I am not one of those girls who was steeped in the princess-in-the-white-dress wedding fantasy. In fact it was the opposite. My mother, who has never been very organized, has dreaded having to organize a wedding since she discovered that she had had a girl baby. Her solution was that every time we went to a wedding, since I was about 6 years old, she would lean over at some point during the reception and whisper "You are going to elope, right?" This, she figured, solved the problem. And it did. I certainly didn't want a wedding; they are expensive, complicated, and you invariably do something wrong. Especially, if you are one of those poor souls, as I am, who was not let in to the girl cabal, and therefore have no idea when a lipstick color or skirt length goes out of fashion. "Oh honey, that is sooo last year." Weddings are full of these sorts of landmines for the unwary, or clueless. The world of bridal magazines has never seen a bride-to-be as clueless as I am.
Sadly, neither my mother nor I had ever really considered that my fiancé might consider a wedding important. Well, he does consider a wedding important. So there goes that whole elopement idea that had been my working assumption for the last several decades. Oh boy…now we get into some virgin territory. I feel like I'm wandering into a dangerous forest blindfolded, carefully sticking a tentative foot out in front to see if the land is solid where I'm about to step. I have literally no idea what I am doing, largely because I never paid attention to the intricacies of weddings. Until about four months ago, weddings were things that happened to other people. But I have come to the acceptance stage… I am living proof that weddings can happen to anyone.
My first move was to stick my head in the sand for a good four months. The only thing that approach got me was sand in my ears, and about four less months to plan a wedding. Sometime over last weekend I got it in my head that I needed to start thinking about this wedding thing. It was, after all, now less than a year away (we had narrowed down the date to sometime next summer), and reception halls can get booked up to a year in advance. Thankfully, a good family friend has a daughter who is getting married next summer as well. So I arranged to talk to her. She was a wealth of information, all carefully labeled in a huge three ring binder. She has every major decision not only made, but booked (well, she is still soliciting bids from photographers). When I complemented her on having everything so together, she said, "well, we got engaged in March." I'm thinking "Wait… we got engaged in March." So now I'm not only clueless, but behind the curve. She cheerfully loaded me up with information, pamphlets and online references, all of which I'm beginning to work my way through.
The weirdest thing about the whole process is that people assume that I know more about it than I do. Just yesterday a reliable source told me that groomsmen have a purpose. Apparently, they seat people. This reliable source then informed me that this means we need at least two (at the barest minimum, you need one to escort the mother of the bride to her seat, since dad will be busy. However, two would be better.) "Um...O.K…that's nice.", I respond. I find myself saying this a lot, actually. The only thing about the wedding we had actually decided on was that we should keep the wedding party down to one each. A little voice in my head is wailing "Nooooo... now I'll have to find a dress that looks good on more than one body type."
The other strange thing I've noticed is that I'm also supposed to have already formed opinions. I am supposed to have been dreaming about this day since I was still playing with Barbies. Therefore, I am supposed to know not only whether this wedding would be indoor or outdoor, but what the colors of the wedding will be and it's theme. I read these kinds of things and think, "colors?", or even worse, "theme?" What do you mean, "theme"? The theme is …um…a wedding….And I kind of like blue. Is blue an O.K. color? God, I am so painfully clueless about all this.
Do they have boxed weddings for couples on the go?
After watching me flail around helplessly, my mother-in-law-to-be volunteered to help. I even gave her an opportunity to back out of the very generous offer to help me "as much or as little" as I wanted. But she said … get this… "it would be fun."
So tomorrow we are going to the bookstore to find some more general references. And I am going to try and get over my inherited fear of weddings, and see if, maybe, it can be… well…fun.
Columns by Red