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The Demographic Shift - 19

I wasn't going to write about weddings for oh so many reasons, but then a number of things happened that were all wedding related, writes Gordon MacMillan in part one of 'When Weddings Go Shock!'.

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Not least among the things that have happened is news of a new book that suggests that British women are more desperate to find a husband before they are 35 than their American sisters.

More of that later. First, a wedding... which is, of course, very closely related to the area of finding a husband. What I found out this week was that you can throw weddings together literally at a moment's notice. I'm sure instant matrimony has been with us for a long time, I've just never noticed before as this was the first surprise wedding I've been to.

I'd been thinking about this friend, when out of the blue she called me. After we had both trotted through work-related updates this terrible silence -- a thunderous, punctuated, pregnant pause -- took hold of the line, which within a couple of clicks told me that news of an OMG ominous nature was most certainly coming my way. And it was.

Said friend Haley, it turns out, was throwing a surprise wedding and not just any old wedding, but her own. I say surprise wedding because pretty much everyone present looked pretty surprised. I think I was near the end of the list of people to find out about the speedy (I mean happy) occasion. When I asked a friend (the bride's best friend) when she found out, after stammering somewhat she said she heard about it last week.

"It might have been 10 days ago though. I mean, now I think about it."

"But still," I said.

"Mmmm, but still. But really, come on," she said jauntily, "I told her ages ago, absolutely ages ago, that she should have married him, I mean they like each other."

Me, I like pizza, but have decided to take this no further. So as far as I was concerned, this was about the stupidest piece of advice I've heard in a long time and really goes to show that, when it comes to marriage, people should not give advice. I obviously didn't say this, because I've got myself in trouble at weddings in the past and have decided that keeping my mouth firmly shut is really the best possible strategy. What can I say, I like to say impolitic things at inopportune moments. I'll grow up now.

Besides as Susan said, having taken a long hard look at the couple, and tilting her head and resting her hand on her chin as did, "You know, I think that they might actually be in love", and I guess you can't really beat that, advice or no advice. Marriage though...I'll stop.

Still the good news was, despite the surprise, shock and sprint to the altar, Haley at 34 made it under the all-important wire, which is what we're really concerned with in this column. It seems unfair to mention this somehow, and I wouldn't have done (hey, I thought she was younger) but Susan, being a keen observer of all wedding-related news, pointed it out to me when she called me with her own surprise (depressing) wedding-related news. Susan's a keen observer of all this kind of stuff.

"Another couple of months and she would have sailed passed the 35 mark. I think she would have had a different perspective then."

"That's my thesis," I told her, "but how do you mean perspective?"

"Well, things start to seem a little hurried, don't they? Clocks are ticking and everyone is rather aware that they really should get moving."

I can't argue with Susan I think she's spot on. I know all of this, but what I didn't know was that British women are apparently more desperate than their American cousins.

The proof comes with the forthcoming publication of a new book in the States, 'How to Find a Husband When You're Over 35'. It's coming out in the UK as well, but for some reason Time Warner UK is planning to reduce the age to 30.

Market research apparently seems to suggest that the cut-off for British women is much lower than American women who, having mastered the art of dating, are willing to wait a bit longer.

I'd guess they'd have to, with such priceless advice as "Date a man twice a week for two months before having sex". No last-minute surprise weddings on the other side of the Atlantic, then.

Susan's shock wedding next time.

The Demographic Shift is a regular column on Brand Republic as Gordon MacMillan charts his own demographic timebomb.

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