Never a Bride

To: Jenny
From: Vivian
Subject: New Year
Dear Jenny –
Happy New Year! May this year be all about revival!
And I think you should start by reviving your blog! I’ve been checking
it everyday for new stories but nothing but the same pictures of your cats that I’ve been looking at for the past two weeks!
Although I know she means well, what my friend Vivian clearly does not understand is that these past two weeks have been the most trying of my entire life. Not because of the holidays – I had a simple yet pleasant Christmas with my family, bought all my gifts online so as to never have to interact with real people, and actually didn’t gain the requisite six pounds. This season, my stress came from the planning, preparation, execution, and recovery from what any woman will tell you is the most physically and emotionally draining experience imaginable – being a bridesmaid.
Several months ago, when my friend Kim asked me to stand up in her wedding, I was thrilled and honored beyond belief. When she told me that her wedding would be on December 29th, I thought it was perfect timing because I always have to use up my vacation days at the end of the year anyway. When she told me that she wanted to make it easy on the bridesmaids (I was one of fifteen) by letting us wear a black dress of our choosing, I started to feel queasy.
See, I happen to be one of those women who actually prefers having to wear a puffy sleeved lime green floor length bridesmaid dress with dyed-to-match shoes. And here’s why: I don’t have to make any decisions. For someone like me who hates to shop, is not particularly fashion-savvy, and rarely wears dresses, this was my nightmare.
Any dress I want? It just has to be black? Are you kidding me? Walk into any department store at the holidays and ask them to point you to the dress section. What you will find is no less than 7,000 black dresses – short, long, calf-length, sleeveless, backless, frontless, sequined, rhinestoned, cinched, baggy, strapless, strapful, asymmetrical, empire waisted, off-the-shoulder, flashy, demure, chiffoned, ribboned, high-necked, a-lined, classic, sexy, retro-chic, modern flaired, and traditional ball gowned.
When Kim first asked me to be a bridesmaid, I set a personal goal to have my dress purchased by no later than the end of October. I just knew that the prospect of having to rush around finding a dress near the holidays would put me into an emotional tailspin.
So when December 1st came and went, and I had yet to even look at dresses, I started to sweat. I couldn’t put it off any longer – so I headed out to Nordstom’s. My first venture into Ladies Dresses put me into such a state of overwhelm that I just wandered through the racks, lulled into a trance-like state by the clickety click of the hangers brushing against my shoulders as I squeezed past my fellow holiday shoppers.
I left without ever touching an actual dress.
I consulted dozens of friends (well, really just Dee-Dee and Natasha) who told me that J. Crew had a great line of black dresses. Fortunately, they were right. I grabbed three different styles, bought the one that fit, and got out of the store as quickly as I could. But where I thought my stress would end, it only just began. I spent the next two weeks panicking that my dress wasn’t fancy enough.
“Am I going to look like I’m going to brunch? This is a fancy wedding!”
“You’ll look fine! What are the other bridesmaids wearing?”
“I don’t know! That’s the problem! But I just know that Barb is going to wear a ball gown. She’ll look like she’s going to the Oscars, and I’ll look like I had to take a client out for lunch. What if everyone has floor-length dresses? Do you think they’ll be wearing floor-length dresses? Oh – get this – one of the bridesmaids has been a bridesmaid thirteen times already! I’m dealing with professionals here! Shit, shit, shit.”
I then convinced myself that in order to save my outfit, I would need three things:
1. Great jewelry
2. Fancy shoes
3. Whore eyes
I dragged Dee and Nat to DSW Shoes and tried on at least thirty pairs of strappy, sequined, fancy cocktail shoes and had a mini-meltdown in the sale rack and left a semi-hysterical voicemail for the bride. My biggest problem is that fanciness and walkability are in direct competition with one another, and second only to my fear of showing up looking like I was dressed for a PTA meeting was the fear of tripping down the aisle with the lit candle we would all be carrying. I would forever be remembered as that one poorly dressed bridesmaid who broke her ankle and set her own hair on fire.
After purchasing what I thought would be the perfect pair of strappy, sequined, open-toed, fancy cocktail shoes, I got a callback from my friend, assuring me that whatever shoes I picked out would be fine, as long as they weren’t strappy, open-toed, fancy cocktail shoes since we all had to wear black nylons. I apparently hadn’t read my bridesmaid instructions very well.
In the days leading up to December 29th, I returned to DSW, this time with Vivian in tow as she was home for the holidays. My original requirements of: a) easy to walk in, b) comfortable and c) cheaper than the price of my dress quickly fell by the wayside.
“Vivian – come here! What about these?”
“Too casual.”
“How about these?”
“I don’t like that heel.”
“This one?”
“That toe is kind of weird. What do you think about these?”
“Viv – what the hell? Why are you showing me black orthopedic Easy Spirit shoes when I’m standing up in a wedding in three days?”
“No, these are for me.”
“Oh. Then they’re very nice.”
Eventually, I found what turned out to be a highly walkable, very attractive, yet excruciatingly painful pair of shoes, but I was happy. I bought my jewelry the day before the wedding, and found an eyeshadow kit that I knew would make for the perfect whore eyes.
I could write an entire chapter on the events that transpired when Dee-Dee came over on the day of the wedding to get ready, as she was also attending, but instead will summarize in bullet format:

