Last week, I got married. To my Wife Rebecca – or Bex, as she is better known.
Truth be told, we’ve been married (on Facebook at least) for many months. But we thought it was time to do our marriage justice and tie the knot properly, with 70 friends and a crate of champagne.
Let me be clear: We are not lesbians. We do not have sex with each other. This is not a legal marriage, nor a civil partnership. We are not going to raise children together. We have long-term sexual relationships with men, and we both fully plan on finding “the one,” being with them forever and having babies.
Many people seem to have misunderstood this point, and a surprising number declined the invitation to our wedding because they found the whole concept so odd. It made them uncomfortable. More’s the pity.
So I am writing this for everyone who was confused by our marriage, to explain why she is my Wife.
Here it is: She is my match.
She is an immaculate wordsmith, and an unparalleled punner. She will banter and chatter with me for hours on end, instead of running out of interesting things to say, sitting awkwardly in silence, or tiring of my words. She can destroy you in Scrabble, politely, using only real words (none of those ridiculous ones like “qaid” and “zitis” that you only find in the bullshit Scrabble dictionary). She is schooled in the Greek and Latin classics, works professionally as a journalist, and writes her mobile phone texts and notes on Facebook with proper spelling and punctuation. (I abhor txt spk.)
The other night I sent her a text, and she wrote back: “Wife, I am too drunk to read your text, but check out how my spelling is still accurate.”
This spoke volumes.
She has dark brown eyes that you could stare into for hours. She shares my love of wearing inappropriately low-cut tops to the office. She loves food, passionately. She is also allergic to bullshit, cats and aspirin (who the hell is allergic to aspirin?). She doesn’t withhold her affections, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and she has endless (some might say excessive) patience with friends and family when they step out of line.
We are, as the Brits say, “cut from the same cloth.” Or as Bex puts it, “we are mates of soul.”
When we met, it was love at first sight.
Our mutual friend Hagop brought her to meet me in the lineup outside a London club for a dubstep night. She had already imbibed four pints before our meeting (this set a precedent for what is a pattern of hers). We made small talk for a few minutes, and then she mentioned that she had just broken up with her boyfriend of four years.
“Oh!” I exclaimed, and rubbed her arm comfortingly. “We need to get you trashed. Right now.” And I scurried off and bought a bottle of rum.
It was an instant bond. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen for a friend so quickly and so easily.
I have other girlfriends I love no less, and whom I would call “my Best Friend.”
But Bex is my Wife. The distinction between Bex and my Best Friends is that, if either one of us were male, we would actually date, marry and have babies. We were made for each other.
We have called each other “Wife” – both to each other and when referring to each other – for well on a year now.
Hence we decided it was high time we actually got married.
The rules of engagement for our celebration were simple: men were to dress as women.
Women were to dress as men.
Everyone was to take the next day off work
Our guests kept Bex and I segregated before the ceremony, saying “Brides must not see each other beforehand!” which I thought silly and unnecessary. But when she walked down that aisle and I saw her, looking so beautiful, escorted by our friend Neon and smiling at me, my skin prickled with goosebumps. I kid you not.
I wore my vestal virgin dress (which I’ve had for 10 years). When Bex first saw me wearing it she said “Oh my god, you look so pure, I want to sacrifice you!”
Hagop, having the honour of being the one who introduced us, was the vicar.
He almost bought a priesthood online, but decided he didn’t need to bother. “It doesn’t matter to me, if I just say I’m a vicar then I’m a vicar,” he said. Fair play.
We enlisted some professional photographers – the very awesome Mike Mike Mike
and Flavia Fraser-Cannon (Bex’s Best Friend, my new wife-in-law)
whose photos I respectfully replicate here and to whom I am very grateful for capturing one of the most amazing nights of my life.
You see, I never thought I would get married. I don’t believe in the institution.
Don’t get me wrong: I believe in true love and monogamy whole-heartedly. I dated just one person between the ages of 15 and 20. I sincerely want to be with just one person for my whole life, to have babies and grow old together in passion and in friendship.
But I don’t believe in the concept of “marriage.”
I don’t think a license from a priest or the government makes my relationship with someone different. It’s just a piece of paper.
In fact, I find the very notion that I should have to go through a ceremony with somebody before our love is considered valid to be downright offensive.
It’s a waste of money. My parents, who were paired for three decades, spent the $20,000 they had painstakingly saved on the down payment for a house, instead of a wedding. I think that was incredibly clever. Should any man with wads of cash in his pocket desperately want to marry me (as unlikely as that is, given my propensity to date writers and musicians), I would ask that we spend the money on a home, a holiday, or just give it to charity.
I don’t want a diamond ring. I am very clumsy and I lose things easily – it would just be a stress and a worry. Also, diamonds tend to be mined by workers who toil in horrible dark mines under slavish conditions. Screw that.
Lastly, I can’t be bothered to deal with the anxiety. For many couples, organizing the event and getting their (often dysfunctional) families together can be an unbearable stress.
I don’t believe in marriage. I have never wanted to marry anyone.
But I wanted to marry Bex.
I wanted to celebrate our friendship.
