Dresses and Dreams and who am I?

So one of my friends is getting married (friend, if you’re reading this, a disclaimer: your impending marriage has simply sparked further thoughts on my behalf, which is good and right. Don’t feel inclined to take anything personally or wonder what you said. This is a pretty general disclaimer, since I’m not really sure where this post is going yet. But I’d hate for you to over-analyze my wanderings, so–don’t. 🙂 ).  I didn’t squeal when I found out, which I’m pretty sure is the now-considered-norm reaction. I didn’t squeal, because (1) I saw it coming; it was pretty much a question of when, not if, and (2) it’s a relationship between two individuals, not a party. I mean, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding. It’s  not like, oh, I’m so glad you’re going to have a wedding, how long do you think before you ditch the guy? It’s like, oh, a marriage, and, incidentally, we’re going to celebrate it!

I expected the engagement. I didn’t really expect how I would feel with the wedding planning. Unsettled.

I’m good at planning. Actually, much to my annoyance, I have more than once woken up from a dream in which I am planning some gathering/event/celebration, and then couldn’t fall back to sleep because I had to finish ironing out the details. At this point, I don’t even really do much planning for a gathering of 30 people any sooner than the week before. So it’s not like I expected myself to have any odd feelings about talk of planning a gathering of, say, 90 people. 2-3 times bigger than what I typically pull together. No biggie.

But I did, especially when I saw her trying on wedding dresses, because suddenly I couldn’t put myself in her shoes. I have thought of myself at times as what I would be like as a wife or a mother, but I guess never really seriously thought of myself as a bride. In the abstract, I could totally put together my own wedding. In the reality of the moment of looking at wedding veils and talking about wedding colors, all I could think was I’d just elope.

Not for her. For me. I’d just be ridiculous in satin and sparkles. My nails are usually filled up with doughnut dough and potting soil; a glittering ring would never settle comfortably on my finger. All these gorgeous, statuesque dresses that I’d love to figure out how they constructed, and in reality? I want the tab that says “cotton dresses here.”

Venues and photographers and caterers–caterers? I confess to finding myself aghast at the idea of myself paying someone else to make food. How snobby, yes? I mean, my aunt even had Christmas catered this year; she just didn’t want the stress of it all and wanted to enjoy the people. Very reasonable and practical of her. But I don’t–you don’t understand–I’ve been cooking for 12 since before I was 12. I make vats and vats of food, regularly. Good food. Fantastic food. And for my wedding I’m supposed to pay someone else to cook it? I would imagine the feeling is similar to leaving your kids with a sitter for the first time, or something. I don’t have any kids, so I’m only guessing.

I can’t imagine. I really can’t. I can imagine “weddings” but I can’t really imagine “my wedding.”

The closest snatch I ever got was this fleeting glance of myself standing barefoot in the grass in a white cotton dress, serving homemade ice cream instead of a reception line, my groom at my side. But it was all fake, because there were lots of young kids running around in the sunlight, and all the kids I know are rapidly growing up. The guests weren’t real.

None of it was really real.

And if I were to get married right now, I probably would elope. No possible configuration of any of the elements is me. I didn’t see a single dress I wished I could just only try on. My idea of flowers is “whatever is blooming.” I couldn’t, I don’t think, feasibly host my extended family from both sides (cost, mostly, but also trying to imagine so many disparate people  together) , never mind his, so the guest list would be awkward at best, making eloping sound even better. No matter which way the list was cut, it would be a really awkward gathering. . .

I guess it made me feel a little sad. Like when you see people playing some game, and they make it look really fun–and you know that everyone would want you to come out and join them, but you know you’ll be awkward and ungainly and never have as much fun as they will. It’s fun to watch, but you can’t help but regret, just a little, that you’re only on the sidelines. I’m not saying that I’ll never get married, and I’m not even saying I’d never have a wedding. I guess it’s just the quiet realization that the princess lifestyle just doesn’t work for me, even for a day.

Maybe someday I’ll find out I’m wrong. Maybe I won’t. Either way, it’s okay, because what I said at the beginning is still true: it’s about a marriage, not a wedding.

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