She was born this way

Thanks to everyone who weighed in on the wedding song conundrum. Pending Special Someone’s approval, I’ve narrowed it down to two options:

~an interpretive dance to “Leather & Lace” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley, with costume design assistance from Spencer Gifts and Victoria’s Secret’s “Sexy Little Bride” line


~”2 become 1″ by the Spice Girls, sung a capella by attendees in Teletubbies costumes. As fellow Vicar of Dibley fans (this group includes my future father-in-law!) will recall, Alice Tinker thought of it first.

We are still looking for more up-tempo songs to add to the playlist, which we will hand over to a very forgiving DJ. My mother has already put in her rather unmatronlike requests. Excerpted from an email:

“I’ve thought of just two songs that I have to have and I won’t ask for any more; Poker Face by Lady Gaga and Disturbia by Rhiana.  They are great dance songs and I’m going to be getting my groove on out there! Love, Mom”

I hope Lady Gaga gave a shout-out at her Verizon Center show last night to her newest fan base: Momsters.


Snarky Little Bride

Ladies, have you heard? Victoria’s Secret has launched a new wedding line! To my knowledge, it does not involve Heidi Klum parading down the runway in low-cut wedding dresses two weeks after giving birth. Actually, it does not even involve new lingerie. All the store appears to have done is filtered most of its white teddies, edible cosmetics, and the occasional French maid costume into one handy location on its web site.

I first got wind of this exciting news on Jezebel (no surprise there), whose writers are bemused by the collection’s apparel as well as its somewhat pedophilic-sounding name, “Sexy Little Bride.” But to me, the name perfectly captures that dichotomous Virginal Sexpot lurking within all you ladies, just desperate to be unleashed on your wedding night!

Below is a sampling of the collection’s highlights:

Is it a Halloween costume? A really short petticoat? OH! I get it – you’re supposed to wear this AFTER the reception is over. You know, because there’s nothing you would rather do after taking off your wedding dress that you wore all day than put on another, more abbreviated wedding dress that your new husband can rip off! After he stops laughing.

I’m confused again. Are these masks part of a kinky routine? Or are they meant to be sleep aids for pre-wedding jitters or the honeymoon plane ride? If so, maybe white was not the best choice. Hmm. I’m going to go with Option C: Victoria’s Secret knows every Sexy Little Bride wants a piñata at her wedding, but who wants to smack the paper mache donkey in a mask that doesn’t match her gown? VS, always reading our minds!

What to do when room service knocks on the door and you are wearing nothing but your see-through chemise? Why, just put on your matching see-through bathrobe! Proof again that anyone who ever accused Victoria’s Secret of privileging form over function was dead wrong.

This girdle looks awfully familiar. I swear I have it in the color “almost nude” but I think it cost me only $38, not $48 like this white version here. A-ha! A fact-finding mission conducted on the non-bridal shapewear department of the web site reveals that this exact same item, in every color but white, costs $10 less than the “NEW! Bridal Hug Me Tight High Waist Shaper Brief.” Victoria’s Secret, I will forgive your wiliness – business is tough these days.

A black teddy on your wedding night? Must be a glitch on their web site. Ladies, stay away from this one – it will make you look like damaged goods.

Damn! Victoria’s Secret, you are really something. Who knew flesh-toned, butt-shaping bike shorts could be so…seductive? Well, I don’t know about you ladies, but I think I’ve found MY wedding night outfit!

Can You Feel the Awkwardness Tonight: The Quandary of The First Dance

Picking a song to dance to for the first time as a married couple can be difficult if you and your betrothed’s favorite slow songs are about dying of alcoholism and the perils of rodeo life. After combing our extensive music collections, I am now convinced that no musician worth slow dancing to has ever experienced happiness, or if they did, it lasted about one verse and ended with a broken heart and a solemn vow to never love again. And so the search for the right song continues. It’s not that Special Someone and I are so desperate to find the perfect summation of our love for each other in a three-minute ballad – we will happily settle for something far less meaningful. It’s more that we don’t want our guests wondering, “What does falling off a bar stool and hitting your head have to do with lifelong commitment?”

