In which I list the things I have learnt in the three weeks since becoming engaged

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1. Getting engaged makes people happy.  Even those of your friends and family who you thought were very cynical about the institution of marriage will surprise you with how genuinely chuffed they are for you.  One friend, who lives in Barcelona and who was therefore the first person we saw after it,  told us we had made her year.  We were also given cards, champagne and chocolate,  and taken out to dinner to celebrate.  If I’d known this was the reaction we’d get, I’d have proposed to S years ago.

2. People take weddings very, very seriously.  We started half heartedly looking at venues – just to get an idea, really – and then realised we’d have to step up our game as some of them were getting booked up eighteen months in advance.  This is why within three weeks of being engaged we’ve already visited two venues and have another appointment for the weekend.

3. Wedding magazines produced by the big publishing houses are really, really expensive.  Luckily I’ve discovered that there are quite a few regional freebie ones which are just as good, if not better, as they focus on the geographical area where we want to get married.

4. You can also get magazines devoted entirely to wedding flowers.  Yes, just the flowers that you will carry for ooh, an hour of the whole day.

5. Choosing an engagement ring is hard.  If it’s not presented as a fait accompli by the groom and you get to have a hand in it, then that’s great, but it does lead onto a lot of debate.  Trying to find a ring that’s a balance of both of your tastes – after all, he is paying for it and will see it every day too – is tough.  And this is a piece of jewellery that’s going to (touch wood) be around for the rest of your life.  There are so many things to consider – material, stone, classic, modern, baguette cut, faceted, non-faceted….

6. The whole wedding industry is insane.  The etiquette!  What people expect you to do!  The amount of things you have to organise!  And then there are the things that magazines say you ought to have – favours!  Fancy cars to get you to the venue!  Chocolate fountains!  I am doing my best to ignore all this and just focus on what S and I want, but I suspect it may prove hard to resist the pressure.

7. Wedding venues are, for the most part, out to squeeze every last penny from the privilege of you using their space.  If it’s not binding you to their caterer, it’s having to pay for a licence extension or extra for having the ceremony there.  Mention the word “wedding” and prices goes up by at least 25%.

8. Once you announce the engagement, family politics will rear its ugly head.  And don’t even get me started on the reaction to our desire to ban anyone under the age of 18.

9. How on earth are you expected to pick out a dress when there are SO MANY OUT THERE TO CHOOSE FROM?

10. Wedding photographers’ pictures all start to blur into one after a while.  There are only so many fish-eye lens shots or Reservoir Dogs-esque groomsmen poses you can take before your eyes start to glaze over.

I can now see how women turn into Bridezillas.  I count myself to be a sane, calm, rational woman who has no desire to be a “princess” on her big day.  But even now, with at least a year to go, I have started obsessing over small details.  Goodness knows what state I’ll be in a month before.  But hey, there’s always the option of a quick trip to Gretna Green if it gets too much.

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