This column proposes to marry you...

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The Independent Online
I have an important and joyous announcement to make today. This column has now been licensed for the solemnisation of weddings!

Yes, from today onwards, you will be able to get married in this very space to the man or woman of your choice, or to anyone else if the man or woman of your choice is already married to someone else!

As you know, the most unlikely places can now be licensed for the enactment of the marriage service.

Hotels have been used. Theatres are being used. Opera houses. Pullman railway cars, snooker halls, even churches.

Of course, none of this is totally new, as the Americans have been getting married in the oddest places for scores of years. Americans have been married underwater, married falling from aeroplanes with parachutes, married nude, married on horseback...

There was even a report the other day that a pair had been married on the Internet.

Now, I am not one of those who look down on the Internet. Yes, for a long time I did think that Internet was one of those new railway companies which the Government is paying to destroy our rail system. No, I am not actually plugged into the Internet myself. But, yes, I can see that there are vast sums of money to be made from the Internet, so I am not likely to sneeze at it. And I thought to myself: If people can get married on the Internet, why not in my column?

The man who hands out licences for these things thought the same way.

"Why not indeed?" he said.

Admittedly, I may not have explained exactly the circumstances under which I intend to conduct services. He may have been left with the impression that the weddings I shall be arranging will take place in the small chapel on the 15th floor of the Independent building. They will not be taking place there. There is, to be brutally honest, no chapel on the 15th floor, as far as I know. The only chapels known to journalists are the ones that call meetings and pass motions of confidence in the management, or, sometimes, the opposite.

But the man who hands out licences to print wedding certificates might not have given me a licence if he had known I proposed to do it all through the printed page. He was very insistent on asking me if there were adequate toilet facilities, and sufficient fire exits, and health care, and counselling, and heaven knows what, and I think if I told him that a newspaper column has none of these things, he might have taken a melancholy turn.

As it is, I have a licence to allow marriages to take place on the premises, which I take to mean in the purlieus of this column, and I intend to start as soon as possible before complications set in.

The system will be very simple.

Interested parties will send me their details and a large cheque.

The clergyman, or registrar, or whoever is chosen to conduct the ceremony will send both of them the questions they would normally be asked in a "live" wedding.

They will send back the answers, which for the most part are simple ones like "Yes" or "No", or "I do".

This will then all be printed in this column, together with a best man's speech, etc, etc, and the happy couple will be married.

By economising on space and using small print, etc, etc, I calculate that we can fit up to three weddings into one column.

Of course, if anyone knows of any just cause or impediment why the marriage should not take place, he or she should let me know well before the event, and for a mutually agreed sum I will insert his or her objections into the service.

The person being joined in matrimony must also agree not to indulge in any activity that might reflect badly on marriage, such as appearing on Blind Date or going on the front of Hello! magazine, or indeed the inside of Hello! magazine.

There will, necessarily, be no videotaped record of the wedding, but the happy couple may buy an engraved and framed copy of this column on the day they were married in it for a very reasonable pounds 110.

This column cannot cope with staging the reception as well, but I believe that our fellow publication, Section Two, is setting up the facilities for this. Please contact them for details.

Meanwhile, if you're young and affianced and looking for a novel kind of wedding, something quite out of the ordinary, I'm ready and waiting. Let's see the colour of your money!

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