Harry and Meghan – the latest in a long line of celebrity couples, including Gable and Lombard, Bogart and Bacall, Sid James and Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey. Their wedding, capping a fairy tale romance, recently enraptured the nation, boosting the popularity of weddings. “It’s true, since the latest Royal Wedding we’ve seen a three hundred per cent increase in demand for wedding dresses,” says Sue Trembly, editor of Practical Wedding Digest. “Registry offices and potential reception venues just can’t keep up with the increased demansd. Caterers are experiencing unprecedented demand and wedding cakes are now commanding premium prices! Thanks to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex the institution of marriage is seeing a huge revival in the UK, after having fallen out of fashion over the past few decades – except for gays, of course.” However, not everyone shares Trembly’s enthusiasm for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials and its consequent revival of the institution of marriage. “Look, for some people, anything to do with death disturbs them. The sight of a coffin makes them recoil. They have to turn their eyes from wreaths and funeral processions. I feel the same way about weddings. I run at the sight of wedding dresses, try to drive wedding cars off of the road when I encounter them and turn the other way whenever I see a sign advertising a ‘wedding sale’ or ‘wedding event’,” Pete Shaker of Solo: The Magazine for the Happily Single told The Sleaze. “You wouldn’t believe the elaborate excuses I used to feel obliged to devise for turning down wedding invitations from both family and friends – thankfully, most people now seem to have the got the message: I don’t like weddings, for me, every marriage is an inconvenience.  So, this Royal Wedding has been a real ordeal for me: after all if go out of my way to avoid the weddings of people I know, why on earth would I want the wedding of complete strangers forced down my throat?”

Thirty eight year old Shaker claims to feel no sense of shame or guilt over these avoidances, just relief. “I just don’t enjoy weddings and have never had any desire to enter into matrimony itself,” he explains. “Not only are weddings stultifyingly boring and full of false bonhomie, but I also have a deep dislike for over-organised large scale social gatherings full of drunken people I don’t know.” But it is also the very concept of marriage that the journalist dislikes. “In large part my negative feelings toward weddings is derived from my anathema for the idea of forcing myself to share every aspect of my life with somebody else,” he claims. “Why would I? Not only am I a very private person, but, to be perfectly frank, I’ve never met anybody as interesting or wonderful as me – I never irritate myself, argue with myself or forget my own birthday. I’m incredibly considerate of myself – far more so than anybody else would be. I’m already in the perfect relationship – with myself.” Shaker also contends that he has ideological reasons for disliking the very concept of marriage. “I’ve grown to dislike weddings for what they represent: the whole concept of marriage as the norm when it comes to relationships,” he says. “I dislike the way that the establishment – whether in the form of the tax system or the church – and the media consistently try and judge you on your marital status. If, by my age, you aren’t married and have no interest in marriage, then there must be ‘something wrong’ with you, they imply. Worse still is the way in which it is implied that us ‘sad’ singles should be pitied. For God’s sake, can’t they just accept that some of us are happy being single!”

While Trembly accepts that many singles are happy with their marital status, she suspects that much of the aversion to weddings professed by the likes of Shaker is actually down to suppressed envy. “Despite being happily single, I’m convinced that, deep down, they are jealous of the attention that weddings bring to their married friends and family,” she opines. “They secretly crave a slice of all that pomp and ceremony, with everyone beaming their happiness at them. They really want to be up there at the reception, being on the receiving end of the speeches and the like. I just think that they need to be honest about it and embrace their secret dreams!” Consequently, Practical Wedding Digest is launching a new service aimed at singles – the self wedding. “I know that, on the face of it, it seems crazy, but the fact is that these days hardly a week goes by without reading somewhere about people marrying bridges, tower blocks, lampposts, probably even their cars,” says Trembly. “So why shouldn’t a single person be able to marry themselves? After all, compared to all that other stuff, it seems pretty harmless.”

The magazine is proposing not just a ceremony for singles to marry themselves at, but also the full romantic experience. “Weddings don’t just come out of thin air – they have to be preceded by a whole romance: flowers, dating, all that,” Trembly explains. “So we’re setting up our own dating app, specially designed for the happily single: they put in all their own details, then we use Artificial Intelligence (AI), to create an online version of themselves that they can interact with and, in time, fall in love with.” According to Trembly, the AI version of the single would converse with the real person via social media and e-mail, send romantic texts, flowers and other gifts. “It would create the perfect match,” she declares. “Allowing single people to fall in love with themselves, go on a series of virtual dates with themselves – no masturbation before the third date, of course – get engaged to themselves, then, finally, get married to themselves. Obviously, via our unique service, we’ll also be able to offer them suitable ceremonies and venues for their nuptials!”

Shaker is bemused by these proposals, but doesn’t rule out participating in such a ceremony. “I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it’s the only way I’ll ever get the media off of my back and accept me as normal,” he muses. “Mind you, I doubt that my self -wedding would satisfy the likes of Sue Trembly. After all, it’s that whole wedding experience that I’ve spent half my life trying to avoid! It would have to be quick registry office job, with just a couple of witnesses dragged in off of the street. I mean, I don’t want any of that bollocks you usually get at weddings – and I certainly wouldn’t want family or friends there. I expend enough effort trying to avoid them at the best of times. Still, at least the reception would be easy – I’d just take myself to the pub and but myself a pint. Maybe even a packet of crisps, too. After all, it would be my wedding day, so I’d be allowed a bit of extravagance, wouldn’t I?” Shaker believes that the whole concept of the wedding magazine’s initiative is fatally flawed, making the same assumption as the media: that singles actually want to get married and secretly covet all the pomp and ceremony of a wedding – something that their single status denies them. “It’s like those dating apps which try and get people to set up their single friends with dates – it’s making an assumption that we’re unhappy with our situation, which simply isn’t true,” he says. “Besides, it’s obviously just a marketing ploy to try and attract new readership. They know that the current circulation boost they are enjoying thanks to the Royal Wedding will soon fade away and marriage and weddings will become unfashionable again, so they have to find some way of making it all seem relevant to us happily single people.”