Bridal Beauty Wars

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I forget to shave my legs.

About once every month, either when I am sitting in the sun passively admiring the tiny golden hairs on my calves or when Pastry is rubbing my furred leg during a House Hunters marathon on the couch, it strikes me that it may be time to purge my lower legs of their peach fuzz. I am by no means a low maintenance lady as I tend to spend an obscene amount of money at the CVS beauty isle (to the point where the CVS employees know me by my epic coupon usage for frivolous moisturizing items – I live in the desert! Containing every water molecule possible is key!). However, with prepping for the wedding in three months, the pressure of bridal beauty shenanigans lays mightily on my mind. Which, honestly, continues to surprise me every time I catch myself fixating on my gel manicure timeline by which to have perfectly crafted nails for each important event in the next month or so.

It’s really hard to avoid how YOUR WEDDING IS THE MOST SPECIAL DAY OF YOUR LIFE AND YOU SHOULD LOOK THE MOST BEAUTIFUL YOU HAVE EVER BEEN THROUGH THESE 137 STEPS OF GLORY stories. I got my nails done last week after a rough day and at least 5 people have commented on how fancy I am now and my bridal exfoliating, buffing, waxing, plucking, beautification plan. (I am fancy, damnit.)

InStyle has a 21 item check list detailing skin brightening serum, facial timelines, brow
specialist (??!!??) appointments, deep conditioning treatments (I’m okay with this – See live in desert and desperate to keep self akin to swamp thing), hair trimming schedule for maximum hair growth, sparkle-inducing hair glazes, hair and makeup trials, weekly manicures (“think medium length with rounded square edges!”), clarifying mud masks for your back and butt, teeth whitening, spray tanning, keratin treatments for your hair, one more haircut just ’cause, a homemade mask made out of local honey and oatmeal, hand treatments for supple finger skin (ew), acne prevention in the for pesky pimples, more clarifying mud masks this time not for your butt, and increased water intake for “luminosity.”

On the fairly conservative side, this bridal beauty guide would cost over $2,000. I made a horribly colored Excel spreadsheet to illustrate this point. Estimates

Vogue also has a detailed wedding countdown broken into weeks. According to them, I should have been meeting with my dermatologist and brow specialist (???!!??) already as well as booking a time “for a complexion check-in” to work toward getting the rest skin results on my wedding day. I mean, I felt like I splurged last month when I bought some CVS knockoff brand serum for $20 AND I even used it on my chest!  Woo! Vogue also suggests I time my waxing needs carefully (see forget to shave legs) as well as prepping with a “depuffing” facial.

Which made me just think about getting a facial from a bunch of puffins…

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Hello, we are your beauty team today! First we will be starting with a nice sand eel and herring mask, already masticated, followed with a serum of fish scales.

I’ve also decided that “Supple Finger Skin” should be our team name the next time we go to play trivia or do some other team activity with absolutely no explanation given. In my dream world, there might be another lady wedding prepping at the same time though, and she might give me a knowing look then say, “Supple finger skin IS such a priority for your special day, right?”

And, now apparently I need to find a brow specialist for the two hairs of my eyebrows that grow within inopportune areas. Hard, hard pass, bridal beauty guies, hard, hard pass on it all.

 

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“Oh Yeah, the Wedding…”: A Nonchalant Wedding Existence

Well, the academic year began. And, I was henceforth completely overwhelmed.

Pastry and I are trucking along, commuting through the desert, going to NFL games, making insane amounts of plans for the one day off a week we tend to take, harassing each other to do our homework/design projects/mow the waving lawn, taking the dog-boys for bike rides, trying to coordinate visiting his grandma in Tampa, doing the endless piles of laundry that seem to come along with being an adult, etc. Exciting, no?

