My mom just flipped shit over my intention to legally change my middle name to my current last name and my last name to Chuck’s last name. ”But you were baptized Shannon Marie.” Uh, again, I also married Jesus in the second grade and promised my life to Catholicism when I was 13. I’m pretty sure that, at this point, it’s safe to say that I’m very comfortable breaking promises to the Catholic Church, and so are you, since you haven’t been to church in 17 years.
The past 9 months have been a whirlwind of planning the wedding, working toward graduation, having a (wonderful) shower, turning 34, trying to find a job, etc. The list goes on and on.
Currently, I’m forcing myself to write here so I can, hopefully, let go of some of the frustrations I’ve been having and enjoy an evening out with the FH to celebrate our very last dating anniversary (this matters to him for some reason.)
I’m not even sure if it’s appropriate for me to vent about this stuff, but I wouldn’t be a 34 year old college senior who’s planning her wedding if I was terribly worried about what’s appropriate, ever. Anyway, throughout this whole process, we’ve had to make some pretty hard choices. We’ve had to make and whittle down a guest list, try to find a venue that was nice, as inexpensive as possible, could accommodate a huge crowd, and could handle a plethora of dietary restrictions and preferences, and figure out what the hell our ceremony is going to be like, among other, more minute decisions. Throughout all of these choices, my only hope has been that our guests will know that we love them, and that we care about their comfort and fun on the wedding day and after.
I figured that there’d be some toes that got stepped on, and that some people might not be as happy as we are. However, I couldn’t have ever imagined how blindsided I would be by people’s opinions and attitudes.
First, there’s my future Mother in Law, who refused to attend my shower, and didn’t acknowledge me on my birthday. I still have no idea why.
Then there are the invited guests who have written in plus 1s for themselves. Now, I’m not talking about guests who have called to ask us, or talked to us in person, about having significant others that we weren’t aware of, or just needing to bring a friend to feel comfortable. I have no issue with that, and haven’t had to turn any request like that down. I’m talking about people who have literally written “and guest” on their response cards without a word to me or my finance about it. I truly want to make room for everyone, but even my frugally planned wedding is costing $100 a person when all is said and done, and I am really upset that people are doing this. It’s a personal event, and it makes me feel like people aren’t considering us at all when they respond, but are, instead, seeing this as some sort of free for all of free booze and food.
Then there are the under-the-surface tensions and unsolicited advice.
A close uncle, who is in some sort of one sided fight with my dad unceremoniously refused my invite, without ever acknowledging me.
A cousin is pissed that the hotel at which I’ve arranged discounted rates for our guests wasn’t set up earlier so she booked through Expedia and can’t get the discount.
One uncle can’t be sat near one aunt, while both want to sit with my mom.
Another aunt thinks I should have asked her daughter to be a bridesmaid.
Another still is pissed that her daughter wasn’t invited to the shower.
It’s all kind of crazy.
However, I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all bad, because it’s not. It’s just a little overwhelming at the moment.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand a late breaking edit to add that I’m tired of people judging my wedding plans by their social justice standards. I work at that shit full time and I won’t turn my wedding into a showcase for it.
So, I went to David’s Bridal today, to buy a couple of color swatches. While we were there, my mom decided to ask if they knew when my dress would be in. The woman looked me up in the computer and found that my dress had been there for some time. I was pretty shocked at this, since we’d ordered a new dress when the first one didn’t fit, and had discussed some of the issues that I had in my initial consultation with the manager, so I expected that I’d get a call when the dress was in. In spite of my shock, I agreed to try the dress on and then take it home. I was really nervous since I’d had a hard time previously, but the dress fit and it’s lovely. I came out of the dressing room to show my mom what I looked like in my wedding dress for the first time ever, and she stared blankly at me while frowning. I asked “what do you think?” and she shrugged.
Later, during the car ride home, I asked her about it and she said “how many times can I see you in a wedding dress?” Then she started talking about how pretty my cousins are.
Now, I feel like shit. I feel like shit because I thought she’d be at least a little bit happy to see me. I feel like shit because I wanted her to say I looked pretty. I feel like shit because I have this, 20 pound, $400 dress hanging from the hallway ceiling and I keep worrying that I look awful in it. Most of all, I feel like shit for even expecting something different.
