Caught off guard.

I’ve been avoiding writing this one for as long as I can. Not just your usual ‘put the kettle on, rearrange the draining board try out that garish-lipstick that you brought in a moment of madness from Superdrug’ type procrastination. I’m talking actual, deliberate and conscious efforts of resistance. NO I WILL NOT. But here I am. Writing it. And it’s vaguely about the Royal Wedding. Please don’t hate me.

Nevertheless, the royal nuptials are an undeniably huge feature on the horizon, and most definitely a major feature of this week. Thus being the Features section, we really are obligated to acknowledge its status as an extremely topical universal talking point. Apparent lack of journalistic originality excused please.

To begin with a general pondering, weddings, whether Royal or not, are simply not what they used to be. Gone are the days when you had a cup of Nescafé with the local reverend and booked the parish church for four weeks on Saturday. Equally, it is no longer “enough” for the mother of the bride to whip up a Christmastide-style fruitcake and lay on a mini-quiche buffet. These days, marriage ceremonies and receptions require wedding planners, caterers, sommeliers, tailored invitations by graphic designers and a lavish stag or hen do. Preferably both, for equality of opportunity purposes. It is not just fairytale Hollywood rom-coms that are peddling this vision of orchestrated, big-budget wedding perfection. Homegrown reality TV is in on it too, and it’s a disturbing sight to behold.

The list of popular, wedding-based shows (broadcasted by such highbrow, responsible corporations such as the BBC and Sky I may add) is almost endless. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, The Wedding House and Don’t Tell The Bride all bring in consistently impressive viewing figures. There is even a wedding equivalent to Come Dine With Me, Four Weddings, in which four brides-to-be rate one another’s wedding according to their perception of the venue, food, dress and overall experience. Shallow much? Give me bumbling Hugh Grant speeding down the motorway, swearing and getting lost on the way to yet another ceremony in Four Weddings and a Funeral any day.

Let’s be honest, we Brits are a self-deprecating lot, and we love a chuckle, especially at the expense of others. Where is the fun in a meticulously choreographed, airbrushed and on-time service? Surely putting on such a show is more of an embarrassment than an achievement? We’d much rather be watching our uncle trip down the aisle after one too many scotches in his morning porridge, or melting internally as the jittery groom get’s his prospective wife’s middle’s names in a muddle. It’s these tender moments that soften our hearts and remind us of the true meaning of marriage: steadfast love that gives you butterflies and interfering relatives.

It is the subject of relatives that makes Kate Middleton’s marriage a tad problematic. It is extremely unlikely that Miss Middleton would volunteer her wedding as reality TV fodder in normal circumstances. Yet these circumstances are not your average, middle class rented Rolls Royce and country house reception marital conditions. William’s granny is the Queen. Shocker. However, if we put ourselves in her position, it is not so unimaginable that her relationship with her future husband didn’t start in the manner of many of St Andrews courtships, as exemplified by The Other Guys now world-famous “Royal Romance”. To go from this bubble of relative normality to Royal curtsies and intellectually challenging table etiquette, not to mention constant, round-the-clock media attention and wedding guests that she has never met…Kate deserves to win that Four Weddings honeymoon prize, and then some. We’re all expected to be polite to the in-laws on the big day, but maintaining the princess demeanor is a lifelong appointment that is definitely not on offer at The Careers Centre, for extremely few of us would qualify. She is soon to be married to not only Wills, but also the nation and the commonwealth. Any embarrassing wedding photos will not be hidden in the attic, they will be plastered on the newsstands. Cue bulletproof, waterproof mascara and a dress to kill, the pressure is on. In this case, perfectionist planning is a matter of state, not simply the overzealous designs of an eager to please bridezilla.

We all hope that the T-mobile advert will come true, that Kate wears an outrageous Vivienne Westwood frock and that Harry plays the lad. Unlikely, but it can be certain that this will be a wedding like no other. A third of smartphone users have already purchased the Wedding Procession App, whilst Wills and Kate Oyster cards have been issued. St James’s Palace has launched the official Royal Wedding website, releasing daily Youtube videos featuring prestigious figures ranging from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the official wedding cake maker, whilst documenting the beneficiaries of The Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton Charitable Gift Fund. The nuptials constitute the most accessible Royal matrimony in history, and even an eligible future student applying to our very university will reap the benefits of their union, as I am sure you’re aware that a wedding gift in the form of a student scholarship was granted to them by our establishment. Will Kate utter to word ‘obey’ in her vows? Will David Cameron wear his yellow and grey his morning suit? Perhaps she will and hopefully he won’t, but a subtle break from tradition and an embracement of modernity will benefit us all. Even if all that this is entails is relying on our iPhone app as opposed to our crinkled A to Z of London to follow the procession. Yes, the ‘Knit your own Royal Wedding’ and remarkably accurate ‘Kate and Wills pizza’ are taking preparations and memorabilia a little too far, but few can wholeheartedly state that the Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage hasn’t stirred the least bit of interest, if only for the simple consideration that IT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU. Or that at least you could have been Will’s mate and gotten an invite. No doubt, behind closed doors, the reception will be raucous. They acquired their party pedigree at St Andrews, remember.

 

Anna Hunter