Europe

Italy woman marries herself in 'fairytale without prince'

Laura Mesi, who married herself, cuts her wedding cake Image copyright Micaela Martini
Image caption "My happiness does not depend" on a man, says Laura Mesi, who claims to be the first Italian woman to join a worldwide trend for solo weddings

An Italian woman has married herself in a ceremony complete with white dress, three-layer wedding cake, bridesmaids and 70 guests.

"I firmly believe that each of us must first of all love ourselves," said Laura Mesi, a 40-year-old fitness trainer. "You can have a fairytale even without the prince."

The ceremony carries no legal weight.

But Ms Mesi is part of a growing trend for self-marriage - dubbed "sologamy" - in countries around the world.

Proponents of such ceremonies say it is about self-love and acceptance, and claiming the social affirmation normally reserved for couples who wed.

Laura says the idea of a solo wedding came to her two years ago, after a 12-year relationship ended.

Image copyright Micaela Martini
Image caption To plan a solo wedding, Ms Mesi says you need money, support from those around you - and above all a "pinch of madness"

"I told friends and family that if I had not found my soul-mate by my 40th birthday I would marry myself," she told La Repubblica newspaper.

"If one day I find a man with whom I can plan a future I'll be happy, but my happiness does not depend on him."

Ms Mesi says she is the first Italian woman to hold a solo ceremony. In May, a man, Nello Ruggiero, said "yes" to himself in a ceremony in Naples.

In Japan, a travel agency began offering bridal ceremonies for single women in 2014.

Reports of people marrying themselves go as far back as 1993. It has spawned a number of books and been a theme of episodes of Sex and the City and Glee.

In the US, a website called I Married Me offers self-wedding kits. In Canada, an agency called Marry Yourself Vancouver which has been running for more than a year attributes the rise in solo weddings to the growing numbers of single people.

Image copyright Micaela Martini
Image caption Watermelon celebrates Laura Mesi's status as a "single spouse"

"Single is the new normal. Celebrate your solo status!" it urges.

But not everyone welcomes the trend, with some calling it narcissistic, and others criticising it as a pointless submission to a patriarchal institution.

Among the congratulatory comments left on Ms Mesi's wedding photos are others: "So sad", "you're out of your mind" and "there's something wrong with your brain".

Last month, British self-wedder Sophie Tanner told BBC Three some people called her "a sad feminist".

Ms Mesi has brushed off the catty comments, saying "nothing and no-one can turn off my smile".

But in media interviews she acknowledges that solo weddings might not be for everyone. To marry yourself, she says, you need a certain amount of money, the support of those around you, and - above all - "a pinch of madness".

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