I am a bridal anomaly.
My dress was made by a well-known designer, yes, but I bought it at a sample sale at the first shop I visited as the second dress I tried on. No deliberating, no a-ha moment. It looked good, it was different, I bought it. My fiancé and I picked our wedding venue, the Peabody Library in Baltimore, without even visiting or looking at any others. Pictures were gorgeous, the price was good, why bounce from venue to venue, meeting with event planner after event planner, when the Library was cool and it worked? So, we signed. Same went for catering, invitations, bridesmaids’ dresses, and flowers. Proposals were not scrutinized, samples weren’t necessary, bridesmaids could pick whatever shoes they wanted.
I am the casual bride. The go-with-the-flow, do whatever you think, I trust you bride. I don’t have a crystal-clear vision in my mind as to what the day will look like, rather I’m fine with it being a surprise.
Even with my laid back wedding planning approach, there has been no question in my mind that the day will be magical. You know, Disney movie princess magical. Best-day-of-a-girl’s life magical. I’ve grown up, as many girls have, knowing that the day I get married will be one of the most memorable of my life.
So, in the midst of signing contracts and OK-ing vendors, we did make it to the Library for a visit. It was on the day of another lucky girl’s wedding, and the venue had tables spread throughout, linens laid, and dishes so carefully placed. I caught a glimpse of the bride leaving for the ceremony, having just finished pictures. She was a whoosh of white as she floated down the steps and into her awaiting chariot (ok, an old trolley car). Her bridal party followed behind in green silk, silent, almost in awe of her. As I stepped into the marble-laden hallways of the foyer, through the exhibition room, and into the breathtaking four stories of stacks, the room where all that magic happens, I took it all in for a few minutes.
My parents talked numbers and payment dates and options for dance floor placement while I stood perfectly still just taking it in. Instead of being filled with a feeling of overwhelming excitement and anticipation, all I felt was disappointment. I had just seen the bride and now I was standing in the place where the best day of her life would take place in a few short hours, and I could think was, “this is it?” It wasn’t because the venue lacked grandeur, or because guests hadn’t arrived yet, but it was the build up. I had just seen the holy grail of childhood myths and my sneak-peek was core-shaking, hope-shattering, and anger-inducing.
At 25 years old, I came to the realization that my wedding will really just be a big party with friends and family, and I will just happen to be wearing a white (or in this case, ivory) dress. I won’t be swept away by a prince, or ride in a magic pumpkin, or wear a glass slipper. Why hadn’t anyone told me this before? Of course, I wasn’t expecting any of these things literally, but the feeling that they lend.
My wedding is just six weeks away and my casual brideness may have subsided a bit, as deadlines are approaching and at least ten daily wedding-related emails permeate my work inbox everyday, but my expectations are what have truly diminished. My wedding hopes were shattered, but I am so grateful that it happened on someone else’s day. I know now what my day will bring; friends and family gathered together over great food, drinks and our favorite songs, while my fiancé and I commit to one another in front of all the people who matter in our lives. Why doesn’t that fairytale qualify for proliferation among young girls?