It’s finally happened. My boyfriend put a ring on it. Then, in true fairytale fashion, Serena disappeared in a puff of smoke and Bridezilla took her place. It was a brief attack of highly strung schmaltz which left me reeling at the ease with which one, admittedly hugely impressive, romantic gesture had somehow managed to wipe out years of feminist protest against the “patriarchal institution” of marriage.
Prior to this knee wobbling moment in my life, I had pretty firm public views on marriage (although privately they have been slowly thawing since I met Mr Right three years ago). Engagement rings were “oppressive symbols”, women who changed their surnames were “weak” and weddings were a hugely expensive farce embarked upon when a couple ran out of conversation, or were pressured into by grandchild-deprived parents.
It started innocently enough with a champagne-fuelled post-proposal chat on a steamy Saigon rooftop (I told you it was romantic). While being serenaded by a trio of Vietnamese singing Santas, I found myself getting excited about everything from possible venues (it simply has to be a ruined castle in Wales), to bridesmaids (four, at least), and of course the dress (no meringues, obvs). Swept away on a cloud of hormones and Veuve Clicquot, I made the mistake of broadcasting the happy news on Facebook (as a result my feed is filled with adverts for everything from “how to be a skinny bride” to where to buy “ethical wedding rings”).
I rationalised the initial emergence of my inner princess on the grounds that how many feminists wouldn’t get carried away in the face of such a beautiful gesture. Someone actually wants to spend the rest of their life with me? That’s a mind-blowing thought for starters. Then, there’s the ring (yes, I know it’s a symbol of a contract and I might as well have “I’m taken” tattooed across my forehead), but it’s also elegant, sophisticated and so, very sparkly. The situation only got out of hand when I found myself sat on a tropical beach on Christmas Day, cocktail in hand, arguing with my new fiancé over whether or not guests should be seated during a ceremony which is over a year away! I still maintain that I was purely thinking of women in heels being forced to stand for a prolonged period, but it was…