When it comes to weddings, it's amazing how heavy a cross the people you love will carry just so you can save face. In the last three weeks, I've read countless stories about brides and grooms and the extent of their presumption and lack of tact: inserting bank slips with their checking account number in the invitation; eliminating members of the wedding party minutes before the ceremony because a dress or tux didn't fit quite right; asking the punch server to man the bar for the duration of the reception; using thank-you notes to ask for a larger-sized gift because your initial one didn't cover the price of your plate.
The female half of this couple is known to all as Bridezilla, the woman who noticed you weren't wearing the right cut of underwear underneath your dress but conveniently overlooked the shade of blue you turned into when she told you the bridesmaids dresses were purchased in bulk on clearance at Macy's and that she got you a size 12, the size you wore in seventh grade back when the two of you were BFFs, instead of the 18 you are today, which meant additional fabric and hours of alterations and hurt feelings about being made to feel that you are the size of Moby Dick, the latter being the only thing you get for free. I wish I were joking, but Samantha recounted this story to me on Saturday, the date on the calendar marked for our wedding shopping extravaganza.
Since I've been engaged, my bridesmaids have asked a lot of questions about my expectations for their appearance. Apparently I should have a checklist for them in regards to how their hair should be worn, where to purchase jewelry, and what brand of shadow is acceptable to swipe across their eyelids. Apparently I have the ability to turn my bridesmaids into robots because it's My Special Day.
And my answers were: however you want, wherever you want (if you even want to wear any, because I'm not sure as hell not wearing any), and any damn color you want. However, I did make two requests: that all the dresses be the same shade of blue and that the shoes be dyed to match them. I came in that afternoon with twenty pages of computer print-outs and catalog pages and a shrug of my shoulders when they asked what they were trying on first. "You tell me," I said. And off we went.
The first hour was not unlike Goldilocks's trip in The Three Little Bears; the first four dresses were labeled Too Ichy, Too Sexy For a Thirteen-Year-Old, Pretty But Eh, and Too Light Blue, But Too Bad Frema Wasn't Going For Black, Because We Would Totally Wear This In Black. One dress we were all excited about was featured in the spring catalog but not scheduled for distribution until mid-February, so we said a silent prayer in its memory and tried our best to move on.
The next one on the menu didn't elicit a whole lotta wa-hoo, so we gave the catalog another flip-through, and lo and behold, every gosh-darn one of them fell in love with the dress on the left.
The shoes were just as interesting, with each girl starting out with something different but eventually choosing these. All my efforts to allow for individuality were for naught.
Or were they?
For the last few weeks my stomach has been in knots about this day, so much so that I actually understood why brides-to-be would come off so anal about hair and make-up and underwear styles. How much easier it would have been for me to just e-mail a link to a dress and shoes I liked and ask them to have both paid in full by such-and-such a date. It would have saved me one trip to Chicago, six bucks in tolls, five different opinions from five very different people, and two hours of everybody's time. And if that's what would've gone down, I would have gotten not one word of complaint. Like I said, the amount of BS your friends and family will take to make you happy is unbelievable. I don't know that I could be as gracious.
However, for as many mistakes I am destined to make throughout this process, the one thing I will pat myself on the back for is my flexibility in allowing these women to actively participate in the selection of their attire. Seeing as they're wearing the dresses and they're wearing the shoes and they're footing the bill, it's not only courteous but ideal for them to have that say. But the fact that they were so easygoing in order to avoid my having a nervous breakdown in the dressing room makes me love Samantha, Donna, Gina, and Trina all the more.
* Note to acknowledge that one bridesmaid, my sister Ryan, was unable to make the trip due to heavy-duty study plans for a test she has tomorrow, so I suppose during our shopping date there will be less "It's all about you" and more "Yeah. Here's your costume. Enjoy."