Monday, January 31, 2011

In Which I'm Pleasantly Surprised by Buying a Dress

As you, dear reader, may recall from a couple columns back, I spent some time being nervous about buying a dress. Fear and trepidation struck deep into my heart. To put it delicately, getting blood drawn while beekeeping seemed more appealing than buying a dress.
As dress shopping day grew nigh, I got increasingly sketched out. Since my mom and I were driving to Denver - about an hour from my parents' house - for this most sacred and blessed of rituals, it was going to be an all-day excursion. However, since both my favorite bookstore and my favorite Mexican restaurant are in Denver, I hoped to convince my mom that book shopping and enchilada consuming would be far more fun than looking for a wedding dress.

It didn't work.

And so we arrived at the dress shop bright and early on a late December morning. When we walked in, the saleswoman with whom we had an appointment got me set up in a fitting room. I told her my budget - no more than $350 - and she took some measurements and came back with a handful of dresses. I tried the first one on. It was gorgeous. I looked at the pricetag.

Just as I was about to mention that $600 was definitely outside my price range, bedlam broke loose. Two four-year-old girls bedecked in frilly flower girl dresses were twirling wildly all over the bridal fitting area, accompanied entourage of NINE PEOPLE. Now, these girls weren't rappers, so they didn't need to roll with a posse. And no one in this entourage of nine adults seemed to be in a supervisory role as they cooed and fawned over the twirling toddlers.

This, then, begs the question: WHY BRING NINE PEOPLE? I mean, hell, I didn't even bring nine people for my day of wedding dress shopping. If I was scoping out flower girl dresses, I sure as shit wouldn't want nine people there. But for whatever reason, these girls were rollin' with their homies, and, in a nod to Antoine Dodson, they were climbin' in the bridal salon', snatchin' your floor space up.

In the midst of the flower girl dress mayhem, one of Those Brides walked up and, in a moment of sublime entitlement and snottery, demanded that the saleswoman helping me pull every blue bridesmaid's dress in the store for her friends to try on. Every. Single. One. Immediately.

Since it was early in the day and the saleswoman I was working with was one of the only people on staff, she had no choice but to help Miss Thang and her Burning Need for All the Blue Dresses. So there I stood, wearing a dress well beyond my means, trying to keep the twirling flower girls from stepping on my feet, watching Miss Thang roll her eyes impatiently while waiting for all the blue dresses to arrive. Preferably in a horse-drawn carriage and on hangers made of pure gold.
I wanted to hide. I looked at my mom, panicked, and suggested that perhaps I'd be better off taking cover in the dressing room. My mom had the same idea and thought this sounded great, but sadly, social norms and etiquette precluded such a thing from actually happening.

Thankfully, though, the flower girls and their entourage quickly left. Miss Thang finally had, like, 87 blue dresses to examine. I could breathe again.

That seemed like an appropriate time to bring up the budget issue. Now, apparently studies have shown that most brides will buy one of the first dresses they try on. And, also apparently for most brides, budgets are mere guidelines as opposed to hard and fast rules. So, if when a bride walks in for her appointment she's given some gorgeous dresses to try on that are outside her price range, chances are she'll say to hell with the budget and buy one.

Not I, my friends. Not I. I remarked to the saleswoman that I really needed to stick with my no-more-than-$350 rule, and to my surprise...she was totally chill about it. I expected some sort of MIC-inspired schtick about how this is the most important dress I'll ever buy, but she didn't even go there. Instead, she said "no problem" and led me over to the clearance rack, noting that it would be my best bet for finding something within my price range. 

In under 15 minutes amongst the clearance racks, my mom and I found eight dresses that I liked. I tried them on and quickly narrowed it down to two. They were similar cuts - both halter necklines - and I really liked them both. As I stood there contemplating this momentous decision, I felt my neck start to itch. The fabric along my collarbone felt like sandpaper. I looked in the mirror and saw a gnarly, prickly, bright red rash breaking out under the beads on the neckline. I mean, I know that breaking into hives is a hot motif in wedding fashion these days, but I decided that since I appeared to be allergic to the fabric under the beading, this probably wasn't the right dress. Tough call, I know.
In a move that will shock the masses, I bought the one that didn't give me some nasty skin condition resembling chickenpox of the neck and collarbone. Happily, since it was on clearance, it was marked down to $300. But, even more happily, when we took it to the register, it was also on sale. On sale and on clearance! My heart was aflutter with dreams of saving money.

All told, it was $250. Even with some minor alterations, it still comes in under my $350 maximum. Now that's what I call a mothafuckin' victory.

