Proud to Be a Morgan!

 

Platinum and Beau think they’re hot stuff because they’re related to famous racehorses. Big deal! What’s their claim to fame? Running fast? They’re lucky I wasn’t there. I would have left them in the dust, crossing the finish line miles ahead of the whole pack.  

Sonny’s always yapping about his famous great-grandsire, Sonny Dee Bar. Oooh! A show horse! Whatever. My ancestors are famous for much more important feats than racing or winning blue ribbons—although we’ve done that too.

The entire Morgan breed was founded by one stallion named Figure. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1789, he quickly gained fame as an intelligent, versatile, and spirited horse who excelled at every task put before him. Today, there are over 150,000 registered Morgans who resemble their famous ancestor in appearance and ability.

We’ve earned our racing reputation as great “trotters”. Trotters pull a lightweight cart and driver around the track. We’ve also made our mark in both the Western and English show worlds; competing in Pleasure, Hunter, Jumper, Eventing, Dressage, Reining, Cutting, Endurance and Competitive Trail classes.

Even better, Morgans have earned a place of honor in our country’s history by serving as cavalry horses. In the Civil War, the First Vermont Cavalry, an impressive fighting unit, was mounted entirely on Morgans.

Rienzi/Winchester – General Sheridan’s mount

One of my famous Civil War-era ancestors was named Rienzi. He was tall for a Morgan—17 hands—high-spirited and black as the night. He carried the Union general, Philip Sheridan, through many battles. Rienzi was braver than many soldiers; never failing his master even though he was wounded four times. His name was changed to Winchester after carrying General Sheridan to victory in the battle of Cedar Creek, near the town of Winchester, VA.

After the war, Rienzi was put out to pasture for a well-deserved retirement,until his death in 1878. He was so revered, he was mounted and placed in a museum on Governor’s Island in New York. Today, he can be viewed at the Smithsonian Museum.

Little Sorrel – Stonewall Jackson’s partner

Rienzi wasn’t the only famous Morgan to serve in the Civil War. In the spring of 1861, Col. Jackson—who later became a general known as Stonewall Jackson—captured several horses from the Union army near Harper’s Ferry, VA. He gave a small chestnut Morgan to his wife and kept a bigger horse for himself. Unfortunately, being big doesn’t automatically make you better, smarter, or braver. The big horse turned out to be a major wimp on the battlefield—although I don’t blame him. War must be horribly scary.

Desperate for a replacement, Jackson took back the horse he’d given to his wife. (I wonder if she was angry at him or if she understood that everyone has to make sacrifices during a war.) Little Sorrel bravely carried the General through many battles without ever showing signs of fear or fatigue. His aide often had to remind the general that the other horses needed a rest. Ha! See I told you Morgans are awesome! Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewall Jackson” when, mounted on Little Sorrel, he stood “like a stone wall” during a heavy Union onslaught at the battle of Bull Run. Can you imagine how quickly Sonny or Beau would have left a battlefield. That  would probably be the only time he’d be able to run faster than me!

Although General Jackson did not survive the war, Little Sorrel did. He became a celebrity appearing at hundreds of fairs and exhibitions. Many Southern women would snip little pieces of his hair as a souvenir. Eventually he was sent to live out his days at the Confederate Soldier’s Home. After he died, he was mounted and put on display at the Virginia Military Institute.

Commanche – Survivor of Custer’s Last Stand

Commanche was the only cavalry horse to survive the Battle of the Little Big Horn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. He was found badly wounded two days after the battle by troops searching for survivors of the battle. He was brought back to Fort Lincoln, headquarters of the 7th Cavalry and nursed back to health. He was given the honorary title of Second Commanding Officer in Chief of the Seventh Cavalry and retired from further service. No one was ever allowed to ride him again and it became every soldier’s duty to see that he was always well-cared for. When he died, he, too, was mounted and exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair. Today, he can be seen in the museum at Kansas University.

As impressive as our military records are, we’re also gentle. We’re used in 4-H Pony Clubs and therapeutic riding programs. Obviously we’re gentle and kind because I rarely took advantage of Mom when she was learning how to ride me. Trust me; if I wasn’t willing to be cooperative, she would never have stayed on my back for more than a second. In fact, she would never have even gotten the chance to mount up!

