"At least a highwayman only takes your money or your life. A woman wants both." The institution of marriage may be much derided, mocked, parodied and ridiculed, but nuptials are making a big comeback in these horrible days of uncertainty. Ordinary folk, certain they're about to perish at the hands of shadowy terrorist cells, cling desperately to each other in these last years of our civilisation. Weddings are also a good excuse to have a really big party, plus there are tax breaks. But the main reason people are repeatedly tying the knot, compulsively in the case of J-Lo and Liza Minelli, is because chicks love it. No matter what your girlfriend might say, something abnormal in the female chromosome means she's been planning her marriage since the age of four, probably using dolls to represent daddy and a veritable swarm of bridesmaids. She wants to dress up and be the centre of attention, and she wants your surname boy. What hope does a modern man have of trying to make it through this inevitable ordeal without destroying the reasons for this woman deigning to marry him in the first place? Well son, I'm afraid you're going to need to indulge her every whim, and if that means understanding bouquets and nibbles then so be it. Luckily we at Home Defence are here to guide you through this difficult and traumatic time which some foolishly label 'the happiest day of your life'. HDUK has extensive experience of twee British romcoms in which weddings feature prominently, and we know exactly what makes matrimony tick like an unexploded bomb. So, without further ado, I present the Home Defence guide to getting hitched in fourteen easy steps.
1. Before The Wedding
Think carefully about what has brought you to this situation. Did she ask you to marry her? Did you, in a state of inebriation, arousal, or reliance on her access to prescription medicines, say 'yes'? If so, there's no backing out now. Alternatively your girl may have been dropping hints you can no longer ignore, slipping talk of weddings into discussions about restaurants and Big Brother. Or perhaps you found a note lying around the house saying something like; "we've been together eleven years motherfucker, when are you going to get your arse in gear and tie the knot?" In this instance, and any other situation in which you're absolutely sure she'll go if you don't take the next step, leaving you to eat cold beans in stained y-fronts, there's only one option remaining. This brings us to...
2. The Proposal
You look like a tool down on one knee man, get up.
3. Before The Wedding
The best way to approach a marriage is similar to the preparation Rommel would undergo before a major military
campaign, whereupon he'd work out troop numbers, strategies and probable casualties well in advance. One of
the biggest headaches will undoubtedly be the money shelled out on this big festival of trauma. Even if you've
managed to convince your wife-to-be to observe the outdated custom of bankrupting her father in order to finance
the wedding, there are still a ridiculous number of sundries. The best thing to do here is to take out an enormous
loan which allows you to fully sate the bride's needs. The British are one trillion pounds in debt already, a few
thousand more isn't going to make any difference. You might even be able to cover the first repayment with cash gifts intended to help the two of you "set up home". Don't try to keep a tight grip on the wedding purse strings, this will result in your girlfriend making you long for annulment before the marriage has even begun. In conclusion, getting wed really isn't worth it unless you've got twenty grand to blow.
Don't bother with these, just put the word out to your homes on the street. People'll turn up - it's free food.
5. Location Location Location
Do you like Jesus? Are you into that sort of thing, God and stuff? If so, you'll probably want your ceremony in a church with a proper Vicar, someone who's keen to remind every secular guest they'll end up in hell unless they start attending his services more regularly. For those who aren't believers, the sky can be the limit (unless you're both skydivers, whereupon it's less the limit than a very real possibility). One must try not to trivialise this holy union though. If you've arranged to get hitched in Las Vegas don't mirror the recent example of Britney Spears. The city of sin encouraged her to believe that a holy commingling of souls could be something done one afternoon on holiday, like having a cream tea or tantric sex.
One area you don't have to worry about is the wedding dress, all a man needs to know is that his wife-to-be looks thin in it. Getting the monkey suits for your male attendees may turn out to be more of a problem, particularly if you're on a budget and the rental shops are fresh out. One solution could be to pick up tuxedos on e-bay, they'll be reasonably priced, and the sellers will have made some effort to get the stains out. For some reason lost in the mists of time, there have to be flowers everywhere at a wedding. Bad news for those who are allergic, although their misfortune might provide some of your more sadistic guests with entertainment. If you're required to add a bit of glitz to proceedings then paper chains with glitter stuck on can be made for next to nothing, whereas those of you with cash to waste can't go wrong with a couple of life-size ice sculptures featuring the bride and groom in the nuddy (although this means getting up extra early on the big day to pose).
A memorable song can add an extra level of romantic resonance to the bride's walk down the aisle and bring a tear to the eye of even the most deadbeat dad. There are always guidelines to observe though. Just because it's your favourite song, that doesn't make 'Lump' by the Presidents of the United States of America appropriate. Likewise The Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up' or 'Fuck Her Gently' by Tenacious D might be appropriate anthems for the wedding night, but they have no place accosting the ears of your Auntie Doreen.
These are vital, a good Bridesmaid will look after all the intricate shit while your girlfriend obsesses over the big, philosophical questions (Is my life over now? Did I really agree to marry this dork? etc.). Try to forget that those friends you've convinced to carry out the 'honour' of doing this work are all just as nervous as you. A good Best Man won't let his anxiety show while he fulfills the key roles of handing over the ring, talking you through any doubts, then helping you escape the ceremony upon realising that you don't actually love the woman you're about to marry.
10. Wedding Etiquette
The day has to be perfect, if not for you, then for your families. If anything goes even slightly wrong you may as
well give up and do it all over again in six months time. With this in mind, it's important to make sure those
relatives who hate each other are kept apart, possibly employing professional minders on the day to help out.
Children of divorce should also bear in mind that inviting both parents along is an enormous faux pas. The vicar
will think you're taking the piss out of wedlock, and they're likely to spend much of the day kicking over old
resentments. Better to pretend two happily married strangers are your mum and dad for the sake of appearances.
Traditionally these items are purchased by loved ones to fit out your new, connubial home. Unfortunately, with property prices the way they are, you'll probably be living with her parents for the immediate future. Best to ask for small things with utilitarian value, like an iPod or make up for the missus.
By this stage in the ceremony the majority of your guests, if not weeping ostentatiously, will be ready to gnaw their own limbs off in order to relieve the boredom. One way to lighten up proceedings could be to write the vows yourself, perhaps getting the vicar to read them in a Jamaican 'yardie' patois. Or you might want to rewrite the lyrics to a favourite song:
"I'm glad I held this wedding
It's better than regretting
I could have been a loser kid
Stayed single and hid
But it's the best thing I ever did
Coz true love lasts forever
And now we're here together
Yes I'm meant to be with her
So looking back
I'm glad I held this wedding!"
Also amusing are secret vows, written for each other then exchanged for the first time at the altar. Won't your bride be surprised when she finds herself reading aloud: "I hereby agree to cook, clean and fetch beer for this man for the rest of my natural life... you what???"
13. Post-Wedding Speeches
Make sure you choose a Best Man who'll keep things light, humorous and rated 12A. Despite the inevitability of your guests being tanked up by the time of the reception, they're still unlikely to enjoy hearing tales of your amorous adventures with childhood pets, and any detailed description of past infidelities could spoil your chances of getting lucky with the woman you're now 'wedlocked' to. Should things get distasteful, put up with the Best Man's words for as long as you can, then wrestle him off the podium at the first mention of 'teabagging'.
14. The Honeymoon
Ideally this should take you somewhere safe, a place you don't have to fly to and that isn't a major Al-Qaeida target. Blackpool off-season fits the bill.