Save us from bridezillas

Friends only want to hear so much about your wedding dress.

Just when you think the world can't get any more stupid, we learn that, if the readers of a wedding magazine have their way, bridesmaids may soon have to sign a contract. Among the things which could be stipulated are that, once they've agreed to be bridesmaids, women will not: a) put on weight, b) get pregnant, c) change their hairstyle, d) consume more than ten units of alcohol, or e) make advances on the groom.

I only hope it works both ways and that the bride, too, promises not to: a) become a crashing bore, b) start up a website detailing her wedding and put the URL in her email signature, c) think anyone but her is interested in the tissue paper that the invitations are interleaved with, and d) think it's permissible to serve tangerine segments as dessert.

With regard to b), I once had a reader who put a link to a URL at the bottom of her email that was clearly (from the name) about her forthcoming wedding. So, of course, I clicked on it. A brief intro on how she and her beau met was followed by a ticker countdown showing how many days it was until the wedding. More clicks revealed details of the guest list, menu, where to stay, and so on. I can see, at a push and if I'm feeling kind, that such a website would be a good way of keeping everyone in touch with what's going on if you're organising a huge wedding that involves people travelling from all over the world. But otherwise, really, no. I always wonder if her fiancé saw it and, if so, if he actually made it to the wedding.

An ex-friend once came to dinner and dominated the entire conversation by talking about the fact that her invitations had been printed, without - dear God! - a layer of tissue paper to protect them from the outside world. Never mind about the dress.

There was once a programme on cable television called Bridezillas. It followed prospective brides and grooms living in Manhattan. First you saw the couple: in love and relatively normal, holding hands, cooing. But as the weeks passed, the female became more and more obsessed and possessed. In one scene, a woman barked orders at her intended: "When you go and pick up the dress," she spat, "carry it like this, not like that." (He had to hold it aloft, and not drape it over his arm; no mean feat, because this dress had six foot of train.)

Cut to the next scene: the man is seen with the gown in a protective cover, but nevertheless he is dragging it defiantly behind him down the corridor. No doubt wishing it was his fiancée's hair he was clutching. Ah, weddings.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.

This article first appeared in the 18 February 2008 issue of the New Statesman, Naughty nation