If my brothers weren’t impressed already by my stories of Morgan fame, I reminded them that I was Mom’s inspiration for Midnight Magic – Be Careful What You Wish For!  I felt pretty proud of myself as I watched Sonny, Beau, and Platinum hang their heads, although Cherokee didn’t seem all that impressed. I guess I convinced them that Morgans are by far the best horses on the planet. Then Cherokee spoke up. “Don’t let that little squirt make you feel bad. We can all be proud of who we are and where we come from. Trinity, I think you forgot to mention something else you’re good at.” 

 

I was surprised. I thought I’d just about covered it all. “Really? What’s that?” I asked.

“Showing off!”

Update from Bridal Central

Can you believe my hands and wrists are still operative and basically pain-free? Could this be a miracle bestowed on me by the forces of good as a reward for my selfless, motherly devotion? I suppose it’s possible; who else but a devoted mother would undertake such a project? (A compulsive over-achiever who’s suffered from severe bridal gown withdrawal—that’s who.)

So far, I’ve sewn over 1,000 crystals and rhinestones on the lace and spent weeks pleating, stitching, cutting and sewing huge sections of fabric together. I doubt I’d be willing to take on a project this extreme for anyone but my daughter—or possibly a beloved future daughter-in-law. But I must admit that even though this dress is testing my abilities, I’m having the time of my life.

 Not every bride will have the opportunity to help design her own gown, but I wish she could. My daughter wasn’t nearly as eager as me to get this project under way, but she’s definitely making up for lost time. Although she has no—as in zero, zip, nada—desire to pick up a needle and thread, she does enjoy coming up with design ideas and picking out laces, beads and trims.

 Frankly, we’re both surprised that so far our joint effort has been amazingly amicable. Thankfully we share a common fashion sense and somehow, I have managed to rein in my own desires in favor of hers—for the most part. Our first purchase was the lace for the front of her skirt. I had the perfect type in mind: a rare, centuries-old style called Lyon. We went to Sposabella Lace in NYC, a fabulous source for fine laces, trims, fabrics and headpieces. Eager to share my love of Lyon, and certain she’d love it as much as I did, I asked the salesman to pull out some samples. Sara took one look at it, thought it was horrible and described what she had in mind.

 Waaaaa! No Lyon lace?! Mentally smacking myself, I listened as she described her perfect lace, and then asked to see samples of that type. (It makes things a whole lot easier knowing what’s available and what to ask for.) Draping it across her skirt, she took one look in the mirror and said, “It’s perfect.”

 Well that was easy! I didn’t like it—at all—but said nothing and willingly paid for 5 yards of it. As soon as I started working with it and adding all those beads and crystals I realized that it was absolutely gorgeous. Thank goodness I’d kept an open mind and remembered that it was her dream dress, not mine—regardless of who was paying for it.

 Of course, I’m no saint. I was pushy about two of my fashion favs. (So far.) I begged her to give in to one request regarding her veil. Sweet daughter that she is, she agreed. (Details to be revealed after the big day.) I also came up with an idea for a section of the hem which I l-o-v-e-d. Knowing her as well as I do, I had a suspicion she might not share my passion. When she reviewed the sample section I’d pinned on the skirt, I could tell she wasn’t completely enthralled with it. I ignored her reticence and barged ahead, even though I did feel just the teensiest bit ashamed of myself. (Not ashamed enough to cancel my plans, however.) Thankfully, as the dress is evolving she agrees that, yes it does look fab and she likes it.( I still love it with a capital L-O-V-E.)

 Now that my book has been released, I’m gratified to realize that I’ve been able to follow most of my own advice. A caveat for everyone: Advice is incredibly easy to give and woefully difficult to receive. So where am I falling short in the “physician heal thyself” philosophy? Sticking to a budget.

We (my husband and I) hadn’t set a “carved in stone” figure for her dress and headpiece; rather I (he hadn’t a clue and was relying on me to be “sensible”) had a general figure in mind—ample enough to create a fabulous gown but not extravagant enough to warrant taking out a home equity loan. I’ve discovered that it’s a lot harder to be faithful to a figure when you’re selecting bits and pieces of a dress, rather than purchasing a finished product.

 Sara’s gown is an exceedingly elaborate creation–to put it mildly–and beaded trims and lace can range anywhere from a few dollars a yard to a few hundred dollars a yard. Gulp! So far I’ve been able to “just say NO” to the more extravagant ones. So where did I go wrong? I was way, way off in estimating how many yards of fabric I’d needfto create this dress. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I was using some of the cheezy fabrics you’ll find in many off-the-rack gowns. (Sorry, I’m a bit of a fabric snob.) But only a luscious silk satin would do for my only daughter’s wedding gown!

