Belfast Telegraph

Was Cheryl Cole’s wedding a huge publicity stunt?

By Frances Burscough

There's a popular quote that's been doing the rounds on Facebook this week: “You know that tingly feeling you get at first when you first meet someone you really like? That's the common sense leaving your body.”

Well, if you need anyone to explain it to you, just ask Cheryl Cole — or Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, as she is now known after getting hitched to a French fella she only met three months ago.

Of course, it's been all over the tabloids. The celebrity-obsessed magazines, such as Grazia and OK!, are having a field day. Everyone is talking about it.

“Our wee Cheryl, our nation's Saturday sweetheart, all smitten and smiling again after that love-rat footballer broke her heart! That'll teach him once and for all! Good on ya, Cheryl! Oh, Cheryl, what were you thinking? Have you completely lost your marbles? It'll never last! He's just another playboy like all the rest! It'll all end in tears, mark my words!”

Now, call me cynical (because, frankly, I am), but I've been looking at this whole story from a different angle. Has Cheryl (right) completely taken leave of her senses? Or has she reined them in and channelled them all into the great-great-grandmother of all publicity stunts?

After much consideration of the facts, I'm inclined towards the latter. A whirlwind romance followed by a secret ceremony? Heck, as a publicity stunt it really does tick all the boxes.

As celebrity weddings go, there are two current trends. Either you go all-out for the media circus approach, involving helicopters and second-to-none security at a “top secret” location, which only invited guests are privy to, but somehow the world's paparazzi seem to know about ... er ... from a discreet distance, that is.

Cameras are confiscated, guests are frisked, but only because a certain magazine has paid for the exclusive rights to the whole kit and kaboodle. Naturally, reality TV cameras are also on hand to record it for primetime posterity.

Let's call that the Kardashian ProtoKol.

The other, much cooler and far trendier option is to do the absolute opposite.

After a certain number of PDAs (public displays of affection) in front of the cameras — just enough to get tongues wagging — you then slip away to a remote location and tie the knot in secret.

Just a handful of guests are invited, usually immediate family only, then you return wearing a huge rock on your wedding finger that will set the rumour mill on auto before you've even cleared Arrivals.

After a couple of days of media titillation, then you make a brief and very understated announcement on Twitter and then sit back to watch the feeding frenzy. As far as shock-value goes, it's priceless.

For mega-celebs, both wiley ways will ultimately garner the same results. In the case of the Kardashian Protokol, crazed publicity is assured before, during and after the act.

With Madame Cheryl, the blanket coverage began the moment she Tweeted her tidings, but still continues apace several days later. Not only that, but she has the added cool kudos of being able to claim that she did it that way to avoid publicity.

But aside from the maximum-attention angle, there's another reason I think Cheryl chose to get hitched in such a way. As far as fashion trends go, it really is the trendiest way to get wed.

Everybody knows that being understated is, like, too cool for words. And everyone knows what a fashion victim Cheryl is/has been. (We've seen countless photos to prove it — that orange and purple outfit will haunt her archives forever!)

Look at the most recent protagonists. Katy Perry and Russell Brand did it. They had a whirwind romance/wedding combo plus a secret ceremony after only dating for two months. It all ended in tears, of course, less than a year later, but only after we'd all got bored of reading about their wedded bliss.

Then there was Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy who did the same thing. He's the lead singer of Muse, one of the coolest bands on the planet. Still together, too, by all accounts.

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz? From met to married in six months and they only had four guests at their wedding. Well, what do you expect from the original Mr Smooth, James Bond?

Now having said that, the whirlwind wedding fad doesn't always work in the celebrity's favour. Katie Price tried it three times in quick succession. From Peter Andre to Alex Reid to Keiran Hayler in almost as many years and even that wasn't enough to properly revive her flagging career, which has been in the descent for a long time.

I'm sure that many of you reading this will be appalled at my cynicism — and rightly so.

Having loved and lost and loved and lost, I look at marriage through dark-tinted spectacles. Nevertheless, I will be watching and hoping that Cheryl and her nouveau husband prove me wrong and live happily ever after.

Heck, he's a playboy who lives to party and has had a string of women under his belt. What could possibly go wrong?

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