Much of the speculation about tomorrow has to do with the dress. It's overwhelming, the pressure of being a bride--satisfying relatives (did you invite your cousins? your great-aunt Sue? WHY NOT?), choosing a low-cost spread (family style or buffet line? broasted chicken or beef tips?) and selecting bridesmaids (you want how many groomsmen to stand up? Crap, I have to find someone else so the numbers match up--you're sure we can't just have an extra usher?). On top of it all you have to look good.
Actually, better than good.
When I got married, I was kind of stunned because I hadn't exactly planned for the event my whole single life. Unlike many of my friends who subscribed to Bride and Bridal Monthly and Bride Vogue since high school, I had no preconceived notions for my big day (hence the God-awful dresses I foisted on my poor bridesmaids, among other tasteless and ill-considered choices). In retrospect, the only things I like about my wedding were the flowers, the string quartet and my dress. And the groom. He turned out pretty good, too. My hair, the centerpieces, the colors, the decorations, the bridesmaids' dresses, the dinner, the cake, the photography are all things I wish I'd done differently. Bygones, right?
Back to the dress--naturally Princess Diana set me up for some really high expectations of how to look on the Big Day. But I'd been to lots of weddings by the time Mr. D and I got engaged and bore witness to some terrible dresses, clearly designed by 5-year old girls with Bedazzlers and unlimited supplies of ruffles, lace and tulle. When I was a bartender back in the Olden Days, I saw some pretty gaudy brides come through on their ritual bar-hop between church and reception hall. Most memorable was the Saturday afternoon when one bridal party came through the front entrance of the bar and another walked in through the back. The brides? Were wearing the same dress. No kidding. Of course everyone noticed and the two brides looked put out that they didn't look special. The moment stuck with me--right up to a few months before my wedding when I went to a dress shop.
In the dressing room I pulled on the first dress. At this shop, wedding dresses came off the rack a standard size 10 and got altered to fit. I'm a standard size 4. I couldn't tell what any of the dresses would even look like on me because they gaped and hung and fell and slid and generally looked like huge poufy, satiny piles of nothing special.
I tried on exactly two dresses before leaving the shop.
Then I did what any reasonable woman about to get married would do in 1995: I took a 1988 copy of Bride Magazine from a friend's house and paged through it. I circled the bodice, neckline, sleeves and skirts that I liked. Then I called a dressmaker, gave her the torn out photos and chose a fabric. She measured me this way, that way, up, down, across and around and promised to call with an estimate. For two weeks I held my breath--I had a tight wedding budget and prayed I could afford the custom-made dress of my dreams.
She called me back with the numbers: $220 for the dress of my dreams. Way less than anything I'd find in a store, and made to order. For an extra $30 she made me a veil.
Aside from the string quartet that played during the ceremony (they sounded lovely--I might be terrible at choosing decorations, but my taste in classical music is unparalleled), the one thing I got the most complements on that day was my dress. Waltz-length, without a train, I danced all night without tripping on the hem or dragging it through spilled beer. The bodice fit me like a glove, the neckline flattered my shoulders and the detailing was simple and pretty. I looked good in that dress.
The giant bow on the back of my teased-up, sprayed down helmet of a hairdo? I didn't say I looked good from the neck up, reader.
Somehow I bet Ms. Middleton will look just fine from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet tomorrow.
Spill it, reader--what was your best dress? The Easter dress of your childhood? Prom? Wedding? Do tell!