Meanwhile, my new love is spray painting random items in our house either red or a various metallic colors. My work version is that I laminate things  when I’m stressed. Beyond stockpiling cardboard for spray paint projects and making hardy, weatherproof signs, I’m taking three doctoral classes and teaching a course for undergraduates on top of my regular full time job, so any delusions of free time I might have this semester really were delusions. While shoving fries in my mouth while frantically driving between campuses for classes last week as I had forgotten to pack dinner, a tiny thought flitted by my mind, “Maybe I should be dieting for the wedding to better fulfill my OPTIMUM BRIDE POTENTIAL.” To which my brain said, “Meh. Eat those fries or otherwise you get really cranky in your class by the time 10:00pm rolls around.”

My ultimate downfall, especially when served Animal Style.

Besides, my friends and family know I have arms more in line with the Pillsbury dough boy than Michelle Obama, and it’s not like eventually wearing a white dress for one day six months down the line should be the only reason for a lifting schedule and sudden French-fry-less clean eating. I do have health and fitness goals, but they are just not wrapped up in feelings related in any way to wedding shenanigans, hence why the lone French-fry, bridal readiness thought was so odd.  My larger life issue is more prioritizing health goals for myself is quite hard right now, and when you are chronically mentally and physically tired from a busy life, French fries almost always seem like a good idea. (As they are delicious.)

Otherwise, wedding stuff is the least stressful part of my whole life. I just cannot muster any worry, obsession or preoccupation around anything wedding related. We’ve booked almost everything and figured out what we want. At some point, we need to spray paint (YES! Stress relief!) a bunch of dinosaurs and make a fun streamer arch. Given my normal job of constructing large LED birch trees for public art projects and Pastry’s epic handyman skills, we got this.

A wedding arch made of mini-kegs of Canadian beer. See? We’re not even that fringe!

We ordered some standard invitation samples, and promptly meh-ed at them. I designed a couple options and they were, well, honestly a bit too classy for our eclectic affair. Then we happened upon some glorious invites which will likely make a good portion of guests think we are more than slightly crazed. But, you know, I truly doubt we will look back on our wedding when we are yet older and wrinklier, and say, “I regret nothing but those insanely quirky and fun invitations featuring an awful pun and something we both love. That…that was the beginning of the end.” Then we will turn to each other and startle as we recognize each other again, and instead of perishing in each other’s arms as Nicholas Sparks would have us believe as a romantic end, we will likely make T-Rex noises (via Jurassic Park) at each other before going back to nap on the couch.

The call of true love.

The Bridal Expo Adventure: We Laughed, We Played Bridal Bingo, We Tasted Terrible Cake

Pastry, my mom, and I went to a massive Bridal Expo at the downtown convention center. And, it was gloriously fun for all the wrong reasons.

The first adventure in the bridal convention was purchasing and printing tickets. A venue we have been considering had a link for two-for-one tickets for the reasonable price of $12. So, I decided that would be a great option as Pastry AND my amazingly snarky mom could also attend for the festive people watching and cake tasting. I bought a duo of tickets planning to purchase one at the door and went to print them out. 100 pieces of paper later, I had, well, 100 different bridal expo tickets laying on the floor of my office. They all had different bar codes, so I freaked out in case I had accidently charged my debit account $600 in Bridal Expo tickets. But, nope, only a $12 charge on my card for a mere 100 tickets! Deal of the century!

“Bwhahahahaha…,” said the paper-eating printer, “I shall print Bridal Expo tickets till the END OF TIME.”

On our way there, my mom was sitting in the backseat of my car, imparting wedding advice. The snark runs deep in our family.

My mom on us planning a fairly non-traditional wedding and what would make both families uncomfortable: “You know, I think you should draw the line at animal sacrifice. I mean, if you sacrifice a chicken at the ceremony, you will lose a few people.”

My mom on reception activities: “Have you two considered those giant hamster balls for people? That would be fun!”

My mom on her possible wedding attire: “Maybe a giant quinceanera dress! Those are so great…” (She really does love them.)