Would you believe she’ll be draped in 30 yards of silk when she walks down the aisle? And that’s not including the 8 yards of veiling and layers of lining, netting, and interlining. No clue how many yards of fabric are in a typical wedding gown? In my 30 years of dressmaking, I’ve NEVER used more than 12 yards on any dress! Oh well, she wants to look like a princess—and she will. She’ll also never be a runaway bride. Not only is she eager to marry the man she loves, she’d never be able to move fast enough to escape!

 

 

THE BICKERINGS’ FIRST FITTING

Yesterday was a momentous day because Sara had her first dress fitting, causing me to reflect on two of my former blogs: “Stress Not” and “Neither Rain, Nor Sleet”. I think I was correct when I said that although Sara and I would bicker, I couldn’t imagine us getting into a knock-down, drag-out. Of course I did yell, “GET OUT!” and gave her a “gentle” push out of the car when we got to the train station within minutes of missing our last chance of making our Kleinfeld’s appointment.

The Di Fabbio clan has a history of squabbling; like the time we embarked on a raft trip down the Housatonic. My husband manned the tiller and provided the rhythm section with his incessant command to:“Paddle! Paddle! Paddle!” . My three sons filled in the chorus by whining, “Stop splashing me! Move over! Get out of my way! You’re hitting my oar! Saaaaara!” I punctuated this floating sideshow with periodic warnings to: “Be quiet! Stop fighting! Stop picking on Sara!”

We brought this show along on our vacation to an underground river exploration in Cancun. It was an awesome experience—minus the bickering. We donned lifejackets and then floated our way through this subterranean marvel. Even though there was plenty of room to maneuver , it didn’t prevent us from crowding and annoying each other relentlessly. Every kvetch and criticism echoed loudly and relentlessly throughout the entire tunnel system.

Since this was getting to be predictable behaviour for every family outing, we named our selves, “The Bickerings”. My sons may have outgrown this behaviour but Sara and I have not. Even though Sara should be intimately aware of the fitting/dressmaking process, she is as impatient as me, which results in “Is this supposed to do….?” “Shouldn’t this be shorter?” “Will it be tighter?”

I give her the look that says, “Why are you asking me such a stupid question?” Since both of us speak “look” fluently, she then said, “Well, I didn’t know if you noticed or I just want to make sure it will be tight enough or . . . ” Thank goodness neither of us holds a grudge or takes our bickering seriously. Super good thing; because she asked, “Am I being really annoying?” and I replied, “Yes.” (She wasn’t being that annoying, but I was tired.)

Bickering aside, I enjoyed the fitting, but I’m feeling serious pressure. I know there’s no repeat when it comes to a wedding gown; it’s either perfect or it’s not. She’s not the one who’s obsessing; I am. I’m fearful that I’ll watch her walk down the aisle and think, “I should have . . . “ Of course regardless of how awesomely perfect it is, I’m sure I’ll still be beating myself up because I should have . . .

Part of my dilemma also refers to the “Neither Rain, Nor Sleet” blog where I have been self-righteous enough to preach about not allowing your heart to override your brain. Before Sara got engaged, I scoffed at anyone who spent thousands of dollars on a dress. Well, my heart has already thrown the first punch—and it was a near knock-out. Although it costs less to make a dress than to buy one, it’s not free. In fact, the cost of materials can far exceed what the majority of brides would spend on the finished dress—especially if you’re a fabric-junkie like me.

I’ve already spent a sizable amount. Guess what I’ve purchased? Some of the lace and a few pounds of crystals. Not the 15 yards of silk I’ll need, nor the 20+ yards of trim or the additional yards and yards of lace. (Uh, oh) I’m trying to slow down this runaway train, but I fear it has no brakes. On a positive note, I could win the lottery or become an heiress before the wedding. (Not likely since I don’t gamble and I don’t have any wealthy friends or relatives.)

If neither of those fantasies comes true, at least I don’t have to make all my purchases at one time. I can spread them out over the course of the dressmaking. The woman who purchases a ready-made gown has to make her decision right then and there and either take out a second mortgage or keep it real.

My brain—although groggy—is fighting back; coming up with ways to stay solvent while creating a masterpiece. I’m not sure who’s going to win; maybe it’ll be a tie. But I’m feeling a bit better knowing that if my heart wins the war, I can always hop on the train to NYC and load up on more goodies.

