There's a certain type of Offbeat Bride who is offbeat because she can look beyond the “typical bride stuff” into the tiny details most brides barely think twice about, like chair covers or napkin rings, and turn them into something innovative and suffused with meaning. She spins the traditional stuff into something entirely her own. Give her a glue gun and some sequins and suddenly there's not a square inch of that wedding that isn't stamped with the couple's deeply personal, self-actualized vision of their togetherness.
And then there's the Offbeat Bride whose beat rests on the other end of “off” — the kind for whom “typical bride stuff” is already too much to think about. In fact, it kind of turns her into a cranky old man. The world is turning too quickly for the likes of this bride, with its 250 shades of white and its 35 kinds of lace and its dye lots and seasonal greenery and hot glue guns and and and…
That bride is me. And in my head, that cranky old man is the late Andy Rooney, whose out-of-control eyebrows and ranty commentaries on modern life used to comprise the last five minutes of “60 Minutes” (and more importantly, at least at my house, signaled that there was just enough time to grab a snack before “The Amazing Race“).
Which isn't to say I have a problem with the other type of Offbeat Bride — to the contrary, I deeply envy their creativity and initiative in diving headfirst into something that absolutely petrifies me. It's probably why I managed to stay in a relationship for seven years without the subject of marriage coming up in any but the most abstract sense.
The week after my engagement became official, I hit up a local bookstore with my intended Maid of Awesome to do some very early preliminary research. Maid of Awesome recommended a few periodicals that had been helpful during her own wedding planning, and I was cautiously optimistic. After all, I had dim memories of my years working for a magazine publisher, when I'd casually flip through our flagship wedding publication to admire the frothy dresses and ornate centerpieces with the vague thought that yes, this is pretty, and someday, this will all matter to me on a more profound level. Surely now that I'm about to be involved in the actual planning of a wedding, I thought, that day has arrived.
Inner Andy Rooney just chuckled ruefully as I curled up with my newly purchased copies of “The Knot” and “Martha Stewart Weddings.” My journey into the heart of wedding-porn darkness yielded pages upon pages of text and pictures written in a seemingly foreign language. All of the “real weddings” featured clearly cost many times more than I felt comfortable pondering as my own bottom line. None of the models in the pictures looked the least bit happy or comfortable. Pages and pages of text were devoted to invitation typefaces, color schemes, thematic centerpieces, and registry items. (My view: if you need several paragraphs of text to explain to you what a particular gadget even is, chances are you don't need it, and you certainly don't need to be asking other people to buy it for you.) Also, memorably, there was some positively baffling mock-astonishment at the inclusion of tree peonies in an autumnal bouquet. I mean, PEONIES! Can you imagine?
Which isn't to cast aspersions on anybody who DOES understand what was shocking about the tree peonies, of course. It's just that I don't see myself ever understanding it or caring. (I guess I want flowers? And I guess they'll be… colors?) To be honest, nothing has ever, EVER brought out my inner cranky old man like wedding planning is already doing. And believe me, my inner cranky old man was not exactly the shy, retiring type up to this point. All I see at the moment is not a big party celebrating our love for one another, but a big project that I will eventually be judged on. If it's not frilly enough, not unique enough, not interesting enough, not traditional enough, not personal enough, not excited enough, not festive enough, not somber enough… someone's going to have a problem with it. Probably everyone is. Forgive me if that doesn't make me excited to muster an opinion on three thousand things I've never had to care about before.
As I get a little deeper into the planning process, I hope my curmudgeonly ways will calm down a little bit. I know my gooey center can still be accessed when the right venue, dress, or song hits it just so. While I probably won't ever be totally fluent in bride-ese, I'm sure it will begin to make some semblance of sense to me, and I'm sure I'll find my way. I'll at least try to get my eyebrows under control before the big day arrives.