I’m getting married! I am a woman after all and the sole prospect of this day, of saying I do to M, is making me really, really happy. And no, we haven’t set a date yet. Apart from some online dress browsing and some magazine reading (but I’m a magazine junkie and will jump on any excuse to buy one), writing this post is pretty much the closest thing I’ve done to wedding planning.
But the thing is… I once heard Carrie Bradshaw say that she was born missing the bride gene. I would say I only got a small part of it. As in the thought of getting married to M fills my humble self with utter bliss, but the thought of doing it traditionally and the pressure of pleasing others is giving me urticaria already.
A maiden and a blushing bride I am not… First, I’m way too sarcastic a person, although it doesn’t mean that I cannot also let my heart be overrun by joy and beauty. Second, I’m 33, a long-time partner and a mom. Third, well, there you go, I’ve been there before.
I was once married for a total of 26 months in my mid-twenties. A semi-shotgun sorta-wedding planned in 3 weeks, not because I was pregnant, but rather because my then-boyfriend had been offered a job as an expat in Germany, and I couldn’t go along unless we were married.
It was a mistake, of course. I very quickly found out that moving abroad with someone who is not the right person for you can quickly make a relationship -which is OK at best when you’re living home in a normal situation- a very difficult one, once you’re out of your comfort zone and have only each other to rely on. Case closed. It was a long time ago.
So yeah, I’ll be an encore bride. With all the whatever etiquette rules that are implied, except I’ve never been much of a traditional person. After all, we’re marrying after having our son, right? But the truth is even the previous time around, and even if this was my first wedding (it may not be but for me, make no mistake about it, it will be my one real and only, and most importantly my last), I find myself so lost in the bridal world.
Case in point: here is my personal dream vision of the event.
Exterior, day. The camera shows the blue sky scattered with a few clouds, then zooms in to an island, which you gradually recognize as
A few people are gathered around a bride and groom, while the groom holds a smiling toddler. An officiant proceeds with a short, non-religious ceremony, while they take their pledge witnessed by their immediate families and a few close friends. People are standing in an informal circle, surrounding the bride and groom with their love. Small children run around and giggle, and the vibe is all at once emotional, festive and relaxed. After the ceremony, the newlyweds kiss while everyone cheers. People have a drink of the best champagne available, right there and then, outside on the lawn. The small group of people then walks to the Boathouse where they have a wonderful, leisurely gourmet lunch, and where they can overlook the Park and the lake, complete with rowboats. Then everyone is taken on a carriage ride around the park.
Simple, elegant, stylish. Focus is on the commitment, the people, the celebration, and DA FOOD.
Now, I’m well aware that this is very different from what most people consider how it should be done. I have nothing but respect for people who want to do the big traditional wedding thing. I will still honor the way they choose to live their day and it’s really not my place to diss them, because I understand how traditions have a social function and how some people could not imagine ever feeling married unless they get to repeat predefined, conventional and symbolic gestures. But traditions really aren’t important for us. A wedding like that would be so unlike us, that it would be nothing less than a masquerade.
Although I know that pulling off a seemingly effortlessly simple wedding actually takes planning, I feel sick about the thought of spending months and months obsessing and agonizing over the smallest details, and investing major, major dinero. What you are celebrating is truly the beginning of a marriage, nothing else! I want to be married to M much more that I want to get married to him. My biggest wish is to stay as far as possible from the “we’re getting carried away with planning a wedding that’s a little too big for our budget/lifestyle/timetable because you only do it once (smirk)” mentality.
When did it happen that weddings became such big events that brides nearly go crazy planning for them, completely forgetting the true meaning of it all? I guess the whole industry gradually created higher and higher standards, which nearly every bride-to-be feels she HAS to conform to. For many women, the thought of getting married caters to a dream they’ve had ever since they were little girls, a dream which sadly has nothing to do with the person they’re about to marry. I was never such a girl, and I suppose I should be put into a museum for that after I die (look at her, the woman whose dream in life was not necessarily to get married!)
Bridal magazines are such a good example of that. Each one has a schedule dictating you what must be taken care of at different intervals, starting more than a year in advance, which in my humble opinion can only translate into more things to (unnecessarily) worry about. Admittedly, I’ve mostly gotten magazines that only buy into the “you’ve got to make this day absolutely PERFECT” message that much. But even so, I just can’t recognize myself in much of this hype. Does this make me abnormal? Forking that much money and paying that much attention to things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (Incredibly ornate place cards? Groom cake? Rehearsal dinner?) seems a bit ludicrous to me, sorry. But what if my save the date cards turn out not to be perfectly coordinated with the table runner? Everyone will die, right?