 

 

 

 

THE MIRACLE CURE

As I was babbling away to my husband about the latest wedding news, he said, “Boy you have been on an unbelievable high ever since Sara got engaged. What are you going to do after the wedding is over?”

As the penultimate multi-tasker, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of projects to keep me from being sucked into a morass of depression. I’m well-aware that Sara and I are in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m wringing out every single, solitary second of glee I can. Luckily, Sara is way more rational and grounded than I am. I know she’s enjoying being the bride-to-be, but she hasn’t put the rest of her life on hold. I’m glad; many women are so focused on their wedding, they can’t cope with reality once their Big Day is over.

I never miss an opportunity to tell any woman I meet—no matter how casually—that my daughter is engaged. I’m an expert at working this into any and every conversation so artfully that it flows as naturally as hot fudge on a scoop of ice cream. Much to my satisfaction, my audience is usually as thrilled as I am—even though they don’t know me and have never met my daughter. I even went so far as to tell the woman who was making a “courtesy” call to me from CVS about the impending wedding. By the end of our conversation, she was begging me to bring in pictures of the gown when it was finished.

Today, I stopped at Joann’s Fabrics to pick up some thread—about 5 large spools of white—and some beading needles. (Those puppies are going to get quite a work-out. They’re ultra-skinny to start with, but by the time I’m done shoving them through beads and silk, they’ll make a strand of hair look fat.) While I was there, I spotted something that would make a subtle, yet awesome touch to her gown. Spreading it out on the cutting table, I said to the fabric cutter, “Isn’t it pretty?”

She said, “Yes, it is. What are you making with it?” (Just the question I was fishing for.) Although I couldn’t see my face, I know I looked as excited as if I’d won the lottery. “I’m making my daughter’s wedding gown.” I beamed.

I didn’t get much of a response from her because I know she was thinking, “What kind of dress is she making with this tidbit of fabric?” (Yes it is a small piece of fabric, but isn’t it “all in the details”?) I then elaborated on the whole event, describing the dress, giving her a bit of background information, etc.

Guess what? It turns out that I made her wedding gown about 25 years ago, as well as her cousin’s dress 4 years prior to that. Wow, small world isn’t it? Thank goodness she loved her dress and enjoyed working with me. (Pretty scary that her memory of the whole event was still fresh in her mind.)

I must admit I’ve been getting just the teeniest bit nervous because I haven’t been feeling the expected rush of creative overload when I think of her dress. I guess it’s because I’m well-aware that this is the dress of a lifetime. I think my fashion-loving neurons are having a panic attack from the enormous pressure I’m putting on them.

Now that Sara and I made our first lace purchase, the atmosphere in my brain has mellowed a bit and all those little neurons are lining up in an orderly fashion, ready to go to work. Each one has a pad filled with ideas along with an enthusiasm to work together toward a common goal. There was plenty of back-clapping after hearing that Sara approved my latest purchase.

Sara had her first wedding anxiety dream . I have a history of horrendous dreams and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of my own nightmares. Thankfully my waking hours are remarkably stress-free. If they could bottle this high, the pharmaceutical companies and liquor stores would be out of business.

 

NEITHER RAIN, NOR SLEET . . .

Recently Sara and I went to NYC to officially launch our Quest for her Dress, which included an appointment at Kleinfelds followed by a search for lace and other goodies. Imagine my angst when our friendly weather man predicted a blizzard! Our first NY trip was cancelled when Sara was called into work. Although I dealt with that in a reasonably mature fashion, I knew I was going to pitch a major tantrum if our second trip was also postponed.

Of course it was snowing when I woke up and thanks to the record-breaking cold, it was not only sticking to the roads, it was also turning to ice. Since I was dying for the games to begin and I drive an Expedition, I decided we should forge ahead. At 8:30, Sara and I headed off to the Southeast train station to catch the 9:13 train. Thanks to the non-Expedition owners on the road, it took us 1 1/2 hours to get there. We missed the first train and barely caught the second one, but luckily made it to the Holy Land of Bridalwear in the nick of time.

