Sunday, February 3, 2013


On my last birthday, I took Mr. Boyfriend westwards - a birthday in rainy Dublin did not seem all that tempting when places like Killarney and Dingle are just a few hours away. Little did I know that the original plan (to soak in the jacuzzi of our luxury B&B room after a long day of walking through November rain and wind, maybe sip a bit of champaign at midnight to celebrate my aging process) had secretly been changed to include things like a diamond ring and a midnight proposal. But now, with a newly sparkly ring finger, I am getting used to the concept of bride-hood and all the organizational and decorative masterpieces that calls for.

As a good former student of history and other text-based subjects, of course my first reflex was to look for a book that would introduce me to the mysterious world of wedding planning. However, all I found  in German book shops was literature on wedding speeches, crafts, and games - except for one disturbingly pink, glittery, overpriced binder. I read through parts of the one short chapter for the groom (because it was in neutral colors that did not hurt my eyes as much) and learned a few fascinating things, namely:
  • The act of placing a ring on a woman's fingers changes her personality forever: It turns her into A Bride, which, it appears, is a mythical creature that leads a parasitical life in all women since early childhood and will take over all aspects of life when brought in contact with a sparkly ring.
  • Bride-hood is a full-time job, a year during which nothing matters to the woman except the question whether the invitations should be printed on cardstock in eggshell, ivory, off-white or cream. These, I learned, are the hardest and most important decisions that the bride has made in her life so far, and she should make sure to be prepared for the job.
  • Weddings are only about the bride. In fact, it sounded a bit as if the man's attendance to the event was optional. This is because women dream about nothing but weddings since the day they were born, and have them planned out since before kindergarden.
  • The man should stay out of all wedding-related decisions. If he must feel modern and involved, he should limit his actions to manly things (organizing a fancy car), and listen quietly to the bride agonizing over wedding matters, even when there's a football match on TV.
Astoundingly, this was not a reprint from the 1950s. And it's also not limited to Germany - I also did field studies by going to a bridal fair in Dublin, which was just like the book, just bigger and in 3D and with more people telling me that you can't marry without getting your teeth straightened and whitened so you can then rot them in style with a €600 cake. The event also confirmed the theory that marriage is not for men: The mediocre magician who tried to make people hire him was full of jokes about this. "These are the three rings of marriage: The engagement ring for the bride, the wedding rings for both, and the suffering of the husband." OH PLEASE MAKE IT STOP. I could neither identify with the bridezillas staring greedily at horrendous customized airbrushed wedding champaign flutes nor with the "most wonderful day in the life of the bride, worst day in the life of the man" narrative. (ALSO let me point out that if that were true, it's all downhill for the woman afterwards, so who wears the suffering then?) In kindergarden, my life goal was to be a cowboy, fireman, or tightrope walker, not a bride. And I find the groom quite central to a wedding, and he should not approach it like it's the end of his life.  

What I got out of the event, however, was a 2 pound magazine full of atrocious wedding couture. Apparently, modern brides should show lots of cleavage (in some cases, making me wonder how much double-sided tape would be needed to keep the dress in place), compete with the cake for fluffiness, have unexplained tulle protrusions in awkward places, and should be covered all over in crystals. 
I already pictured myself spending the next few weekends driving to remote places in Ireland to find something that did not look like an exploded, glittery cupcake. 

Then I noticed a small ad with the first dress in a few hundred that I could imagine wearing. I googled the designer and saw that they had a whole collection of dresses that weren't just not-horrible, but actually actively pretty. AND I found a Dublin shop that had an event for that designer last weekend, AND I was lucky enough to get on the waiting list for an appointment and then have someone cancel.

And so the story of finding a dress was really short:
Get up early on the first sunny Saturday of the year, take a bus across the city, try on two dresses, pick the first one. DONE! In about 30 minutes! I have all the following weekends back! 

This whole wedding thing seems far less daunting than the pink binder thing made it seem. (That was full of checklists, which look really silly and simplistic next to my Google Docs masterplan spreadsheet full of graphs and data.)

1 comment:

Imogen said...

You haven't changed! You remain the brilliant, direct, wise and funny woman who kept me sane in Spain, and you are now clearly on your way to having a genuinely enjoyable wedding instead of something crass out of a movie!
This is funny and touching and real, and I look forward to seeing the pictures at the point when it's legitimate to show them.
Brava! And best wishes and hugs to Mr Boyfriend, too, since he's got to be an okay bloke, in the circumstances...