I Don’t!

This weekend I went to my cousin’s wedding in Buxton. It was a lovely day, and nice to see some of my family I hadn’t seen for a while. The inevitable questions came about whether I would be next and I explained that I’m not getting married, to looks of surprise and confusion. But it got me thinking, is this definitely something I don’t want, and if so, why don’t I want it?

When I was a younger; indoctrinated by Disney movies and Rom Coms, I assumed that eventually I would get married and even planned out my wedding in my head (I wanted it to be in a castle), but as I got older I realised that perhaps all this wedding malarkey wasn’t for me. My boyfriend is even more against marriage, so unless a miracle happens (to both of us), this woman is never walking down that aisle (except to walk to my seat at other people’s weddings).

Reasons why I won’t be getting hitched
N.B this post gives examples from heterosexual weddings, as these are the only ones I have attended so far, and I am in a heterosexual relationship, but I know a lot of the traditions will not apply in same sex relationships and ceremonies.

1. The engagement ring
So a man is supposed to spend (at least) a month’s salary on this thing and then get down on one knee in some clichéd romantic fashion possibly in front of lots of people, then you look overjoyed and scream ‘yes!’ and then go on your Facebook page and tell everyone how he proposed. Umm…

The thing I hate most about this bit is the idea of waiting for a man to propose to you; which I hear talked about often, along with ‘I thought he was never going to do it’. At least I know with certainty that my man is genuinely never going to it.

How I would do it if I was going to get married: Either I would propose to reverse stereotypes, or we would just have a chat one day and decide as a couple that we would get engaged. No extravagant gestures and no expensive engagement ring. If there was going to be a ring, it would be fairly cheap and he would have to wear one too and since he hates wearing rings (so I don’t know what we would even do about the wedding ring in this hypothetical scenario), that’s unlikely.

2. It’s not like I’m a virgin
Historically, and still nowadays in certain religions, marriage is a religious ceremony linking your love to your God, and enabling you to now be able to have sexual intercourse without ‘sin’.

I happen to like sin, and find it incredibly unrealistic that you would marry someone without knowing how sexually compatible you are, so this certainly doesn’t apply to our relationship. Also neither of us follows a specific religion, there’s no need to cement our union in front of the leader or whatever. Also it always seems to be the woman’s virginity that is emphasised. I’ve never seen the man wear white to show his purity.

How I would do it: I’ve already ‘done it’ ha ha ha. But seriously, there’s no way it could be in a church or other religious building, even though some churches are very pretty. A castle would be cool, as I said before or maybe some gardens or a historical building.

3. Money
Apparently weddings cost around 20 grand! I say skip the wedding and just do the honeymoon without the ceremony. Or put down a deposit on a house, or go on a shopping spree, or give it to charity. Hell if you have a spare 20 grand, you are well lucky, so don’t waste it! Either that or you now have a massive bank loan/credit card bill.

How I would do it: Make sure we actually had enough money saved to pay for it, which would probably mean getting married in our 40s, or never.

4. Contractual Obligation
I get that the whole point is that because you are married you are more likely to work through problems, rather than just leave at the first sign of trouble. But I like the independence of being able to leave when I want and not having to pay loads of money to break up with someone. Divorces can be almost as messy and expensive as actual weddings, plus you then have to admit that 20 grand you spent a while back was just a waste of money. You could have numerous honeymoons if you just didn’t bother with the wedding bit.

How I would do it: Probably make an unromantic pre-nup and try to find the cheapest lawyer around if it all went wrong.

5 The Vows
Admittedly they have been updated and you’d be hard pressed to hear anyone saying ‘love, honour and obey’ anymore. However I did notice at the weekend, the groom saying that he will ‘protect’ the bride, which I thought was a bit outdated, and as it was a traditional Christian wedding, there was a lot of God chat and hymns.

How I would do it: Write our own vows, have as short a service as possible (guests get bored and hungry), in and out in less than half an hour. Also when the registrar asks if any person knows of any lawful reason why we shouldn’t get married, I would totally get someone to heckle something as a joke (and then probably due to the red tape of having to investigate the claim, the wedding would be delayed and we could all go to the pub for a bit).

