There's nothing like an old-fashioned wedding

'Lolitas is not the most accurate description of Miss Minnelli's retinue. Even bridesmaids is pushing it'
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The Independent Online

Which of Liza Minnelli's 15 bridesmaids will be lucky enough, or should that be agile enough, to catch her bouquet when she gets married this afternoon for the fourth time? The clever money, I'm told, is on Petula Clark who, at 69, is certainly younger than some of the others; Gina Lollabrigida is 73 and Esther Williams, undisputed queen of the heart-shaped swimming pool, claims she is still only 78. It's that up-and-at-em quality Pet still retains that makes her the favourite.

I only hope that this bevy of glamorous attendants will not eclipse the bride. That, if I remember correctly, was the reason I declined to have any bridesmaid at all when I got married. This is my day, I insisted, all eyes will be focused on me, not on a gang of winsome little Lolitas in pink frills with rosebuds in their hair.

Lolitas is not the most accurate description of Miss Minnelli's retinue. Even bridesmaids is pushing it – matron, surely is the appropriate word, but they've already got a matron of honour in the form of Miss Elizabeth Taylor. I wonder if they'll do the conventional thing and wear identical bridesmaids' dresses. Empire-line, apricot satin and ballet shoes dyed to match would certainly be a change for Mia Farrow.

Right now I have more than a passing interest in bridesmaids, this being the second year running that I have been cast in the role of mother of the bride. I'm not complaining. There may be more amusing ways of passing a morning than poring over half-a-dozen catering-hire magazines, pricing water jugs and choosing cake forks, but it's a small price to pay if you want a traditional wedding, and I'm not ashamed to say that I belong to that old-fashioned school of thought that still approves of marriage.

As today's bride and her matron of honour might say, "the more the merrier" – and they should know. They've had 10 between them. If you include the number of times the 15 bridesmaids have retied the knot it's nearer 60, all of which squares with my long-held belief that marriage is as addictive as alcohol or cigarettes. Once you've tried it you feel lost with out it.

A cynical friend never gives joint wedding presents because, he says, when they get divorced in five years' time, as they are bound to, at least that would be one item they don't have to argue about. It was the same cynical friend who told me the salutary story of George and Mary, which I shall pass on to you, for what it's worth.

George and Mary married at 20, divorced at 30 and then, a couple of years later, saw each other across a crowded room and got talking. "Good heavens, I hardly recognised you, you look terrific,'' said Mary. "Lean, muscular, tanned – what happened?" "Never mind me," said George admiringly, "What about you? Wow. That dress, that hair. You look 10 years younger. Listen, what are you doing after this? By the way, how are the children?" "The children?'' said Mary, "I thought you had them.''

Today's celebrity wedding is taking place in New York. If I had a couple of hundred quid and the time to spare, I'd have seriously considered booking a last-minute seat and heading west across the pond. Check out those bridesmaids. All weddings these days have a theme. Victoria Beckham's, if you remember, was geese. Miss Minnelli's, I presume, is vintage Hollywood, and why not? Vintage Hollywood had no equal for sheer unadulterated glamour.

I was planning the simple gypsy look for this summer's bridesmaids, aged six, nine and 10, but would value bridesmaid Lollabrigida 's opinion on the matter before making the final decision. Give me experience over youth every time, older women know best, as Miss Dorothy Parker always maintained. There was that famous occasion when Miss Parker and a younger woman were heading for the same swing door at the Algonquin Hotel in New York at the same moment. "Age before beauty'' said the younger woman, stepping back. "And pearls before swine," returned Miss Parker, sweeping magisterially ahead.

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