I know I’m too old to depend on her for any sort of emotional support, but damn, this is kind of a big thing. Is it really that hard to just be there for your kid?
Ahem, so, you know those previous posts about my relatively easy dress shopping experience? Well, I may have spoken too soon.
I got an email a week or so ago that my dress was in and that I needed to pick it up ASAP, but it was the first week of classes and I was super busy, so I had to wait until yesterday to go. In the meantime, the consultant you worked with me on my first visit called to dryly ask me why no bridesmaids had come in to buy their dresses. She sighed heavily when I told her that none of them were coming to her. She never mentioned the dress being in, and generally continued to rub me the wrong way.
I was a little worried about the dress fitting because I’d read that the tag size in dresses you try on is not usually the actual size you need since dresses stretch from being worn, but I figured that I was just being over anxious. So, when we went to pick the dress up last night and it didn’t fit, I was very upset. Turns out, according to the manager, that David’s dresses have a half inch margin of error and the consultants typically recommend that their clients order a size up. Mine didn’t.
Now the dress has to go back and I get to wait some more (not a huge deal since I have a good amount of time) but also not ideal, and it adds to my annoyance at the whole situation. It was especially upsetting given the consultant’s attitude about my body during my initial visit.
The good news is that it looked really beautiful in white and without the train.
I am so happy to say that today’s dress shopping adventure was a total success on several levels. One of the reasons I dreaded shopping was that I am recovering from an almost lifelong fight with anorexia. For the past 15 years of my life, I have alternated between starvation, severe restriction of calories, avoidance of entire food groups, and midnight binge eating. Since I’ve been eating normally, I’ve gone from 90 pounds to 126 pounds and from an A cup to a D cup. I know cognitively that I am a healthy size now and that it’s ok to have curves, but it can be a real struggle to really act from that cognitive understanding when I feel awful and awkward about my body much of time. In order to better understand what this feels like, imagine going through puberty at 30. This is all aggravated by the fact that my mom’s family is obsessed with looks. No woman in her family ever receives praise for their smarts or creativity. We are only as good as our appearance.
With all that baggage, I was terrified of dress shopping, but I researched in advance and selected dresses that reviewers had earmarked as being flattering for all body types. I took my best friend and my mom with me, with a clear plan for the bestie to remind me that I am ok if I needed her too. I was feeling good, healthy, and excited when I walked into the shop. However, all that confidence almost tumbled when the consultant, within minutes of meeting me, eyed me up and down and said “What size are you? Because you’re very busty and I don’t know if these dresses will work for you.”
I am proud to say that, instead of crumbling, I looked her right in the eye and said “I would still like to try, please, because I think I know my body well.” It was a pretty triumphant moment for me, as I would have gone home without trying at that point once in my life.
I am also thrilled to say that I found, within half an hour, the dress I will get married in next May. It’s elegant without looking like a Disney dream, it’s comfortable, and it made me feel so happy and excited. I don’t want to link the exact dress, in case my fiance looks at this blog, but I will say that it is one of these: https://pinterest.com/shanoops/dresses/
and that is has pockets.
As the summer has sped past me, I’ve been busy nailing down some big details for the wedding. I’ve located the venue and paid a deposit, found a DJ who I can trust, decided on a photo booth for favors (it actually worked out to be cheaper than edible favors), decided on bridesmaid’s dresses, and had my partner design our invitations. Aside from the guest list (ugh), the only big, time sensitive, thing I still have to do is find a dress for me.
I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing dresses online, watching “Say Yes to the Dress” (more on that later), and trying to get myself mentally prepared for what looks like torture for someone who doesn’t like to be touched by strangers and is not comfortable in the spotlight. I also been going to the gym and devoting some time every day to looking at pictures of curvy women in their gowns to remind myself that “bride” and “size 0” are not synonymous, regardless of what I may see in all the wedding porn that has invaded my life. Still, I’ve put off actually shopping for a dress for as long as possible.
Well, today is the day.
In a few short hours, I’ll be gathering up my mother and my best friend and heading to David’s Bridal. I’ll be armed with high heels and a strapless bra, as well as the 7 dresses I like from their website. Hopefully, the only tears we’ll have will be happy ones and I will find something I like that’s not too expensive. Even though my mother is paying and has told me not to worry about cost, it’s not in my nature to just throw budgetary concerns to the wind, and the thought of spending a lot of money on something I will never wear again makes me itch all over. I can’t see myself having fun on my wedding day if my dress costs more than my car.