So, while the day started out rather badly, it ended on an awesome note, and I left with a gorgeous - and very budget-friendly - dress in hand.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Sacred Sisterhood of Wedding Obsession

In recent months, I've noticed yet another aspect of wedding planning that, to put it delicately, utterly flummoxes me: there appears to be a big, fat, belching expectation that I'll be so engrossed in wedding planning - so ensconsed in each and every detail, and enthralled to talk about it ad nauseaum with anyone who'll listen - that I cease to care about other things in life. It's as if there's a Sacred Sisterhood of Wedding Obsession - a sorority, of sorts, whose members spend unfathomable amounts of time being preoccupied by every last detail of their respective weddings. And apparently I'm expected to join them.
This has manifested itself in various ways, but one of my favorites so far is a tip I saw on a wedding website. In an article on how to keep your relationship healthy during your engagement (this is when you, dear bride, will be unable to talk about anything but the wedding. Even if a meteor slams into the polar ice caps and displaces huge volumes of water and half the world drowns as a result, you'll neither notice nor care, as long as the reception venue hasn't sustained damage and the florist doesn't need more time to process your order), they recommend setting aside one night per week to talk with your fiancé about things that aren't related to the wedding.
No. Effing. Way. One night per week? I'm supposed to spend six nights per week barraging my fiancé with wedding shit? Is this for real? 
If anything, we have the ratios reversed. We spend six nights per week discussing things that don't have a damn thing to do with colors, tulle, floral design, or organza. Let me elaborate.
Things my fiancé and I have discussed this week, in order of amount of time spent discussing it:
1. Random/stupid things that happened during the day
2. Football playoffs
3. The NY Times op-ed section
4. Politics
5. People we don't like
6. The Tunisian uprising 
7. The library books that I just checked out
8. Wedding planning
Seriously, why am I expected to stop caring about, paying attention to, and discussing things unrelated to my wedding? Where did this come from? Why is my wedding supposed to be so all-consuming that I get completely lost in it? Most importantly, who are the women spending every waking moment obsessing about their weddings, and how can I thank them for not hanging out with me?
This bizarre expectation has other manifestations, too. It most often rears its head during the course of conversation, during which time a lot of people have reactions ranging from shock to mild horror at my approach to wedding planning. The conversation usually goes like this:
Random Chick: How's wedding planning going?
Me: It's going fine, thanks - everything is coming along nicely.
Random Chick (looking slightly concerned): Have you picked your colors?
Me: Actually, I'm not really doing colors. The bridesmaids' dresses are red, but that's because they were on sale and the red one had the most sizes available. I figure that most colors go together nicely, so as long as I don't have people in argyle and polka dots, it'll look good.
Random Chick (now looking mildly constipated): Oh? Um, ok...oh, your theme! What about your theme?
Me: I'm not really doing a theme either, since I figure that the theme of the event is marriage.
Random Chick: Uhhhmmmmm? But aren't you excited?
Me: Oh, I'm definitely excited - but I'm doing a lot of stuff besides wedding planning, so I'm not getting too wrapped up in it. It'll all turn out fine.
At this point, Random Chick is usually sporting a facial expression ranging from acceptance (God bless you if you're one of these folks), to concern, to shock. The latter category is the most fun, because they tend to look like I've said something truly disturbing. When I say I have no theme or colors and that I have interests outside wedding planning, you'd think I'd actually said "puppies are abhorrent," or "I routinely eat a massive bag of Doritos dipped in a tub of Betty Crocker icing for breakfast," or "I think it'd be totally awesome if Iran had nuclear weapons." 
Sometimes I'm tempted to make something up - some sublime bullshit that will make me sound like I'm on the same page as (apparently) typical brides who spend hours parsing the details of colors, themes, flowers and cake - to make the other person think I'm not some blasé bride whose wedding is going to be a complete trainwreck. But within nanoseconds of thinking this, I veto the idea. The fact is, in the immortal words of Popeye, I yam what I yam. I'm not a typical bride. I don't care about perfect linens or improved lighting or swoon-inducing decor. I don't give a shit about themes. I care about being married, but I don't much care if the wedding is a shining example of nuptial perfection.
Although the all-consuming wedding planning seems to be considered a rite of passage among brides these days, I'd prefer to pass on induction into the Sacred Sisterhood of Bridal Obsession. Instead, I'd like to ask the dudes among us if I can become an honorary member of the Fraternal Order of Preferring Football Over Wedding Stuff.