Slow dancing just the two of you while everyone looks on is an awkward ritual, made all the more awkward by the fact that these days, no one knows how to do it right (least of all us). Are you supposed to turn in circles the whole time? Because that is what I inevitably end up doing, but I think I must be missing something. (Special Someone is equally lost on this front.) I hear my imaginary Indie Bride friends whispering over my shoulder, “It’s your freaking wedding! Just say no to antiquated traditions that make you uncomfortable!” But, as ridiculous as we might look, I think I will feel unmarried if we don’t do a first dance. We’re planning on taking some lessons, and though these may help with footwork, I doubt they will help us look any less absurd. Can one really do a Viennese Waltz to a lo-fi hipster remake of some lesser Bob Dylan song? I guess anything is possible if you approach it with the right amount of irony.

An alternative is to pick a more fast-paced song and do a choreographed routine. This works for some couples and I have seen stunning proof. But at a wedding of up to 250 guests, many of them co-workers and family friends who don’t know you that well, and a majority of whom have never even met your groom, the prospect of “being yourselves” is intimidating. I don’t know if I’m ready for all of these guests to know how weird my fiancé and I truly are (though they might already be clued in somehow). On the one hand, watching us do our best impression of “Riverdance” or a dramatic interpretation of “If I Were a Carpenter” may be reassuring: “Those two rhythmless dorks were made for each other.” On the other hand, I have to see most of these people again, some of them at work.

Ugh. Well, that’s one more decision to put off until the last minute. And let’s not even start thinking about the father-daughter dance. In the meantime, in an effort to narrow things down, I have started compiling a list of songs that would NOT work for a first dance, but that I hope I can force our DJ to play at the wedding. They are all excellent in their own way, if not exactly marriage material.

Clarence Carter – “Patches” (Alabama sharecropper dies and leaves his son to care for the farm and family. Tear-jerking catastrophes ensue.)

The Shangri-Las – “Leader of the Pack” (High school charmer from “the wrong side of town” loses life in tragic accident.)

Hank Williams – “Wedding Bells” (This sounds like a winner! Until you remember the wedding bells are not pealing for Hank, but for the gal who dumped him.)

The Supremes – “Love Child” (Would definitely give people the wrong idea. Also, the repetition of “Tenement Slum!” seems just a little out of place in a country club ballroom.)

Tina Turner – “Private Dancer” (A not-quite-hooker’s lament. “You don’t look at their faces, and you don’t ask their names.”)

Billy Idol – “Dancing with Myself” (Self-explanatory.)

Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance” (Self-explanatory.)

Prince – “When Doves Cry” (“Maybe I’m just like my mother; she’s never satisfied.” Poor MOBs already get enough grief.)

Rick James – “Superfreak” (“The kind you don’t take home to Mother.”)

Paul Anka – “Diana” (For equality’s sake, we would also need to find a song with Special Someone’s given name, but our knowledge of Swedish techno is elementary at best.)

Wilson Pickett – “Land of 1,000 Dances” (On second thought, I love a good mashed potato almost as much as I love my fiancé, so this may be a First Dance contender.)

Oh, you shouldn’t have!

I am probably getting ahead of myself. Isn’t it a little soon to be talking registries? I mean, we haven’t even sent out all our “Save the Dates.” Well, according to The Knot, it’s never too soon:

“What are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should be one of the first tasks you tackle when you get engaged. Friends and relatives will be looking to buy wedding gifts as soon as he pops the question. Really! Take the guesswork out of gift buying by making sure they know what you want. You don’t need to complete your list just yet, but at least have a selection for guests to browse.”

Really! You mean you didn’t start drafting a Favorites list on right after he introduced you to his friends? You didn’t consider which color KitchenAid would go best with that dish towel that was hanging on his oven door the first time you spent the night? Time’s a-wastin’, girlfriend! Our advertisers are getting antsy…

I used to think there was something a little off-putting about registries (shouldn’t gifts be a little more, I don’t know, from the heart?), until I had the opportunity to make one for myself. Now I’m just put off that we can’t register EVERYWHERE. It sure would be nice to be able to go on Orbitz or Travelocity, pick out some locales we’ve never been to and some dates that work for us, and say “Buy me a vacation!” Or, hey, the front bumper is starting to fall off my car – why doesn’t my mechanic offer a registry program? “Randy’s Newlywed Special: Free oil change with every $150 purchased toward your big day!” Or Trader Joe’s? I could really do with a $75 supply of their peanut butter-filled pretzels.