  • She ordered her dress, shoes and jewelry online four days before the wedding and had them shipped overnight to her house. Nothing fit so she had to return everything on December 28th.
  • In the entire suitcase full of clothing options she brought to my house, she somehow forgot to bring shoes that matched.
  • As she was rushing to get ready, she discovered that the nylons she hurriedly purchased were footless. I discovered that mine had a thin slime of moisturizer built into them. When did buying pantyhose become a more complicated decision than purchasing a home?
  • The outfit that our consultant Natasha liked the best made Dee-Dee look like a dime-store go-go hooker, even prior to applying eye makeup. We chose a different ensemble.

Ultimately, we somehow pulled our outfits together, effectively applied our whore eyes makeup, and looked completely appropriate at the wedding. The wedding was unbelievably beautiful and went without a hitch, but sadly, the church had some silly “no flash photography” rule, so this is the best photo of me not setting my hair on fire with my candle as I walked – not tripped – down the aisle.
So if any of my unmarried friends are reading this, and you someday want me to stand up in your wedding, please – I beg of you – make me wear the puffy sleeved floor length lime green dress with dyed-to-match shoes. If my friendship means anything to you, you’ll do me that one favor.

28 Responses to “Never a Bride”

  1. heather anne Says:

    You crack me up. Plus, you are hot. I can tell even from the blur. Happy New Year, Jenny. :)

  2. kat Says:

    thankfully my bridesmaids days are behind me. WHAT A RELIEF.
    happy new year, gorgeous.

  3. sandra Says:

    As someone who has had to wear the puffy dress (or in my case, a doily gone bad in a color reminescent of an Easter egg dying) I’ll say: be careful what you wish for!

  4. claire Says:

    So funny because I relate so much. For my grad school graduation, I bought a dress the day of the ceremony.
    For a friend’s wedding, I also went to Nordstrom’s looking for a dress (like 2 days before I had to fly out) and was so overwhelmed, I had to bring in a friend. Shoes are always awful, of course, but nothing can make me shut down like shopping for formal wear (if what I tend to like could even be said to qualify ;)
    Congrats on making it work- with eye makeup no less. You’re a good lookin’ blur.

  5. ms. sizzle Says:

    “fanciness and walkability are in direct competition with one another” – i hear that!
    even though the pic is blurry, you are a lovely blur. but i just have to say- 15 bridesmaids?! WTF? that’s a BIG wedding party. daaaaaaaamn.
    :) sizz

  6. Rhea Says:

    My friends have had the sense to never invite me to be a bridesmaid. You look great in the photo!

  7. jenny Says:

    heather anne: Ha! Thanks so much – I think the blur is working in my favor! Happy new year!
    kat: How do you know they’re behind you? A bridesmaid can always be called back from retirement. And happy new year to you, too! :)
    sandra: Well, I’ve already done emerald green and sapphire blue bridesmaid dresses. Next in line will have to be ruby red.
    claire: Thank you! Nordstrom’s can totally be overwhelming – just the shoes alone made my head spin.
    Sizzle: I know – can you believe 15 bridesmaids? I don’t think I actually met them all – and I’m not even kidding!
    Rhea: This is my third run, which I thought was decent until I met the woman who had been in 13 weddings! And thanks – I think I should take blurry photos of myself more often!

  8. Hilly Says:

    The blur cannot hide how cute you look!
    Being a bridesmaid was worse than being a bride for me….ick, never again.

  9. Arwen Says:

    I now know what I did wrong at my wedding: I aske dmy maid of honor (and only bridesmaid) to choose something ‘pretty.’
    Next time I will choose something for her.
    I just thought I was being nice.
    Nest time I will tell her (and everyone) buy something lime green!

  10. Chase Says:

    Um. Am I the only one who noticed the ghostly floating head hanging around your right boob?
    (Not that I was staring at your boobs or anything.)
    You looked beautiful, though…despite the haunted spirit of boobage.

  11. Dave2 Says:

    If it’s any consolation, all the effort was worth it… even all blurry, you look totally hot! :-)

  12. jenny Says:

    hilly: Aw, thanks! But never say never… that puffy dress may rear its ugly head again some day!
    arwen: For a normal person, being able to choose your own dress is a great idea. For the fashion challenged such as myself, it’s torture!
    chase: Hmm. Now that I stare at my boobs, I see what you mean! It actually kind of looks like I’m carrying a shrunken severed head in my hands. That would’ve been so much cooler than a candle.
    Dave2: I’ll totally wear that to Portland… as long as you wear a tux! TequilaCon ’07: Black Tie Only! ;)

  13. Jessica Says:

    Okay, in light of my recent announcement that you are among my blog crushes, can I just say “hubba hubba!”