The “Kleinfeld Experience”—as they call it—was wonderful. The salon is tastefully decorated with an amazingly tranquil atmosphere, in spite of the horde of gown-hungry brides packed in the waiting room. I was particularly impressed with their lighting designer. Everyone looked like they’d just had a spa treatment complete with hair and makeup. Even I didn’t grimace when I caught a glance of myself in the mirror. The staff was impeccably turned out, cordial and attentive, and the management team was vigilant without being obtrusive. No one was hiding behind their computers checking out FB or dozing at their desk. Kleinfelds hasn’t earned its reputation by accident; they’ve worked hard to become world-famous and continue to do so.

We saw all the stars of “Say Yes to the Dress” including Randi. I don’t know why I was so excited to meet him and shake his hand; although it’s probably because he has my dream job. He brought in a few dresses for Sara to try on and even put a veil and headpiece on her. How fun is that?

Despite their extensive inventory, we didn’t see one dress that tempted either Sara or me. There were plenty of stunning mermaids—which isn’t her style—and there were a few over-the-top numbers that were definitely fab, but outrageously priced. One of the mannequins was decked out in a beautiful tulle, lace and crystal dress that carried a $24,000 price tag! Can you imagine dropping that much on a dress you’ll wear once – or twice – or even a hundred times?

One of the dresses Sara tried on was a Randi pick. I recognized it right away because it’s been featured multiple times on “Say Yes to the Dress”. Those of you who are fans of the show, may know the one I’m talking about. It’s a strapless silk satin ball gown with a pleated bodice and a massive amount of rhinestone beading at the neckline and waist. (Of course “strapless” doesn’t help narrow down the style since that describes 99% of their inventory.)

It was beautifully constructed out of a top-quality silk satin, but the style didn’t require couture sewing skills; no crazy draping, tucking, poufing or swirling. The beading was stunning; packed with real Swarovski crystals; and these weren’t dainty little numbers. No, no. These oversized beauties frolicked across the bodice in all shapes and sizes: ovals, rounds, teardrop, marquis and square. Loved it!! The flaw? They were GLUED ON! Glue on a $10,000 dress? What! What! I never glued stones on any dress I ever made; not on an $800 wedding gown or even a bridesmaid dress.

We weren’t really expecting to find The Dress at Kleinfelds, but it was worth a shot. Of course I would have been crushed, but at least I wouldn’t be attending her wedding with my arm in a cast, aided by a Seeing Eye dog after sewing on thousands of beads!

We left Kleinfelds and headed off to the fabric district to find at least one of the laces we’ll use on her gown. As a lace connoisseur I had my heart set on a gorgeous French Lyon. Sara wasn’t sure what she wanted but as soon as she saw Lyon lace, she knew it wasn’t that. Even I can’t believe how readily I bid a silent adieu to my visions of that lovely stuff gracing my daughter. Luckily for both of us I’m still repeating my daily mantra: “It’s not my dress.” Won’t it be a miracle if I can keep this up until October?

It didn’t take long for her to spy something she did find appealing. (I refuse to name it or describe it, but eventually the finished gown will make its website debut.) We draped it on her as she posed in front of the mirror. She loved it; I liked it; we bought it. Wow, that was simple. (Did you notice the “I liked it”? Forgive me: it took a while for it to worm its way into my heart and fill the empty spot left by the banished Lyon. Now that I’ve been able to drape it over my mannequin and play with it, I love it too.)

We also saw some gorgeous beaded trims that were just as blingful as the stuff gracing the $10,000 dress. Guess what? Each glistening stone was sewn on by hand; not a drop of glue to be found. I’m not implying these goodies weren’t expensive—I put a serious hurtin’ on my credit card—but we could have stuffed our shopping bags with sparkling trims and not come anywhere near racking up a $10,000 bill.

The majority of women won’t have all the options that Sara does. However, they will have the opportunity to carefully inspect a gown before ordering it. Regardless of your budget, please make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. It’s not realistic to expect fine silks, hand-beading or couture designs if your budget is $500, but you’re still entitled to proper construction, quality synthetics and a good fit. Follow your heart, but make sure your brain is coming along for the ride.

 

 

 

THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL

Isn’t winter the pits? I guess you wouldn’t mind it if you were a polar bear or you could escape to a tropical paradise. None of us like it because we’re not polar bears, we don’t ski and Mom is way too poor to ship us off to some nice warm, place.