6. The Dress
Why is it always so long? I’m surprised more women don’t trip over that thing; incredibly impractical.

How I would do it: Wear a short dress like the slutty non-virgin I am, who says you can’t get out legs and cleavage on your wedding day? Not me. Of course it wouldn’t be white either, (obvs) but mainly because white gets dirty easily and if there’s going to be wine, food and the classic chocolate fondue fountain, it’s probably not the best colour for me. Any other colour will do. Maybe even black.

6. Being given away
Another outdated tradition of transferring ownership of you from your dad to your husband, perpetuating the idea that women are property/objects etc.

How I would do it: Well as my father is deceased, he couldn’t give me away anyway. I would probably want to walk down the aisle with my partner and thus destroy that soppy ‘watching the groom’s face as he first sees her walk towards him’ moment.

7. The speeches
Ah the speeches, where important members of the wedding ensemble get to stand up and talk. Wait, except it’s almost always the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man – all men. It makes me so frustrated when you don’t hear any of the women speak. It’s all praising the bride for looking beautiful (though in this recent wedding, a lot of comments were made about her amazing non-looks based qualities too) and ridiculing the groom. What if I want to be ridiculed too? Why can’t people talk about my ill-judged life decisions and insinuate how naughty I was on the hen do?! I sat there at this wedding thinking ‘I’m a better public speaker than these guys who can’t project or articulate even with a microphone’ (genuinely missed a lot of what they said due to this problem).

How I would do it: I would give a speech, as would the groom, best man and my best woman, so that way it would be equal and I would also get to tell my husband how beautiful he looked. (Aww).

8. The bouquet (and all the other hundreds of flowers)
I’m not really a flowers kind of gal; I had a mini freak out when my boyfriend bought me flowers on our third date (though it was really sweet), so I find the flowers at weddings overwhelming. The bouquet thing is weird too – all the unmarried women scrambling for the symbol that proves they will be next! OMG! It must be true. Luckily I didn’t accidentally catch the bouquet at the weekend otherwise my family’s comments about me getting married would have been even worse. One of them said afterwards, while showing me a photo of the bouquet bit ‘you didn’t even try to catch it’. Shocker.

How I would do it: Minimal flowers. My bouquet would consist of black roses, to go with my possible black dress, and to symbolise the death of my anti-wedding crusade. Oh and if I’m going to throw it, then the unmarried men can try and catch it too. Plus I’d hide a water balloon inside just for jokes. Weddings are supposed to be fun, right?!

9. The first dance and wedding music
At the weekend wedding, the couple took a relaxed wander in each other’s arms around the dance area to a recent slow famous love song I can’t remember the name of. Less dancing, more talking to each other and trying not to feel too self-conscious that all eyes were on them. Some couples take dance lessons and come up with full blown routines, such as the routine from Dirty Dancing. Then everyone else joins them on the dance floor to dance to lame pop songs.

How I would do it: The Dirty Dancing idea sounds amazing, we would have to do the lift at the end though, like this couple, not like this couple who didn’t bother. I would have a DJ that didn’t play cheesy music all night and maybe even make our own playlist of our favourite songs.

10. The name change
I’ve noticed sometimes the bride’s friends and family will start calling her the future Mrs so and so on social media before she has even got married and most of the women I know who have got married have changed their names, so that the name from the man’s side of the family can get passed down when the couple has children. Some women even keep their own name but give their children the husband’s name.

Even worse than that is when people address you using only your husband’s names. So my partner and I would be called Mr and Mrs Jake Pickford. No identity for the woman at all. Weird. Even when you don’t change your name some people still assume that you have, as this has happened to a friend I know who didn’t take her husband’s name. There’s also this outdated practice of being asked for your mother’s maiden name as a security password, which has happened to me. What if your mother’s maiden name is the same as your last name? That’s not very secure is it?

