I’ve taken a little hiatus from posting for awhile. Not that I wasn’t going full tilt wedding ahead and that there weren’t things to blather on about, but I guess I needed to clear my internet head. Now the wedding is less than one month away. And this is what I want to say:
I am overwhelmed with joy. And not because of my dress, the cake, or any of that bullshit. Because it is, let’s face it, beautiful, pretty, very fun bullshit. I am overwhelmed and close-to-tears pretty much a lot of the time because I feel so fortunate that I am going to get to marry the man I love. It sounds so silly. But as someone who was married before–and loved her ex–I did not know that it could feel this way. I can’t wait to marry him, to be married to him. I would do it in our messy living room in my pajamas this very moment. We have a really cool officiant–I think she would be all for it. I am excited that our family and friends will be there. I am excited that we will have good wine, and a great DJ. But it turns out none of it actually matters. What matters is that I will get to be his wife and he will get to be my husband. It turns out my wedding fantasy wasn’t Catalina after all. My wedding fantasy was to feel honored, happy, lucky, a little nervous, and so, so much teary-eyed joy. I hope that is what you get to feel too, because I believe it must be one of the best feelings in the world.
So we met with our wonderful caterer, and we have a dilemma. I wanted long tables and family style food. But it seems that the long tables are too narrow to hold the food AND the plates. Crap! So we can have 8’ round tables with food on the table, or 8′ long tables buffet style. The thing is, I have been at so many of those 8-footers, and I have never had an easy conversation with anyone across the table. You know what I mean. Maybe you shout a question across at the beginning of the meal and then you just resign yourself to talking to the people on either side of you–those giant tables are just too big. And the whole reason we wanted family style in the first place was so people would interact and talk. So guests, get ready to wait in line for the buffet. Crap!
You know how you look at all these blogs and there are these beautiful pictures by these amazing photographers and you think how you can’t wait to hire one of them to shoot your wedding? And somehow because they are shooting all these budget weddings, you imagine they are in your budget range? So you go and check their websites? Let me save you some anguish. Budget brides, you cannot afford these people. All my favorites, and I have checked with about six of them, have day of packages that start at $3,500. Many of them are $5,500. I love this one photographer’s work…she is free on our date…and her rates start at $8,500. Ye holy gods. Is my brother going to have to shoot our wedding?
Anyone have a suggestion for an amazing photographer in the LA area who is willing to shoot a wedding for LESS than the GNP of a small sub-Saharan nation?
One of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place was to talk about getting married for the second time, and what that felt like. Except the whole wedding process has sort of swept me up and I haven’t been doing much of that. Easier to look ahead than look back, I suppose.
The other weekend, in the middle of our great refinancing efforts, the man I love asked me why I had bought the house with my ex in the first place. I explained: My ex and I had bought the house when we got married because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time: we needed space, real estate prices were still lowish, we had the opportunity, etc. Fair enough. But as I was talking through all of this, a great fear came over me. Here I am, about to get married to the man I love, and it also seems like the right thing to do at this time. But what if it is not? Why if I have no judgment/am wrong/am fooling myself/am about to make a terrible mistake? Because I was wrong once before. Why should I trust myself again?
Building faith with yourself in regards to your romantic choices is an interesting process. It happens over time. I definitely gave myself that time to relearn who I was and think about who i wanted to be with. I am currently with the man I love, not only because I love him, but because we work. I believe we can build a life together; I want to. I do trust that. But, occasionally, something will trigger the great fear.
I went back to David’s Bridal. I put on dress #1. Two friends came with me and they surprised me by pulling out their cameras and snapping away. So funny. One genius consultant pulled a veil and a headband and just made everything look right—not too vintage-y, not too costume-y. Just very bridal-y, very me. Dress bought, headband bought, veil ordered. Done.
So I went to about seven other places to look for wedding dresses. I went to: a sample sale wedding dress place, a TJMaxx, a vintage store, a Loehmann’s, Barney’s, another boutique, and a wedding dress warehouse. And you know what? Not so much.
