My older sister is soon to be married and so far, much to my bitter disappointment, nothing about this whole “throwing a party to celebrate commitment and the joining of Netflix accounts” thing has played out like the B-plot of a rom-com. Like I was led to believe it would.
If classic films have taught me anything, it’s that when you’re a single woman tasked with being a bridesmaid in an family wedding, hilarity and self-realization should ensue.
When I pictured the way this whole caper would pan out, I assumed I would be the cause of some monstrous pre-wedding disaster, which I would then attempt to fix in a nail-biting race against time just moments before the wedding was scheduled to take place (all in the pouring rain, naturally).
And then, after a heartfelt ceremony, I would end up falling in love with James Masters at the reception while coming to some brilliant realization about my life, just in time for the credits to roll.
That’s just the way these things always go. Hey, I don’t make the rules…
However, except for one quite hairy life and death moment where I had to sort out a venue change for an impending pre-wedding High Tea, this whole situation has been pretty light on the drama.
At least, that was the case until last weekend, when I decamped from Sydney to Brisbane in order to selflessly help my big sis navigate an intense weekend of wedding dress shopping.
Now, as someone who has absolutely no interest in weddings/brides/fluffy white love celebrations of any kind, I really didn't know what to expect when it came to stepping onto wedding terrain.
But, my sister Kate has been storing my DVD collection for me ever since I moved, so I figured helping her find a dress was the least I could do. Besides, how hard could it be?
Well, extremely hard, as it turns out.
So for anyone else out there who has never undertaken a wedding dress adventure, pull up a chair and perk up your ears.
Here are a few things I must warn you about.
1.If you haven't ordered your wedding dress before your first day of kindergarten, then it's too late for you, sucker.
The first little inkling that maybe this whole day wasn't going to be smooth sailing was when my sister called me to say she'd pre-booked some bridal appointments.
You see, wedding dress shopping is a lot like visiting the Pope. You can't just walk in off the street and expect to be greeted happily and made to feel at home among the while robes, there's a whole lot of rigmarole involved.
"Everyone seemed a bit panicked when I told them the wedding date," my sister said, but I quickly brushed her concerns aside. Her wedding is in late April, it's currently early February, they put people on the moon in shorter time spans than that.
At the first "wedding studio" we visited, my sister broke the news to the saleslady right off the bat and to her credit she attempted to keep a smile on her face while her eyes crinkled up in terror.
Then her head spun around twice and fell off.
"Well, I'm sure that will be okay... as long as you make a decision today," she said. "We have ladies here who are in fittings for their weddings in September."
"Oh, that's not that much further away," we said, trying to hide the fact we'd obviously been raised in some decrepit village where tending sheep was more important than the pre-ordering of fluffy white dresses.
"I mean September 2019, of course."
2. You are not allowed to take photos, so you must turn into a ninja of the highest order and launch a sneak attack.
After spending a full weekend on the wedding dress hunt, I quickly realized bridal stores and cults are cut from the same cloth. Both will bleed you dry of all your money and worldly goods, and both institutions will attempt to distance you from loved ones. All while banning evidence of their torment.
Most bridal stores, I discovered, have a 'no photos, no phones' rule that is punishable by death (or at least some severe scolding). Some places even make you sign an agreement (in blood) promising you'll abide by these iron-clad rules before you step into the store.
This means that if you do want to leave some sort of breadcrumb trail in place so you can find your way back to that one elusive dress that didn't make you look like the top-end of a mop, you have to get a little...creative.
We decided that in order to distract the salesperson and take forbidden pics, we would need a viable distraction. I suggested starting a fire, but a fellow bridesmaid who had just joined us thought it was better if she just kept her chatting in the dressing room.
LISTEN: Is it time to take the "'til death do us part" bit out of wedding vows? The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss.
3. Your life and body are suddenly public property, so hopefully you wore the good underwear.
The whole "keep your hands to yourself and don't stick your arms into stranger's bras" rule that we all live our lives by goes out the window when you are a bride-to-be in a bridal store.
During your fitting, you are carried into a changing room, stripped of your clothes and trussed up in laces and strings and wires before being shoved into some kind of lacy concoction like a freshly slaughtered turkey being prepared for the oven.
4. You will be mentally and psychically broken by the end of the day, then someone will hand you champagne.
Once upon a time, you may have had hopes, dreams and accomplishments that made you burst with pride. You had family and friends whose well-being mattered more to you than anything else on this earth.
But now that you are engaged, it's time to forget all those people because you are wedding dress shopping and they will just SLOW YOU DOWN. Every moment of your life has been leading up to this moment, and now it's time to make a life and death decision about whether or not you want to add a lace belt.
Or, at least, that's how they make you feel when you're in the thick of it.
But later on, you'll snap out of that tulle-induced rage haze and over a few glasses of complimentary champagne realize that it's the marriage, and not the dress, that really counts.
And if you're me, you'll realize you can totally milk your sister's upcoming happiness for content to further your own career.
This whole wedding thing is not so bad after all.
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