I’m getting married this month. To a bloke. And there’s three reasons why I find this fact quite odd: first, obviously, is because I’m a bloke, too; second, until this year a bloke marrying a bloke was legally impossible; and third, Iast time I got married, it was to a woman. If you’re confused, imagine how I feel.
It’s not just me who finds some of this modern-day matrimony perplexing. A few weeks ago, I had to go to the local town hall to register our intent to marry (my partner was going on a different day as he was travelling on the only day I could attend). The sweet, elderly registrar welcomed me into her office and we sat down to fill out the forms.
“Have you ever changed your name?” she asked.
“Well, yes, as it happens,” I replied. When my mother remarried (which was often), she would sometimes have our surnames changed by deed poll so they matched hers.
“Oh,” said the registrar. “Do you have the change of name deeds with you?”
“Yes,” I replied, “here you go.”
She carried on slowly typing.
“This is obviously your first marriage?” she asked moments later.
“Actually, no. I was married before. To a lady.”
“Oh,” she said, surprised again. “Do you have your divorce papers?”
I handed them over.
“Oh,” she said again, “you were married to that opinionated lady from The Sunday Times.”
Yes, I was. We ploughed through some of the other questions.
“Will either of you be having best men?” she asked.
“No, we’re keeping numbers very small – close family only.”
“Hmm,” she nodded. “Will either of you be given away by a parent.”
I snorted. “Err, no, no.”
“Hmm, who will hand you the rings when it comes to that part of the service?” she asked.
“Oh, umm, I’ll probably get one of my kids to do that.”
There was a long pause.
“Oh, I see,” she said. “How nice.”
Booking a three-day honeymoon was no less complicated. I emailed the hotel — a small, family-run one in the south of France that only takes reservations by email — asking if they had a quality room available. Thankfully, they did.
“Could I see a picture of the one that was free?”
Unfortunately, they didn’t have pictures they could send, she wrote.
“Fair enough,” I replied. “I only wanted to be sure because it will be my honeymoon.”
“No problem, monsieur,” she said. “We will make sure you and your wife have a lovely room.” Aah. I worried that if I didn’t correct her there might be some confusion on our arrival and so decided I’d better explain the situation.
“Actually, it will be me and my husband,” I wrote back. And added a wink in the hope that she would see I understood that these things aren’t as clear-cut as they used to be.
“Ha,” she replied. “Many apologies. I assumed you were a man because it said Jeremy at the bottom of the email!”
At this point, I gave up. Checking-in will be interesting when the time comes.
So, you might be wondering, that’s all very well but why am I writing about this in a style column? Because there’s also the dilemma of what two men wear on their wedding day. A big frothy dress designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel is out of the question for either of us, clearly, and neither do I want to do his ’n’ his matching suits. I’ve been to a couple of civil partnership celebrations before and both times I was more than a little puzzled as to why the grooms wore the same outfits. It’s disturbing enough when couples start to emulate each other’s mannerisms, and finish each other’s sentences, let alone dress all matchy-matchy.
The trick is to look as if you’re both getting hitched, to each other, with equal excitement and respect, but not to look as if you’re both on the way to the same board meeting. Initially, I was going to seek advice from a tailor and order two bespoke suits, but these cost a fortune, take about 10 weeks to make, and I wasn’t convinced that my partner, who’s not that interested in clothes (thank God), would truly appreciate the nuances of bespoke.
The plan therefore is to buy two ready-to-wear suits and have them tailored to a perfect fit. I now need to decide whether we both wear different coloured suits, or different shades of the same colour? Or the same colour but one single-breasted, one double-breasted? Or completely different colours and designs but with, say, a choice of tie or pocket square adding some sign of unity? Oh, the stress. I’m going to check out the offerings in either grey or navy at Richard James, Thom Sweeney and Lanvin.
Oh, and the registrar also asked if we would be taking each other’s names, too. Some couples, she explained, joined their surnames together in a double-barrelled format. Yikes, that hadn’t crossed my mind. I bet it’s crossed my partner’s though. You’ll have to wait and see what my byline is with next month’s column...