Long before Michael officially asked me to marry him, we had discussed our wedding plans in detail. We both wanted to cover the entire cost of the wedding on our own. I knew certain things weren’t as important to me as others. For instance, I didn’t really want a crazy expensive dress or huge ceremony. Neither of those things really defines who we are. If Michael had his way, we would get married in the living room with only a handful of people. Though he balked at my suggestion of trying to keep the wedding under $10,000, he agreed (after I showed him exhaustive spreadsheets of average wedding costs to prove $10k wasn’t outrageous). Once I had a ring on my finger, I started wholesale planning. I wanted to get as many of the big important things out of the way before classes started in the fall.
Now a moment to discuss my mother: My mother and I are incredibly similar. We’re both stubborn, opinionated, and a bit short tempered. We have a tendency to clash on just about everything. Mom and I didn’t really start getting along until I moved out and lived almost two hours away. It’s amazing what distance can do to some relationships. I think I talk to my mother more now than I probably have in my entire life. I feel like we have established a wary cease-fire as far as constant arguments are concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, but we are the same person. Only one of us can exist within a certain mile radius.
My mom and dad
In a few weeks, I was flying down to Tennessee to visit my grandmother and aunt. Auntie was thrilled to hear we were engaged and offered to take me to the bridal shop where she had gotten her wedding dress. Sure, why not. But, I needed to go dress shopping with mom first — it smelled like a battle if I didn’t. So bright one morning I snag my sister, mom, and my neighbor (who is basically my other mother) and head off to a local bridal shop. I was just looking and planning to try out certain styles to see if I could find something similar to what I liked on Etsy or somewhere else cheap. It’s a dress, I will wear it once. There is absolutely no reason to spend more than a few hundred dollars on it. I made sure to be very clear with everyone about this in the car right before we walked in.
We walk into the shop and I’m instantly overwhelmed. There are seriously hundreds of dresses. The only real thing I know about what I want is a short (read: tea length) dress. My ladies start bombarding me with questions about cut, style, color, fabric and I can feel the edges of my vision turning green. I’m legit about to Hulk smash them all and run the heck away. I flip out at all of them and just tell them, again, rather loudly, that I am only looking, I am not planning on finding a dress today, this moment, but I wanted to try on a few styles to get some ideas. My ever helpful mother attempts to have a “calming” conversation with me where she flat out demands that she pay for my dress. She says she has already set aside $2500 for a dress for me. @%&$#!!!. Seriously woman? About as delicate as a hand grenade to the face. I attempt to stand my ground but she throws the tank in low gear and runs me over, leaving me twitching and writhing on the plush white carpet. I don’t want this, like at all. That’s way too much money.
Great, I hadn’t anticipated this whole fiasco. I grab a few dresses at random and go hide in the fitting cavern while I attempt to dress myself. FYI ladies, putting on a wedding dress all by yourself is 800% impossible. I’m essentially on the brink of tears and my sister throws open the door and shoves me into a dress firmly but calmly. Bless her. Wedding dresses are clearly medieval torture devices. I parade around in a few different ones before the sales woman becomes serious in helping me find things, since I’m clearly having a meltdown. They start bringing me dresses and showing me them like they are bottles of wine to sample. I do find one I like well enough to come back and reconsider later. With each new dress my sister talks me down off my cliff and suggests I bow to the inevitable. Mom is feeling left out and this is her … dainty … way of trying to be helpful. Deep breath. I know my sister is right, but sweet maker!
I frantically was texting Michael during bouts of being sewn and clamped into white fluff balls of fabric. What should I do?! Ever practical and calm, he too suggests I give into my mother’s wishes. What the crap, what happened to people being on my side? He reminds me that my parents got married in a courthouse and didn’t get to have a huge wedding like my mother wanted. Would it be so hard to let her pay for one thing? Sigh. Fine. It’s just a dress. If she feels I need to prance around in $2500 of fabric, then it’s her wallet that will be flapping in the breeze, not ours. It also freed up about $700 of our budget to be used on other things. Every penny counts.
I didn’t end up buying a dress at this first place since I didn’t love any of the dresses enough to mortgage my mother’s credit card’s soul. I found one at a different place later on. The whole bit of drama was a serious lesson for me though. Well, perhaps a reminder. You have to pick and choose your battles. If something is really important to you, you should stand your ground and fight for your rights. Ultimately, it is you and your partner’s wedding. Not your mother’s, not your bridesmaids’, not your friends’, YOURS. However, you also need to remember, the people in your life who love you are only trying to help. While their “help” at times can be unwanted or misguided, they are helping you because they genuinely love and care about your happiness. My mother is likely convinced that I may regret not having a fancy expensive dress, or that I am too embarrassed to ask for help. Probably not and nope. But, if spending stupid amounts of money on a dress is how she wants to show her love, so be it. I am not being harmed and she is letting me pick whichever one I want. Besides, it was a tiny bit fun playing dress up.