I wanted to pay homage to the fact that in the middle of the night outside a crappy nightclub, two kindred spirits can find each other.
I wanted to rejoice in the fact that two women can choose to remain single and wed each other instead of marrying mediocre males.
Instead of getting hitched at 18 to start pumping out sprogs, we can go to university, work professionally as writers, have our words and our thoughts taken seriously, and on occasion stay out very very late getting very very drunk with each other.
This is what feminism is all about.
And what better way to celebrate than with 70 friends all in drag and bubbling on champagne?
I wanted to celebrate with my best friends, with my modern urban family.
In London I have found many brothers and sisters, people that I consider family.
Somebody once told my aunt, “You’ve always been gay.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not a lesbian.” She said.
“Yes, but you’ve always lived like a gay person: You make your friends your family.”
So I guess in that way, Bex and I actually are gay.
With everyone in the dress of the opposite gender celebrating the marriage of two straight women who do not have sex with each other this was, quite simply, the ultimate post-modern marriage.
Hagop said to us, at the end of the night, “You are the coolest people ever – how many girls would marry each other like this?” We were, as the Brits say, chuffed.
Everyone said that this was an incredible party, and rightly so.
The girls, garbed in comfy suits and waistcoats, were spared the insecurity and anxiety that normally comes with choosing a dress for a wedding. They loved it.
And the boys – not surprisingly – enjoyed wearing cocktail dresses and mini skirts more than they had anticipated. It was very amusing – and revealing – to see which of them took particularly great pleasure in cross-dressing.
I think my favourite moment was when Hagop’s father Rolph walked in, saw 70 people in drag and Bex (whom he’s known for a decade) being married to some chick by Hagop, smiled, and seemed to think to himself, “Cool.”
We saw in the dawn, and everybody agrees that we giggled more at this party than we had at any other for quite some time.
Thank you to everyone for making our special night so incredible.
I want to give a special thank you to my Best Friend Lily,
who means the Earth to me. She baked us a cake,
and made us matching rings. With the keys to our hearts. Aw.
I want to thank my incredible Best Male Friend Kier, who gave me away, for staying up all night and looking so sexy in his cocktail dress.
And, of course, I want to give a special thank you to Hagop,
for sourcing the champagne, for hosting the night at his house, for marrying us with the proper script, for hooking up dope lights, speakers and a smoke machine, and – most of all – for introducing us in the first place.
This was, as Bex puts it, the “BEST WEDDING EVER – FACT.”
Many other girls, we have discovered, have “Wives.” Many girls have seen our photos and said “Oh my god that is the best idea EVER I am SO doing that.”
Bex and I are going to draft The Gospel of Wife to enshrine the concept. Such as: “Wives will never be too trashed at the same time. One Wife will always sober up when the other needs looking after.” Or “Wife will always know what to order for Wife in a restaurant when Wife can’t decide what she wants.” Or “Wife will always be able to tell when Wife is menstruating.”
You know what? I love being married.
I love looking at the ring on my finger.
I am still amazed by the fact that she picked this up for me by herself (after I had said we would need to go together to make sure they would fit), and that it fits perfectly. “Well you gesture with your hands a lot when you speak,” she said, “I have a good idea of what your hands look like.”
I love being able to say “My Wife is on her way,” or “My Wife is going to interview a Duchess next week.”
I love having a Wife.
And I love my Wife.
Maybe this whole marriage thing isn’t so silly after all.
Addendum: I record here, for posterity, our vows. Both were written on trains in a rush. Bex’s is far superior to mine, as I fully expected.
For my wife, with her piercing brown eyes, immaculate Scrabble skills, and the capacity to drink any man under the table, in her I found a wife.
I have never wanted to wed a man, but Bex I want to marry. Without hesitation.
I pledge to scrutinize all unscrupulous and unsuitable suitors. For there will be many before any is good enough for Wife.
I promise to never tease when you’ve had too much, to sober up when you need my solid arm, and hold your hair with patience.
I will never whine when you are on the rag, I will never dissect your personality, and I will never – ever – divorce you.
But most of all, I vow to love your family as my own – as I know you will mine. There are two types of family, you know. Those you inherit, and those you choose.
I left one family behind to find another here, and in London, I have found sisters, brothers, cousins, parents, and more.
You are all the reason I adore this grim, grey, expensive, pretentious, classist and alcoholic city so much.
Because even in the middle of the night, outside a shitty club in Soho, you can still find a kindred spirit. And if you are lucky enough, a Wife.
Bex’s vow (much better in my opinion):
When we met outside that dubstep rave and you said “Let’s get trashed,” I knew you were the Wife for me.
But I knew I had you, see when I said if I were an enzyme I’d be DNA Helicase so I could unzip your genes.
We’ve been trouble since, causing scenes.
I promise to be there with whisky when you need me.
To patch up your poor skull when you are bleeding.
I’ll come to your lectures and expand my thinking.
Then kill brain cells together with excessive drinking.
I’ll do my best to thrash your brother at Scrabble.
When you need me to listen, I’ll let you babble.
And let’s not forget one last thing.
Zoe, my Wife, you are amazing.