Here’s what I don’t want in a dress: pick-ups, taffeta, a long train, lots of beading. That eliminates about 95% of dresses right there. Add in my budget constraints and you got not a lot. I don’t want something too casual—my man is in a tux—but I don’t want too heavy/formal—because, dude, it’s June and I’m in a garden. Let’s let the flowers twinkle, not the beading.
I also am not interested in buying a dress because it photographs well. It really bugged me when someone said this, as if that was the only consideration. I will be wearing the dress—not posing in it. I want it to feel like something, to inspire, because that is what great clothing does, it puts you in the mood. I want to be put in the mood to stand solemnly and then jump around like crazy. So if I’m wearing something that is the weight of body armor, I am guessing that will be a problem.
I’ve seen what’s out there, and I’m going back to dress #1.
In an attempt to capture the full wedding dress experience, my mom and I went to a fancy schmansy wedding salon in Pasadena. To give credit where credit is due, the saleswoman was awesome. She and I were very clear on what would work on me and the two dresses she pulled when she got an idea of what I liked were excellent choices. I especially enjoyed how she coerced me out on the floor to stand on a pedestal in this giant frothy dress that make me look like an albino big bird. What a great dress!
My favorite dress was not the big bird dress, or the one that made me look like a slender column. My favorite dress was one-shouldered and draped in tulle. She clipped the trailing veil and the flower in my hair and I looked positively bridal. I know that everyone would say that I looked beautiful. I even didn’t mind the rhinestones hiding out in the center of a few small flowers around the neckline. Too much for a garden wedding, yes, but not too, too much when your groom is in a tux.
There were only two problems: it didn’t feel fun, or celebratory, and I didn’t see how I could dance around in it. It’s the kind of dress that is perfect for standing around and looking fetching but not so good if you want to jump up and hug the hell out of someone. And it was $2800. That would make it $2,300 more than wedding dress #1. As my mom said, You can have a lot of fun for $2,300. I have to agree.
Driven perhaps by the same instinct that sends penguins across Antarctica, I headed to David’s Bridal to try on one specific dress. Why did I think this dress would work? I have no idea. But it did. Bridal consultants admired my accessorizing: grey and black striped socks and silver booties. My feeling is, if the dress can handle some stripped socks, you’re in good shape. To top it off, it’s on sale. I almost bought it then and there. But then what about dress shopping with my mom? And the ladies? Isn’t this supposed to take longer? Am I too efficient? Aren’t I supposed to see my transformed self in the mirror and break down into tears? Somehow I thought there was more to this.
One of my students got engaged about a week before me. He shared the process with me a little before he did it—talked about asking her parents, getting the ring, etc. It was really fun and I was so excited for him. I had no idea that I would be engaged a week later. And I was so excited to tell him! So we just checked in—and we’ve both set dates—in June! We’re not only engagement buddies, we’re wedding buddies as well! I love that we can share the process and are on such a similar timeline. His choices aren’t my choices (they are getting married at the university—which I just can’t do) but they are good ones for them. And it’s not often that you get to bond with a student over the fact that David’s Bridal is having a sale.
My traditional man originally said he wanted to wear a tux and wanted his men in black suits. I felt a little disappointed. I think I showed him a photo of someone looking very fetching and modern in a pale grey linen suit with a vest. He wasn’t feeling it. And I was feeling a bit reluctant about the black suits.
But then I had this revelation a few days ago. People used to wear their best clothes to a wedding—why? I am beginning to understand. I think it was not to impress the guests, to be photographed well, or to indicate your family’s wealth. I am beginning to understand that people dressed up because getting married is serious stuff. You are pledging your life to someone and—surprise!—you wear formal clothes to honor the importance and the gravity of this event. Somehow in this secular world where tradition is no longer a given, everything has become so un-tethered that it feels like I am doing archeology to discover the meaning of the simplest wedding-related things. I dress up to honor other people’s weddings—why wouldn’t I dress up to honor my own?