  14. Cheryl Says:

    I also rarely wear dresses (at least ones that aren’t bright orange sun dresses that can be worn over jeans), and was also asked, a few years back, to be a bridesmaid and choose my own black dress. I was actually thrilled, because this allowed me to only spend $17 on a dress “that you can wear again!”, according to the bride.
    Needless to say, I never did–until this New Year’s Eve, when fancy-venue dress code forced me to. Mark my words: four years from now, your dress will pay off.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    I’m still trying to get over the fact that your panyhose had moisturizer built in. I’m glad you girls made it!
    Love, Vivian

  16. mike Says:

    One more vote for hot. This picture and the one of you crashing the New York City marathon should be framed in one of those side by side frame thingies. You know, the ones that have two frames…side by side? Yeah, those.

  17. diane Says:

    Yep, from what I can tell, a pretty, pretty bridesmaid indeed!
    I count my lucky stars that I’ve never had to be a bridesmaid. One married friend and I were on the outs when she got married, another got married in Vegas on the way to their new home in California, another got married in Egypt. So far, that’s it! (It was my best friend that got married in Egypt–she asked if I was going to be sad that I wouldn’t be a bridesmaid and I said HEEEEELLLL NO!!!)

  18. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Anytime I’m asked to be a bridesmaid, I say No. Because, frankly, I do the exact same thing, and as funny as you make it SEEM, Jenny, it is not at all fun when it is happening.Plus, I have made a vow to never wear pantyhose again.
    That picture of you radiates hotness,you know.

  19. jenny Says:

    Jess: :::blush:::
    Cheryl: $17? Wow – that’s a bargain! And I actually really like the dress a lot, so I know I’ll wear it again. So all in all, I guess it was worth it. :)
    Viv: No kidding! Who ever heard of that? It’s gross!
    Mike: I actually would like to start a collection of photos of me crashing various marathons across the globe.
    diane: Wow – it might have been worth wearing the line green dress just to get to see Egypt – must’ve been a cool wedding!
    Tracy Lynn: I think vowing never to wear pantyhose is the best New Year’s resolution anyone can ever make.
    And thanks so much, but seriously – you guys are way too kind re: the photo. It all comes down to the whore eyes, anyway!

  20. hollie Says:

    glad you are back as i sorely missed your fab posts over the holidays. looks like you not only survived getting killed by your festively bedecked kitties and being a bridesmaid. perhaps you are a super hero in disguise?! thanks for the great update and enjoyable reading.

  21. Roy Says:

    I can’t think of anything to say, let alone something funny. You look out of focus, but beautiful.
    Why are bridesmaids so haht?

  22. Neil Says:

    Don’t you know that the bridesmaids are not supposed to look sexier than the bride?

  23. Postmodern Sass Says:

    Jenny, I promise that if I ever get married I will select a fleet of bridesmaids and insist they all wear puffy lime green dresses with shoes dyed to match — so that you can be one of my bridesmaids.
    (This is a promise akin to saying, I’ll split that mil with you when I win the lottery. I mean, it could happen, but I figure we’re both pretty much safe.)

  24. Jess Says:

    Here via Jess at Daughterofopinion…I now see why you’re her blog crush–you are hilarious! Whore eyes and footless nylons indeed.
    Sincerely, another blogger that hates to shop.

  25. jenny Says:

    hollie: thanks so much for stopping by! and yes, i do possess mind-controlling superpowers that allow me to force my cats to do my bidding. but only when my bidding involves them sleeping on the bed.
    roy: it’s the bridesmaid mystique – we’re the ones who get to be slutty.
    neil: you should’ve seen the bride! knockout! but… i think she’s taken.
    sass: AWESOME!!! i cannot wait!
    jess: thanks for the comment! i’m starting to think there are more of us anti-shoppers out there than i once thought. we should start a support group.

  26. Laurie Says:

    WHORE EYES!!!!
    Oh, that made me laugh out loud. Not only because there’s something particularly funny about the pairing of the words, but also because that’s what I do when I feel underdressed: Whore eyes. I just never had a name for it before.
    Those whore eyes, though; they’re tricky. One sweep too many of the eyeshadow brush and you’ve gone from “Hey baby, you lookin’ for a date?” to “My pimp punched me in the eyes.” I know this from experience.

  27. romy Says:

    jenny i loved this post ! congrats on the dress, the shoes, and the whore eyes.
    i also loved having time to spend catching up on your recent writing. thanks for a good series of laughs and insights to ponder. :)
    (and btw that bit from roy about the tiny shrunken head you’re bridesmaiding down the aisle – CRACKED me up. thanks for the link to your blog crush.)

  28. Pants Says:

    I am very relieved to hear you did not catch yourself on fire.