In Her Words
Altered Visions in White
Perks for older brides
By: Jennifer Lubell
In my fantasy of picking out the perfect wedding dress, I was always a blushing bride in my mid-20s, bustling around Kleinfeld in downtown Manhattan.
I pictured my mother, sitting on a plush-looking couch in the fitting room. We’d languish – and anguish – over dresses for hours, my face turning hot and my hair sticking to taffeta and hooks as I tried on one dress after another, with no luck.
Then a saleswoman would show up with a beautiful strapless sheath on her arm, and I’d slip it over my head and turn into a princess. My mother would stand up, knocking her purse over, and we’d exchange a knowing glance that THIS was the dress we were looking for. The shop would take my measurements, order a fresh new dress that would show up in six weeks and, poof, I’d have my wedding gown. Plenty of time, since I figured I’d have a long, luxurious year to plan my wedding, savoring every last detail.
Things didn’t exactly turn out that way.
When I got engaged, I was 39, not 25. Upon the insistence of my parents, my fiancé and my biological clock, I had only three months to prepare a wedding. I ended up finding my “dream dress” at a store off a highway in suburban Maryland, located near a kinky-lingerie shop and a run-down Chinese grocery. And I was alone.
My mother was 250 miles away, in New Jersey, frantically helping out my younger brother and my sister-in-law, who had given birth to triplets a month before my engagement announcement.
As my wedding date drew near, I worried that it had become an anticlimactic affair that people had become too old and too tired to care about, let alone show up to.
Despite the too-small dance floor, a cake that ended up having white icing instead of the chocolate I had requested, and a brief and unpleasant appearance from my husband’s ex, the wedding ended up being more fun than I’d thought it would be.
I discovered that being an older bride had its perks.
In my 20s, I was still wearing coatdresses and dying my hair really weird colors. Who knows what I would have chosen in a wedding gown. I’d like to think that the dress I chose at 39 reflected the wisdom and taste of someone who’s had a few years to figure out who she is.
I remember complaining to one 40-something friend who got married later in life about my parents’ disinterest in the wedding, and she looked at me like I was crazy.
“Consider yourself lucky,” she said.
I had to remind myself that most brides don’t have a perfect day, whether they’re 25 or 55. Something usually goes wrong, whether it’s a drunk in-law, a jealous bridesmaid or the meat being too tough. In our case, it was getting a crazy ex-wife off the premises.
I had often thought that my wedding day would be the greatest day of my life. When the greatest day finally arrived, however, I wasn’t in a beautiful gown with flowers in my hair and a perfect manicure.
I was in a hospital room with damp hair, gazing into the eyes of my beautiful, perfect son.
And there wasn’t anything anticlimactic about that.