If we were wild horses we’d live outside 24-7. There’d be no electric lights to brighten our nights, but that wouldn’t bother us. We can see everything, even when the moon is hiding and the sky is as black as licorice. If humans could see as well as we can they wouldn’t have bothered to invent light bulbs. Although we’d have to search for shelter and huddle together for warmth, we wouldn’t stay in Sherman all winter. We’d head off to Florida where there’s plenty of sweet grass and warm sun. Since we are domesticated horses, we’re not free to escape the bad weather or search for the sweetest grasses that only grow in secret places. We’re at the mercy of our owners. Luckily, we live in the NEIGH-borhood where we’re always sheltered and fed. But that still leaves the problem of the ice and snow.

Trinity and Cherokee don’t wear shoes, but the rest of us do. This presents a problem when the ground is covered with ice. Can you imagine if your shoes were made out of metal? I bet you’d spend more time on your backside than on your feet! Thankfully horse owners have a solution to this problem.

In late November or early December, the blacksmith puts special shoes on us that have little spikes on the toes and heels. These sharp metal points dig into the ice when we walk, which prevents us from slip, sliding away—most of the time. The blacksmith also inserts a rubber pad with a bubble in the center between our hoof and the shoe. These pads are called “snowball pads”. When the snow gets packed into our hoof, it depresses the bubble until it suddenly pops up, pushing the snow out. Without this handy invention, we’d be walking on giant snowballs until the spring thaw.

I looked outside this morning and saw that everything was covered with a new helping of snow—including the paths leading to our paddocks. We can easily tromp through deep snow, but ice is dangerous in spite of our handy dandy winter shoes and snowball pads. Neither Mom nor I knew what evil lie waiting under that fresh coating of marshmallow fluff as she led me out of the barn. Mom is cautious of her footing and encourages us to be as well. She said, “Be careful Plats. It’s veeery slippery. Walk slowly and don’t do anything dumb. You don’t want to fall.” (She thinks rearing up when she’s leading me is dumb. I don’t. Sometimes a horse just has to be a horse.)

I took cautious mini-steps and didn’t even think of playing, “Hey, look at my belly button!” because she’s right; I don’t want to fall. I’m petrified of breaking a leg. The next time you see a horse, I want you to compare the size of his body to the delicacy of his legs. One wrong step and they could snap as easily as a dried twig.

We were inching our way to the back paddock when all of a sudden my legs started skittering, slipping and sliding. My left front leg went right; my right front leg went left, and both back legs collapsed. I crashed to the ground. Both of us were stunned. Mom’s face crinkled up with concern as she watched me struggle to my feet. Luckily my winter shoes did their job. I dug the spikes into the ice and hoisted myself upright.

After Mom got me safely into the paddock, she headed back to the barn. I guess the ice was still having fun with us because she took about three steps and then began wobbling back and forth like an over-sized Weeble before landing in a heap. Now it was my turn to crinkle my face. Her legs are twig-like too and I was afraid they would snap.

She spent the next three hours shoveling snow and spreading salt and dirty shavings all over the paths. After settling into the melting ice, this lumpy, smelly stuff provides skid-proof footing for all of us. She never gave up working until she was sure no one would fall again.

Florida might be nice and warm and I bet the sweet grasses that grow in those mysterious places are tasty, but there’s a lot to be said for living in a place like the NEIGH-borhood. Nothing beats having good friends and a mom who will take care of you no matter what.

                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE CHEERS FOR THE INTERNET!

Like the majority of brides, my daughter is using the Internet to its fullest potential to research her wedding options. Although the Internet didn’t even exist when I got married, I’ve already forgotten how we survived without it.

I’m not going crazy looking at centerpieces, invitations or any of that stuff, but I am tracking down every photo or illustration of a vintage gown I can find. Of course I’ve also taken the centuries’ old option of purchasing books on Victorian fashions. Believe it or not, I own a Kindle – which was a Christmas gift from my husband. This was a thoughtful gift and I’m sure I’ll use it eventually, but I’m still enthralled with the pleasure of holding a real book in my hands and flipping through the pages. I briefly contemplated downloading/uploading/outloading – whatever kind of loading – one of these fashion books. (Every time I say “upload”, apparently I should have said “download”, so I’ve given up trying to figure out the proper terminology. At least I know there’s some kind of loading involved.) I’d rather stick to the outmoded option of waiting for a flesh and blood–or I shoud say–paper and ink version to be delivered to my house. Hey, at least I ordered it online. Don’t I deserve a bit of applause for that?

Many brides not only research their “needs” online, they also purchase them. Now, don’t get me wrong; I, too, have been known to type out those magical credit card numbers and then wait for the mail carrier like a kid waiting for Santa. It’s fun; it saves time; and it offers limitless possibilities. However—and this is a BIG however—there are some purchases that should only be made up close and personal. The wedding gown tops the list, but there are plenty of contenders for second place – like shoes.