How I would do it: Make an announcement to everyone I know not to presume that I will be taking my husband’s last name, because I would keep my own name, or at the most I would double barrel (but probably not). As I won’t be having children either, I wouldn’t need to worry about what name they would get. Yes I know, not having kids as well as not getting married! Before you say it, if I had a pound for every time someone said I will change my mind, I could probably afford to bring up a child.

So there you have it; 10 reasons why I’m not getting married. If you’re still not convinced, that’s fine, because Jake and I did decide on one loophole, which is we would do it if we got to go on ‘Don’t tell the Bride’, however given that none of us will be inclined to apply for this show in the first place, the loophole is pretty insignificant. Although he now has an easy-to-refer-to list for if we do.

If you want to get married, I understand, because not getting married is not for everyone. So keep inviting me to your ‘special days’ and I will happily write nice encouraging shit in your wedding book, eat your wedding cake and dance to the Macarena. Just don’t ask me when my wedding is.

‘Decision’ – Art Review

I made the decision to go to Carsten Höller’s ‘Decision’ as soon as I saw the pictures of the flying machine you could go on. Any exhibition that has something like that is my sort of exhibition. More on the flying machine later.

We began by walking through almost pitch black corridors, using our hands on the walls to navigate the surroundings. I found this bit really fun and was slightly sad when it was over and we reached the first room, but soon forgot about the corridors when I got to push a contraption with mushroom parts around in a circle.

mushrooms

After the mushrooms, there was a room with a pile of red and white pills on the floor that were dropping from the ceiling. One of the gallery assistants told us to take one, a woman asked him what was in them and he said ‘flour and glucose, it will give you energy.’ So we thought, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ and took one of the pills.

IMG-20150903-WA0026

After the pills, there were a variety of exhibits, including a bug, two engorged snakes,  a video about music in the Congo (with two screens, sometimes with differing perspectives of what was happening), a video of a forest on a 3D headset, twin beds, upside down goggles (which were incredibly disorientating) and a gigantic dice. This excited me, as I used to be so obsessed with dice that I would collect them. Unfortunately only children were allowed to climb inside.

dice2

Finally we reached the flying machines outside, where you are up in the air, flying round in a circle, and were told the wait was around an hour. I wished I hadn’t left my jumper and jacket in the lockers, but since it was the main reason I wanted to come, my stubbornness meant we had to wait. When watching other people on them (some of which seemed to really enjoy it, some not so much), I thought the rides should be shorter so that the queue wouldn’t be as long, but once I got up there I realised that you don’t want to come down; it’s strangely relaxing and you get into a sort of contemplative and meditative state. After doing a few fun poses for photos, of course.

flying

Last were the slides, which were like those water slides at swimming pools but with no water. I found out that I should have left my bag in the lockers, as the gallery assistant almost didn’t want me to go on due to health and safety and made me swear to accept responsibility for any injury. I’m not sure what she thought was going to happen as the slides were more than big enough to accommodate myself and my bag. It may have made me go faster though, I don’t know. The sliding felt like it was over way too quickly.

slide 1

The health and safety rules in the exhibition were generally peculiar. At the flying machines a woman came along with a headscarf and the gallery assistant told her she may wait for ages only to find out at the front of the queue that she would have to take her headscarf off to go on. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t be able to put the helmet on top, it’s not like she had a massive head or a Carmen Miranda style fruit display going on. She understandably didn’t look happy with this and decided not to wait. Yet there was no warning to diabetics not to take the pills earlier on (which turned out to be classic placebo sugar pills that didn’t make us larger, smaller, or noticeably different in any way).

The booklet says that ‘Decision’ is about ‘transporting people between different physical and psychological states’, bringing about ‘moments of not knowing’. This was definitely true, and made it stand out from other art exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed the interactive nature and would like to see more of that in general, as it evokes the idea of art not being finished until someone has experienced it. The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vibe was a nice touch as well and made it feel like a mini adventure. It’s only on for one more day, so go tomorrow if you want to take random pills, fly through the air and slide back down to earth.

Carsten Höller, ‘Decision’, 10 June – 6 September 2015, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, £13.50 Standard Non Gift Aid Entry