Sam and Mark's Super Happy Wedding Funtime

Posts Tagged ‘The Dress

On my wedding day I spent 3 hours getting my hair and make-up done. 3 hours.

After, I went home and my apartment was quiet. The first time it had been quiet in days. It was mid-day, but the apartment was a little dark and cool, which just added to the quiet. I walked down to where my dress waited for me and I couldn’t help but think about polish dancers. You know, when you are a kid and you go to the county fair and there are these dancers and they are wearing special costumes and they do their traditional folk dances? Big skirts and maybe aprons and hats?

Polish Dancers.

We’ve all heard that America is a melting pot. Cultures come here and melt into a gooey American cheese ball. I’ve also heard that America is a mixed salad, multiple diverse and culturally connected elements that keep their identity while coming together to form a delicious and nutritious salad of patriotism. But really, America is a fondue. It isn’t either/or. There is the melted bit, but then you dip in all those exciting bits of bread and veg. I’m in the melt-y bit. We are just white people. Even though our family is Scottish, there is no throwing of cabers in our house. I am part Swiss … but, well, do the Swiss even have a cultural identity? I don’t know if I’m German Swiss or Italian Swiss, and while I do love chocolate, I don’t own a watch. I guess I’m just American, and while that’s fine 50% of the time, it isn’t that exciting to me. It isn’t like I get to put on crazy shoes and skirts with special names and dance around.

Except today. That day. My wedding day.

That day I was going to be a polish dancer. I was putting on my ceremonial garb, my war paint, my helmet (trust me, with the amount of hairspray I had in my hair, I was ready for football) (also, I don’t think polish dancers wear helmets, but just go with it). I was getting ready for my “dance,” my performance. My moment at the county fair.

It was really cool.

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I may have pulled my hair up, clipped some Kleenex on my head to mimic a fancy fascinator, tossed on my wedding dress, and swished around the apartment like a pretty, pretty princess.

I have to test this thing out.

What I found is that hair makes a difference. A big difference. Originally, I was going to do my own hair. I was going to find some lovely headband on Etsy, plop it on my head, and be done. The trouble is, this dress requires more than that. This dress, like Audrey II, requires a bit more than I can eek out of my fingertips. This dress requires a full size professional.

I know what you are going to say, I know because I’ve said it: PLEASE. You can do your own hair. You can. You really can. It isn’t that hard. Get some product, some clips, watch a youtube- bob’s your uncle- bouffant. Easy. This is not an expense you should try to justify. This is frivolous. This is silly. This is everything you aren’t. Don’t give in to wedding bell peer pressure. This isn’t a requirement. You don’t need hair for your wedding. YOU ONLY NEED LOVE.

But at what point does austerity stop? I mean, I DO NOT need to get my hair done. But I also DO NOT need a dress. I DO NOT need a sit down meal, or wine, or friends or family. Heck, I could even forgo witnesses with a confidential marriage license. I DO NOT NEED ANYTHING.  I CAN DO IT ALONE.

Well, almost alone. I still need Mark.

We can have indulgences. It is OK. It is our wedding, after all. If Mark wants a bespoke suit, Mark can have his bespoke suit. If I want a professional to make my hair do something other than lie flat against my face, then let’s book an appointment. I’m not going to get my hair done because I have to have some crinkly eight tier updo I saw in some magazine. I’m not getting extensions or changing color, I’m just getting someone to make me look like my best self. I’m not doing this because of SOCIETY, but I am doing it because it is my wedding day and I’m going to wear a pretty dress, and damn if I don’t want some pretty hair, too.

So I got my dress last night. It was just waiting for me in the lobby. A big white box that weighed almost nothing.

And oh boy, is it blue. Cinderella blue.

So now I have my dress and it is exactly what I wanted. Perfect color, perfect style. And yet… I feel… Well, I feel the same.

Maybe I am in shock? Maybe. The wedding shows have people crying in their dresses. The wedding shows tell me dress equals flood of emotions. Suddenly you are now a Bride. The Bride. But my dress? It is the prettiest, fanciest dress I have ever owned. It is beautiful. But it doesn’t reduce me to a quivering mass.

Because it is a dress. Really. Just a big, fluffy dress.

