Real Lives: Debate
Like James Major and Emma Noble, would you say "I do" to 'Hello!' featuring your wedding? Two brides-to-be weigh-up the lure of the large advance versus the stigma of exposure in Britain's cheesiest glossy
Sunday 06 June 1999
Four weeks until I say "I do", and still no word from Hello! And do I care? Not one iota. I can't think of a faster way to ruin my big day than to agree to having a press photographer stick his lens down my cleavage, up the aisle and into my newly-wed life.
Can you imagine the intimidation you would feel being a guest at my wedding, knowing that at any moment Mr Snapper could pounce and, worse, that you could then find yourself printed larger-than-life in that Hello! technicolour that makes diamonds and Dynasty-style dresses look dim in comparison? And could you bear having to compete with all the Ivanas and Imeldas and Gazzas splashed across its shiny pages? The whole day would have to be lived with improvised face-lifts - sticky tape behind the ears - a smile cemented in place and no eating or drinking (imagine if you were caught dribbling?).
Even if you enjoyed the 15-minutes-of-fame aspect of the whole spectacle, my husband-to-be and I would have to face years and years of cringing at the anodyne Hello!-style blurb that accompanies each revealing mega-pic. I know how women of a certain age pore over these things, and the thought of a room full of blue-rinses saying, "Why on earth did they feature her? Look at the state of her dress!" or, "Who is she again? Didn't I see her on TV once in a pet-food advert?" leaves me colder than the ice in the Majors' gin and tonics. And, as if that's not enough, the superstitious should beware the rumoured Hello! curse: marriage in Hello! Divorce in a momento.
It is the intrusion into what should be an intimate family day that makes me query why anyone says yes to appearing in such magazines. I'm sure Major minor isn't short of dosh but I guess almost half a million would be tempting. Until you think about how you have to earn it.
No matter how much money you have, one fact remains - it will only be your (first) wedding day once. You only get one shot at walking down the aisle, kissing your husband for the first time, having your first dance. My day will remain how I want to remember, not how a press photographer crafted it to be seen - the idea of a stranger telling me to walk into church again because he didn't have his flash on or turn the cake around and cut it again as he missed the action is ridiculous. I'm looking forward to my wedding being image-free - no pics of me throwing my bouquet to my single male friends as a joke, or giving a slurry wedding speech, dancing to Iggy Pop or doing tequila slammers.
For all my blustering, I don't think Hello! would have photographed my wedding, even if I had asked it to. Not because of my fame content (I've been on BBC News 24 once, so I'm sure I qualify as a potential Hello! starlet), but because my wedding will be near Leeds. I don't think they'd like the lucky horseshoe of power stations around the church, or the Yorkshire Post jazz band booked to play. I'm looking forward to it, particularly as Hello! won't be there. And anyway, I'm still waiting for OK! to return my calls.
Would I invite Hello! to my wedding? My instant reaction is, of course, that I could never debase the sanctity of my impending marriage with a vulgar publicity stunt like that.
But then I think about the money my intended and I could make and I know I'd be mad to refuse it. I have no rich relations, a lazy disposition and I gave up doing the National Lottery when I read that if you buy a ticket at the start of the week, you have more chance of being dead by Saturday than winning the jackpot.
And it's not as if I'd suffer the indignities other subjects have foregone. I could learn from the experiences of certain brave celebrities who have gone up the aisle before me. Scary Spice, for instance, had a tunnel built leading out of the church so no one could spy on her nuptials. Emma Noble's dress was shielded from the public by ungainly screens lest anyone glimpse her frock before Hello! readers. And anyway, let's face it, the only people who would give a toss about what I was wearing would be there.
Of course, I might have to pay the guests off to compensate for a nation laughing at their hair and their American tan tights and generally commenting on who the hell they think they are. But no, on second thoughts, I think the nonstop flow of champagne would be ample reward. Having upwards of pounds 100,000 at one's disposal would certainly put an end to the O-level maths conversations we've been having recently: "If you buy "x" bottles of champagne at pounds x each, multiply by six, and divide by y guests, that's "z" glasses each - before we're onto the warm white wine."
There are a few additional considerations. In keeping with the spirit of Hello!, would I have to dye my hair canary yellow, wear orange foundation and sport piercing blue contact lenses? Would my mother have to sport a Hyacinth Bucket-style dress, hat and handbag combo? Would my intended have to swap his classic Paul Smith suit for tails, wing collars and a bootlace tie? Who cares? Hello! are coming to the wedding and we're going to be rich!
But it's not just about the money. Good lord, I'm not that shallow. There's also the fact that Hello! is a national institution. (It is important to note that only Hello! is invited, not its nouveau cousin, OK!, about which the only good thing to say is it makes Hello! look classy.)
For Hello! has given me some of the happiest reading moments of my life. When you're low, it's Prozac on paper. Who could forget the wonderful zillion-page special on the (now defunct) marriage of Paul and Sheryl Gascoigne - with pictures of the groom plastered in the Gents. Or Sting's marriage to Trudi Styler, a restrained affair where the bridegroom turned up to church on a white horse.
I'll never tire of the elegant Prince Rainier of Monaco and lovely Princess Caroline, or the very attractive Spanish royals. Who they are, what they do and why they are here, I neither know nor care. But I'd be happy to be in their company. Who knows, I might even invite the Marquesa...
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