Can.I.Rock.it?

The Cheap Bride

In I am... on August 13, 2010 at 1:49 am

CityBoy sat opposite me looking a little high-strung at lunch the other day. Having been on bikini watch for what seems like an eternal summer, I was honestly finding it more annoying with every passing minute that he didn’t tear into the mouth-watering burger in front of him, like a savage animal, ketchup down the face and all. Trying my up most to be supportive however, I listened to my friend relay the problem that has been plaguing his mind for months now. CityBoy plans to propose to his girlfriend of two years. He’s head over heals for her in a genuine way that doesn’t make me nauseous, but there’s something stalling the proposal…


His beautiful fiance wants the little girl’s dream– the big rock (minimum 3 carats), the extravagant white wedding (ice sculptures on every table) but he, like most men, cannot bear the thought of the dent it would make in the future that he’s meticulously planning for them. CityBoy has come to me, because apparently I’m a rare specimen of the female species that couldn’t give a flying– well let’s just say I’m the kind of gal that looks slightly uncomfortable at weddings. For the life of me, I can never understand why my fellow female guests are blubbering into handkerchiefs as the bride walks up the aisle. Where do those tears even come from? I tend to think the only person who should be weeping is the person who’ll be picking up the tab for the whole production.

Princess Diana wedding to Prince Charles

“Women have these absurd expectations that have to be met,” CityBoy said, rubbing his temples, “Why can’t they be more pragmatic and think about houses, school fees, cars and holidays?” I almost choke on my three bean salad at the mention of school fees, but other than that terrifying thought, I’m agreeing with everything he says. There are several reasons for my lacklustre attitude towards wedding culture.

Firstly there’s engagement rings. All I can think about when yet another friend bites the dust and excitedly thrusts her sparkling rock in my face is what kind of sparkling, lipstick-red vintage car I would trade it in for. A lengthy tour of South America comes in at a close second. The only thing I see in a big diamond engagement ring, like my friend CityBoy, is a big fat price tag. I think it appropriate here, to quote the definition of gluttony; an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires. One might someday require a lipstick-red vintage car to get around town with the hubby. One does not require a giant diamond to sit on one’s finger. There, you see the difference?

My fundamental problem with a man proposing to a woman with an expensive ring is that I find it’s a cleverly disguised symbol of offering money for love. It has become so ingrained in social tradition that very few people stop to realise how inappropriate a gesture it actually is. (Personally, I blame the movies.) Tiffany’s is full of men wiping the sweat from their brow, trying to calculate how many years of late nights in the office they are sentencing themselves to as they nervously browse the vitrines. Certainly it must take away the romance of it all when the smug saleswoman takes pleasure in leading him away from the cabinet of rings he thinks would look pretty on his girlfriend’s finger and then showing him the selection of rings that he can actually afford for his budget– the kind that have a high rate of exchange or refund. It’s heartbreaking to watch– the disappointment he feels at that moment is so cruel. Why on earth would you want to put the fella you love through that?

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

I think if a guy presented me with an engagement ring worth anything more than a 1965 bottle of Chateaux Margaux, it would take everything inside me not to ruin the moment and blurt out what a monumental waste of money I thought it really was.
As difficult as it is to swallow, the fact is, monogamy is a rare thing to come by these days. Forget the big fat diamond ring and consider the power of male testosterone– to get it to steer into our direction and our direction only, is certainly a reward more valuable than three measly carats?

Click to see what Messy Nessy would rather sport on her fourth finger

“I think she wants something extravagant,” said CityBoy with wide eyes, at the thought of his wedding day. I’m scared for him. There’s all kinds of awkwardness surrounding a wedding that the guests may or may not be aware of come the ‘sacred day’. For example, the conversation that took place to determine which set of in-laws had to pay for it all. How controlling and crazy did the bride really get before walking down the aisle? And does anyone realise that no one in the groom’s family can eat the main course containing pork escalopes? It’s enough to send shudders down my spine. As if it’s not frightening enough to get married, I’d rather keep the pressure to a minimum on the day I take the plunge. I would need to think of it like a party, have fun organising it with my special guy, put on a pretty lace dress I might find in my grandmother’s storage and dance the night away. Intimate is the crucial word, while cool and casual can also be thrown into the mix.

Maria Grachvogel catsuit- click to enlarge

Although I would ideally like to be close to a vineyard for great wine and cheese, I once met a bride-to-be with what I remember thinking were very chic and unique plans for a springtime wedding in London. A 32-year old writer for Vogue, tall, pretty and blonde, she chose to wed her art dealer fiancé in a Maria Grachvogel catsuit (costing  £999, see image) at the King’s Road Chelsea Town Hall. After the quick and informal ceremony, they planned to walk over to their favourite pub where they had reserved the pretty beer garden for 50 close friends and family. I imagine it was special, effortless and hopelessly romantic.

Knowing CityBoy‘s fiancé, she will probably come around and make some very wise compromises on either the rock or the wedding, hopefully both. These childhood fairytale fantasies have got to go and that applies to all of us. In this uncertain economic environment that looks set to remain choppy for miles to come, the most men can hope for is that they fall for a girl that’s within their price range. Otherwise, I’m sure there’s still hope of ‘happily ever after’– just minus 50K.

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  1. Although I am unfortunately one of the blubberers, you make a fair point! great article.xxx

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