Erin: Engage! And Make It So!

so make it up

I'm getting married. I got engaged to my long-time boyfriend about two weeks ago, and I've decided to blog about the whole ungirly-bride process. My attempts to make sense of (read: mock) it all should yield infinite hits, as other like-minded women (not to mention cultural studies professors and other Paglia types) scour the World Wide Net Superhighway for scraps of sanity amidst the wedding machine madness.

In addition to writing about my impending nuptuals, I will continue to deconstruct, harangue and satirize the rest of girl culture as well. In some ways, the wedding industry and the bride concept it relies upon is the apex predator of consumerist female culture. The ideal bride is so very many things, and should any element fail to naturally occur with the woman in question, the key to achieving it — if only for your special day — is always available for purchase. The casual become stylish (thanks to their stylists), the scatter-brained become organized (thanks to their wedding planners), and the non-traditional find themselves oddly standardized (thanks to myriad factors, it seems, and I must unravel them all in order to avoid such a dastardly fate myself).

Excellent. Eeeeexcellent. A brand new non-girly bride-to-be makes her stand. As a former non-girly bride-to-be of nearly ten years standing myself, I salute you, Erin! You go, etc. Can't wait to read future rants on blasting bridal conventions to smithereens.

Interior monologue: what is that persistent beeping noise coming from downstairs? Oh, the ADT guy is here to replace the proprietary smoke-alarm battery. David is dealing with it. He's good at that stuff, even when I wake him at 1am to report that the alarm thingy is peeping once a minute. He figures out how to disable the thing, and is asleep within 5 minutes.  I hear them downstairs, disabling and drilling, and and the alarm continues to make persistent, stubborn beeping refusing to kowtow to mere mortals. Boys are funny that way:  there goes the beeping… off again. Why don't they just rip it off the wall? That's what I would do. They seem to be making companionable fellow-geek nattering sounds. And beeping again. And off. More drilling. Beep! Off! Jeez, that thing Simply Will Not Die! BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP kerrrrack! drill! drill! urrrhg urrhg urrrgh! BEEP!! And now there are sounds of checking the window sensors, and by the way, "Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep!" Meanwhile, back to our post. But first, a word from our sponsor:  "Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep!" for a lot longer than is humanly possible to tolerate. And off again.

I still remember feeling like a very ungirly and non-compliant Bride of Geekenstein 10 years ago (by the way, "beep!") as I tried to cope with the pressure of being a middle-aged first-time bride and the demands that Convention made on my time, energy, and self-image. The first thing people wanted to know after we triumphantly announced our engagement was "whenistheweddingwhereisyourring?" Jeeebus, people! It's like a miracle from God that we found each other and overcame our social bass-ackwardness and a thousand miles of geographical displacement to even date, let alone wed! Don't you get it? WE were engaged!! Not Suzy Cutegirl and Johnny Heartthrob! Us, two people who were nothing and nobody special until the lucky day that we met!!

I was irked and slightly insulted that people didn't congratulate me more enthusiastically on getting engaged, because before I met David, the chances of my getting married were less than the chance I would be killed by a terrorist. 

Grumbling under my breath, I tackled various required and non-skippable tasks as they came up.

We finally got around to getting me an engagement ring and matching wedding rings. I designed my rings, and David had his customized with an engraved bird shape to match my design. I refused to have a diamond, but happily accepted a sapphire, set in in a platinum ring.  

We ordered invitations that looked like watercolors of the mountains. If it weren't for the wording I stupidly ordered on the matching "thank you" notecards, I could still use the leftovers as stationery. Should have left them blank. I have about 50 of them left, sitting in a box. It was the smallest amount I could order. What a waste!

