If “Bridezilla” and some of the other wedding reality TV shows are to be believed (and I’m not so sure they are—no bride I’ve known has had anything so much as resembling a meltdown), there are at least a few ladies who think their “bride” status entitles them to be bossy, demanding, and downright rude. Planning a wedding can be stressful and time-consuming, but whenever I get the urge to complain, I try to stop and remind myself of one key thing: every last piece of it is a privilege.
It’s a privilege to have found a partner who returns my love and shares a desire to commit to a life together. It’s a privilege to have caring family and friends with whom to celebrate our joy. And it’s privilege to have the resources to throw a party with beautiful decorations and abundant food and drink. These are not things to be taken for granted, and they’re assuredly not a license for temper tantrums and testy outbursts.
So I’m confident “Bridezilla” is well beyond my basic crankiness capabilities.
I’m embarrassed to admit that a little alter-ego I’ve come to call Bratty Bride is not.
Meeting Bratty Bride
When you’re planning a wedding, everyone, it seems, has an opinion. Vendors and wedding professionals—the photographer, the florist, the DJ—are supposed to have opinions; you pay them well for their expertise, and when they share their knowledge, it impacts your vision and helps you make decisions. But then there are, oh, say, the overly enthusiastic dental hygienists, or the nosy sale clerks whose advice seems entirely derived of their own nuptial dreams and utterly divorced from the reality of yours.
It was whilst I was on the receiving end of such advice that I first met my inner Bratty Bride.
My mother and I are making a number of festive pillows to place on benches at mine and Steve’s wedding venue, so I ventured out to Joann’s Fabrics to select material. I spent well over an hour, maybe even two, pulling every bolt of fabric that even looked like a possibility off the shelves. I piled at least fifteen or twenty bolts into my cart, drove it all over to a corner, and compared each fabric to the others and to the material I’d already chosen for the tabletop underlays, narrowing down my choices one at a time. After considerable debate I selected seven fabrics in shades of coral, tangerine, and aqua, with both white and ivory as base neutrals: there was a gauzy white linen blend with a large rose print I adored, fat white polka dots on the palest of aquas, a burnout paisley print in deep coral. When I finally headed to the check-out line, a positively delicious stack of colors and fabrics rested in my basket, and I was giddy with plans.
I wheeled up to the counter, realizing I’d deliberated so long closing time was fast approaching. A round-faced twenty-something woman wearing hip, dark-rimmed glasses, her hair pulled back in a strawberry blond bun, rang me up.
“So, what’re you making?” she asked cheerily, plopping my stack of material down on the counter after the first register froze and we’d moved to a second.
“It’s for wedding decorations,” I said. I figured “pillows” and “wedding decorations” might not make sense without a more elaborate explanation, so I went with a standard element. “Some table-top stuff, that sort of thing.” I patted the solid coral seersucker, imagining.
The cashier pursed her lips. “That’s a pretty bright orange for a wedding,” she said, eying a quarter-yard of tangerine taffeta I’d found on the clearance rack and thought perfect for making accent flowers. She meant “pretty” as in “really,” not “attractive.”
I raised my eyebrows at the unsolicited feedback. I was beginning to understand how pregnant women feel when every well-wisher, even a stranger, assumes a rounded belly grants them license to pat and rub.
The cashier’s eyes lit up suddenly. “”You know, if you’re looking for table-top decorations, you could get some glass jars.”
“Yes, we have some, “ I said excitedly. “In the same blue as that turquoise fabric!” I pointed to a rich, beautiful blue with a washed-dot pattern.
The young woman pursed her lips again. “You could get some clear ones.” She paused, as if to make sure I was following her. “And you could put a divider in the middle. And pour white sand on one side, and black sand on the other. And for the groom’s family you could…”
I don’t know what I could do for the groom’s family. Because that’s when Bratty Bride stomped out of the back reaches of my brain, crossed her arms in a huff, and took over my thoughts.
What part of “We already have blue glass jars?” do you not understand? she sniped. Black and white with “bright orange” would look like Halloween, for heaven’s sake. And my color isn’t “orange”, anyway. It’s a rich red coral. Do I look like I need color scheme advice, when I clearly have a stack of carefully—laboriously—selected coordinating fabrics right here? And by the way, there will be no sand at my wedding. NO SAND—
The cashier was smiling and asking a question. “Does she know when she’s getting married yet?”
What? Oh. My. God.
So you assume it’s someone else’s wedding, because you, youthful you, think I look too old to be getting married. Perfect. When I was your age, I thought getting married was just around the corner for me, too. Good luck with that.
“September 2015,” I said crisply, a little horrified by my inner monologue. “So we have a long time to get ready.”
“Oh, September’s a nice time of year for a wedding,” the young woman replied blithely, returning my card and reaching for a bag. “When I get married, I’ll probably do September or October. That’s a good time for an outdoor wedding.” She nodded sagely.
Horrified, but not altogether unsympathetic. Did I ask for your approval? And what exactly makes you such an expert, anyway? Or so certain that getting married is a given?
“Have a nice night,” the cashier said as she passed the bag filled with my items across the counter. “And congratulations!”
I headed out to the car with my stash and my newly discovered shadow self.
I’m not proud of Bratty Bride’s snarkasm, but I do know this: Bratty Bride herself is a luxury, the surest sign of all I’m living a charmed life.
As long as she remembers that, we’ll get along just fine.