Speaking of expensive dresses, one of the things I’ve been doing as I’ve been working on planning this wedding is watching some wedding related TV, especially “Say Yes to the Dress.” When I first heard of that particular show, I shuddered with remembrances of watching some other bridal themed shows where the brides where almost always portrayed as sniveling brats (I’m looking at you “Bridezillas”) and with thoughts of dresses that break the bank. However, as I’ve moved along through the swamp of bridal marketing, I’ve noticed that “Say Yes to the Dress” has one thing that many, if not all, wedding themed shows lack: It is consitently positive in tone. Aside from the occasional commentary about how a bride’s family is being mean to her, SYTTD never stoops to talking about how tacky, bratty, weird, trashy, rude, or cheap a bride is, and that is a rare thing indeed.
Hopefully, my elusive dress is not so rare.
Phew. These past few weeks have been a mad dash to look at venues and then a mad dash away from them. It seemed like every place I looked at was exactly the same: a windowless box in an industrial park with fleur-de-lis carpets and brocade wallpaper. I know that many venues are like this because it’s an easy way to be massively appealing, especially in a reality where most weddings are super trend driven, and I even understand the practicality of having a carpet that’s too busy to show dirt, but I felt like there had to be somewhere that had some outdoor space and some indoor, but wouldn’t break the bank and that was neutral enough in decor to stand up to my colorful vision. Of course, the added challenges were that it had to please my mom and not be too pricey.
Today, I found my place. Yes, it does have the wedding factory installed ugly carpet, but it’s also part of an old country club and has an outside spot for the ceremony and a huge porch connected to the ballroom, where our guests can sit and relax in the (hopefully) warm spring air. My mom liked it, I like it, it’s not too expensive, and the coordinator for the venue was really awesome about some of my requests, especially my desire to bring in a cake from an allergen friendly bakery so that Chuck can actually eat some cake on his wedding day. It has all of the prettiness that some of the major “mansions” in this area have, without the added cost and pressure of being geared toward making me feel like a special pretty princess on our big day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making a judgement of people who really do want to be pretty princesses, or who enjoy ugly carpets, but that’s just not me so I really didn’t want to pay for it.
All of that was great, but the real standout moment for me was taking Chuck over there tonight and sneaking onto the grounds so he could see it and seeing his face light up at the sight of the gazebo. It made me feel centered and reminded me of why we’re doing this in the first place.
Also, today brought a huge breakthrough with my mom who has been battling me on everything so far, and the final piece of our wedding party as well. With my mom, everything has been a fight. She hated the idea of an outdoor wedding, was vehemently opposed to my choice of ring bearer, doesn’t understand the appeal of not using fresh cut flowers, and shit a brick when she realized that no church was going to happen. However, today she actually bit her tongue when I explained our intentions of having a gender blind wedding party set up. This is freakin HUGE. Later, she spoke with one my aunts who mentioned that her 19 year old daughter was asking if she can come to the wedding. With over 60 cousins in my family alone, we made the decision early on that the only way to keep the guest list manageable was to exclude everyone under 21 who was not the flower girl or ring bearer. When my mom told me that she had had to break the news to my cousin, my heart broke a little because she and I were very close when she was a kid. In fact, I babysat her everyday for the first 5 years of her life. I realized then that I get to make the rules and break the rules, and that I would genuinely regret excluding her, so now a fourth maid of awesome has been found and Emily gets to come to my wedding without me having to explain why I included her and not the rest of my cousins.
Finally, now that we have a venue and a secure date, I had some time tonight to realize just how many people are working together to make this wedding happen. We have family and friends who are doing our photography, playing our ceremony music, making centerpieces, bouquets and other crafty stuff, travelling across the country, officiating our wedding, and just generally surrounding us with love and care and joy. This is amazing and reflective of how so much of the past three years have been for us. We are a really fucking lucky couple and I can’t wait to honor all these lovely people and party with them!
Is it wrong to register for a 40 dvd set of a television series? Because I might have accidentally put the complete Gilmore Girls on my list.