course, the groom gets going with the help of his best man and some beers, meanwhile we watch his fiance visit her dream venue, try on her dream dress and finally freak out at the realisation that her beloved might not have his wedding telepathy mode switched on. The conflict is inherent in watching the contrast between the woman’s dream and the man’s implementation. What I never fail to be reminded of is how often people seem to assume that the wedding is about the bride. The grooms in the programme always seem to talk about giving their partner her dream wedding, which is exactly what the bride always talks about her dream wedding. At the end of every episode there is a wedding, well apart from the one where he decided to fly to Vegas, and in general, although the wedding may bear no resemblance to the brides ideal they are usually swept off their feet by their partner’s endeavours.
I can’t help wondering that if the brides were given the money how much they would talk about the grooms dream day and I’m always left thinking that perhaps men are more romantic then they are generally given credit for. After all the most enjoyable weddings I’ve been to have been the ones where you felt the identity of the couple were represented through their choices rather than it being a catwalk show for the bride with the groom cast in the supporting role.
My own wedding was a funny mix, but that’s a story for another blog post, my marriage didn’t survive some tough times, but lets not dwell on reality when there is the wonderful fantasy of romance to distract us.
Oh and one very last word, should you ever nominate yourself and your intended for Don’t Tell the Bride, two words of advice Pinterest Board!