When we last left our intrepid nuptial heroes we were all slinking out of David’s Bridal hoping that they wouldn’t call the cops on me.
Okay, not really. But, if we had stayed much longer I’m sure my photo would have wound up behind the register along with the people who write bad checks.
Though our negative experience soured me on the idea of big box bridal stores, Lindsay and I did come away with an idea of what my groom’s-ladies would wear. We decided on a combination of platinum and black, which meant we’d most likely need separates – lest we be left to the haphazard whim of multi-color one-pieces.
We also needed the ladies on Team Groom to look more groomy than maidsy, so we decided to add a matador jacket to make them more tux-like.
Thus began The Great Matador-Hunt of 2008. Because, you see, outside of the fairy-tale world of David’s Bridal matador jackets for women are apparently a fictional concept. We searched and searched, and turned up a scant one or two, neither appropriate for our purposes.
In the midst of our jacket-search we settled (ironically) on something we tried at David’s: a strapless, lightly paneled princess top paired with a simple trumpet skirt. After some deliberation we decided that the skirt would be black to better mirror the gentlemen in their tuxes, while the top would be platinum.
At this point Lindsay, Gina, and Erika commandeered the good ship Groom from my control. They found a collection that carried what we were seeking in multiple styles, and each of them tagged their favorites. We discussed them at length for a week, engaged in several virtual straw polls to determine our favorites, and then Lindsay and Erika did a preliminary shopping trip in Boston.
Suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, Gina was picking me up early on a Saturday morning in August to bring me to a tiny bridal boutique in Havertown called Lizelle’s.
(It should be pointed out here that Gina has graciously served as the official Team Groom chauffeur for each outing, which has lead to extra hilarity in each instance, even though she has yet to wear a cap and a mustache as my godmother did for my mother’s wedding this past June.)
My boutique experience could not have been more different than our previous nightmare.
First, the entire shop was about as big as David’s reception area, but it contained approximately ten times the attractive dresses – no 90s promwear in sight. Second, Bruna – a pretty, diminutive woman with a European accent – had opened early just for us, and pulled out every iteration of the styles we were interested in. Third, I was allowed close to and, in one instance, inside of the dressing rooms.
Last, and most important to me, Bruna crossed out “Bride” on her info sheet and wrote in “Groom.” She didn’t even write down Elise’s name.
By that point a second customer had arrived, alone. I sat down across from her while Bruna fussed over Lindsay with a tailor’s measure.
Cheery Customer: You’re the groom?
Cheery: And you came with them to shop?
Me: Well, we did most of it together online. We just came here for the grand finale.
Cheery: (Clearly a little awed). That’s awesome. I had to drive by myself all the way from New York to get here!
A mere twenty minutes after our arrival I was pacing back and forth in the alley next to the store, calling Elise on her cell and at home on multiple cell phones, juggling them to try to find one with reception. Eventually we connected and I had her take one last look at our favorite style on the web.
Elise’s approval confirmed, I headed back into the store waving my platinum card. “We’re a go! I repeat, we’re a go on dresses!”
Bruna, not understanding the international signal for “charge me!” asked Lindsay and Gina to present their credit cards.
Me: No, Bruna, I’m paying.
Bruna: For vat?
Me: The dresses.
Bruna: All of them?
Me: Of course.
(As an aside, I find it fascinating that bridesmaids and groomsmen are typically expected to pick up the majority of their expenses. I know not everyone is in the financial situation to pay for their party’s clothing, but at the point that you have a group of people doing so much research, legwork, and chauffeuring for you it seems only fair to comp their costs as much as possible rather than rewarding them with some inane gift like a monogrammed hip flask.
And, seriously, I have the best, smartest, most-resourceful Groom Team of all time. If wasn’t so busy planning a wedding I’d have them whip up a World Tour or a grassroots political movement for me. I’m lucky they don’t charge an hourly fee. Buying them clothing and accessories is the least I can do.)
Bruna waved me away as she got started on the transaction, and I sat down again across from the cheery customer, who was paging through a sample book.
Cheery: Are you really buying their dresses?
Me: Of course. They’ve done so much for me! It shouldn’t cost them money to be in my wedding.
Cheery: Wow. You are really unique.
Greek Chorus, AKA Gina & Lindsay: You have no idea.
Me: I figure they’ll have to buy their own shoes, and who knows what we’ll do for jewelry…
Cheery: Oh! I can help you with that. I have my own jewelry business. You should call me; I’d even give you a discount since you’re paying for their dresses!
Beautiful dresses and good karma, all in one morning.