Instead, I have my pick of martini stirrers, strawberry hullers, and egg separators, which, obviously, are things I’ve already owned for years, so I guess now is just an excuse to upgrade. That reminds me, our sheets are starting to feel a little…factory farmed. Thank God for Pottery Barn and its new line of organic bedding (and towels!). I will sleep better knowing the cotton that died to make our marital sheets had a good life. Not to mention, our choice of linens will help to offset the huge carbon footprint of our wedding!

Spending so much time at these stores and on their web sites can beset the thoughtful bride with pangs of guilt. “F@#k this bamboo dish rack! Let’s just have our guests donate to a charity in our name.” But how do you politely ask them to do that? Isn’t there too much controversy around charities? Will it make you look self-righteous? And how will the discussions with parents go? “No, Dad, the RNC is not a charity.” This option is admirable if you can figure out how to do it the right way, and I’m curious to hear suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll be picking out the perfect cordial glasses and an ergonomically correct avocado pitter.

Say “I Guess” to the Dress

In the colder months, my complexion resembles drywall, which is a neat coincidence considering I work in the drywall business. It is not so fortuitous to look like a sheet of wallboard when trying on wedding dresses, however. Only the Brontë sisters could accurately describe such a ghastly white apparition, so I will spare you any attempt.

As you can imagine, pastiness is made even pastier by the fluorescent lighting of David’s Bridal, a store I do not recommend to anyone who has ever contemplated suicide. Sure, most stores have pretty bad lighting, and that is one of the reasons why I never try anything on until after I bring it home and can try it on in complete darkness. But at most stores you go to, you are not there to test out 30 wearable coconut cakes for size. Shopping for wedding dresses is unlike any other shopping experience – any experience at all, for that matter. The only thing similar in life that I can think of is being a baby, because that is a time when people poke and prod you, tell you what to do, don’t understand what you’re so fussy about, and let out lots of loud gasps as if you have done something really adorable.

At bridal shops these days, there are two basic wedding gown styles to choose from: strapless & poufy and strapless & slightly-less-poufy. If you do not want to look like you are wearing a frayed roll of toilet paper on this special day, you may have a harder time finding something you like. I found the one dress in the entire David’s Bridal collection that has cap sleeves. (And don’t be fooled by the catalog – many of the so-called cap sleeves are, in fact, straps! Honestly, as if the entire marrying public couldn’t identify a sleeve!) I think it’s beautiful, even if it doesn’t magically shrink my rib cage and create a wench bosom the way the all the strapless dresses did. I figure, since Special Someone will be wearing a double-breasted 1940s suit jacket and high-waisted pants, figure flattery is perhaps not a huge concern of ours.

What’s that you say? “Just buy a white dress at Macy’s and skip the whole harrowing bridal shop experience?” Well, my pretty, I had that same thought myself. But unless you want to wear a nightgown on your wedding day, you would be hard up to find a long white dress in any non-bridal shop. Think about it! As soon as the word “wedding” enters the mind of the marketer, the mark-up is an additional 500 percent. This is why savvy stores like Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor have opened their own bridal departments, where they can justify selling a white jersey polyester dress for $700.

“Well, if it’s such a big problem for you, don’t wear a long white dress. Wear Umbros for all I care!” Like I said before, I have this annoying tendency to question every tradition, succumb to that tradition, and then continue to gripe about that tradition. Better get used to it.

The Gingham and Twine Wedding

If you had been living in a cave for the past five years and used only lifestyle web sites to re-integrate yourself into society, you might be convinced the Amish had recently staged a massive cultural revolution. Patchwork quilts, homemade preserves, and chickens pecking around the yard are all an essential part of this ubiquitous aesthetic. The weird thing is, when I walk around my funky, old neighborhood, I never see or hear any live chickens, but on the internet — symbol of the modern age — they’re everywhere! You, former cavedweller, would think every urbanite now had her own flock of Rhode Island Reds, not to mention the talent for spinning alpaca wool and the patience for harvesting maple tree sap. AND the energy to get it all done while breastfeeding three year-old triplets.

