Getting married at Cambridge university, well, sort of

There was definitely something in the air last term, which saw a rash of college marriages. My friend Irene even organised a mass wedding to marry off all the people falling over each other in their rush to get college hitched.

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College families are fascinating aspects of university life – this is when two students decide to get “college married”. No, of course they don’t get married – they’re just a male and female student who are elected to look after two freshers – “their children” – the following year. It’s nice for the freshers to have older students to help them settle in during the initial few frightening weeks of their first year away from home, and answer any questions.

There was definitely something in the air last term, which saw a rash of college marriages. My friend, Irene, even organised a mass wedding to marry off all the people falling over each other in their rush to get college hitched.

I’ve just had the privilege of attending Charlie and Chuyi’s wedding a few minutes ago. Irene and another friend, Paul, doggedly pursued Charlie and Chuyi, inviting them to the same events and casually dropping subtle hints such as: “Charlie, are you going to marry Chuyi already or not?”

When he finally decided to pop the question, we made rather elaborate plans to serenade her. The marshalled troops proceeded to Chuyi’s room in giddy, delirious anticipation, with Jaan as the obvious choice for singing soulful love ballads, while I’d fished out a mini-guitar. As it turned out, Chuyi wasn’t in her room. When Charlie finally did propose, a stale roll of bread with a hole in it functioned as the engagement ring – no one can deny he didn’t put in the effort.

Chuyi is Chinese and Charlie is British, so obviously it made perfect sense to decide on a traditional Indian wedding. According to ritual, the bride and groom walk around a bonfire seven times, with the bride holding a piece of cloth attached to the groom. A sweatshirt lying around was unceremoniously shoved into Charlie’s collar and Chuyi was handed the sleeve. We pretended the table was the fire – there wasn’t a whole lot of choice. As the presiding priest, I couldn’t find the text for the Sanskrit chants on Google so we settled for the next closest thing, which was the classic Hollywood wedding speech – you know the one that goes “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today ...”

There was a tentative suggestion of showering the couple with the nearest substitute for rose petals, which were crushed tea leaves in a pot on the table, but this was quickly quashed by Irene, whose room we were in. The bashful bride is currently spending her first hour of marital bliss doing an essay on her laptop across the room from me. The groom, true to his vows of promising to love, honour and cherish his college wife for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, has abandoned the wedding party and departed to watch a movie.

It was all lighthearted, good fun. All we are waiting for is the pitter-patter of tiny feet next year in the form of two overly excited freshers about to have their souls sucked out through their nostrils by the walk in the park that is university life.

The writer is an 18-year-old student at Cambridge who grew up in Dubai