A column about marriage

I’ve thought a lot about marriage in the past few months. Not for myself, but because my late-20s and early-30s friends have been pairing off like the protagonists in a Jane Austen novel, and I can hardly avoid the topic whenever yet another invitation arrives. I’ve got half a dozen booked in before the end of the year, and if there aren’t a few dramatic break-ups soon I’m going to have to get a whole separate credit card just to pay for the presents.

My group of friends have had some lovely weddings so far, and I’m sure the next batch will be wonderful. But it’s also given me a taste of the enormous hassle that’s involved – although I suspect ‘distaste’ might be more accurate. Oh yes, everyone suddenly wants to be the computer nerd’s friend when it’s wedding time, because we know about tricky things like mail merging invitations, fancy fonts and design programmes. Still, at least they’re then obliged to invite me.

I was quite shocked recently when I spent an afternoon helping a friend choose between indistinguishable Norah Jones covers bands. My only strong view, though, was that the cost was obscene, and that I should give this writing lark away and just play music at weddings. I swear that if I ever get married, my guests will be entertained by one solitary primary school kiddie on a recorder.

Then there are the venues. Because so many lovestruck Sydneysiders are dumping most of a year’s salary on their nuptials, you have to book the good places months in advance. And then everyone has to find a venue that another friend hasn’t used, which is well nigh impossible. One ambitious couple has planned a whole weekend, which has led to my entire group of friends horse-trading over who gets to get which of the limited cheap beds in the rustic hamlet they’ve chosen. I’m on the verge of warning them that while I think a weekend away will be brilliant, if the bed thing can’t be sorted out, I’m going to be crashing on the floor of their honeymoon suite.

One sensible couple’s gone for a relatively simple solution, and booked a harbour cruise. Very picturesque, and everyone can put the inevitable wedding vomiting down to seasickness. Unfortunately that idea’s been used now, though, so I’ll probably have to resort to the pokie lounge at the Rooty Hill RSL club if I ever get hitched.

Alternatively I wonder if McDonald’s does wedding receptions as well as children’s birthday parties? The celebrant could be Mayor McCheese.

Most of these couples aren’t religious, so it’s been interesting watching friends wrestle with the question of whether they should tie the knot, and what difference it ultimately makes. Nearly all of them conclude they want to, because even though they understand all the patriarchal objections, it just makes a difference to their relationship. Certainly it gives everyone a wonderful day, and a wonderful hangover the following morning

Despite my increasing familiarity with the endless minutiae of marriage, one thing escapes me. I just can’t understand what particular aspect of the process means that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Phillip Ruddock just overruled what was admittedly a fairly crude attempt by the ACT to legalise civil unions, but the UK and several other European countries seem to have managed it with minimal fuss. Celebrating love, making commitments and having parties are all fine things, surely, regardless of the sexuality of those involved.

I’m really looking forward to all of these upcoming weddings, and I’m sure they’ll be extremely happy, festive occasions. What a shame that none of them will be gay.

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