Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Improbable Bride

If the late breaking news has you worried that dameonline is about to become wedding central, you really needn't be concerned.

I have a friend who began her wedding planning when she was ten. She always wanted to get married. She kept pictures of dresses she loved and wedding cakes in a three ring binder. She wanted a picture book wedding. When she became engaged, she pulled out her binder and began reviewing her idea book. It was a fascination that lasted as she grew older and became a reality in her adult years.

She always knew what she wanted.

I am not that woman.

When I was ten years old I sat my parents down and, in all seriousness, broke the news that they would not be getting any grandchildren from me. I told them I might not even get married. If I did I would be AT LEAST 30 (which seemed very old to me at the time). They were flummoxed but then, I was a wierd kid, so they decided to take it in stride and didn't argue with me. They just said okay and I felt satisfied with myself for being so responsible and breaking the news to them early.

Evidently I've changed my mind about a few things over the years. But understand: All my parents (biological and step) have been married more than once. One has been married three times. All but two of my Aunts and Uncles (I have many) have been through a divorce. The vast majority of my childhood friends' parents were divorced.

I had no reason to think marriage was a good idea.

So I never thought about a dress or what colors I would use. I never watched Disney movies and imagined my own princess wedding. Father of the Bride didn't make me weepy. I never got weak-kneed hearing a romantic proposal story (I did get nauseated once or twice). When friends have gotten married I have participated in their weddings and been supportive and kept my cynicism to myself. It's not that I didn't believe in love. LOVE I understand. But wanting someone to be in your house all the time (ew) and never go away and then trusting that once you grow accustommed to this arrangement, that person will actually continue to STAY? Totally bizarre to me.

As you now know, however, the most improbable thing has happened. I am getting married.

My focus is on the marriage - my future with the man I love, forming a strong partnership that will last the test of time and my joy at finally finding someone who I genuinely believe I won't mind spending my days with when I'm 90 and it's just too much trouble to shuffle into another room (I think this is a vital characteristic in a life partner). This will, however, involve there being a wedding. I mean, I COULD skip that part, but since I'm actually pleased about the marriage - a celebration does seem to be in order.

I will have to start from the ground up.

I never gave any of this a second thought. So I'm not walking in with a rough blueprint in place like so many other women seem to. I don't have years of secretly thumbing through copies of Modern Bride at the grocery store and drooling over movie weddings under my belt in order to prepare me for this. The only thing I knew at all was that the shoes would have to be awesome because, you know, I LOVE SHOES.

I am finding that bridal magazines kind of freak me out. They tend to focus on large productions and I know that I don't want a wedding circus. No drowning in fluffy white taffeta and tulle while being surrounded by people I won't remember in 30 years and freaking out over children sticking their hands in the cake and running myself so ragged that I don't remember most of it later. There are these massive lists in the books and magazines of the 50 million THINGS YOU MUST DO 12 MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING OR THE SKY WILL FALL AND YOU WILL NOT GET MARRIED. The average wedding in the U.S. today costs upwards of $28,000. It just sounds like such an ordeal if you try to play by these rules (and, you know, I don't have $28,000). I mean, I just don't care if everyone's names appear in the right order and I know there are not 150 people in my life right now who need to be a part of my wedding day. There just aren't.

So if I talk about the process here at dameonline, it will be in the context of how one approaches the wedding planing when one tends not be be the traditional sort. Or the fairy princess sort. Or the sort to obey the laws of etiquette when writing an invitation... Basically when one is more mindful of the marriage than the party. And during the process, of course, I will be certain to share any wacky hijinks. Because EVERYONE loves wacky hijinks. Even if they don't love weddings.


  1. I remember being horrified with bride magazines myself. I remember reading about perfectly matching the napkins to the bridesmaid gowns and Blix said to me, "We could just save some trouble and have the bridesmaids wear the napkins strung together..."

  2. Yeah it's strange. Apparently everything is supposed to match. I'm excited about the wedding... but I just don't see myself doing the classic formal routine. Some of it sound incredible, but some things sound like way too much of an ordeal.

  3. Sounds like a great approach. And yay, another person who hasn't had her wedding all planned out since the age of five! :)

    I figure if my brother and SIL managed to plan theirs in three months, and it was lovely (only hitch was the cake cutting wasn't well-announced, but that's what video is for), then I don't have much to worry about when the time comes.

  4. I definitely didn't have my wedding planned from age 5. I wasn't interested in the fancy dress (I think I only tried on four dresses, and picked one that was on sale, but decent), had no interest to be the center of attention, etc. As soon as the band stopped playing the last song, I ran to the bathroom, slipped out of the dress (with help from a friend) and threw on shorts, a t-shirt and sandals.

    When all is said and done, it's really just a day. Then it's over. The marriage itself is the important part - the wedding just gets you there.

  5. It's really reassuring to know I'm not the only one who's less wedding-focused. I think that sometimes the Wedding part takes over and everyone forgets what's really important and why the event is happening in the first place!

    I found a book that talks about planning the wedding together with your partner as a way of beginning your life together - sort of a mututal project that starts you off on the right foot. I like that idea. I like the thought of making it more about starting off focused on our life together and less about impressing everyone and fulfilling every one else's expectations.

  6. As a bride once before I'm going to give you one (unsolicited) piece of advice: do what you and the guy want to do and ONLY what you and the guy want to do.

    Anything you are talked into (ex - you HAVE to invite aunt rita who is mom's friends cousin's hairdresser whom met you when you were 8, or you HAVE to walk down the isle to the traditional wedding march, etc.) and i mean anything that you do because you "supposed to" is the stuff you forget. At the end of the day the matching napkins and bridesmaids dresses matter only to the person who said you "had" to do it. But if you and the guy love the idea of a ice cream wedding cake then do it! That you will remember when you are 80... and it melting in the heat will give you something to talk about when you can't shuffle out of the room. :)

  7. This is such great news! Congratulations!!

    And yeah: Do what you want. There's so much I'd do over on mine. Mostly, I'd pare everything down, down, down to the essentials. It's about your relationship, bottom line.

  8. I think I need the name of that book! I bought one for the S.O. and I think he's actually reading it. Something about Everything the Groom Needs to Know. I told him if nothing else, it's good bathroom reading right? So the other day, after exiting the Lou, he comes to me and says, "the book says we need to pick a date first, nothing else can happen until we pick a date." It was the cutiest and funniest thing in the world hearing him say that. Gues you'd have to be there, but I got a kick out of it.
    I'll tell you what, we can do a book swap, you can lend me that book when you are done and I'll give you mine entitle, 'How to Have an Elegant Wedding for $5,000 or Less'. Yes I bought that book...*head hanging*...and a few others.

  9. Oh, and as for bridesmaid dresses, my bridesmaids came in all different sizes and shapes. I gave them a color and approximate minimum length, and told them to each get a dress that suited them, that they'd be able to wear again. It worked out very well. I wanted them to feel comfortable, and not trapped into wearing a dress that they didn't like.

  10. I love this! It's like the wedding roundtable discussion. Every time I run into a problem or a question I'll post an entry "OK. Wedding cake frosting options? Discuss amongst yourselves." and see what pops up. ;)

  11. If I remember correctly (it was 15 years ago, after all...), our cake was chocolate raspberry, with white chocolate frosting. We also had sorbet in a chocolate cup. Are we starting to see a flavor theme here? :-)

  12. It's really nice to hear so many people backing us up about our intention to keep things more focused on the marriage. I mean, it seems like a no-brainer to me; sometimes people let the wedding get SO out of hand and go all OCD with matching everything! Thanks for being so supportive of us.