My grown daughter and I went to Macy’s to find her a dress for her cousin’s wedding. The guidelines were, “Nice, festive but not too formal, like you were going to a Sunday service or a garden party.” Peggy tried on three dresses, then three more.
She showed me each one, and also took pics of herself on her cell phone and sent them to Lorraine, her BFF, who was doing the same thing from another dressing room in a different city.
Peggy looked adorable in pretty much everything. But she couldn’t see it, at first. She grew anxious.
And that’s when this blog started to form itself in my mind. Because we are all, really, cute as a button, but when we get into that dressing room and look into the mirror, all we see are the jiggly parts, the pale skin, the hair that just isn’t working, etc. We don’t see the whole picture.
I remember trying on wedding dresses, in fact, and I couldn’t find a single one (in my price range) that I loved, and I came away that day feeling like a failure. Like I wasn't made for wedding dresses.
Silly girl! As Stacy and Clinton would say, “You didn’t fail, it’s the DRESS that failed YOU.”
Finally Peggy put four dresses on hold so we could go and think about it. Our blood sugar was around our ankles.
Over lunch we examined the photos on her phone. As the sandwich and salad went to work, Peggy realized that they all looked pretty good. Rather, she looked good. Then it was just a matter of deciding which image she wanted to portray. Miami beach babe, or elegance and pizzazz, or free spirit in a mini toga.
We went back to Macy’s. She narrowed the choice to two equally spectacular looks, and finally decided. I think she’ll feel like a million bucks at the wedding.
So brides, listen up:
You are beautiful and you are loved.
Sizes are arbitrary, cuts of cloth can be weird, and if it doesn’t work, it wasn’t you, there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s just the dress. Cast that old thing aside and try another.
This is the stamp they chose
The brides arrived at my house late in the afternoon, having picked up their Santa Clara county marriage license the day before. They were already weary after a long, hard drive from Oregon.
We sat at my kitchen table with bottles of cold water. My daughter sat with us. We scrutinized the marriage license, which was in order.
I cleared my throat. “Do you, D, take M to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“And do you, M, take D to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“Then, by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you to be a legally married couple.”
We cheered and my daughter signed the certificate as a witness. I made copies and slipped the original license into its envelope.
Then we had dinner.
Before you call this wedding completely prosaic and boring, let me continue: I had been with these women six days before, at a late morning wedding under a lace canopy in one of Portland’s botanical gardens. As four closest friends held the poles of the chuppah steady, the brides washed their hands in clear water and fed each other tastes of honey. A framed and witnessed ketubah, a visual reminder of their vows to one another, stood on an easel nearby. The ceremony lasted twenty minutes, and guests beamed with joy and even wept. Vows and rings were exchanged, and that day I said, “By exchanging your private affirmations, you have pronounced yourselves to be married.”
But that wedding is not yet legal in Oregon.
Later, the mother of one of the brides remarked on the fragile hydrangea blossoms that shone like bits of lace among the dark green bushes surrounding our ceremony. There had been no sign of blooms the day before.
Here are some thoughts about weddings, writing, and the world. Enjoy.