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Will the Royal wedding actually save the institution of marriage?

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Prince William and  Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Will you be watching the Royal wedding on Friday? Will you be glued to your TV from dawn onwards, with bunting pinned to the sitting room walls?

Or will you spend the day laboriously picking dandelions out of your maintenance-free brick driveway?

I might tune in for 10 minutes to see if the bride has chosen to wear one of those sumptuous pale grey wedding gowns by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.

Not a lot of people know this, but I have a degree in Design and Sarah Burton's latest collection is simply the most beautiful, elegant, timeless, ethereal and gorgeous collection of wedding gowns I've ever seen. So it'd be interesting if the bride wore something truly breathtaking and groundbreaking.

The gentlemen guests will be in black or grey suits, as always. And the ladies will likely be wearing colour block outfits with discreet hats or fascinators, since it is generally considered a faux pas for a female guest to wear white or ivory to a wedding in case she upstages the bride.

The other thing that interests me about weddings is the distinct lack of them nowadays. Most couples are waiting until they are around 30 (like William and Catherine) before taking the plunge for the first time.

People used to say they were put off by the huge cost of a traditional white wedding with all the trimmings. And then there's the difficult business of stepmothers and stepfathers and step-siblings and who-sits-where at the top table?

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But I think the truth is much more complicated than that. For, in spite of an endless trail of big-budget romantic comedies on our cinema screens, I fear that young women no longer wish to 'obey' and young men no longer wish to 'cherish'.

Single mothers will retain full custodial rights to their children and single fathers will retain greater control of their salary and pension. Co-habiting couples cannot take one another for granted, I suppose, knowing that one of them only has to pack a bag and it's all over.

Financially independent working women may wish to keep their own surnames - perhaps. Liberal men may view the sacrament of marriage as outdated and possibly even a bit of a bourgeois construct. It's not fashionable to say 'my wife' or 'my husband' anymore. Now people are 'life-partners', or even 'current partners'.

In this youth-obsessed era I also believe that many people equate marriage with growing older and so they parade their single status with much pride and self-satisfaction.

I was 24 when I got married in 1992. I don't expect many westerners are married by 24 these days unless they're from the Travelling community. And yet medical experts tell us that a woman's optimum childbearing years are between the ages of 20 and 25.

I suspect most girls today wouldn't dream of settling down so young.

They'd want to study, work, travel and experience life before they marry - and why wouldn't they? And the boys, well, they can afford to wait a bit longer, can't they?

Biologically speaking, men can go on fathering children into their dotage, although in practical terms it probably isn't the wisest way to spend one's retirement years.

But, yes, ask any graduate if they're thinking of getting married anytime soon and they'll look at you as if you're out on day release.

Some people may be asking whether William and Catherine (that's CW as in Country -amp; Western and not WC as in Water Closet, by the way) can save the monarchy. Personally, I'm wondering if William and Catherine can save the institution of marriage itself.

Like them or not, the royals are trend-setters for millions of people around the world. The marriage of Charles and Diana ended in despair, affairs and a tragic car accident.

The marriage of Andrew and Sarah ended in awkwardness and embarrassment. The marriage of Edward and Sophie seems to have fallen off the radar completely.

Few people would be able to tell you to whom Princess Anne is currently married. So will William and Catherine inspire any young couples out there to say 'I do'? Will they make marriage fashionable again?

In the meantime, I'm guessing that the bride will emerge from her wedding car on Friday morning in a pale grey wedding gown embellished with many ostrich feathers and with fresh flowers in her hair instead of a heavy tiara.


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