Bridal shop of horrors

About a year ago, one of my best friends from Indianapolis asked me to be maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. You could've knocked me over with a feather. Part of the issue was her lead-in: she took a deep breath, sighed it out, and then said, "Look, I have to ask you something, and I know how you're going to feel about it, but will you be my maid of honor?" And she was right. I didn't want to be asked -- not because I don't love her, not because I'm not incredibly honored and thrilled, but because seriously, I am the last person any sane individual would choose for such a distinction. Not only am I apathetic and uninformed when it comes to the event preparation aspect of weddings, I also look awkward in formal wear, don't speak well in front of large groups of people and live 2,000 miles away in California. "Jesus, are you sure?" I kept saying even as she kept saying, "I know, I know, I know." But even as we were protesting to each other, we were both bawling like babies. And so the deal was done.

So far, being her maid of honor has been a textbook case of deadbeat bride meets deadbeat bridesmaid: she hasn't asked me to do a thing, and I, dutifully, have responded by doing nothing. This is my second go-round on the bridesmaid beat, and both times have been remarkably low-key, characterized by cool-ass women who put the bridezilla myth to bed with every shrug of their awesome shoulders. Whenever I ask my friend what I can do to help, she just responds, "You can stand next to me during my wedding." Commence feeling jealous NOW.

However, one duty is unavoidable, and that's the bridesmaids' dress. I thought I had it bad with my cousin's wedding a couple of years back. She selected her bridesmaids' dresses at a small boutique in Detroit, which meant that over here in LA I had to go to a bridal warehouse solely for the purpose of being measured. In case you're curious, walking in and announcing that you're just there to get your measurements taken is not the best way to elicit friendliness from salespeople. After enduring that experience, I had to call in my measurements to the Detroit boutique, which occasioned this lovely exchange:

Cat: So I'm a BLAH BLAH in the hips, a BLAH BLAH in the waist and a BLAH BLAH in the bust.
Salesgirl: Wait, read those to me again.
Salesgirl: Can you hold, please?

[twenty minutes later]

Manager: Hi, this is the manager. I understand there's a problem with your measurements?
Cat: Oh, is there? They're just BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH and BLAH BLAH.
Manager: I see. Do you have measuring tape handy?
Cat: Yeah . . .
Manager: Let's redo them.

[pause while I strip down to my underwear to wrap measuring tape around myself]

Cat: They're still BLAH and BLAH and BLAH.
Manager: That can't be right. According to those, you're a 2 up top and a 10 down below.

So, let's review: according to this woman, my tits are somehow eight sizes smaller than my ass. Now, I'm not saying I'm Heidi Klum, but when I look in the mirror I see a vague hourglass shape, not a big fat triangle. It'd be one thing if she said, "Oh, according to these sizes, you're a 10." I'd be like, "That's not my usual size, but I guess bridalwear runs small." But a 2 on top and a 10 on the bottom? Lady, were you sent to this earth from the planet Golrog 7 with no other mission than to make innocent girls feel like circus freaks?

She went on to try and talk me into ordering a size 10 dress, adding that I would of course have to have the bust taken in because my body is so weird. I informed her that I had never in my life worn a size 10 and that I was sure an 8 would do the job, considering that at most stores I wear a motherfucking 4 and have passed up plenty of nachos in order to do so THANK YOU VERY MUCH, and she acquiesced with the kind of resigned sigh that seemed to say, "Okay, you vain bitch from hell, but don't come crying to me when you can't get this thing over your head." A couple of months later the dress showed up and it fit perfectly, so I'm still not clear on what all the fuss was about, unless it was just God's way of saying, "Not only are you not the one getting married, but you're also fat, you fucking loser!"

I had a much better experience this weekend at the David's Bridal near the Burbank airport (and I challenge you to find a single individual who's ever uttered THOSE particular words before). Some people have an attitude about David's Bridal, but let's be real: whether you acquire your bridesmaid's dress at an elegant boutique where you sip champagne from a glass flute while ten women dressed in black react to your every gesture or pick it up at a discount store where everyone ignores you in favor of bickering about whose turn it is to go on break, you're still NEVER GOING TO WEAR IT AGAIN, so who really cares. At least David's Bridal doesn't measure you before you even put on a dress. They ask what size you normally wear, add a billion to it and hand you a garment that looks about right except for the twelve-digit number printed on the tag. I'm dying to know whether wedding dresses are equally sized down. I mean, here you are, trying to decide what you're going to wear on your big day, wanting to look more beautiful and radiant than you've ever looked in your life, and you've got some woman in a polyester pantsuit telling you you're twelve sizes larger than you were yesterday? Come on.

The brides in the fitting room area of David's Bridal seemed to be having a lovely time, which is nice, but back at the register things were not going so well: a bride-to-be was having shoe color selection issues. While I was waiting for the saleslady to get a manager to void the transaction in which she accidentally charged me for three gold dresses with silver lace overlay instead of one -- a very bizarre mistake, since I am not and have never been a triplet -- the shoe bride asked my opinion. "I don't know," I said. "I think you should just get whatever color you want. No one's going to see them anyway." She frowned and said, "Are you a bridesmaid?"

And THAT, right there, is the problem with acquiring a bridesmaids' dress -- the second-class-citizenship of it all. The bride is the queen of the bridal store -- not because she is the one getting married, but because she is the one who, on top of buying a $500+ dress, is going to sucker a bunch of innocent bridesmaids into buying a $150+ dress from the same store. It's economic incentivism out the yang. I'm not going to be making any costly secondary purchases from David's Bridal, and everyone knows it. I'm not the one getting married; I'm the one holding up the train of the $500+ dress so it won't get dirty -- you know, in case the bride decides to wear it again, for all those formal funerals she goes to in South Korea.

So here's my latest get-rich-quick scheme, and I am pretty sure this one is a winner: I'm going to open a chain of stores JUST FOR BRIDESMAIDS. In my stores, the bridesmaid will be queen. She will be waited on hand and foot, plied with cocktails and brownies, and her dresses will be sized up to the point that she'll think vodka tonics have acquired magical weight reduction properties overnight. "I never realized I was a size negative 22 until I visited Cat's Second-Wave Feminist Bridesmaid Paradise!" will be what my patrons say. My dress-buying watchword will be, "Could someone feasibly reuse this as an outfit for her company Christmas party?" I'll have flat-screen TVs playing helpful instructional videos with titles like "How to let everyone know that you're not doing the whole catch-the-bouquet thing because you're cool, not because you're a sad cat lady" and "Pinpointing the exact moment during the reception when it is permissible to exchange your high heels for flip-flops." I'll have divorce statistics painted all over the walls. And if anyone starts to cry, I'll play a recording of a screaming baby until they perk right up.

1 comment:

Average Joe said...

Man, things are much easier for guys. We drink and rent a tux.