Not only do I have to finish telling the story of how Elise and I got engaged last year, but aside from mentioning our invites a few weeks ago I haven’t really spoken at all about our planning process.
A unique element of our wedding that I’ve previously touched upon is the composition of our parties – my side consists of three women and two men, and Elise’s is four women and her brother.
The mixed-gender makeup has style implications for both sides, since early-on we decided my women would not wear tuxes. That meant twice the bridesmaid dress shopping of a normal wedding, with the added challenge of making sure my ladies looked distinctly groomsly in comparison to Elise’s maids.
This morning Gina and I headed out for the final leg of our wardrobe journey – a trip to look at tuxedos for me. It has taken us many months to get to this point. Our first wardrobe excursion was in January on the morning after our engagement party, which meant we were all a touch hung over.
Hangover or no, I don’t think there was any way I could have been adequately prepared to enter into the mouth of hell that is David’s Bridal.
(For the record, this is not a story about me looking down on people who buy dresses at David’s. It’s about my vast incredulousness at the entire wedding industry and the attitudes that come with it, which – if I keep writing these recaps – you will see play out repeatedly. But, I digress.)
We entered David’s as a quintet – Elise, her sister, and Amanda, and Lindsay and I. Elise’s trio was checked in and sent to romp in the many rows of chiffon and taffeta while Lindsay and I negotiated with the gatekeeper. It went something like this:
Lindsay: Yes, this is the groom, and I’m in his party.
Gatekeeper: So, you’re a friend of his that’s in the bridal party?
GK: Ahh, you’re a friend of the bride’s that she placed in the groom’s party?
(Between the hangover and the dumbfoundedness, here Lindsay was starting to look unpredictably dangerous, like a captured squirrel. I decided to intervene.)
Me: Actually, she’s my co-best-lady.
GK: I see. (Clearly not seeing at all). Well, we’ll just put her under Elise.
The gatekeeper took Lindsay’s name so that her romping could begin, and I moved to follow her into the racks.
GK: Uh, you can wait at the chairs here.
GK: We have chairs. For grooms. You don’t have to go in there.
This was very early in the wedding process, and I did not yet understand the reverse groom-discrimination phenomenon. No wedding-associated vendor is prepared to speak to a groom. All of their forms have the bride listed first. They always want contact information from the bride.
They definitely do not expect the groom to show up to poke around and ask questions, and they certainly don’t expect him to care about dress-shopping.
Having made it past the gatekeeper, Lindsay and I joined the other ladies in searching through rows upon rows of dresses. To me most of them looked more like 90s prom dresses than modern wedding gear. Lindsay and Amanda, both wedding veterans, undertook an education campaign to get me quickly up to speed on fabrics, cuts, and styles.
Laden down with silken loads, the three of us advanced on the dressing area … only to encounter a second gatekeeper.This one looked like a troll doll, and was dressed smartly in a neutral-colored sack that served to minimize her lumpiness. She was exactly the opposite of the sort of style maven you’d want to purchase a wedding dress from.
The trollish woman waited for all of the women to pass and then physically obstructed my path.
Wedding Troll: What are you doing? You can’t come back here.
Me: (Innocently) Hmm?
WT: (Sassily) What are you, a friend?
Me: I’m the groom.
WT: We have some chairs out in front…
Me: (A little testy) I have heard about the chairs. I am not sitting in the chairs. I need to pick out a dress for the women in my party. I am your customer.
(She did not seem convinced, so I embellished, slightly.)
Me: I am paying for all of the dresses
WT: Ahh, well… (clearly waging an internal battle between wanting to get rid of me and wanting to sell stuff) …you see, I can’t let you come any further. It’s, err, it’s not really up to me, you see. Some of the other women, they might be… they might… well, you know, they could be uncomfortable.
Me: How so?
WT: You know. Women. Dressing rooms.
Me: But, I can’t see into the dressing rooms from here.
WT: Coming out of the dressing rooms. They, ahh, won’t want you looking. At them. When they come out of the dressing rooms.
Me: In their dresses?
WT: Yes, exactly.
Me: I see. And, I’m too close?
WT: Mmm hmm.
Me: (Taking two steps back) What about now?
WT: Uhh, well, you can still see them, and…
Me: (Slowly walking backwards and increasing in volume). Now? Now? What about NOW? AM I FAR ENOUGH AWAY NOW?
At this point Elise had noticed my confrontation and fixed me with a pained look, to the effect of Please do not get us kicked out of the first wedding store I’ve brought you to.
I stood on the very spot where Elise interrupted my escalating confrontation, and did not move from it. As our party members came out in a variety of dresses I made a great show of leaning over from my spot for a closer look, careful not to step closer to the dressing rooms.
This went on for a while, until finally someone came out in a dress that caught our attention. We flagged down the trollish woman and handed her the dress. Did she have it in blue? Elise’s women would be wearing blue.
She disappeared with the dress for a while as our fashion show continued, and after several minutes came huffing up to Elise and I with the dress clutched in one hand.
WT: This dress is discontinued. We don’t carry it.
Me: Actually, you’re carrying it right now. In your cloven hoo… um, in your hand.
WT: Just this one. That’s the only one we carry.
Elise: What do you mean, exactly?
WT: I can’t order this in your color. You’d just have to find another David’s that has them in the right colors and sizes for your party.
Me: (Muttering) Oh, because that’s probable.
Elise: So, why was it on the rack?
WT: (Puzzled) So people can try it on.
Elise: But, you just have the one bridesmaid dress.
Elise: And you can’t get any more.
Peter: Goddamnit. YOU FIND ONE NICE THING IN THE WHOLE FUCKING WALMART…
At this point Elise was snapping her head back and forth looking for swat teams that would emerge to tranquilize me, and I got the message to quickly wrap it up with the wedding troll before I was forcibly ejected from the store.
And that was the end of my association with David’s Bridal.