This surprisingly long moment of homemade, handspun, do-it-yourselfiness has, unsurprisingly, carried over to weddings, for better or worse. While it’s great that many couples have taken a stand against the high-cost throwdown in favor of a backyard hoedown, this same attitude fosters unrealistic goals among those of us who dig the gingham-and-grosgrain look but are lazy and not terribly self-sufficient.

Take, for example, me. I like to cook, and am pretty good at it, and my house sort of has that eclectic, Etsy-ish look, if by accident (think Southern Belle Grandma meets Dumpster Diver). You hear all about “personalizing” everything at your wedding, and so I got it into my head, with added inspiration from my copy of Martha Stewart Weddings, that I could be my own caterer, baker, florist, party favor maker, tabletop designer, and disc jockey. I had visions of picnic tables in my backyard covered in mismatched floral fabrics and colorful bowls of heirloom tomato salad; mason jars containing black-eyed susans, hydrangeas, and other “local, seasonal” flowers that my neighbors would happily donate; and my Special Someone with his 1938 Martin guitar and our friends and family gathering ’round for a Hank Williams sing-along the end of the night. I did not have visions of the clean-up, cost, or panic that would inevitably be involved. I only knew I wanted flowers in my hair and a dress just short enough that I could walk around my yard barefoot without it getting dirty.

When my parents and I sat down to talk weddings, they immediately dismissed most of my ideas – namely, the whole wedding-at-home thing. “But I’ll do all the work!” I insisted (it was never considered that Special Someone might be able to arrange the cupcake tower). “No, WE’LL do all the work!” they insisted. I knew they were right.

Which brings us to where we are today, planning a July wedding at a country club for 250 of our closest friends. I was resistant for awhile, but now I’m relieved. For one thing, we can invite as many people as we want without worrying about someone clogging the toilet or, worse, the stench of Jiffy John overpowering the lilac bouquets. We don’t have to do much of anything besides show up and fork over a small fortune (and by we, I mean my Ma and Pa – thanks, y’all!). Even the cake is included, and allegedly very good. But as God is my witness, I will make the damn party favors myself!

Because there aren’t already enough angsty brides writing blogs

When I told my fiancé, whose name really is Special Someone, that I was thinking about starting a wedding blog and considering “Skeptic Bride” as a possible title, he did not freak out, but rather suggested I start a blog about trailer park weddings and call it “Septic Bride.” Indeed, there are already too many blogs similar to what this one will be: musings and rants on the craziness of planning a big American wedding in the 21st century. I have no real niche interest here, unlike all the DIY brides or the theme-wedding brides or the bringing-together-two-or-more-distinct-cultures brides. My rather common wedding story is that Special Someone and I are getting married in about five months, our ceremony is at my family’s church and the reception is at a country club, and my parents are hosting it (a great blessing, to be sure, but not without its occasional difficulties). I have a tendency to question every wedding tradition, decide it’s not really worth abandoning that tradition, and then continue to complain about that tradition – making me a most irritating daughter, friend, and partner, but one with a lot to say and in need of a new space to say it, if only for the sake of my loved ones’ sanity.

The name “Skeptic Bride” is not meant to refer to my skepticism about marriage, but about weddings (which I wholeheartedly enjoy when they are not mine) and the wedding industry. Now, I know that “in this economy” it is practically sacrilegious to criticize a thriving industry that supports so many local businesses. But it is probably not Florence the Florist who is turning you, the bride, into a battle-axe from hell – it’s The Knot, the magazines, the unsolicited email newsletters, the millions of wedding planning and etiquette books out there, the romantic comedies and reality shows, and the opinions foisted upon you by every person you’ve ever met and sometimes people you’ve never met. As little girls we are raised to believe that the wedding is “your big day,” so it can be a little jilting to realize your wedding is really “everyone else’s big day, especially Crate & Barrel’s.”

Not that this blog will be a tirade against Weddings, Inc. – I’m already enough of a hypocrite. I think it will focus more on conflicted feelings, funny situations, and maybe the occasional vendor review. (I’m sure there are not already 12,000 other blogs that do the exact same thing!) And it is definitely not meant to be serious: although planning a wedding tends to take over one’s brain (and make one wonder what she used to think about all day before the planning began), there are, shockingly, more important things in the world than this one event. And with that admission, I am now free to write a completely trivial and self-centered blog (redundant, yes) that will serve no admirable purpose.