Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


Oh... the ONLY trouble I had in planning was picking out my ladies' dresses. I had something in mind, told them, and was promptly told every conceivable reason why it wouldn't look good on each and every one of them. It wasn't a huge concern of mine, so I gave them free rein. After months of quibbling, I finally just said "go here, order this, and shut up about it" and from then on things were delightful. Of course, I had those months, where GD does not... She can do same styles in different colors, or different styles in same colors, and it will look uniform. Often times the "Maid of Honor" (does she have one? I didn't) can wear something completely different as well...

I did all my own dress shopping alone, which was good. Mom's will think you're pretty no matter what, usually. I wanted the dress that made me FEEL like I wanted to feel (and I found it... seriously, can I get married again???)

(oh, and if I'd done a spring wedding, I would have had one with flowers embroidered all over as well...)

By Blogger Amie, at 8:20 AM  

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Sunday, November 28, 2004  

Weddings did not play a big role in our family. With three sisters you’d have thought they might have, but it wasn’t so. We all came of age during, or just after the hippie/protest era of 1965-75, so tradition, while still alive, was taking some major hits. And then there was the overall personality of my immediate family - which was pretty good at putting on shows, but very weak on ceremony. On a more personal front, weddings, husbands and marriages never figured as important ingredients of my childhood fantasies. I wanted to go straight to the point. I wanted to be a mommy. All my imaginary play was mother centered. I adored my own mom and secretly thought other mothers were vastly inferior to mine. My mom knew a thousand songs and a gadzillion stories and could draw anything and make anything and do anything and if there ever was a time when she didn’t give, do, or make you what you wanted, even as a tot I figured she was probably right and I ought to wait or do with out. I was into my teens before I ever felt any serious struggles with maternal authority and even then I knew that, at least mother understood, even if I couldn’t change her mind.

Dolls were also extremely important to me, both the 3-D and the paper dolls. But I was completely disinterested in bride dolls or wedding paper dolls. I wanted baby dolls of every description, and got them, even the big one that fit my infant sisters’ clothes. All those awful dolls wrapped up in poufy white lace seemed to hiss across the room that I'd better stand still or I’d muss my outfit. They might as well have been prison dolls. Besides, I knew already that those poufy dresses ment scratchy tulle sewn into their waists, a torment to ruin any child’s day. And even as a little girl I suspect I knew I looked awful in white. Mama never bought me but one white dress and that was for my first communion - when I got to dress up like a bride, complete with veil. I don’t ever remember wearing that stupid dress again, though I loved the tiny gloves and shiny shoes.

The concept of being center of attention, in beautiful dress, with all eyes on you, held no real charm for me either. At least, it held no fascination, because by the time I was 7 I was already dressing up in fancy duds and playing little quasi Mozart concerts for grownups and strangers. Not that I performed for royalty, but I was a talented little musician, zooming past the excruciating stage in a matter of months and into adult repertoire in less than 2 years. It is no wonder that I was not one of those little girls who planned out a perfect wedding, down to the very candles that would decorate the pews.

I remember a friend telling me that at her wedding she wanted Elgar’s Enigma Variations played and I told her I’d rather have Copeland’s Appalachian Spring. I’m sure that’s because she wanted to march in state down the isle forever and I wanted to move right into a log cabin in the woods.

Thus it is that I have never been into a bridal salon. Ever. I’ve not ever been a bride’s maid and as Sort-of-Mother-of-the-Bride/Matron of Honor in BH’s wedding, I made my own dress. I had no daughter who might be invited to serve as flower girl. I’ve seen a goodly number of weddings because I’ve been hired as the musician who either filled the church with song before hand or accompanied the bride down the isle. But the wedding musicians are rarely involved in the wedding preparations and their dresses need only be sober and churchey.

Yesterday I ventured into the world of bridal salons. These looming establishments, with high ceilings, lots of mirrors and glass, and racks of plastic sheathed dresses, are new territory for me. At our first stop we were met at the door by three women behind a gilt table, holding clipboards and all wearing black suits, their elegantly coifed hair and subtle make-up giving them a quietly professional demeanor. Only the slightest flicker rippled across these modestly smiling faces when we told them “No, we didn’t have an appointment.”

