Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Week in Review, XVI. “Going to the Chapel…”

The Week in Review, XVI. “Going to the Chapel…”

I was walking around near the Meatpacking District on Saturday looking at townhouses. I always try to browse within my means. I noticed a sprawling, empty, low-rise building stretching through a good portion of the block. There was a sign on the scaffolding that read something to the effect of, “rental, commercial and estate demolition.” While I’ve personally been a victim of great buildings changing ownership and function, I still think it’s exciting to see new renovations, forms, functions and constructions in the city. OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I actually think purchase power on that level is exciting. I mean, I was over the moon two weeks ago when I bought a new dress and heels on the same trip to Tracy Reese. I can’t even imagine the excitement that comes from pulling the trigger on a gigantic piece of prime NY real estate. “…half the block on W 18th between 8th and 9th, you say? OK, I’ll take it!”

I have absolutely no credibility or authority on vows of commitment, successful relationships, or even making it through a wedding reception without blacking out, so I thought I’d be appropriate – er, funny for me - to reflect on the ghosts of weddings past, both up on the alter as an attendant and in the pews attending, to serve as an amusing/cautionary tale for those people biting the dust next year.

I’ll admit it; I’ve had a really easy wedding season this year. So easy, in fact, that Doobie and were able to book a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest in the fall. I look at it as one last celebration of the lack of restrictions single life offers before we commit all disposable income for the foreseeable future to celebrate our friends’ commitments to commitment. I have anxiety thinking about next season’s minimum of 10 new dresses, 8 out-of-town flights, 5 weddings, 3 bachelorettes, untold amount of drinks, a partridge in a f**king pear tree, and ZERO prospects of an “& Guest” to bring along with me.

Now, clearly this might apply more to the ladies reading. Goodness knows all of this is a simple, 500-step process for any female involved. Guys are lucky bastards who require so much less assistance and fuss in these situations. What will they wear? Well, whatever they’re told… which is a suit, personal tux or rented tux. What’s the rest of the attention focused on? Organizing a perfectly-timed bachelor party to Vegas during March Madness right before that April or June nuptial. Once it’s time for the big day, I’m fairly certain their main concerns are centered around making sure to get a cooler of beer for the limo and not dying of a heat stroke in the suit/tux at the wedding. Oh, if it were only so easy for us gals.

It all starts with the bridesmaid dress, aka a $350 conglomeration of satin and tulle that you would never have even worn to prom back in high school during a time of less developed sartorial sensibility, much less in front of your closest friends and family in pictures that 50% of these couples will treasure for the rest of their lives.

You have to go into the purchase process knowing two things: 1. The sizes are ill fitting, usually skewing to the small side, making it necessary to buy a larger size than you might normally wear, and 2. Because of the ill fitting sizes, you’ll need to throw another $100+ into alterations of something you’ll never wear again. And don’t brush over the ill-fitting sizes comment. Some people are obsessed with wearing a certain size. If you are one of them, please ask yourself when, if ever – and I’m guessing never, someone has said to you, “ooooh, darling dress… what size is it?” No, sorry, that’s never happened. Why then would you set yourself up for disaster by buying something that won’t zip up?

In the back room of a cathedral, I once watched a fellow bridesmaid zip up a skimpy size only to have the zipper rip in half. I tried my best not to laugh out loud/immediately started snapping pictures. Out of nowhere, an old church lady (picture Dana Carvey from his SNL days), busts into the group with a mammoth tackle box full of supplies and starts sewing up the gaping hole in the dress. Adding to the tension, this one chick who grew up in Minnesota, and has since picked up the thickest southern accent you’ve ever heard, tried to gather us around saying, “Yaaaaaawwwwwlll, I thaaank we shuud prraaayy.” Sugarbee, JC may have turned water to wine, but that zipper isn’t fixing itself through the power of prayer. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, someone yelled out, “Yall?? Oh you grew up in Minne-f*cking-sota,” I then wondered if the guys had any limo beer left in their cooler. While it all turned out beautifully in the end, an evolving train wreck of this proportion needed toasting.

Moral of the story: always have drinks on hand and buy dresses that fit.

Before the dress ever even zips up…or not, there’s still the matter of addressing hair and makeup. Some people are better on their own. Some people are hopeless. The easiest solution might be to organize pre-ceremony hair and makeup for the bridal party… you would think.

Last summer, I was over at a friend’s getting hair and makeup done before we headed over to the church. The girls with longer hair went before me and I watched as their hair was twisted into tiny, scorching hot curls and pinned then to their head for good measure until we were ready to leave. The vision of half pulled-up, flowing curls will look lovely on them, I thought, but surely they must have another plan for the two of us with much shorter hair.

False. The plan was the same. I moved to the hair chair panic-stricken, desperately explaining to the lady how well my hair holds curl, knowing how hideous I’m going to look at the end of this process. She decides that on me, she’ll just stick to ringlettes seared into my hair at 500 degrees, no pins. Once the ringlettes were in place, and my hair was plastered back with easily enough aerosol hairspray to double the size of the hole in the ozone, she brushes out my curls. I can’t see anything at this point, but I sensed that I looked ridiculous. My worst fears were realized when she says to me, “well don’t you look like you just hopped off the Good Ship Lollypop.” Hey lady! You did this to me. Thanks. That’s exactly what every neurotic, image-obsessed girl in her mid 20s wants to hear at the end of the process. Thank goodness there were drinks on hand.

Moral of the story: allow your attendants to dress like adults. Remember, they’re on display and in pictures that 50% of you will want to keep forever.

Those being the only two hiccups I’ve encountered on the bridesmaid side of things, I thought I’d wrap up with a few DO’s and DON’T’s I’ve learned over the years as a guest.

  • DO remember that the little packs of rice are meant to be thrown at the bride and groom from a distance and not down your friends’ dresses and pants… ultimately ending up all over the hotel room and in the sheets when you “fall asleep” in your dress.
  • DON’T drink an entire bottle of champagne before a wedding you’re not in. Remember, you will be available for cocktail hour, not stuck taking pictures. Otherwise drinking an entire bottle of champagne is such a good idea.
  • DO bum a cigarette from the Father of the Bride. It’s super classy.
  • DON’T sit next to one of your best friends and your other best friend’s little brother at a ceremony conducted in a language you don’t speak. Your friend’s brother might make you giggle. Once they start, they don’t stop, and this is inappropriate at a religious ceremony.
  • DO live it up when you realize you’ve been intentionally seated at a table in the back of the room, by the bar, with all the other degenerates there. This was not an accident. People are actually expecting you to be loud and act like an idiot. Embrace it.
  • DON’T let someone swing you violently around a dance floor when your dress is cut down to your rib cage. You will flash people. This is inappropriate.

And lastly…

  • DO please still invite me to all 47 weddings next year in spite of all I’ve just said. I might have to embezzle money to fund all the plane tickets, er, dresses no one else has ever seen before, I’ll definitely still blackout with the cast of characters tying the knot next year, and they’ll all be discussed in great detail after the fact, over another barrel of wine at the Pig with my two dinner companions from last night. But don’t worry; you all might get your chance to poke fun at me one day. Of course by that time we’ll all need to use the wheel chair entrance to the townhouse I picked out on the west side of Manhattan.

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