Upon arriving at the expo with our 937 printed tickets, the attendant checking people in handed us nametags, your choices being “guest,” “bride,” or “groom,” mixing ours up so I ended up with the groom tag. Previous to our arrival, Pastry and I put together basically a list of Bridal Bingo, things we were expecting to see at the show. Points were awarded for the following categories:

  • Wearing a veil with regular clothing
  • Wearing a tiara with regular clothing
  • Wearing a veil AND a tiara
  • Rhinestone shirt with reference to bride in any way
  • Reference to “her special day”
  • Reference to “fairytale” or “happily ever after”
  • Crying in public
  • Debates over color names, g. white, ecru, cream, champagne, etc.
  • Coordinated bridal party outfits
  • Coordinated bride and groom outfits

Bingo2

The Bridal Expo Bingo card for your enjoyment.

Perhaps my favorite siting of all of the above, was this classy groom along with his fiancé, perusing a floral booth. I stalked him down for this picture, slightly terrified he would figure out what I was doing and go all Sons of Anarchy on me.

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You can almost feel the romance waft off of him…

Otherwise, it was a very full convention center full of an exceedingly diverse group of people. The gender split was not as female-heavy as I thought it would be, and the grooms in attendance seemed happily amused participants. We did see one groom in a pure white three-piece suit with a bright blue tie and matching blue shoes. He definitely won most overdressed. There were giant parties of bridesmaids in customized matching shirts and a pair of exceptionally preppy couples wearing matching orange outfits. I fell in love with a crazy expensive bouquet of succulents, pheasant feathers, sunflowers, herbs, and other weird things. Pastry and I kept remarking that a bunch of the couples looked like they were 12.

We went to pretty much every photo booth option possible, and tasted enough cake to henceforth decide NO CAKE at our wedding as we are serious about wedding pie. A drunken DJ who smelled so strongly of rum I thought I would get drunk standing next to him, enthusiastically introduced us to all his vendor friends throughout the fair. Another high point was an outlet mall weirdly promoting themselves with half-naked men in suspenders with a bunch of semi-horrified ladies milling about them. So, Pastry stepped right up, introduced himself, and took an amazing picture with the stripper-esque men to the vast amusement of the entire crowd.

And, then we found my mom some brightly colored quinceanera dresses in the wedding dress section, and it made her day.

We had crossed most of our items off the list by the time we left (after searching for an exit for 20 minutes) except the “crying” item. Lo, on our way back to the car, we happened upon a girl walking down the street crying with her boyfriend. She didn’t have a veil on, but I maintained it counted.

Bingo!

The next morning my mom emailed me a link to a coupon for a discounted human-sized Hamster Ball Experience with the note, “Don’t say I didn’t help with creative wedding ideas.”

“WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY….ROLL, PASTRY, ROLL!”

The Ring Count

The Ring Count, not to be confused with the 1998 thriller Body Count featuring Ving Rhames, David Caruso, John Leguizamo, and Forest Whitaker. Selected quote from movie: “The toes you step on today may be attached to the ass you’ll be kissing tomorrow.”

Each day I keep count how many people ask about my engagement ring. Or, rather ask about its whereabouts as if it is possibly on sabbatical and traveling the continent for the summer. I rather like the idea of telling people that pleasant fiction.

“Oh, The Ring is on a whirlwind tour of eastern Europe until the 5th of August. It will be touring the nuclear bunkers of Prague, remnants of the Cold War era located five miles below ground, while also working on its dissertation on the use of graffiti to portray popular culture, obviously making a stop at the Lennon Wall. Additionally, The Ring mentioned that it was excited to pick up a bit of lead crystal on its journeys, as only the ‘Rolls Royce of Bohemian Glass’ could possibly compete with The Ring’s own luster.”

And, then I will just smile politely and stare them down until they turn away in confusion.

Except from The Ring’s travel journal: “Today I imagined, (ha ha, get it?) a time when I would return to the idea of ‘all you need is love.’ Alas, four tourists from Bolivia approached me as I was leaving the Lennon Wall, and upon finding out I was engaged, quickly asked about where my bride was.”