Want to know what does reduce me to a quivering mass? Sample wedding vows. Poems. Song lyrics. I can’t read “This Must Be The Place” without tears streaming down my face. Like a salty waterfall. My voice breaks if I try reading it out loud. A song I know (mostly) by heart. A song I’ve been singing off key for years.

Home – is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home, she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place

I can’t tell one from the other
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time
Before we were born
If someone asks, this where I’ll be . . . where I’ll be

Hi yo- we drift in and out
Hi yo- sing into my mouth

Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I’m just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two

And you love me till my heart stops

Love me till I’m dead

Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head
Ah ooh

This is the stuff that reduces me to a quivering mass. The words. And when I put my dress on for the first time last night and I didn’t feel magically transformed, I thought- well crap. There is something wrong with me. For real this time. But there isn’t. And there isn’t anything wrong with the women who do tear up over a dress, but for me it is just a costume. It is just a frock. What’s going to kill me, make my face puff up and go all red and blotchy is saying how much I love Mark in front of family and friends.

I should scotch guard this dress.

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When I was a little girl I loved Cinderella. I wasn’t so much into princesses as I was into transformations. And I still am. I love a good makeover, be it a house, a room, or a tortured urchin.

I had the Golden Book of Cinderella. I loved the pictures. I loved that book so much I actually chewed on the corner of it because I think I wanted it to be part of me. Also because I was like 4. And 4 year olds are weird.

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I would spend hours and hours reading that book. Poor, unfairly treated Cinderella was cleaned up and sent to a ball where she met a handsome prince who fell head-over-heels in love with her. Cinderella worked so hard, was so kind, she deserved to be treated kindly, to get to dress up and go out and enjoy the wonderful ball. I loved that. I loved that her nasty, mean stepsisters, who were so bent on marrying the prince ended up being ignored in favor of this beautiful woman in a beautiful dress who was content with just going to the ball. It was a perfect story. Inner beauty gets a trip outside and you end up marrying a prince.

Monday my parents and I bought my wedding dress. It is wonderful and magical and blue. And I didn’t realize until describing it to my boss (who has a daughter of book-chewing age, obsessed with Cinderella’s blue dress) that I am wearing Cinderella’s dress. If Cinderella was in Mad Men.

As soon as I realized what I’d done I was horrified. I am not a princess bride. This is not me. I don’t want to be Cinderella.

Except. Well. I do. I guess I do. My mom (actual, not godmother and not fairy) bought me a beautiful dress. A dress I would have never bought myself. A dress that makes me feel lovely and fancy and wonderful. A dress that makes me feel like something special, something other than a normal person, something not unlike a princess. And while I’m not a fan of the princess, when my boss mentioned Cinderella something inside pinged. Like a little (chewed off) fragment of that silly book started glowing inside some long lost nook of my innards. The little girl who stared for hours and hours at the lovely blue gown on the cleaned up Cinderella smiled a great big ear to ear smile at the idea that she was going to get cleaned up and dressed up and get to marry her very own Prince Charming.

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When I was really sick last year I stayed home and watched every episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” available on NetFlix. Wedding dresses are a little silly. And brides who spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a dress they wear once, these women, these families, are effing crazy. But I watched them tear up and cry and hug and bridge generation gaps and have these moments that they would remember forever. And thanks to the power of television, be able to relive any time they felt like it.

And I cried with them (I had the flu!) and I laughed with them and I was so happy for them for finding this thing that brought them such emotion. And I was happy for myself that I would never, ever spend that much on anything. I was to practical. Too realistic. Too unsentimental for such trivial nonsense.

In the old days (of western culture),  if you were a a regular person, your wedding dress would just be your best dress. This was in a time when dresses were worn daily, so women had a best dress.  If you look to the past, the only people who wore gowns (and few were white) were nobility and they were showing off. Weddings were land deals and political maneuvers and you needed to put your money and power on display. Prominently.

Clever advertisers in post WWII America sold us on the idea of a big white ball gown. Just like De Beer’s sold us on forking over mad cash for a crazy diamond ring. The big white dress is a new thing. So getting all teary-eyed over tradition is just non-sense.

And yet anytime I’ve seen a friend in a stupid big white dress, I tear up.