We registered, under protest, at a couple of local stores that were considered mandatory, and also Target and REI. I still use almost all of the things we were given – I was shocked at how generous some people were, but the simplest gifts are still the ones in daily use. My cousins Tommy and Jeanne will be happy to know that we still use the simple pasta bowl set they gave us, although one of the serving bowls hasn't survived.  After all the angst (we resisted registering until pretty late, and some people here were begging us to register for the sake of their friends) we ended up with some very, very odd presents. I also committed a faux pas by sending a thank you note for something that I never even opened until some months later, when it turned out we had been given a very nice crockery Dutch oven instead of the toaster oven depicted on the box. Heh. Don't do that, non-girly-girl brides! Open your prezzies, no matter what the box says. 

I flat refused to bother with a conventional wedding gown. Being a non-girly-girl of some height and draught, I didn't want to flounce down the aisle looking like a gigantic tea-cosy. Before deciding on a comfortable cowgirl-like getup (no boots, though: not with these Calves of Majesty), I had walked into exactly one fluffy foofy bridal boutique in a historic and ever so twee tourist town, Long Grove. Girls were going "Oooooh" and squealing as they pulled headpieces and bits of netting off the racks, or looked at "ready made" dresses (which stuck out so far into the store from the shelves that we were in danger of suffocating on taffeta and nylon netting). I stopped dead in my tracks and reversed out the door, completely immobilised by non-girly-girl inadequacy issues and the choking sensation of organza-induced claustrophobia. To this day, my memory of that event includes imaginary sound effects: the "Beep! Beep! Beep!" of a large, inconveniently placed garbage truck backing out of a narrow alley filled with china shops and beauty boutiques.

I bought clothes – ARRRRRRGH, I HATE SHOPPING, I HATE LOOKING AT MYSELF IN THE MIRROR – because I was told that my attendance at two showers was mandatory. They were not thrown by anyone I actually knew – all my friends were back in Washington, or scattered to the four winds. No, I understand it was something of an etiquette quandary; I had to suffer the ignominy of having no local friends to act as hostess, and "my" showers hosted by females in David's family, and in my mom-in-law's case, it was actually given by a friend of hers. I'm not sure why, it was some Emily Post thing. This meant that I needed two outfits, not just one, because apparently wearing the same thing twice was a no-no. What? I wear jeans and T-shirts every single freakin' day. I did refuse to wear a dress or skirt, though. The Calves of Majesty are not for viewing by the faint of heart, and besides, panty hose are the spawn of the Evil One.   

After toying with the idea of getting married in hiking boots on a mountaintop, and after being told by various people where we should get married for their convenience, we decided on having it at the B and B we had stayed at on our first ever trip as a couple, and divil take the hind parts.

They've upgraded their wedding and events page considerably since then – back in the day, I was something of a pioneer, as the Alps had only been the setting for a few weddings. They handed me a couple of pages of photocopied business cards for caterers, florists, wedding cake makers, and photographers. We made one trip in the spring to meet with providers and taste or see their wares, and set up everything long distance after the initial meeting. Aside from the photographs, which were a disappointment (we never even bothered to order prints, and have only the proofs), everything worked out beautifully, looked lush and colorful, and was actually very personal and lovely. Almost a first for me, probably the last – I NEVER want to set up an event that elaborate again, and it was a very simple wedding!   

And that was that, and it was beautiful. We wore comfortable clothing and shoes and had an Irish band.  We all moved from breakfast room to front porch at the whim of caterers and photographers after the ceremony, so the room could be reset for an afternoon brunch, and the band followed us like our own personal minstrels. We only had 35 people; the food was delicious, the music danceable, and a good time was had by all. Afterwards, we changed clothes and went for a hike down Boulder Canyon with about a third of our guests. And we stayed overnight in the inn with everyone else – we took the whole place over for the weekend – and had breakfast with everyone the next morning. Now THAT was a good time. 

No one was happier than I was when the deed was done and there were no more special wedding related events at which my attendance was required and non-negotiable.  The wedding itself we did our own damn way, and almost in spite of my own tendency to avoid that kind of planning mania, it was a memorable success.  

And I did it all without ever cracking open a single BRIDE'S magazine/paperweight.


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