nuptials on the net: how to share their joy

surf's up; Who'd invite millions of strangers to their special day? The happy couples on the Wedding Announcement Circle
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Indy Lifestyle Online
IN a sad age of broken families and broken hearts, the caring Internet is helping to sustain the sacrament of matrimony.

On the Wedding Announcement Circle pages, hordes of loving couples (well, three) pronounce their undying love and invite the Net community to their nuptials. So what sort of people want to invite millions of strangers to their special day? Aren't their relatives embarrassing enough?

Meet Judy and Tom. "Judy and Tom would like to announce their long-awaited wedding. On Nov 25, 1995, after 11 years of anticipation, friends and family members will witness the irresistible force of procrastination meeting headlong into the immovable object of eventuality, thereby resulting in the act of holy matrimony." Sniff.

Other couples are not happy with a simple declaration. They want you to share in every detail of their planning. They are sure you would like to know the cost of 110 mixed salads at the Tacoma Country Club Bar and Grill, or what to do when your DJ insists on playing YMCA at the reception. And it sure makes you feel good when you find out that Marcia has found the perfect slingbacks to go with her dress.

Now you feel part of the crowd, you want to find out how the big day went, don't you? Feeling a warm glow spreading from your monitor? Real life, sadly, often butts in on romance.

"Our wedding was, shall we say, somewhat unorthdox," runs one account. "By the end of the ceremony, our guests had pledged solidarity with the lesbian and gay community (I don't think most understood what they were saying!), and Natalie's father had fainted twice. Our home-made ritual was interrupted at one point by two of Natalie's rather conservative Catholic aunts who, convinced that demons were present in the university chapel, proceeded to stand up and attempt to exorcise them. (It was at this point that Natalie's father turned deep green and keeled over).

"The aftermath of the ceremony was something like a soap opera and included a letter to the local Bishop demanding that our wedding be annulled due to the unholy ceremony (this was the work of one of the overzealous aunts). Natalie and I are now divorced.

"There is a bootleg home video of the marriage trading hands among my ex in-laws. I am sure there is a lesson here somewhere. I will not be getting married again anytime soon."

Needless to say, at least 99.9% of these wired couples are from the US. The British are embarrassed enough in private when Uncle Brian starts his sozzled rendition of Danny Boy without letting the rest of the world know that their relatives are a bunch of dysfunctional sociopaths.

At least some people have the decency to display a sense of embarrassed bewilderment as to why they're actually doing this. Yusuf (who has married Meryl by now, hopefully) is a little uncertain. "I am still not sure about the idea of having a wedding page. It just seems a little dorky, but hey, it is another way of sharing the great news with everybody."

It's as if the Internet monster crept into his room one night and injected his brain with its poison; the only clue that something untoward has happened is this urge to plaster intimate details of his emotional life all over the Web.

The Wedding pages are an antidote to the saccharine of bridal magazines and Mills and Boon. If you want the truth, you could do worse than read the Fabulous NorthWest Wedding page, written by a divorced mother of one. "The only way to avoid confrontational and unpleasant social interactions on this day is to cancel the wedding. Just remember, whatever you do, someone will hate it."

As ever, we come to the Internet to find out how other "real people" live their lives and we are gratified to learn they're as sad, nasty, mixed-up and just plain dull as we are.