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The Washington Post
January 13, 2003 Monday
The Bride Wore Blue
BYLINE: Jennifer Mendelsohn, Special to The Washington Post
SECTION: STYLE; Pg. C10
LENGTH: 608 words
Not long after we returned from our honeymoon, my new husband looked at me and proclaimed the awful truth about being a newlywed.
"Nobody's going to applaud when we walk into rooms anymore," he said.
And so it begins.
The post-wedding letdown is the dirty secret of the bridal industry, the part that Martha Stewart and Emily Post forget to tell you about in between advising how to make your own sugared fruit centerpieces and the proper way to address wedding invitations.
Being engaged means living in a state of constant anticipation, a forward-looking netherworld where your life status changes -- and people buy you crystal vases! -- not because of anything you've done, but rather because of something you're going to do. A part of you is always focused on a future that has yet to materialize. But no one really prepares you for what to do when it finally does.
Planning a wedding is also a mammoth, time-consuming undertaking. People hire people to do everything I did. For nine months, I devoted a significant portion of my life to orchestrating every detail of a five-hour event. Yes, yes, I had tried to heed that advice that I should plan for a marriage, not just for a wedding. But there really weren't a whole lot of concrete things I could do for the former, and as for the latter, well, did you see that patterned ivory vellum I found for the programs?
And then you wake up one day and it's over. You immediately feel enormously ridiculous that you ever cared so much about patterned ivory vellum. But there's also no denying that there's an enormous hole in your life where wedding planning used to be.
"I sort of miss the sense of purpose and business that doing all that planning gave me," a bride on one Internet message board confided. I hear you, sister friend. I liked planning my wedding. I was good at it.
Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Being a bride-to-be rocks. I was right to be jealous of my friends all those years. People make an enormous fuss over you. Caterers try to woo you with fancy food. You get fawned over by eager saleswomen with armfuls of the most beautiful silk frocks you've ever seen. You have a religious obligation to buy jewelry. And no one so much as bats an eye as you indulge your whim for insanely extravagant Williams-Sonoma kitchen gadgets. Citrus trumpet, anyone?
Being an actual bride on her wedding day -- for however many hours it lasted -- was one of the most sublime experiences I've ever had. And as my husband and I swam in the crystal blue waters off Capri and ate steak frites on the Champs-Elysees, I discovered that being a honeymooner isn't half bad, either.
And then you come home.
People eventually stopped calling to do post-wedding analyses -- even my mother. Soon there was no one left to show our pictures to. I still prowled the message boards on the Knot, that online bridal mecca, gleefully dispensing my now hard-won advice to all those still planning. I found myself feeling slightly jealous that they still had it all ahead of them. I schemed to find a way to bring up our wedding in any conversation. ("Afghanistan? Did you know they have weddings in Afghanistan? Well, at our wedding -- ")
And then, one Saturday morning, as my husband and I sat with our coffee and the newspaper at our favorite corner bagel place, I had a moment of sheer newlywed bliss. There I was, with my, well, husband, doing something at once so banal and so exhilarating: living our lives as a regular old married couple. This was what all the patterned vellum had really been about, wasn't it? This time, no one was applauding, but somehow it really didn't seem to matter.
LOAD-DATE: January 13, 2003
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