Belfast Telegraph

Newlyweds love, honour and bankrupt the guests

By Katy Guest

Are you already depressed by the wedding fever - the dress speculation, the Wills 'n' Kate dolls and the Mills & Boon tie-in books as another perfectly nice-seeming girl is led to the slaughter? Well, just be grateful that the Royal couple are not expecting to be paid.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have asked that anyone thinking of buying them a wedding gift should give the money to a charity instead. For 35% of Britain's other engaged couples, though, cash or vouchers is what they want.

This is the news from a survey by phone and internet bank First Direct, whose spokesman said: "With couples needing huge deposits to get on the housing ladder ... money is the most useful gift they can ask for."

The theory is that they've paid for your dinner and a disco, so in return you can collectively buy them a lovely maisonette. This would be insulting even if you hadn't already paid for a hotel room for the weekend, the stag do in the Côte d'Azur, a new outfit and a spray tan.

It's not that you're not incredibly happy for them; you just wish that other people's happiness didn't cost you several hundred pounds-a-pop.

The average age at which people get married is now more than 30. Many couples, by this point, already have a home each.

Moving in together means ruthlessly down-sizing possessions, however lovely it is to buy from a gift list knowing that the happy pair will think of you every time they sit down/have a bath/go to bed/knife each other to death.

They should be donating goods to their tragic, single friends - not asking them to pay for more stuff. According to the Today programme, Government think-tanks have suddenly figured out that being single and living alone is more expensive and considerably lonelier than living as part of a happy, committed couple, and they are all determined to do something about it.

The best idea that they've thought of so far is 'promoting marriage', which is a bit like realising that poor people have a lot less money than rich people do and dealing with the problem by promoting 'being rich' as a way of life.

Promoting marriage seems to involve paying even more money to married people and less to singles, as if suddenly all the stubborn, lonely people will accept one of those dozens of marriage proposals.

Either that, or they might just persuade folk to marry any old singleton who looks good on paper - and we all know what happened when Prince William's parents did that.

I'm not anti-marriage, but it's about time that we all grew up and accepted that getting married is nothing like it was when the current traditions bedded in, some time around the Middle Ages.

Thank goodness it's different now. At every wedding I have attended, the bride and groom realised how lucky they were to have found a person with whom they could spend their lives, with all the benefits that would bring.

I certainly didn't get the impression that, as they said their vows, they were secretly thinking about all the free Le Creuset oven-to-tableware heading their way.

The Royal wedding will focus attention on the many reasons why people marry and about all the ways to make it work.

Call me an old romantic, but I'd suggest that cash transactions are not a firm basis for either.

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