Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reflections on Being a Bride... Again.

I think I've told everyone in the entire world about this, but just in case you didn't know, I'm engaged, which makes me a bride. That word illicit so many images and ideas. Everything from the obnoxious Bridezillas of Utube videos and tv reality shows, to the simplicity of white dresses and veils, to the lavish affairs of Hollywood's stars and royalty. But what does it truly mean to be ... a bride? And more importantly, what does it mean to me?

In the interest of full discloser, I have to admit that this isn't my first time. Six years ago this month, at 23 years old, I had a wedding. I wore a wedding dress and a veil, I walked down the isle and exchanged vows. But though that entire experience, I never felt like a bride. Now, 6 short years later, at 27 years old, from the moment my love got down on one knee and slipped the ring on my finger, I have felt like a bride! What has made the difference and what can I learn about myself from looking back and looking forward?

So many things are different in my life now that it's hard to know where to start. Although 22 isn't young in many circles it was very young for me. Although at the time getting married seemed so "right", now it's so obvious to see the skewed motivations.

I was disparately trying to define myself. I was going through a difficult separation process from a very over baring and controlling father, and the moment I stepped out of the role of "daughter", without any sense of self, I found myself craving the defined role that had always been placed on me. The role of "wife" seemed the logical next step and a lot less scary than floundering around as just "bonnie". On top of that my ex and I were the first in either of our families to openly live together. As the son of a preacher and the daughter of a very religious mother, to say the least it didn't go over very well and contributed to a feeling of needing to get married rather than wanting to get married. I hate to say I got married for money but I was in college, supporting myself completely. Going to school full time and working up to full time at minimum wage jobs, just seemed overwhelming. Two incomes and only one rent seemed to be my only option.

Under these circumstances I was proposed to and accepted. Technically at that moment I became a bride, and even though I had craved the feeling of being one, looking back now, I see I never really walked in the role.

I spent the next 9 months of my life doing everything I could to make sure everyone else was ok. My primary planning partner was my to-be-mother-in-law, who was hosting the whole event at her house due to a huge lack of funds on our parts. We didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things and I felt that since it was her house, she should get the final say. She's also notorious for asking questions in a way that implies the "correct" answer (ie "you don't want to use purple table clothes do you?" when I had just sent her a picture of a purple table cloth I wanted to use.) I ended up with a lovely little ceremony and reception, but it hardly resembled the affair I had wanted. Especially in the fact that I spent the few days before and the day of in knots with people asking me questions like how did I want the lemons cut? (That particular question was asked of me approximately an hour before the wedding was supposed to begin and I had yet to even get in the shower! I almost screamed, I couldn't give a flying fuck how they are cut! Just fucking CUT THEM!) I put most of the chairs out myself in the living room, I cut up bread and picked up the sweet tea the morning of the ceremony and was the last to get into the shower after all my bridesmaids (45 minutes before the ceremony started.) I felt like no one was there to help ME (except for my mom), and truthfully I resented it for many many years. At the end of the day I felt more like a hired hand or a part of the catering staff than I did the bride.

So, here we are again. And everything seems so different. Why is that? Well for one we have a budget that we've created together instead of a budget I decided was what I could put on MY credit card. I don't feel like I'm at the mercy of anyone, or that I'm relying strictly on being in any one person's good graces. I have a fiance who is excited and involved in the planning process and wants this to be everything I've ever dreamed of. But even beyond those external dimensions, I think the biggest factor is internal. This time I believe that I DESERVE to be a bride! I deserve to have one day where I get to be the center of attention. Last time I hesitated to ask anyone for help for fear of annoying them or asking too much. And deep down I didn't feel like I deserved the help anyway. I didn't have enough self esteem to validate my right to be the bride. Maybe that's because I didn't know who the "I" in all those sentences was. Now I've had the opportunity to spend a year on my own. I've developed a great sense of who "I" am and now I can go into this wedding (and marriage) knowing I won't make the same mistakes I did before. Because for me, being a bride is more than white dresses and flowers and veils, it's about having enough self validation to stand up in front of everyone and say, "yes! I DO deserve this! I deserve to be happy. I deserve to be in love. I deserve to have my friends and family come together to celebrate all this with me. I deserve to have people stand up and say nice things about me."

It's amazing how far one can come in just 6 short years.

Thanks for reading,


aka the BRIDE!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I Officially Ordered My Dress Yesterday

Well it's officially! I ordered my wedding dress yesterday! I'm so excited! It's like we're really getting married now! The funny thing is, it's not the dress I thought I'd decided on (which is the one that's been posted here). I kept feeling like I was having to talk myself into that dress. It was definitely my favorite of the ones I tried on at David's Bridal, but it just didn't set right. I wasn't convenced and I'm not like that. I'm usually someone who is like, "OK! Decision made! NEXT!" So, the fact that I hadn't gone to buy it and that I kept looking at other dresses made me think that maybe it wasn't the ONE!

