One year ago, Matt and I got engaged, and three days after he flew back to Minnesota, I went- crazed with engagement bliss and separation anxiety- to Shanghai with Trisha to dress shop. I tried on three dresses, the last of which I purchased. I cried a little because I thought it was sooooooo perfect. I imagined Matt falling over as I sauntered in to the ceremony wearing this little number:
Your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, it is pink. Yes, it has a fake pink flower at the shoulder. And, most shamefully, yes…that is an apron. The only good thing about this picture is that you can’t see where the skirt cuts off in the middle of my bulging calves, giving the appearance that my legs are short and stumpy, which is…um…clearly ridiculous.
I’m sure by now you’ve guessed that I’m not wearing this at our actual wedding. In the month between when I picked it out and when I picked it up, I evened out emotionally and started having doubts- most notably when I saw the dress that the mannequin at the bedding store on Wen’er was wearing, which was made out of floral sheets, and I thought it might be prettier than what I’d chosen.
Those doubts actually made the trip back to Shanghai easier- full of relief, which I think is what all people feel after they’ve lowered their expectations to the floor (the basement floor). I had only spent around $90 (USD) on it; I was still a year away from our wedding; and I’d asked my mom, who counts seamstress among her many crafty titles, if she’d make a dress for me, and she graciously agreed. In other words, I didn’t have a lot invested in the Pink Thing turning out well.
The women at the shop remembered me right away (“The sunburned redhead with terrible taste is here!”). My dress was unceremoniously wadded up in a flat plastic wrapper made for a t-shirt. I shook it out and put it on, and I could see that they’d made the modifications I’d asked for: the dress was shorter, it was fruit-salad pink, and the flower at the waist had been removed. Unfortunately, this meant the swoop of fabric you see in the picture actually was hanging down like a real apron until I asked that it be stitched back up.
They were so good to me that I couldn’t help catching their enthusiasm. “I love it!” I exclaimed. “Thank you, xie-xie. I love it. So special!” After they’d helped me out of it, two of them carefully hand-steamed all of the wrinkles away…and then promptly shoved the dress back into its tiny flat-bag home. I laughed on my way out of the store and considered whether or not I was going to make room for it in my luggage. (In case you’re wondering, I did. It hangs in my closet as a sobering reminder of what I’m capable of in an emotionally fragile state.)
Matt and I are now six-ish weeks from our wedding, and this weekend, my mom is bringing the lovely, shimmering dress she’s made for me to wear at it. It fits me like it was made for me (by someone who speaks my native language). The color is much, much more flattering on my skin than “Spam Rose.” It moves just the way I want it to. It has no apron. It is perfect. I fully plan to wear it at other people’s weddings. My mother is a nimble-fingered genius.
But of course, no wedding planning happens without obstacles, and I’ve run smack into what has become far and away the most stressful part of putting together our big day: I can’t find any freaking shoes.
It kills me that celebrities have chosen this moment in time to be photographed in either stacked platform heels or too-short t-shirts that fall off the shoulder. Neither one is helpful to me at all, and yet, this is all I can find when I shop.
Two weekends ago, I spent nearly three hours at the mall, which is so far beyond my mall pain threshold that I almost can’t believe it really happened. I went into three department stores and three shoe-specific stores before I wanted to claw my eyeballs out. Then I came home and spent 40 minutes on Ebay, hoping I could snag some vintage shoes that wouldn’t make me look like, as I bemoaned on Facebook, a disco stripper.
Like any good bridesmaid, this is the picture my sister sent to comfort me.
To be honest, if I could talk myself into a dress that is exactly the wrong color for me, possibly the worst length on me, and has a built-in kitchen accoutrement to wear at my wedding, then you might see these flaming plastic towers of tacky again. But I’m holding out hope that between now and June 15th, I at least find a pair of flip-flops that semi-match my perfect, super special, handmade, mother-made dress.
Oh my dearest, no one will notice (or at least remember) your shoes! Maybe you have something in your closet already?? OK, I know my wedding apparel standards are low, (maybe, better put, easy to meet) but some fancy flip-flops sound perfect! Forget the vintage stripper stilettos! Why detract from your beautiful dress and your glowing bride's countenance? If you feel compelled to continue your shopping self-torture, then go Savers or Unique Thrift or GoodWill. Let it be a scavenger hunt for the thrill of finding your Cinderella-like treasure… In my experience (57 years worth), redheads are smart and intuitive. So, whatever you choose – comfy slippers or cowboy boots- they will be the right thing for your beautiful day and your beautiful YOU.
ditto…but maybe not cowboy boots 🙂
As always, love your writing.
XOXOXOXO – Mom