“Could we age it with a teabag or something so that it looks like it was posted during Victorian times from a large country house?”

Somewhere in the room there is derisory laughter. A man, who had been about to hand me a Yorkie Bar, walks off in disgust mouthing the words “You’ve changed.”

I clap my hand to my mouth in horror realising that I – a paragon of masculinity, 5ft 10 inches of solid letting-himself-go – had, out of nowhere, offered a view on the nuances of wedding invitation envelopes.

Every man says it won’t happen to him, but it does. I remember a college friend of mine being escorted from a nightclub after wrestling with a man dressed as Santa. Yet years later, this same man confessed to spending over four hours gluing little purple ribbons onto RSVP cards. “Ribbons, like.” He was nearly in tears “I was the one in ribbons.”
Another, who specialises in knocking over every gatepost in the country during silage season, told me “I was up half the night melting that fecking wax for the invites.”

Now, I’m putting my foot down about closing the envelopes with wax and a special seal.
It’s just not me. I work in IT. I’m not the King of the Bulgarians sending important news to a Venetian prince about an army of Goths camped at the gates of the palace “Take the fastest horse from my stables, you shall leave by the Northern Gate. Let no-one know your business. If the enemy should stop you, you must fall on your sword. My enemies must not know where the reception is, for they will turn up and ruin the photos. You know the way with Goths…”

Wax-seals aside, little by little, the wedding preparations have seeped into my consciousness. The Cork News’ Wonderful Wedding supplement from last week, copies of ‘Irish Brides’ lying around the house, it’s hard to avoid. I have become a voyeur on the wedding forums that pepper the internet: weddingonline.ie, irishweddingdiary.ie, wedding-ireland.com, weddingdates.ie.

Furtive and unseen I browse from topic to topic, a whole new world opening up before my eyes. It feels like the first moments of the Mel Gibson film What Women Want where he suddenly hears the thoughts of all the women around him. Unlike Mel, I can at least scroll down and read one topic at a time but even then the sheer scale of the detail threatens to addle my poor mishapen male brain. A staggering seventeen pages of opinion barely scratch the surface of the fraught topic of whether to provide a basket of toiletries and handy knick knacks in the bathroom.

“If one of the girls gets a ladder in her tights, and I didn’t do anything about it, I’d feel I let them down” says ‘BlushingBride23’. Sympathetic clucking follows as ‘MarriedBliss’ agrees, “for the sake of €20 in Penneys…”

The consensus is interrupted when ‘Mary20’ chips in with “Would ye ever cop on”. These interruptions are regarded coldly, as the forum suspects a man may have infiltrated. ‘ProudMum12’ shows ‘Mary’ the door.

On some forums, a Relationships section deals with the more weighty issue of where things are not going swimmingly in the lead up to W-Day. The tale of a fiancé who isn’t stumping up for a more expensive replacement for an engagement ring since “he has recently come into some money” is a hot topic, which lasts for three months. The unfortunate man has also committed the cardinal sin of not getting jealous when his bride-to-be, in a fit of desperation, threatens to take the diamond from a ring given to her by a previous boyfriend and put it onto her engagement ring. Note to men out there: If you EVER find yourself giving the reply “Sure ‘gwan so, if that’s what you want to do” in relation to ANYTHING to do with engagement rings, DON’T.

Wedding forums, like any community, have their own language and abbreviations. CBM is not a leading provider of IT solutions for today’s challenging environment – it’s the Chief Bridesmaid. CBMs can be saints or sinners. They comfort a stressed bride or are the reason that “my mother was mortified on the Hen. Honestly like, when he took off the Garda uniform, I thought she was going to have a stroke.”

DH is Darling Husband, once the big day has passed. Before the wedding they are referred to as the H2B. I’m not sure how I feel about being a H2B. It makes me sound like a pencil, or a new strain of swine flu.

After all this time on the forums though, it’s time to do something manly. I’m off out now to chop firewood. And the bonus is, if you take the bark and rub it on an ordinary envelope….

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