Thursday, November 21, 2013


In the beginning, wedding planning was a snap. JT and I were very much on the same page when it came to crossing things off our to-do list. We banged out the big stuff fairly easily. We'd ask ourselves what we really wanted, consider if it was worth the trouble of exploring other options once we found it (answer: no), and moved on.

Conversations about the biggies typically went like this:

Me: “Ceremony?” Him: “Backyard wedding?” Me: “Agreed.”


Me: “Reception?” Him: “Not too big.” Me: "Agreed."

Me: “There's a nice banquet hall by our house.” Him (two seconds after we went to look at said hall): “Agreed!”

Everyone We Told About These Decisions: “Don't you want to look, like, everywhere else and drag this decision out for months and months, slowly driving yourselves insane?

Us: “No!”


And so on and so forth. It just worked. That went on for awhile, but I should have known it couldn't last. It soon became apparent that while deciding where 100-plus of our friends and family members would eat dinner one night is bizarrely easy, determining which hair piece I should wear the day of the ceremony is UNGODLY HARD.

Dammit if those details don't start dooming every thought in your brain, rendering you incapable of thinking about, talking about or dreaming about anything other than what color shoes your bridesmaids should wear: gold or nude? This shit matters, people. Or at least it does when you've already endured months of planning, the stress of which was building, growing somewhere tucked away in your subconscious, waiting to strike. You'll be going through your life, everything's hunky dory, then suddenly, the only thing you can conceivably care about is what color ink you're going to write the seating cards with.

Everybody hits this point during wedding planning. They make reality shows about women who can't manage to stay sane during the torture that is the last few weeks before the wedding. The word “bridezilla” is practically up for entry into Merriam-Webster. But I'm here to tell you that this can happen to anyone. Any bride can snap at any time about anything. And for me, that thing was shoes.

When I tried on my gorgeous, lacy, sparkly, perfect, ivory wedding dress, I was so pleased that it fit so well. As I spun and twirled, the tiny clear sequins shimmering, the delicate lace swishing, I looked down and realized it hit the floor perfectly. Just the ever-so-slightest bit of a flair in the back, but upfront, the length was absolutely ideal.

“Look how perfect it is!” I said to Mum, swirling some more and smiling ear-to-ear.

“It is,” she said. “But you're probably going to have to wear flats.”

I stopped, mid-twirl. Flats? Blech. That word was barely in my vocabulary. Yes, I'm 5-foot-nine, but that has never stopped me from rocking whatever footwear I see fit, and typically, that means sky-scraping stiletto heels, towering wedges, or pointy four-inch pumps. Sure, it basically leaves me as tall as a normal person on stilts, but I simply don't care.

The idea of flats, especially on my wedding day when I wanted to look my absolute best, was less than appealing. But she was right. The dress hit the floor so perfectly, there was no way around it. Anything more than a kitten heel would hike the gown up off the floor, like I was anticipating a flood hitting mid-ceremony. Ugh. Not good. Flats it was. And ivory ones at that.

And so the search began. Any time Mum and I were out and about, together or not, we'd stop in the closest shoe store and do a quick pass. For months, this produced absolutely nothing. Each pair was either 1. white, 2. silver, 3. too tall, 4. adorned with some massive bejeweled cluster at the toe that guaranteed to tear at the delicate lace of my dress. Initially, this was no big deal. We had months to find the right shoe. It actually became a little funny. Mum would call and say, “I found your shoe!”

“Great! What's wrong with it?” I'd ask.

“Oh, it only comes in lime green. But other than that, we're all set!”

We'd laugh, not caring because it really wasn't a big deal. We'd find it eventually. Everything else had come together so easily. It was ridiculous to panic.

And then, the three-months-til-the-wedding mark it. And suddenly, panic was all we were capable of.

“WE HAVE TO FIND SHOES!!!” Mum said for the eight-gillionth time that week.

“I know, I know,” I said between short gaspy breaths. “We'll make it happen. Sunday. We'll shop. We'll go to the mall on the other side of town, that swanky one with the Nordstrom's and all the designer stores? If we can't find shoes there, something is seriously wrong.”

Something was seriously wrong.

Row after row, and nothing even came close. Everything was too high or or too off-color. Every stinking pair. I couldn't believe it. And in a dazed shock, Mum and I walked out into the parking lot.

“I can't believe it,” I muttered. Mum just silently shook her head, too stunned to speak.

“How can this be?” I pleaded with her. “You cannot tell me that I'm the first bride in the history of matrimony to need flat ivory shoes! What is going on?! I'm gonna have to buy another dress!”

Mum snapped into action. She grabbed my wrists, and looked me dead in the eye. “Do not give up!” she shouted, causing passersby to gander over in our direction. “I need you to stay strong! If you give in, I'm gonna....sniffle....I'm gonna....”

Seeing the sheer desperation in her eyes, I knew I had to buck up. I threw my shoulders back, flipped my hair and look ahead. 