A quiet hush, pumped up with the energy generated by large sums of money about to be exchanged, permeated the huge showroom. White is everywhere, with very little ivory, cream, ecru, or eggshell. There were a few fathers sitting in upholstered chairs, lots of mothers and a good number of EntireFemaleSegmentOfTheFamily groups. One very sulky young girl - little sister maybe? - slouched in a couch and one or two brides with substantially plainer best friends shopped the racks.

One of the cutest things is watching the rapt parents as they gaze at their gorgeous daughters, resplendent in beaded satin, lace, organdy and tulle. With practiced hands, a clerk would sweep a young woman’s hair up and tuck in veiled combs, “Just to give you the effect”. Starry eyes glittered in daughters’ faces, only to be outshone by the beaming pride in papas’. Mother’s pursed their lips as they looked critically at seams and boning. The family groups, where resemblances were strong, were the most fun to watch.

All the dresses I saw were strapless, though I admit I didn’t look at all the dresses. It would have been impossible. It’s too bad, too, about that bare shouldered style, since many women look awful in strapless gowns. Still, they weren’t nearly as bad as the colors of the bride's maids dresses, which were mostly a dull flat grayish green - or an okay burgundy or a sober red. Plus lots of very ugly beige in the mother of the bride/groom section. Ick. But if I were going to be a bride, I would have found a wedding gown I would have loved wearing. Ecru organza embroidered in pale spring colors all around the hem, in a pattern of stems and flowers. It looked as if one had just walked through an enchanted flower garden where the blossoms stuck when the skirt brushed them. What a pretty dress.

But we weren’t shopping for wedding gowns. We were looking for Flower Maiden dresses and on this venture I discovered why it takes so long to put a wedding together. There were actually a goodly number of choices and if we had had only one little girl to outfit we’d have come home with everything needed to put on the show. Alas, little girls’ dresses are made, purchased and shipped in sizes 3-6x and 7-12 and the same company doesn’t always make dresses in both size ranges. There was also the delicate maneuvering needed to match the nature, personality and looks of two different little girls with the opinions and secret longings of the bride, while trying to restrain that infamous, manic, Hannah/Bess shopping madness which insisted on seeping out between every crevice.

Alas - wedding emporiums expect you to give them months and months of leeway - 8 weeks is not nearly enough to order in that organza flower girl dress in ecru in a size 6 and the shantung silk doesn’t come in eggshell. We found matching dresses except one was white and one was ecru. We found matching off white dresses in many different styles that weren’t what the bride was looking for. The bride graciously decided that the dresses didn’t have to match, as long as the color was right but we never did find 2 dresses to bring home. We did find a dress that was perfect - as in AB * SO * LUTE * LY perfect - but only up to size 6x. The shop promised to hold the size 5 for us and call their supplier on Monday to see if they could get another in size 8. We decided to go with that, figuring, even if a matching dress wasn’t available, perhaps a complimentary one would show up via on-line shopping.

What would we do without the Internet?

We were all pretty exhausted and the third grader was disgusted that we’d wasted a whole vacation day in stores and hadn’t bought a thing. She is not the shopper. The kindergartner, in contrast, would have stayed several more hours trying on every beaded, bejeweled, tucked, frilled and fluffed gown on the racks. The world is truly full of all different kinds.

Back at home I built up the fire and fed the dogs, then sat down with cloth and patterns, pins and scissors. I’m not usually very good at putting things together after 2:30 but, for some reason, I can pin and cut in the evenings. The dress I’m making has an asymmetric bodice and a bell skirt, in a stiff silk taffeta with an organza overdress. I am a skilled seamstress but I am not trained in design. I am sure there are easy ways of putting together this type of garment, I’ve seen them in Bride magazines. But I don’t have that particular training. Usually I’ve depended on basic patterns and assembled their shapes to suit my taste. My taste, of course, never included diagonal lines across my belly - which has always been soft and plump, even when I was a feather light weight. Sewing for a dramatically different shape housing a decidedly different taste is a true challenge. There are times I tremble a little inside because I fear we’ll pour $$$ into something that won’t look good.

When those fears rise, though, I quash them, because I have seen this style of dress. I know it will look lovely on this person’s body. It’s just a matter of figuring out the steps - something I plan to spend the day doing. I’ll report my progress tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM