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There is something unique about the kind of sheer crushing disappointment and disgust that comes with not giving the right reaction to bridal sales people.
First comes denial -– “Oh my gosh, aren’t you just dying inside? Isn’t this the best time in your life? Aren’t you just loving it?” Then anger, “I don’t understand, aren’t you having fun? Don’t you LIKE the attention?”
By the time we work our way through the rest of the grieving process, my mother has stepped in to try and coo her way out of the situation while I cower in the corner, like a cat who’s just been yelled at for rubbing it’s ass on the ground. (Trust me, the two are eerily similar).
I’ve only been engaged for two months now and my wedding is nearly planned. All the major vendors are booked, largely due to my desire to end this process as swiftly as possible. I’m lucky to have a fiancé and a mother who are accepting of my lack of emotion and my eternal confusion as to just what makes a wedding so consuming for so many women.
My reaction to this joyous event is illustrated most clearly during my recent total and thorough meltdown. It was after having brunch with my mother and betrothed that was littered with so many bridal-focused question that I started to believe if I used my jam-smeared butter knife to pry open my head you would find nothing but table runners, place cards, saves the dates and maybe a dove or two awaiting their ceremonial escape. Then we hopped in the car to head to a local bridal store.
I had picked the store for its lack of frill –- most dresses were incredibly simple, came in one color (none of this egg shell, ecru, off-white BS), were budget friendly and the store didn’t provide very many options to try on. Even the time I picked, which was actually before the store opened, was strategically done in an attempt to lay low.
As we reached the peak of a hill which would lead us down to the shopping center, all of a sudden the descent felt more like descending into the third rung of hell. PLEASE JUST LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE, reverberated through my mind.
I’m happiest staying in during the weekends. I haven’t realized my dream of going to various festivals and conventions for fear of, frankly, people. I can hardly order pizza on the phone for fear of talking to the person taking my order, let alone showing up to my door 45 minutes later. Thank god for the freezer aisle.
So as we approached the store, my mother’s continuous litany of questions continuing in my ear, I had my first WTF moment. How am I possibly going to put myself in a situation where not only are people going to be paying attention to me, but actively focusing on my and looking at me with the kind of googley eyes often saved for zoo animals?!
After a second left turn and a third question about silhouette style, my mother turned to see me in tears, gripping the arm rests and borderline hyperventilating. “Why do I have to do this? Why do they all have to look at me? Why can’t I just slip in and out unnoticed?”
Even as the words came out I knew how ridiculous it sounded. This was my wedding, the attention is inherent. That inherent attention is what terrified me though. Already I felt my decisions had disappointed friends and family. The reception would be really small, and the ceremony would be even smaller –- totally against my Italian-American family’s tradition.
My hair would remain pink. There would be no band or DJ. Food would come from a food truck, likely in carnival-style paper ware. Every time I told someone these details, they made quiet suggestions for what I could do different, the great mini hot dogs they’d had at their brother’s girlfriend’s uncle’s wedding, or their friend from college who took great pictures with big balloons (just like on Pinterest…squeeeeee!)
I did my best to master my most well trained line, “Well, thanks for the thought, that’s just not for me." Their reactions served as a slap in a face as if to say –- eww, you’re weird, stop doing these things and be normal.
First it had been the venue asking all about our engagement, how we had met and my dreamy fiancé (OK, I’ll give her that one -– standing at 6’2 and boasting the kind of arms that could deadlift me off the ground during a tantrum, he is pretty dreamy).
Then it was the photographer asking about the ways we wanted to pose, what the future held for us and the details of the ceremony. By the time the caterer came around –- look out. Each time my response was the same deadpan.
A co-worker even commented how much she enjoyed when people talked about my wedding around me because she drew such pleasure my uncomfortable squirming. Thank god for my best friend and Man of Honor, who I asked to do his duty over Geeks Who Drink trivia –- his reaction was to tell me to shut the hell up because he couldn’t hear the questions. It’s how I know he cares.
In the midst of this breakdown, I pleaded with my mother to just plan my wedding, hollered that I longed for an elopement and shrieked to turn the car around. I’d rather duck and roll from the moving vehicle then face another person expecting me to giggle and gush over the details.
We pulled up to the store and I tried to pull myself together. I ran into Starbucks, chugged a coffee and steeled myself. As Emily (of course the bridal consultant’s name was Emily) opened the doors, her perfectly pressed chinos and wild harvested pearl earrings did nothing to eschew my fear.
As she guided us to the dressing room, asking the prerequisite inquiries about styles I wanted to try, I began doling out canned answers. “Thanks but I don’t think I need a five foot train,” “Sure, I guess Kate Middleton’s dress was fine,” “No, I had no idea you they could pull out all your teeth and provide you with bridal dentures." Then a miracle happened. Emily dropped off the dresses and she…left. No questions. No additional help. No pinning me in to the dresses I already felt so uncomfortable in.
I know this was likely just the beginning of the ooh, aahs, gushing and prying questions, and on behalf of other quiet and terrified brides, please, back off. But as I tried on dresses in the backroom, half the store still dark, my mother succeeding at holding back tears, I found my dress. That minute felt like the calm in the eye of the storm.