So, I decided to go to a more traditional bridal store. I knew that what I had really been looking at where bridesmaid dresses in white (since i like things very simple and less expensive), but David's Bridal doesn't do any of their bridesmaid dresses in white. Not to mentioned I'd really hated the feeling of being pressured to buy something because I'd taken up the time of the sales woman and she was on commission. I expected even worse when I walked into Traditions Bridal in Newport News. But soon realized I was very wrong. The moment I walked into the almost empty store (opposed to the packed at the seems, sales person helping more than one bride experience at David's Bridal), I was instantly greeted by a very pleasant sales women who asked what she could help me with. I explained that I was having a difficult time finding a dress because I was very simple and really like more bridesmaid dresses in white, but hadn't had any luck finding that. She looked surprised and said that all her bridesmaids dresses came in white and for me to pick any one I liked. She showed me some simple wedding dresses as well but did not push when I said they were still too bling, bling for me.

So I picked out a few dresses, which she quickly took to a dressing room for me (without giving me the feeling that she was suffocating me). She also let me know that they could hem any of the dresses I picked out in the store to tea length so not to feel stuck to only the already tea length. So, I started trying things on. Amazingly most of the samples were in a 10 or 12 so they fit almost perfectly and gave me a great idea of what they would look like. Although with the way my mind works it was a little hard to look at a bright red dress and imagine it in white.

Anyway, I tried on a few and kept getting more and more excited because they were so much closer to what I was looking for. Another saleswoman came by to check on me (because they don't work on commission and aren't territorial of their customers). She asked how things were going. When I said wonderfully, she said, "but you're not coming out! The lighting is much better out here!". When I came out they all owww'd and gooo'd. And then I tried on this one dress and the moment I zipped it up I knew it was THE ONE!

When I walked out I started explaining why it was so perfect. The sales woman said they have a term for that. It's called PNP... Pretty Near Perfect! Hehe.

It had an empire waist with a sash detail that would be similar to the dress the girl's will be wearing. And i felt like a princess! A comfortable princess though! The dress comes floor length with a short sweep in the back. And it has straps already! The one thing I didn't want to do was spend the entire day tugging on a strapless dress! They can hem it for me to tea length when it comes in in October or I can leave it floor length. I'm still trying to decide. I like the idea of the tea length, but I'm afraid that despite Jay's insisting to the contrary in his head he has this image of me coming down the isle in a long white dress.

I think I'll try and get my mom up here when it comes in to help me decide. If I get it hemmed a little then I probably wouldn't mind it being floor length. I just don't want to be kicking it all day long! I want to be able to enjoy my day without thinking, "somebody get me the hell out of this uncomfortable dress!"

It's so me! I love it so much! And I can't wait to wear it to marry my soul mate!

Well.. I'd love opinions on the tea length vs. the floor length. Here's the dress! Except the sash will be in clover green.


And here's the bridesmaid dresses I've picked out.


The girl's will be wearing monogrammed cardigans in clover green which will match the sash on my dress. I'll probably have a brown cardigan as well in case it is chilly that day.

So... what does everyone think???????

Thanks for listening to my wedding ramblings. I love you all!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Before and After

Well, I got on the scale today and realized that while I've been doing no extreme exercise (other than walking back and forth 11 blocks to work) and eating a lot of crap that I've still lost another 5 lbs. It's amazing what being happy can do to a girl.

When I met my ex, I was 110-115 lbs. Last spring, just 6 years later, I weighed in at 175-180 lbs. When I moved out on my own I dropped my calorie intake and up my exercise and dropped about 10 lbs a month for 4 consecutive months. It was incredible. Now, I'm making a final push before Jay's ship comes in, in about 3 1/2 months, to try and drop the last little bit and tone up these muscles that haven't been worked in years. I'll keep you guys updated but here's a little before and after.

Before: This was taken Easter Sunday morning of 2006


After: This was taken the first week of December 2006


I have to say, I'm pretty damn proud if I do say so myself. WooHoo! But if Jay's coming home with six pack abs, I have to make sure I have my old dancer body back. We'll see how it goes.

bye y'all!


Monday, July 9, 2007

My Dad Isn't Coming To the Wedding

Yep. You read right. As of today, my dad has declined my invitation to attend my wedding.

Ok... a little back ground. I've done this before. And at my first wedding my dad wasn't invited at all. He had made it extremely clear that he did not approve of my choice, that he did not like my in-laws and he has a track record of being explosive and violent. I had nightmares of coming around the corner and finding him yelling at my new father-in-law! Also, my dad and I had gotten into a fight about 6 months before the wedding and he had said that he didn't want to talk with me until I apologized. It was the hardest decision I ever made. My wedding was also right about the time that he and my mom's divorce was almost final and he was getting ready to marry the woman he was screwing before my mom officially left. What did he say... He said he'd catch me on the next one.

