My Life in Meringue (or "How to know when you've found 'the one'")

Some of you might be thinking when I say "the one" that I'm referring to the person you will marry. But those of you seasoned brides know the truth--"the one" refers to the dress. Be it white, cream, silver or flaming orange, "the one" just feels right. But alas, she can be elusive. As with potential spouses, you may sample many before you settle on the right one. And, also as with potential spouses, you may need to test your theories, abandon your preconceived notions, and be willing to follow your gut. Armed with this wisdom (imparted upon me by married friends), my adventure began.

I had already nearly decided on a dress. It would be custom made. Nothing floofy, no princess look for me--something simple, elegant. IA retro evening gown style of my own design, no lace, no pearls. Still, we needed bridesmaid gowns.

My sister, Andie, came to town for a weekend and she, my other maid of honor and I took a bridesmaid dress shopping excursion. Six bridal shops in seven hours. We were pretty impressed with ourselves.

 It was a long day, but a fun day. More taffeta, satin, ruffles, spaghetti straps, fun wraps, loony sales people and freaked out dress-hoarding brides and bridesmaids than we could have imagined in our wildest dreams. By the time we reached the last shop (a David’s Bridal, incidentally) we were down right slap-happy.

Maybe that’s where it began, this need to test our theories, our taste.

There, among the excess and chiffon that is David’s Bridal, we decided that in addition to the two “legitimate contenders” for bridesmaid dress, each of my lovely ladies should select the most awful, sensory-assailing frock she could find.

Furthermore, they decided, I should try on a wedding gown. Something traditional, princessy. Something utterly different from what I envisioned. Something my mother would have loved.  This, we figured, would not only be fun, but would help me decide once and for all about my dress...and help me be sure I have no latent “princess” fantasy I’d been denying myself.

They were beautiful, my funny maids of honor. Jill selected a periwinkle satin skirt and top set with a thick swath of gold lame vaguely-faux-“eastern” embroidered trim on the bottom. Long waisted as she is, the top hung above her navel, the skirt below, and she looked like some Las Vegas pastel conception of a harem girl gone terribly awry.

 My sister was even better. Pink crochet overlaying a silver lame. It was slim, it was was excruciating.

 But the crowning glory, the hideous cake-topper if you will, was me, in my princess wedding gown.

 Now, I apologize in advance to all you traditional brides in your princess gowns...and to anyone who has actually selected this particular dress. I am sure you look lovely, and I don’t mean to insult the dress itself either...but understand: I am 5’3” and petite. I’m not a “tom-boy”, but I definitely missed a few days of “girl school.”  I wear lots of dresses, but always simple or funky, clean lines, lots of black...I can’t even remember the last time I wore white or lace outside of a theatrical setting.

 The dress we chose...was big. I take that back. It was huge. Off the shoulder, long lacey sleeves with cut-outs. There was a peplum on the back and not one, but three large butt-roses. Big full satin skirt with mountains of crinolines and lace cut outs in front and on the train. Very fitted bodice, covered in lace, coming to a point in front and trimmed with lace on the edge--covered in so many pearl beads it looked like 400 oysters threw up on my chest. In the back, a keyhole cut out with pearls draped everywhere.

 We had to bring the convulsive laughter under control before we could step out of the dressing room and face the sales lady.

Then, it became very clear--this enormous confection was wearing *me* and not the other way around.

 Andie had to hold the door open as Jill helped me squish the skirt through the narrow passage. I walked (rolled...) out onto the block, turned around...and the train was still coming...and coming...and coming. Sales Lady suggested I walk over to another block so they could spread the train out “so you can see it in its beautiful entirety.”

 (That would, as it happens, not actually be possible.)

 I kid you not—this train was literally half the entire length of the church in which I was to be married. By this time, tears are rolling down Jill's face. She is struggling so hard to contain her laughter. Sales Lady mistakes this for my maid of honor being “moved” by the site of me in this beautiful gown. Tears streamed faster.

 Finally (after a picture or two with the lovely Maids), I confessed to Sales Lady that, though beautiful, this was probably a little too much dress for me.

 The moral: Before you settle on THE dress, try on something very, very different from what you are planning. You may find that there IS something you’re missing (it *has* happened to some brides I know)...and if not, you’ll be very amused and have a fun story to share with your friends.

II have to go call my seamstress now....


(c) 2001