Of course, all of this wedding planning puts me in mind of my first wedding to Christina’s dad back in 1985. I had moved to Illinois in 1982, leaving most of my family in California, so I was pretty much on my own when it came to planning our wedding. I purchased the Bride’s magazines and pored over the pages of dresses and veils, I studied the flower and cake designs and reception suggestions and thought that I could manage all of the arrangements on my own while still working full time. This turned out to be hugely stressful, of course, and as I look back on some of my choices for that wedding, I can see that an overload of panicky adrenaline and severe lack of sleep made for some unfortunate decisions.
The bridesmaids dresses, for instance. Since so many of my attendants lived in other states, I thought it would be helpful to order the dresses from an easily-accessible-to-all place: the J.C. Penney catalog. That’s right. No one did Pepto Pink gowns with short ruffled sleeves quite like Penney’s of the 1980s!
Everyone was gracious about my style selection and held their tongues as I mused that perhaps these dresses could be worn some other place after the wedding. Like where? A fabulous cruise? An inaugural ball? A summer luncheon?
Christina has wisely chosen to have her bridesmaids wear simple black cocktail dresses that will most definitely be worn again. Evolution in its finest hour….when our kids do not make the same horrific choices we made in our own naïve youth!
In choosing my own wedding dress, I thought I would be fantastically clever and frugal by eschewing the traditional (and costly) bridal dress shops and trying to find a gently-used gown at a resale shop. Which I did. It cost $75 and did not fit at all, but I reasoned that I would lose weight and reconstruct the sleeves and hem and…voila! A “custom” wedding gown!
More fuel for the stress fire which was beginning to rage out of control by this point. I dieted diligently and exercised like a maniac for months, trying on my dress once a week to see if it finally fit. It seemed like it never would, but all of a sudden, more weight fell off than I anticipated and I got it zipped up! Hooray….except for the fact that my breasts had all but disappeared, leaving the bodice loose and sadly unflattering.
On to the homemade alterations (still certain that I could do as good a job as any professional seamstress). Got the new sleeves attached without too much drama, but the hem proved to be my undoing. As I struggled to measure the length on my own and then sew the hem while dragging the bodice of the dress on the floor, I could clearly see that I was, in fact, in over my head with this thing.
Finally, a friend/bridesmaid arrived from California to help in the proverbial eleventh hour and thank God for that. I was days away from walking down the aisle in a severely impaired and home-botched thrift store wedding dress. As I mentioned, I was making less than stellar decisions at this point in my life.
The other wrench in the works was the money worries since we were bankrolling this entire event on our own. As a wedding gift, my mother had offered to help us by paying for the flowers and photography, which at the time of her offer (our engagement party), I found to be highly uncharacteristic considering her markedly neurotic attitudes and behaviors around money up to that point. But I accepted her offer with gratitude, anyway and smiled to myself as I thought, “She must have turned over a new leaf!”
When it came time to make the deposits for the flowers and the photographer, I called my mother and began the conversation by chatting about the Illinois weather, the wedding plans and how nicely everything was coming together, and by the way, we need to send deposits to these people to secure the date. At which point my mother burst into tears, sobbing that all anybody wanted from her was her money, and didn’t they know that she had FEELINGS??
This sordid phone call lasted another 15 or 20 minutes as my mother wept and lamented that she was paying for something she couldn’t even CHOOSE since I had the bad grace to move 2,000 miles away, and how did I think that made her feel….Blah. Blah. Blah.
She did send two checks to cover the deposits for the florist and the photographer with no note in the envelope. Just the checks, written in dark, heavy ink, and what I assumed was a tear stain near her signature on the second check….just for dramatic effect.
In those wedding photos, I can see the stress and tension in my face as I posed with my mother that day, and since this little series of events was etched so deeply into my psyche, I decided then and there that I was going to be the most easy-to-get-along-with mother of the bride EVER.