Mazeltov Sacha, but why get hitched?

Newly married Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher have signed up to an institution that is no longer viable or relevant


By Bryony Gordon, March 25, 2010
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They said it would never happen; that there was more chance of Gordon Brown bursting into show tunes during Prime Minister's Question Time. But finally, after eight years together, a six-year engagement, and one small child, Sacha Baron Cohen has made an honest woman of Isla Fisher.

"We did it - we're married!" wrote Isla in an email to friends. "It was the absolute best day of my life and in so many beautiful moments I missed you all so much. I thought of you as everything was happening, but Sacha and I wanted no fuss - just us!"

My first thought: thanks for the invite (no, no, I mean: congratulations!). My second thought: why did they bother? That question may seem a bit mean as the happy couple bask in a post-marital glow, but really, what was the point? To mark how committed they were to one another, perhaps? A child is as good as way as any to do that - it seems to me that there's nothing quite as bonding as being responsible for a little version of the two of you. Or maybe it was to throw a big party. Then again, given the above email - and in particular Ms Fisher's assertion that the couple wanted it to be "just us" - that doesn't seem to be the case.

I'm more interested in why anybody bothers to get married nowadays. It costs a fortune (the average wedding will set you back £18,500), has only about a 50 per cent chance of working out, and is likely to cost you yet more money in the statistically quite likely event that it breaks down. If marriage was a car, you would not buy it. You would laugh in the salesperson's face, and then walk away.

I no longer dream of a white wedding. I dream of having a joint mortgage with someone who isn’t my sister

I can see why a wide-eyed couple in their early twenties might want to get married, why they might choose to celebrate their love with fireworks and doves in front of hundreds of guests. Oh, how endearingly, charmingly naive! But when you are in your thirties - and especially if you have been with the same person for almost as long as you went to secondary school - the idea of a big marriage ceremony surely loses its appeal. You look at the likes of Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes, divorcing after just a few years together - allegedly because he couldn't imagine being with one woman for the rest of his life - and you think that marriage is an institution created for vain, deluded fools.

I have this theory that if you don't get married after four years together, you probably won't get married at all - though that isn't to say you'll split up.

(Obviously, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher disprove this theory, but they're celebrities so they hardly count.)

Anyway, I don't think not getting married is jaded and unromantic. I just think it's more realistic. Owning a house together seems a pretty big commitment, far more so than having a ring on your finger. Now I come to think about it, I no longer dream of a white wedding. I dream of having a joint mortgage with somebody who isn't my sister.

But maybe, with marriage levels at an all-time low, a wedding ceremony in your thirties is the ultimate act of rebellion. And perhaps that's why Baron Cohen and Fisher finally tied the knot. I'd like to think so.

Bryony Gordon writes for the Daily Telegraph

    Last updated: 4:35pm, June 3 2010

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