Ten years ago this week, I was a bride.
It seems strange to me, the notion of myself as a bride. I was not a child who fantasized about weddings and the accoutrements of being a bride. I did not dress up in flouncy white dresses and veils, did not own bride dolls swathed on poufy white satin, did not walk my Barbie and Ken up imaginary aisles lined in flowing tulle or carry hairbrushes as bouquets as I practised the measured steps a bride is taught to take on her way to the alter where she will be joined with her husband-to-be. Bride is a word loaded and fraught with image and connotation, and none of it ever seemed to apply to me.
Indeed, the word fiancee even took some getting used to, and was never used comfortably by me. Hearing it fall from Misterpie's lips always took me aback a bit. But never so much as hearing him introduce me as his wife.
Ten years in, the term wife still seems foreign. It's not that marriage seems a strange state to me - in fact, I always figured I'd be married at about 25. That always seemed a good age to me, an age at which I might be ready to make such a decision. I did, in the end, marry at 24.5 exactly, to the day, and yes, I was ready to make that decision, as I had suspected.
I was quite ready for marriage. I didn't seem a big stretch from where we were, having lived together for a year and a half and having bought a house the year prior. Marriage is and was a comfortable state for Misterpie and I. We are a good pair. We both try to bend when the matter at hand is not important, to figure out who will take the lead, to do small favours for each other. In most things, we mesh well or find a way to work out something in the middle. We have had a good run in this decade-old marriage of ours.
But the wedding? While I was fully at ease about marriage, the whole wedding thing rather scared me. There was so much to organize
, so much to think about, so many specialty professionals involved. I was totally in over my head, even thinking about it. As it was, we kept it small and simple. A friday evening, no dinner but a buffet of nibblies, a wine table, and some punches, coffee served with cakes later on - that way we could mingle and chat with our closest friends and relatives. The cakes were not wedding cakes, but a two chocolate mousse cakes, one white, one dark, covered in chocolate curls and with a few flowers resting on the top. A historical house, small, lovely, and intimate, and an easy way to keep the cap on the guest list (the count of 55 included the wedding party and minister). A photographer, a string quartet for the ceremony and jazz CDs as background music for the evening of mingling. A simple little wedding card from a micropress in Toronto served as invitation, with the inserts printed on japanese paper on my parents' computer. A basket of tulips for the signing table, a pot of daffodils on the music table, a couple of calla lilies for each of my two bridesmaids, and a stem of orchids for myself. The decisions on setting and evening were easy enough. It was all about being small, simple, intimate. About sharing a nice evening with friends we loved.
We (well, I
) had agonized a bit over the place and officiant and the meanings of them. I had thought that Misterpie, raised in a church-going family would want a church wedding, but felt that it would be strange for me, as I had not gone to church myself. I worried that it might seem flip to have a church wedding, as if I just wanted it for the architecture, when it was meaningful to other people. As it turned out, Misterpie didn't have an attachment to the notion of a church setting, and the historic house was perfect. Who would perform the ceremony, though, given this divide on religion? Again, it would have seemed strange and meaningless to me to have either an unknown minister or a justice of the peace perform the vows. As it happens, though, our officiant was perhaps the easiest decision of all. In high school, I had spent as much time at my close friend Alberta
's house as at my own, and her father was a minister. It was the perfect thing for me - someone who meant something for who they were, who was a part of my life, who may not have been a religious leader to me, but was one of the father figures in my life. A most personal touch.
But of course, planning the party is not the only thing involved. There is, of course, the whole bride
thing to put together, too. This is perhaps the thing that scared me the most. The thing is, I'm not flouncy, fluffy, lacy, or sparkly. I'm just not. But bridal shops? They are all of those things. I could only imagine some crazy big-haired, frost-and-tipped woman with bad caked-on lipstick trying to shoehorn me into something more ornate than the gaudiest of gaudy wedding cakes. The alternative at that point was the slipdress, a la Carolyn Bessette, something I was not into either. So I worried and fretted and thought about trying to find someone who would make me something, until one day, I walked into a small vintage store on a visit to Peterborough, and I saw it. My dress was hanging there, and I bought it. And then I went around the corner and bought earrings to go with it at a small silver store I loved. And now all I had to find were shoes. The sense of relief was that of a weight lifted. Now I just had to find someone to alter it a bit here and there, taking in the shoulders, replacing the old metal zipper with some self-covered buttons, easing the weight of some fabric lengths on the back by replacing the facing with a lighter fabric. It was just right, I thought. Simple, ivory rather than white, not a bead or bow in sight.
And it was all ready. I had bought a pot of ivy to twine in my braided crown of hair, booked a hair appointment, learned how to apply mascara, and shipped everything to the historic house that afternoon. All that remained was to get the hair done, eat something, and get to the house in time to get dressed. And I did. The hairdressers told me they had never seen a bride so calm. What was to be nervous about, I wondered? I was sure about this, after all, or I wouldn't be doing it.
At the house, there was not quite enough light in my dressing room to fiddle around with unfamiliar eye makeup, so I perched on the edge of the sink in the bathroom, chatting unwillingly with guests who had arrived a bit too early and decided to visit the loo. I jumped into my dress and had my bridesmaids button up the few thousand tiny buttons marching up my back. I let the photographer take a quick shot in the dressing room, though the light was too poor for it to turn out well, given that he did not have time to set up properly with the wedding about to begin. Then I slipped into my shoes, picked up my flowers, and raced up the stairs to enter the room where the dearest of my friends and family were waiting. Where Misterpie stood in front of an ornate fireplace, beside a table of tulips cut that morning from our own garden, beside his best friend and my own best friend's father, waiting for me.
And as soft music began, I walked.
It's wedding week, here at Life of 'Pie!
Coming are an ode to Misterpie and some musing on the fate of wedding dresses.
Labels: Misterpie, moi