As You Like It: The DressBy Joan Florek Schottenfeld
Looking back on my youngest daughter’s wedding, I realize that much drama centered on her dress. Buying the dress turned out to be relatively simple. When Mariel was still in grad school in Arizona she and a good friend went shopping and came home the same day with a dress. No muss, no fuss — that’s my girl! But that turned out to be the easiest thing involving the dress.
Knowing that she would be moving soon, Mariel practically decided to ship the dress to Canton, where it would hang in pristine splendor until the wedding. She bought a huge, heavy duty plastic container and wrapped the dress up as if it were a Faberge egg. When I picked it up at FedEx and saw how much she had spent to ship it, I gasped. But it had gotten here safe, sound and in one piece. I hung it up in the closet to wait until Mariel and Dan set a date.
Last June Mariel came home for a visit, so we took the dress to the tailor to get it altered. As wedding dresses go it was fairly simple and only needed shortening. As the tailor spent half the day lacing her up into the gown, I kept seeing Mammy binding Scarlett into her dress until she passed out at the bed post. She then told us that it needed a bit of altering in the back in addition to the hem. Fine, we said, do it. But when the tailor heard that the wedding wasn’t for another year she balked. She said that Mariel needed to come back a month before the wedding for a fitting then again two weeks before, then … We told her that would be impossible since Mariel lived in Houston and would be back only one week before the event.
Mariel decided that it would be easier to take the dress back to Houston and get it altered there. I pictured her spending another load of money to ship it back. But no, Mariel assured me that she would fit it in her suitcase. I couldn’t picture how, until I saw her unceremoniously shoving it into her bag. I guess the dress had lost its special glow.
A few weeks ago the happy couple arrived, lugging suitcases and the dress. I guess it had been upgraded to carry-on since its alterations. The next day Steve brought it to the cleaners to have it steamed and prepped. Later I received a call from the cleaners explaining that when Steve had brought in the dress he should have been told the price and signed a note accepting the terms of the steaming. I was a bit confused. Terms of the steaming? I was beginning to realize that when it comes to anything bridal there are terms, ridiculous expenses, and insane procedures. The woman assured me that since the dress was a simple one the steaming would cost us a mere $80. I was ready to steam it in the bathroom, but Mariel vetoed that idea. I told the lady to steam away.
I picked up the precious parcel on the Thursday before the wedding and was helped out to my car, where the woman placed it carefully and lovingly on my back seat and told me under no circumstances to fold it or let it touch the floor. Only after I crossed my heart did she let me drive off. Steve helped me carry it in and hang it up and I told everyone not to go near it, not to even breathe on it.
The next evening the kids were hosting a picnic in Look Park where the wedding would take place the next day. It was raining a bit and we all had our fingers crossed that the sun would appear in time for the ceremony. Steve and I arrived at the picnic to learn that Dan’s rental car had a flat and that it would take a couple of hours to get a new car. More importantly, their car was crammed with wedding stuff that needed to be moved. We told them to shove it all into our car. Then suddenly I remembered — the dress! Where was the dress? “Not to worry mom,” Mariel showed me. “It’s right there in the back.” And so it was, on top of some boxes, folded in half, looking more like a shmatte than a wedding dress. I almost passed out. Just then, one of the groomsmen leaned over and said to me, “Would it help if I spilled some beer on it?” I did what any red blooded wedding mama would do — I belted him.
After everyone stopped laughing hysterically, I carefully moved it to our car. I took it up to Lisa and Mariel’s room where Lisa, seeing my face, said, “Don’t worry, mom. We’ll steam it in the bathroom.” Eighty dollars of professional steaming floated before my eyes and I just laughed.
The next day Mariel, Lisa and I raced over to the wedding venue where we were met by the bridesmaids. The gaggle of girls managed to lace Mariel into her gown and off we ran to get her married. I took my place in the sanctuary, managed a deep breath, and turned to see my baby walking on her dad’s arm. My beautiful daughter, in her perfectly steamed dress, ready to begin her married life.
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