I get asked on average about two to three times a day about The Ring’s existence, whereabouts, plans, future endeavors. I feel like a groupie to The Ring at this point, filling in outsiders on its itinerary and future special engagements. “Oh, The Ring will be making an appearance soon, likely in August at a small venue. We will tweet out a password no less than 18 hours prior to its arrival so you can gain access to The Ring’s full unveiling. Very hush, hush for limited audiences, you know.”

Little does everyone know that The Ring in question does not even exist yet.

Pastry had a plan. He had a plan involving his grandmother’s gaudy but “I’m pretty sure Cucumber will love it actually” sapphire cocktail ring. One night when we had a bit too much wine by our outdoor fireplace (second best purchase after our memory foam mattress topper which we lovingly refer to as “The Blue Marshmallow of Awesome”), we got to talking about the whole marriage thing and he spilled the beans on the plan. Then, lo, the vintage ring was no place to be found. So, Pastry asked for some help in terms of what might work for me ring-wise.

And, dear god, that was way more difficult than I ever thought it might be. And, I was suddenly struck by how many feelings I had about the symbol of the ring, what the ring represented, of what material it should be made, how it should be made, and how I felt about wearing one symbolic item for the rest of my life.

“Two carrots, no less!” Know thy homonyms.

After I did some scouting, which I will talk about at some other point as it was a super interesting and bizarre process, we ended up going to a custom jeweler together to look at options. Ring shopping with Pastry was super fun, trying on tons of rings, making jokes about how some should come with an elaborate cape, pool boy, and a piano show in Vegas.

I want this one, and this one, and this one, and this one. Too much? Nope. Load on another! I want to feel FANCY!

We decided the diamond was not important, but the ring should be built to last decades, limiting the materials and center stone to a few options. We looked at center stones somewhat unenthusiastically until we found one that made us both go, “OOOOH, SO SPARKLY.” (It was so sparkly!) We chatted about it and the timeline, and moved on with our lives, content to lounge upon the Blue Marshmallow of Awesome until a later date.

Then Pastry surprised me.

I’m one of those annoying people who know the plot twist before it happens. I can be unbelievably absentminded sometimes, especially when given the opportunity to knock over fragile things, but it’s hard to surprise me. So, Pastry moved up the whole engagement timeline by about six months. And, thus, after an entirely sweet photo booth proposal because “I figured I should actually officially ask you if you wanted to get married,” this whole wedding thing began in earnest. And, The Ring became more of an active project than a sparkly idea.

So, The Ring, like the Holiday Inn Express in your hometown or yet another poorly constructed Adam Sandler movie, is coming soon. Date still to be determined. Besides my snark about the constant questions about the ring, I sincerely do not mind explaining to people about The Ring’s design, process, and future debut. Like many things for which it is worth waiting, The Ring is worth it because The Pastry is worth it.

However, I make no promises that I will refrain from making up elaborate tales about The Ring’s summer plans.  After all, The Ring may have to unexpectedly visit the whimsical Dr. Seuss House in Willow, Alaska or go to the Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw Festival. The Ring has plans until it arrives. But, when it arrives, it will stay.

Traditions: A Passive-Aggressive Community Noise Parade

What goes together like two birds of a feather? LOUD NOISES AND WEDDINGS.

Here comes the very roundabout way to whence we came to tie cans to the back of the wedding car…

cha·ri·va·ri, shivaree or chivaree [French, from Old French, perhaps from Late Latin carībaria, headache, from Greek karēbariā : karē, head; shivaree, American alteration of Mississippi Valley French]

  1. a discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, made with pans, kettles, etc., often played as a joke
  2. a confused noise; din
  3. an elaborate noisy celebration