Well, that comment hurt like hell, but you know, life goes on. My dad and I have "made up" which involved me beginning to contact him and act like nothing ever happened and him acting like the "bigger" person because he was forgiving me for whatever ills I had done to him without insisting on an apology. We sort of talked about the whole thing one time and he acted like he was so sorry that he had put me in that position and that he understood that I wasn't punishing him but protecting my family and new family.

So, when my marriage broke up (which was the second hardest decision I ever made partly because I knew my dad would say, I told you so), I reached out to my dad and one of the first things he said, was, "I told you I'd catch you on the next one." This time I sucked it up and laughed it off.

So a few weeks ago, I was in Charlotte near where my dad lives for Jay's leave and Jay and I had dinner with him. He asked when we were getting married and I told him soon. He said, "I told you I'd catch you on the next one. I just hope I'm going to have a freaking prominent roll in the wedding maybe the preacher." It wasn't the first time he'd talked about having a prominent role. He'd mentioned walking me down the isle before and always spoke of it as if it were his right as the father.

Well, Father's Day came around and we had a huge fight. It started when I stuck to my guns on a small issue and he didn't take it very well. When I began to cry he said he was sorry that something so small would make me cry. I told him it didn't have anything to do with what we were fighting over and told him that his comment about catching me on the next one hurt me so badly that I cried for days over it. Well, instead of saying he was sorry I was hurt or getting me a tissue or comforting me or anything. Instead he had a full on melt down. He screamed, I screamed. it was the first time I stood up for myself, through the overwhelming sobs that is. Well, eventually my dad said that we were done and that he recommended Jay and I go back to Charlotte (we were planning on staying the night). While we were packing up and leaving he said that he hoped my relationship with Jay tempered me.

Two nights later, the love of my life asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. It was the most wonderful and exciting night of my life and because of what had happened I didn't feel comfortable including my dad in my mass text announcement. So, because of what had happened he missed out, for the second time, on being one of the first to know about my engagement.

I figured I might as well take advantage of the drama. So, when I came home I waited a couple of weeks and sent an email telling him that as hard as it was to tell him this, I did not want him to walk me down the isle. I didn't go into why, I only said that this was something I needed to do for me. I tried to give him a half way mark. I told him he could be an usher, part of the photography team or simply be sat with the other parents. OR he could choose to not participate, but that would be HIS choice and not MINE.

It didn't take long to get a response, only about 50 minutes. Just long enough for him to type out an angry email via the hunt and peck typing method. It basically said that he was going to decline the invitation (plus a bunch of other hurtful things).

I don't know what to do with all this. It just hurts so bad, and Jay's not here to hold me. My brother stayed the night last night to help me with this first underway, so he was here to help me process everything this morning and I am so thankful for that. But now that he's gone and the house is empty I find myself crying off and on. I'm sitting here watching Army Wives which is one of my favorite shows and I keep crying over one of the women's husband's being deployed or a wounded husband's return to his wife. I was doing really well with this first underway, seeing it as a time to myself, a time to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. A time to catch up on phone calls to my friends. But now, I just want to stomp my feet and throw a 5 year old fit. It's just not fair. I need him and he needs to be here. I hope he never reads this, but I feel so abandoned right now. My dad refuses to be in my life and as much as he'd want to be here Jay's not able to be.

I've been trying to figure out why it hurts so bad and why it's so hard to just let my dad slip out of my life at his own request. I was at a wedding a few years ago and the father of the bride was the officiant. When he pronounced them Husband and Wife you could tell he was fighting back the tears. I couldn't get out of that church fast enough. First chance I got, I ran out to the parking lot, plopped down on a cement divider in my tea length black cocktail dress and my stiletto heals and called my mom. She could hardly understand me through the uncontrollable sobs. It hurt so bad that my dad wasn't at my first wedding. And I find myself grieving over my dad not walking me down the isle at this wedding, let alone not even attending this one. And although Randy Sluder most likely would have been at my first wedding if I'd asked him to be and he would certainly walk me down the isle this time, truthfully it doesn't help. And I finally figured out why. The bottom line is that I'm overwhelmingly sad to admit that I really do not have a dad. I have a man who contributed to half my genes, but that doesn't make him a father. And it will never make him a father. So tonight, for the first time, here in my bed... alone... I have to admit that although my biological father is living, although I know his phone number, address and email, I'm a girl planning a wedding without a vital part... a daddy to walk her down the isle and to dance with and to give her new husband a loving but firm talking to about always taking care of his daughter. If he couldn't take care of me, how could he ever expect anyone else to.

god... this just hurts so bad...

Update: After a few months my dad changed his mind and decided to participate on my terms. It made for a slightly more stressful day, but I'm glad he was included.