“OK," I said. "We can salvage this day. Let's hit up Charming Charlie's at the Galleria. At the very least, I can get my girls their jewelry.”

She gawked at me. Yes, I was technically giving up. But I couldn't look at another shoe. Sparkly jewelry would fix this.

Twenty minutes later, we were in the Galleria, on our way to Charming Charlie's, when a shoe store caught my eye. Some invisible force caught hold of me and dragged me over to the window display, like a meth head shuffling up to his dealer. I knew this was a bad idea, but I couldn't resist. But then, there on a shelf in the middle of the store, sat my wedding shoes.

“HAAAAAAAAA!” I gasped and ran into the store, Mum following and clutching her heart.

“You just scared the life out of me!!” she screamed, but as soon as she saw the beacon of hope I held in my hands, her fear turned to utter and complete joy.

“That's them!!!!” she shrieked, as I cuddled the gorgeous, flat, peep-toed, ivory flats in my hands. They were perfection. Everything I wanted and more. Hope surged in my heart as I flagged down the closest store associate I could find.

“Excuse me!” I waved excitedly. “Excuse me, but may I please try these in a size 9?” Mum and I swapped a secret smile of glee before the associate answered.

“Those shoes?” asked the tall, emaciated, forty-something woman, dressed in skinny jeans and a white blouse, a silk kerchief knotted ever-so-daintily around her neck.

“Yes!” I beamed. “These shoes! Size 9, please!”

The associate gave me a bored eye roll. “Flip them over,” she said flatly.

Flip them over? The hell? Um, is this some kind of fancy pants shoe-buying process I was unaware of?

She made a motion to indicate I should flip them over so I did.

“What size do they say?” she raised an eyebrow.

“Um, 7,” I answered. Was this a test? Was she deciding if I was even worth owning such a wondrous pair of shoes?

“Riiiiiiight,” she sneered, enjoying this. “And you found them on the clearance rack. So that means that's the only size.” She flipped her hair, turned and did her best Naomi Campbell stomp as she stalked off.

My mouth hit the floor, and I jogged to catch up her.

“Miss?! Miss!!” I gasped when I finally reached her. She arched her eyebrow so high it about hit her hairline.

“Please, I was wondering if you could maybe order them? You see, I really need this shoe...”

“No,” she spat out, then said the worst thing she could have possibly said at that moment. “Discontinued.”

A prickly heat washed over my heart, and my pulse hit Mario Andretti speeds. There was no air, only rage. My head spun, and when I opened my mouth, the voice that came out was not my own.

Oh, hi there, Bridezilla.

“Listen to me!” I boomed at the bewildered woman. “I. Need. THESE. SHOES!” The voice shrieked so shrill, I feared the store's glass windows would shatter. “I'm getting married in less than three months, do you understand?” I peered at her horrified face. I didn't care. She was going to do what I said, like it or not. “NOW! Get on that computer,” I pointed sharply at the store cash register, “And find out how I can get those shoes. I don't care if you have to special order them. I don't care what it costs. I don't care if you have to ASSEMBLE THEM YOURSELF. JUST DO IT. RIGHT NOW!!!!!”

The woman's face went pale. She said nothing as she slinked away to the register. I felt Mum behind me and swung around.

“That was....something,” she said, grinning sheepishly. But I couldn't laugh. I could only feel frustration and anger and complete panic. When the associate returned, she wisely kept a good five feet between me and her.

“I'm so sorry, but it is impossible to order them. They truly are discontinued,” she flinched.

I sighed and hung my head. “Fine,” I uttered.

I barely made it to the door before I felt tears sting at my eyes. Mum was at my side and she guided me to Charming Charlie's. I barely glanced at the endless merchandise. I was so done for the day – a day that I had essentially wasted when that was the very last thing I could afford to do right now. I just wanted to go home, down a box of wine, and forget anything ever happened.

But then, somehow, a tiny voice in my head began to squeak in the background behind Bridezilla's seemingly endless rant. She was still bitching about the shoe situation. But a voice, which sounded much more like my own, was pushing through all that racket.

“You get to choose how you act, you know?” it asked timidly. “You don't have to give in to this ridiculous fake stress. I mean, it's shoes. You yelled at someone and ruined a perfectly nice day out with you mom over shoes. You get that, right?”

In that instant, I realized that no amount of wedding stress was an excuse for me to treat other people that way. This ended now. In my mind, I tracked down Bridezilla. She was still raging, urging me to go back and get that snotty shoe store associate in a headlock. I concentrated hard, and with a poof, she vanished. Easy as that. The second you decide to stop letting those things matter so much, guess what? They don't matter that much.

In a couple of days, the shoes I had found online the evening of that fateful shopping excursion arrived. They fit fine, looked fine and would serve me well.

I crossed shoes off of my list and moved on to the next thing.

As I read the next item, Bridezilla seemed to whisper the word into my ear: “Hair piece,” she sneered, bursting with self-satisfaction.


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