Approximately 700 years ago or so, some French folk decided that a great evening activity after the wedding of their neighbors would include a cacophony of sound under the couples’ window, forcing them to reappear in their nuptial finery (pre or post tumble) and perhaps invite the revelers in for a drink of celebration. The French also seemed somewhat confused as to their purpose for this grand, noisy event as some accounts discuss how this impromptu literal pan percussion was used to either utilized to encourage couples to marry, dissuade couples to marry, distract from the sexy times, or celebrate said sexy times. Nonetheless, if you got married, you ended up with drunk Phillipe from down the road under your window, banging a kettle, likely yelling helpful tips about consummation, and possibly demanded a midnight snack of cheese (a snack I assume drunk French people have always enjoyed). The crowds in general did not take to being ignored by the couple in question, and some accounts go into detail on how the bride or groom was then abducted from their home in retribution. It’s like a Middle Age Taken with Liam Neesen, but with more wedding stuff and perhaps less killing.

It’s all fun and games until grandma gives someone a concussion with a spoon.

In ye olden Western European days, most people married others in proximity to their hometown by either arranging it or “stealing” the bride. When a groom from outside the town would marry a local girl, another practice of this grand parade was that the local men would bang things loudly under his window to wake him up and then demand a meal as a price for stealing away a local bride.

Here is my description to Pastry as I was trying to explain this practice:

Basically… “Yo, dude, Mary is super hot and you got her! Damn! Bring me pizza, bro, as I wanted Mary but I’ll settle for pepperoni tonight! Also, since you inconvenienced me by landing the local hottie so I have to maybe go look for someone else, I’m going to inconvenience you by waking you up at midnight for my munchie needs.”

So, the baroque equivalent of death metal under your window in the wee hours of the night either means your family wants you to hurry up the hitchin’ or to not hurry it up at all. Then the French made their way to the North American frontier…

Charivari in Europe was not such a pleasant experience and tended toward the punitive. The practice was essentially was hazing for almost/just married people. When it made its way to the western frontier, it eventually became more of a lighthearted teasing/hazing. Think more crooning under the window in It’s A Wonderful Life than fighting off drunk Phillipe with globs of cheese and a sharped fork.

Shivaree (ah, we Americans are so good at bastardizing words) was common practice until the early 20th century. Here’s a lovely drawing of a crowd outside of the White House, happily taunting President Grover Cleveland and his 27-years junior, daughter of his law partner, and FORMER WARD new wife Frances Folsom (youngest first lady at the age of 21). He called her Frank, and I assume there was a lot of “Oh god, Frank” that night for various reasons. (I also may know a lot about Grover Cleveland as I did a 4th grade book report on him. Ahem, like how he was both the 22nd and 24th president, the only president to serve two terms non-consecutively. Or, how the Baby Ruth candy way named after his daughter Ruth. Or, how he had a secret surgery in the middle of a bay to remove a tumor as he did not want anyone to know about it. Good stuff.)

“Oh, Frank!”

Though shivaree slowly lost its onetime prominent tradition in American culture, there is a bit of a remainder seen in how loud noises, banging of metallic objects, and generally taunting the pair marrying in a fun way. And, thus we began attaching tin cans to the getaway wedding car, providing a lazy American solution of cacophony by letting the car bang the cans.

An efficient noise parade.

I’m honestly a bit surprised this tradition has not made its way back in a cute, charming Wedding Industry Machine way yet. Enter breathy wedding planner who speaks in intense, hushed tones and ends every sentence with a question:

So, Bella/Sophie/Suzie/LadyName (’cause let’s be honest, most of this kind of chat goes on with the lady in modern American wedding planning), imagine what a precious experience it would be to have an accordion band of your nearest and dearest wearing matching pearlescent gowns and ties arrive outside your quaint honeymoon suite at the stroke of midnight, holding reclaimed wooden signs with hand drawn calligraphy on your favorite song lyrics, to then play romantic songs dearest to you and your beloved? We could incorporate making artisan percussion instruments into your reception, so each guest would have a handmade spoon mallet and recycled percussion instrument! Obviously, we would also tie it back to your theme of rustic rodeo clown in Paris…”

If someone shows up with a pan and a kettle under my window after my wedding, all they are going to get is beat down and perhaps a kettle to the head. I’ve seen Taken. Liam Neeson taught me well.