One of my brides had fallen prey to an online sale of a pair of Manolo Blahniks. She was beyond excited at how totally awesome they’d look with her gown—and they only cost $200! (I wondered if she was going to invite her guests to crawl under her skirt because otherwise no one was ever going to see them.) I was trying to be enthusiastic about the magnitude of her find but I hadn’t yet become a fan of “Sex and the City” , thus rendering me clueless about this god of footwear. The most I’ve ever spent on shoes was $220.00—and they were for my HORSE! Personally, I think I maxxed out at maybe $120.00 and I blame that blunder on PMS.

Blunder? Yes; they ended up being so uncomfortable, they could have been used during the Spanish Inquisition to extract confessions from martyrs. I still blame PMS for forcing me to buy them because I did not purchase them online nor was I labouring under any delusion that they’d feel as good as they looked. I went to a store, tried them on, cringed as I minced around in front of the mirror and bought them anyway. At any other time of the month I would have left them on their glass pedestal. (Hmmm, now that I think of it, maybe they were supposed to be displayed on a shelf not shoved onto a foot.)

At least my bride didn’t knowingly purchase torturous footwear. Since she ordered them online, she hadn’t a clue what they’d feel like—and therein lies her blunder. She also couldn’t return them since they were a final sale item. Blunder # 2. Fifteen minutes into her fitting, her toes were numb and her arches were screaming to be set free. Thankfully she didn’t compound her error by ignoring their plea. She regretfully put her Blahniks back in their pretty little Blahnik bag and box and bought something comfortable—and a heck of a lot cheaper. (After she had decided not to wear them, I took the opportunity to point out that the size of her skirt would render her feet invisible anyway. I encouraged her to splurge on something more important – like her jewelry.)

I have plenty more to say about the virtues/vices of Internet shopping—like purchasing wedding bands online—since I mentioned jewelry, but I want to google “beaded trims” before heading off to New York City with Sara tomorrow.

I Don’t Need a Color to Define my Style!

My daughter, Sara, made this proclamation during one of our daily wedding discussions. I liked it so much I decided to use it in today’s blog. 

She’s pretty sure of the color she wants for the bridesmaids’ dresses–for now. Since I love it too, I’m not trying to alter her decision when I repeatedly say, “Yes, that’s fine, but since I haven’t even started making them, you really can’t be sure what color you’ll end up with.”

In response, she sighs and rolls her eyes. (I know she’s doing this even though we’re communicating by phone. After all I am her mother.) “Mom, that’s the color I want! I’ve already decided.”

Now it’s my turn to sigh and roll my eyes, although I think I’m giving her more of a ­­­­“skyward look” as my mother used to call it. “Yes, I know that’s what you think you want and I repeat: I’m not suggesting you change your mind.” (This last phrase is said in the robotic voice I instinctively use when I’m tired of saying the same thing over and over to a pair of deaf ears.) You know it’s my favorite color. In fact, remember back in the day when you complained that I always picked that color and it was sooooo boring?” We share a chuckle over her adolescent frustrations with a mother who was as uncool as the color she loved. 

I continue. “I’m simply reminding you that once we’re in fabric heaven (aka New York City’s fabric district), who knows what to-die-for stuff we’ll find?” I don’t hear any sighing, but I’m sure her eyes are circling faster than a roulette wheel.

Dropping the topic of hue, we switch our focus to invitations and place cards. I tell her I’ll be fine with whatever she picks, adding that I don’t even need to be consulted. This isn’t a passive/aggressive ploy; I don’t need to have a hand in every decision. Getting to make the wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses is gratification enough. However, this doesn’t stop me from offering the opinion that cream stock and black ink is classy and timeless, and that I’m not a fan of introducing the bridesmaids’ color into the design. That suggestion apparently gives her something new to stress about. “What are my colors?” she asks, followed quickly by, “Where do I use these colors?” and then, “Do I have to have colors?” 

I explain that a bride chooses her favorite color and then introduces it into as much or as little of her wedding scheme as she wants to. It’s certainly the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses and often the predominant hue of the centerpieces. 

