Indeed. The event is still a while off – my birthday is in May – but hey, people plan weddings this far in advance, right? So, here is the order of proceedings. Most weddings outside of London are two-night affairs, so my birthday party will be too. Guests will be able to book rooms in the hotel, or they can find alternative accommodation.
The Friday night will consist of a welcome dinner and drinks to enable the guests to get to know one another. Like a lot of 30-year-olds, I’ve gathered friends from different social groups over the years, so this will be an ice-breaker for some of them. I’ve been to many similar occasions the night before friends’ weddings, as I’m sure you have too.
The big day will take place on Saturday. I’ll spend the morning in the spa, like other Charlton brides have done before getting ready in my hotel room alongside close friends and venturing down to the orchard, which I’m told is where the hotel usually hosts its wedding receptions.
There will be champagne. Speeches. And maybe even a photoshoot. Perhaps I’ll even hire a make-up artist and manage to get my hands on a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress, too. (I’m only semi-joking here: why should the most beautiful gowns be reserved for brides?)
Then, weather dependent, there’ll be a BBQ followed by dancing to live music in the hotel’s fairy-lit grounds (I’ve always been a sucker for fairy lights). Finally, a hearty hangover breakfast the following morning. Everything will be locally sourced, from the flowers to the food. And it’s going to be romantic as hell because, minus the groom, it’s basically my wedding day.
I know all this might sound obnoxious and unhinged. Maybe it is. But regardless, I feel quite strongly that single people have been dealt an unfair hand when it comes to how much value society grants their lives compared to those who are married.
If it’s not the single tax (the higher cost of living for a single person versus someone who lives with a partner), it’s the social stigma, something that becomes increasingly pervasive as we get older, particularly if you’re a woman.
Talk about single positivity all you like, there is a special piteous look reserved for women “of a certain age” without a romantic partner. And I see it all the time. It bleeds into our lives in more insidious ways, too, like always getting the “box room” on group holidays because social law dictates couples get the spacious doubles. Or being turned away from certain restaurants because they don’t accommodate solo diners. Then there’s the pressure of finding something to fill your Sunday evenings, and feeling like a failure when you don’t.
With this in mind, let’s just say I’ve got a little fed up of constantly having to relinquish life’s best bits to the coupled up. It’s 2023; why are we still endorsing the idea that a woman’s greatest achievement is getting married?
So it’s with this mindset that I’m having a birthday party-slash-wedding, and while you’re not invited, maybe you’ll throw one of your own. Go on, I dare you.