Don’t get my wrong, I am really looking forward to this day, and I don’t want to elope either, because taking this commitment in front of the people who are really dear to us is important for both M and I. But you know, it’s just that I think the pressure to “make everything perfect” only sets the stage for a lot of disappointment (and I must applaud my sister here for how she beautifully handled what did not go as planned during her special day (a somewhat missed arrival at the church and a last-minute replacement, less-than-stellar DJ)). We’re also both way too pragmatic to think that this will be the “most beautiful day of our lives.” What does that mean, anyway? If such a day really exists, I’m pretty sure its place will have already been taken by the day LP was born, and we even have some runner-ups consisting of a few days at the beginning of our relationship, or during our absolutely perfect first trip to the Southwest.
I don’t want to host a full-blown reception, I just want damn good food. I just want people to remember how the food was both eye-pleasing and delicious. I don’t want synthetic flowers and a ‘70s style dance floor, I want fresh and simple. I’ll do my own flowers of course and I want tons of it. I don’t want a big cake, I want my friend Julie to bake the cutest carrot and cream cheese (or possibly, coconut and key lime) cupcakes she has ever come up with and outdo herself, if that’s ever possible. I don’t want to look like a princess, I never did and I never understood it. I want to look like the best version of myself there ever was, hopefully a confident, beautiful, elegant, clever and stylish woman.
Now I understand that this is not what most people expect, and that it could baffle them. Which is why right now we're pondering whether you get married for yourself or for others, and trying to find the right balance between the two.
I don’t feel completely at ease discussing my first wedding in great details, but let’s just say I didn’t even wear white, and in fact I didn’t ever wear a proper wedding gown. I find pure white a bit bland for a wedding dress, and I’ve always wanted to be a little different. I’ve recently focused my interest on a small number of beautiful dresses, and they’re all a glorious shade of buttercream. Now you are allowed to laugh at me because I’m not that different I guess, since buttercream is far from red, bright green or Goth black leather, but I know that when it comes to the traditional wedding world, even that subtle color is considered a bold gesture.
And speaking of my attire, I just cannot bear the thought of going to a bridal salon. The idea of the tacky shaggy carpet, the flowery wallpaper and the older matronly types who make you feel like you absolutely NEED a tiara (which they can sell you for 365$!) simply makes me gag. I know there are alternatives to this, but let's face it, places like the really stylish and sleek bridal salon at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue, which comes with its own slew of personal wedding gown consultants, are a little out of my league. I simply hate those places where upon entering, it’s like you have a sign on your forehead that says, I’m getting married, feel free to outrageously overcharge me! I think that the bridal industry is only rivaled by the baby industry when it comes to ripping people off for no reason except taking advantage of their emotionally vulnerable life stages (as in, you absolutely need one of those 499$ pictures where the father holds your new born baby in his hand and on his forearm).
I’m a modern woman, I’ve always been an outside-the-box thinker, and so I’ll find my dress online. Because it means I can get exactly what I want (instead of being geographically limited), it’ll be quicker, most probably cheaper, and it’ll save me the mortifying shopping stage. I just saw my sister get married in a dress that cost (this is how I'm thinking) the equivalent of a nice trip. She looked lovely, of course, because all brides do and in fact I think it doesn't have that much to do with their dress. But as much as I love her and will always remember how amazing she looked that day, I actually do not think she looked any lovelier than say my friend who got married a couple of months ago in a very pretty, albeit much simpler and cheaper off-the-rack BCBG gown. The style I’m looking for is simple (how many times will I repeat this word throughout the post?) and slightly vintage-chic, a la Grace Kelly/Audrey Hepburn. For me less is more when it comes to elegance, and so there will be no pouffiness, no train, no beads and sequins, and no adornments (except for maybe a colored sash, although I’m not sure yet.) I’ve found a couple of designer dresses from a totally unconventional source, which perfectly match these criteria, and which also happen to be a real steal. And if it ever works out, chances my shoes will be much, much more expensive than my dress, but you can trust me that no one will ever think it was the case (at first I was thinking of going tea-length and showing off some seriously fabulous shoes, but now I’m kinda thinking of going ankle-length and showing off some seriously fabulous shoes).
And people who say they would never buy a dress from there can scorn and snob me all they want, but you know, sorry to break the news to you, more expensive really does not mean more beautiful or better. I’ll be looking gorgeous and more importantly, I'll be crying all the way to the bank.