Book review: The Reluctant Bride by Lucy Mangan

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For a woman who thought she never could, would or should get married, Lucy Mangan’s wedding turned into the event of the decade...

So how did the Guardian columnist, who prided herself on having settled happily into single life, find herself not only engaged but thrust into the organisational nightmare of a full-blown church wedding?

All is explained in her outrageously frank, brilliantly entertaining and laugh-out-loud account of her journey from clear-eyed single to dewy-eyed bride.

Of course, it all started when she fell in love ... really in love ... with Christopher, a self-confident, argumentative, potentially infuriating man who lives in a world full of Tradition with a capital T.

He also has a job in a right-wing political think-tank, a festering rage against most of humanity (one of their few shared characteristics) and a wonderful sense of humour.

During their first year as a couple she nearly went off her head, mainly due to his chronic untidiness, but she knew their relationship was working when he went on a three-day work trip and she discovered that she missed him.

Having decided to marry, the next big step is informing her parents (‘Well done, that’s grand,’ says dad whose family hail from Preston) and learning how to ‘construct a wedding’ while keeping all parties happy (including Uncle Alan who only eats baked beans).

Her mother takes to the whole process like a duck to water, arming herself with colour-coded wedding planning folders and phoning the bride-to-be at 6.30am to discuss everything from flowers to table settings.

The groom spends 20 minutes compiling his guest list and checking his suit fits before returning to his newspaper and declaring that this wedding business isn’t so difficult after all!

Meanwhile, as anyone who has organised a wedding will know, there are plenty of pitfalls for those who are taking the thing seriously...

The vicar wants them to fill in an online wedding preparation class questionnaire which could make them the first couple ever advised by a cleric never to marry and there’s the small matter of the bride’s sister refusing to be a bridesmaid.

On top of all that, there’s a list that includes choosing ‘The Dress,’ making out the troublesome guest list, writing the invitations, selecting an order of service, organising the flowers and 1,001 other tasks.

Will love triumph over all this adversity or will the bride-to-be have to barricade herself under the stairs with her two cats?

Anyone who has ever got married or helped to organise a wedding will delight in Mangan’s funny, heart-warming and painfully truthful story...

(John Murray, paperback, £7.99)