Friday, August 15, 2008

Always a bride, never a bride-to-be

Bob and I are sort of doing this whole getting married thing backwards. We got married in a civil ceremony last March, then we flew to Houston so he could meet my parents and family at a celebration in August and now I'm getting ready to have a similar party with Chicago friends in September. Because of pressure from others, I'm finally establishing a traditional bridal registry. Get married, meet family, do a bridal registry. This is my life.

I'm doing my registry at Macy's since that's easy for me. They've got lots of stuff and I can maintain the registry online. Note: Macy's gives you a nice red tote bag just for sitting down and saying, "I'd like to set up a bridal registry." It's great. You also get free gifts just for registering certain brands, but you have to be registering for hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. It's the first chance I've ever had to get a free gift just for indicating that I'd like others to buy me stuff.

A friend of mine who got married 14 years ago said she kind of envies me because she'd love the chance to set up a registry all over again. She was 25 when she did hers and she chose a lot of things she's never even used. I'm imagining towel warmers and espresso makers, but I think she's also talking about dishes and flatware that really aren't her style. She got them because they matched the china she was inheriting and had the traditional style she thought she was supposed to own. Now she's old enough to know what she wants, but there's no one lined up to buy her bedding and houseware now.

So there's one advantage to getting married for the first time when we're in our 40's: Bob and I know what we like and what we really need. We're not clouded by visions of cooking exotic meals together with our Calphalon wok. We know exactly what our kitchen needs and it's not cookware (it's glassware).

As I sat there with my Macy's registry consultant, I saw another consultant helping another party. They were a young woman, an older woman and a young man. I guessed this was a (very) young bride with her mother and her (very) young husband-to-be. The guy sprawled in his chair, lounging in an orange t-shirt and dun-colored shorts. He looked like he belonged in a dorm room. The woman and her mother sat stiffly, focused on every word of the consultant's descriptions. I felt very glad to be there alone. I feel sorry for young brides whose tastes get dominated by a mother who thinks she knows what her daughter should want. Actually, what I believe is that many brides sacrifice their weddings to their mothers. The mother ends up deciding how everything should be, the bride doesn't really get what she wants, and then the cycle repeats when that bride grows up and has a daughter. It's as if each generation needs to create the wedding they didn't get to have because their mother took over their wedding. Actually, as I read over my theory I can see that it describes an extreme that probably doesn't describe every wedding. I guess it's possible that there are nice mothers, too, who let their daughters choose the kind of event (and life) they want. But I doubt that's the majority.

Later, as I wandered through the forest of stemware displays, I spied a different young couple. As the young woman evaluated wine glasses, the (very young) man picked up a heavy glass paperweight, shaped as a golf club head. He playfully held it up to her. She unsmilingly glanced at it and moved on. Poor kids. He was trying to make this boring task fun while she endured the pressure of having to outfit an entire household flawlessly when she doesn't really know what she wants or what she's doing. I'm so glad to be an old bride with no one accompanying me.

I was sure that Bob and I really didn't need anything anyway, but it turns out that he's ready to replace a lot of our bed and bath stuff, plus he wants drinking glasses that match. We each lived alone for a long time before we met, but because neither of us ever married or lived with anyone, we continued to use the mismatched stuff you accumulate when you start your temporary life and then never update. In our 40's, we're kind of living as if we're in our 20's and just moved in together.

On Saturday I will go back down to Macy's and get my bridal registry going in earnest. I've been married for almost five months. It's time to start acting like a bride-to-be.

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