So now that I’m faced with the prospect of getting my big white dress, I feel decidedly uneasy. Part of me thinks I should just find a really pretty dress, screw the word wedding, and be done with it. A nice party dress. Something I could wear AGAIN some day. Then there is another part of me, some weird twisted part of me that says no to this. This part of me is insisting I should forgo practicality and get a dress that screams (in my own special way) Wedding Dress. A dress I’ll only wear once. A dress that probably costs more that I am comfortable spending.

This is, of course, further complicated by my size. Most party dresses in my size are for older women on cruise ships. While, this may in the end fit the theme of my wedding (more on that later), I don’t think it fits my personal style.

These dresses scream “Isn’t that lovely, Mertyl?” and “I love shrimp cocktails” and “My what a fabulous buffet!” (Though, I do kinda like the gray one.) Overall, this is not what I want. I want a pretty, fancy dress, but these… these just are not right. I want something fun and fabulous and that doesn’t look like I pulled it off the “Mother of the Bride” rack at David’s. I’m the BRIDE, dammit! If I’m going to thwart tradition and avoid the this:

(though, it is lovely, isn’t it?)

Then I want to look really cool doing it. And chic. And young.  There, I said it, I want to look young. And like a bride. But a bride NOT in a wedding dress.

Practicality is probably not going to win this battle. Size will make it exceedingly difficult. And my own refusal to not wear a wedding dress but yet a wedding dress, is probably going to invoke some sort of stress spasm that may or may not require medication. In the end, it will be a gut feeling. Something will pull me and I’ll say “yes, that is it, that is the one.”

And I’ll probably get all teary-eyed and ridiculous.

Oh my god, you are so fancy, Julia Morgan Ballroom. You are so, so, so fancy. If you have your wedding here, you are also fancy. I don’t mean this in any sort of negative way. You are old school, classy, elegant, well-moneyed fancy. To be sure.

Julia Morgan was a lady architect. This is important because she was the first female architect to graduate from the École de Beaux-Arts in Paris. She was also he first licensed female architect in California (she was from Oakland and went to UC Berkeley for civil engineering before she went to Paris). She is probably most well known for that house on the hill in San Simeon, La Cuesta Encantada, aka Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle - Eric Cobb - Panoramio

If you’ve ever been to Hearst Castle, you’ll know that not only is the house itself amazing, but the scope of construction was incredible. This was a campsite in the hills originally, and now it was going to be a fully modern estate. An estate that Hearst kept modifying and engrandizing (is that a word?) year after year. So this lady architect, with a back ground in civil engineering, had her work cut out for her. And she did an amazing job.

She did a lot of work for Hearst (he was some sort of tycoon in need of buildings), she also did a lot of work for the YWCA in California and Mills College, a woman’s college, in Oakland. She designed the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley. So Julia Morgan is cool. It is fitting that the ballroom named in her honor should also be kind of out of sight.

The Julia Morgan Ballroom

More Ballroom

Spectacular, right? Classy, right? That’s just the ball room- there is also a beautiful bar and lounge, too.

Getting a wedding right in this place has to be an absolutely massive amount of work. And with this place, you need to get it right. Hillary Clinton spoke in this room. Michelle Obama spoke here. This is not a place to take lightly. This is a place for a capital-e Event. This is the place for women who dream of their wedding day. For women who have bridal parties. For women who’s parents have a say in the guest list. This is a place for a society wedding. This is a lot of pressure. A lot of work.

I do not have the energy to do this. I actually do not care about a wedding enough to put the appropriate amount of effort into planning the type of event that should occur here. If I were a society girl, a mover slash shaker, someone who actually owned a cocktail dress, then this would be the place. Cocktails in the bar- old fashioned cocktails made with whiskey served in crystal glasses. Dinner would be seated, of course, multiple courses, perhaps Benu will cater? And then dancing. This place requires dancing. This is the perfect place for a big band- a swing band- and a crooner. The kinda guy who is not afraid of hair product. The kind of band that wears suits.

My dress would have to be some sort of throwback to the 40’s. Something like this:

Fancy Vintage-like Dress

Mark, of course, would be required to wear a tuxedo. We would also need dancing lessons. Lots and lots of dancing lessons.

Oh my stars, it would be fancy! So FANCY!

Just not… me.

I’m totally getting this, or something like this, for my wedding.

Or perhaps, for fridays…

Tasha 'Feather Whisperer' Fascinator Headband- From Nordstrom

FEATHERS!

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Sam and Mark