I watch all the wedding shows: Four Weddings, Whose Wedding Is It?, Rich Bride, Poor Bride, etc. Some of these divas take the “my color” concept to a frightening level; bathing the room in pink—or purple—or green and adding it to their centerpieces, bouquets, ice sculptures, napkins and linens. Some couples even serve their own signature purple/pink/green cocktail. Perspiration dots her forehead as she scribbles one more item on her to-do list. (No, I can’t see the sweat, but I know it’s there.)

I remind her again, that she doesn’t really have a color yet; NOT UNTIL WE PURCHASE THE FABRIC. (Louder robot voice.)To quell her rising panic, I break the happy news–in my normal voice, “You don’t have to have a color. In fact, you don’t have to do anything you and Dave don’t want to do. It’s your wedding.” (I can be altruistic. I know she won’t deviate far from our shared dream of The Perfect Wedding. Remember; we’ve already checked off “castle” and “princess”.)

(Rush of expelled breath.) She relaxes and replies, “You’re right; I don’t need a color to define my style!” Truer words were never spoken. Sara has a style all her own; a style so vibrant, a tropical garden would pale in comparison.

 

 

Stress Not!

I just had a long chat with my one of my former brides who is also one of my daughter’s friends. I met her when she was in the midst of her Goth phase: safety pins, dog collars, spiked hair, etc. Initially, I was a bit fearful that she’d be a bad influence on my beloved daughter, but quickly learned that a heart of gold lay under her every-parent’s-nightmare disguise.

The Goth phase passed and soon she was engaged. She and her mom were tireless in their efforts to make her wedding the event of the century – and it was. Even though I fashioned the wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses, I wasn’t involved in any of the other preparations and had only a vague idea of what to expect. The ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was extravagant and fun. Even to my discerning eye, there didn’t seem to be a single flaw in the whole production.

Now that Sara and I are planning a wedding, we have her on speed-dial. She encouraged us not to stress over minutiae because many of those oh-so-important little touches ended up meaning nothing to her. In fact, she couldn’t even remember what her invitations looked like and they had sweated and toiled over the color, the font and the style. I was glad to hear a bride echoing much of the advice I’ve offered in my book.

 She also warned me that despite our good relationship, Sara and I were bound to come to blows over something. I said, “Really? I don’t think so. Sure we’ll bicker, but I can’t picture us yelling at each other.”

 She recounted an argument she and her mother had at their final floral appointment, 8 weeks before The Big Day. Apparently there was a suggestion involving: “flowers”, “shoving” and someone’s “derriere”. Neither one of us could stop laughing for at least 10 minutes.

Frankly, I found it hard to believe that anyone as sweet as her mother could have been driven to that point. It did, however, make me realize that even I might fall prey to the stress monster and lose my cool. No, it’s not that I’m such a saint, but this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been involved in the wedding industry for 30 years. Of course, this is my daughter’s wedding, so all that experience probably isn’t worth much. I vowed to take an extra helping my own advice and encouraged my daughter to do the same. Will either one of us be scarred for life if the linens are the wrong shade of cream? Or if the place cards are oval instead of square? No, definitely not, but if I’m too controlling or she’s too obsessive, we could both be apologizing for decades. 

The engagement period is the ultimate estrogen extravaganza. Let’s hope all brides and their mothers enjoy it to the fullest and remember that a wedding is not about the packaging it’s about the love inside.

 

 

 

 

Why Wasn’t I Born Rich?

WHY WASN’T I BORN RICH?

Thanks to my obsession with my daughter’s upcoming wedding, I’ll be lucky if I can limit my blogs to one daily musing. I’m still vacillating between playing “Let’s have a wedding” and understanding “OMG! This is the real thing!” 

We recently had our first floral consultation. If I wasn’t creative – and beyond excited about the whole event – it could have been overwhelming. Although I have myriad failings, a lack of creativity isn’t one of them and it’s old news that I have a serious case of wedding lust. The designer was experienced, understood our vision and offered us loads of options. Our excitement mounted as we realized that no dream need be left unfulfilled. All it takes is money; lots and LOTS of it.

A few days later we received the proposal. I can’t say I was really surprised, but I was definitely nauseous. After tallying up the cost of our dreams I sent my Creativity to “time-out”, where it will stay until it can play nicely with Practicality.

We’re scheduled to meet with two more florists and I bet we won’t approach those with the same “Oooh, we want roses and orchids and petals and tons and tons of candles and crystals and . . . ” Although Creativity is still resting in time-out, she did offer a suggestion, “Maybe you’ll find buried treasure!” Hmmm, better get out the shovel.