Monday, May 31, 2010

Royal Wedding Part II - Recap

Sorry it has taken so long to get pictures posted. I was trying to find images where we weren't all sweating like pigs or getting the bridesmaids dresses restitched.

Ok, so wedding recap is as follows:

1. The bride was GORGEOUS.
2. She was fashionably late at the church (because she was sewing the dresses).
3. The groom showed up - always a good thing.
4. The wedding took place.

Everything aside from that is just window dressing. But the window dressing included:
1. A really good meal.
2. BEAUTIFUL hall.
3. Very cool wedding cake/cupcake.
4. Cute "Family" ceremony.

In the end the most important thing is - they are married. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Royal Wedding - Part II

So tomorrow is the big day. Little Sister is getting married. It's been an interesting journey since none of us has any experience in second weddings.

We all, however, were terrified of doing something wrong when it came to etiquette.

Originally, LS wanted to get on a plane and get married down South. A beautiful island wedding that would eliminate the need for a big affair, the pressure for guests to buy presents and yet still have an amazing backdrop for her wedding with close family members.

Except my future brother-in-law has two kids and get them in and out of the country would have been a MOTHER of a problem - if you know what I mean.

The second option was to hold the wedding at my parents' home. Ironically, I wanted to have our wedding at Mom & Dad's but The Big Guy sided with my mother and they refused my father's and my pleas that we could get a tent and beat Mother Nature. So I ended up in a church. LS isn't getting her way either, since my parents are that much older and are not keen on the idea of 50+ people trotting through their home looking for the washroom that connects to the back yard septic. Flush that idea....

She was able to find a church that had been purchased and renovated by a private investor. The facility is beautiful and unique. The ceremony will take place upstairs in what was the sanctuary, then we leave for photos, followed by a reception in the lower level. Think exposed wood beams, stone walls - a very Medieval look. Once the ceremony is over, the staff will dismantle the seating and set the area up for the dance. So for anyone coming a distance, they don't have to drive until it is time to go home.

The next question was, how big a wedding is this going to be? The groom has 7 other siblings, so that answered it pretty quick. Even without friends the invite list was 36 people - including my family, the bridal party and necessary children. I believe the final count is 58 for dinner.

What about gifts? What is the appropriate wording for NOT asking for a gift. Many of the nearest and dearest of the 100 who made the final invite list had already given gifts to the bride and groom's first nuptials. I suggested donations to a local charity and anyone who was particularly adamant about giving a gift could do so. You can't stop someone from giving you a present!

Does the bride need to be "given away" again? The joke around the house lately has been that Dad gave her away the first time, and it didn't take! She's decided to walk herself down the aisle and then have a father/daughter dance. There won't be a veil, but there is one kick-ass dress and as I've mentioned previously, we have bridesmaids and ushers - though in a less conventional fashion.

I can't give away too much more for fear of being kicked out of the wedding party, but suffice it to say that the only rule about second weddings is that there are NO RULES. As long as you don't try to be too gaudy (which, let's face it, you try to avoid in first weddings too) then you are likely on the right track.

Hopefully we'll have a pix or two for posting next week.


Monday, May 17, 2010

When More is Simply Too Much

Since when is "more" better?

I prefer to err on the side of "less" especially when it comes to public displays of affection, demonstrative actions etc. unless it is something truly funny. Funny needs to be shared.

But lavish, meh, not so much.

So I'm standing in the bridal salon that I shall not name because I'm still mad at them, waiting for the rolly polly seamstress. In the wall of mirrors I'm watching a tiny young woman leafing through wedding dresses. Honestly, she weighs about as much as my thigh. She's with her mother and while the young woman is very collegiate looking, her mother looks very tired, dishevelled and not nearly as current in her wardrobe as her daughter.

The woman sits in the middle of the room on the bench and watches her daughter fanning through the gowns and I notice she only looking at short, strappy styles. I figure she's having a small wedding and doesn't want to overpower her small frame with a large gown. In my head I'm giving this girl a lot of credit - she's going to spend about half to three-quarters what she would have spent on the larger dress.

I'm annoyed at the mother, who doesn't seem engaged in this time with her daughter. Instead of revelling the time to being with her to pick her wedding dress, the woman looks and acts like she's afraid to touch any of the dresses, and that she's not buying into the idea of the wedding at all. I'm annoyed big time. If I've learned anything in my many trips down the aisle, it's that the wedding is not about anyone other than the bride and groom - egos and attitudes need to be checked at the door.

Then grandma walks in. Wiry white hair cut bluntly that frames her face, makeup stylish appliced and a kick-ass outfit that makes the mother look even more frumpy. Her artisan jewelery plays off beautifully with the chic hand-crafted wrap and dark-wash jeans she's wearing. She looks impecable and carries herself with an air of sophistication reserved for Katherine Hepburn. As soon as the woman walks in, the young girl starts to squeal, and the mother stops talking entirely.

Grandma fawns over the young girl, pulling out various dresses and suggesting various alterations to make the dress "her own". My pleasure at seeing the older woman relishing the time with her granddaughter comes to a screeching halt when the younger female corrects the sales associate.

"Oh, this isn't my wedding dress," she said. "I already have my wedding gown."

dead air

"This is for after the service - and pictures - for the reception," she clarifies. Now I understand why Mom is hanging her head. She can't afford this. And the daughter - a recent grad, can't either. So thank goodness Money Bags showed up.

"I LOVE my dress," she said. "But I just can't imagine wearing it ALL DAY!" she gushes. "I mean it's SO big and SO heavy, I would just DIE wearing it ALL DAY - it's going to be too hot!"




So you are getting married at the end of June - you've picked your dress - DON'T YOU PICK YOUR DRESS BASED ON WHEN YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED? I felt like asking, "What are you wearing, Angora wool? RAYON? PIG IRON??"

Unless this woman is marrying a multi-millionaire, she is about to start her married life under a grave misapprehension. It's clear she wasn't raised with a lot of money, but money is around her. She is having a wedding with TWO wedding gowns because, after all, didn't Jennifer Lopez or Katie Holmes do that? The cost of having a second dress was over $750 - how much did you pay for your initial gown? Likely between $1,200 - $2,500 - and I'll bet the farm it was closer to the top end amount. So now, you are looking at well over $3,000 AND TAX just for one day.

Because there was no time to order the dress in, the girl was negotiating the cost of alterations and the sales rep was having a dandy time trying to calculate how much it would cost to alter and cut down a sample dress. Grandma never blinked at the cost. She only concurred with her granddaughter - one dress simply would not DO! Mom just sat there like she was watching it all happen to strangers.

I wondered if she had tried to instill a sense of frugality in her daughter all these years, knowing she had limited resources. Had her mother then trumped her and usurped her rights as a mother when she felt she had the overpowering right as a grandmother? Did the daughter see this dynamic and play one off the other? At what point would the grandmother stand down and let this girl see things for what they are? Maybe the girl was embarassed that her mother was not in the same world as her grandmother was, but I daresay, unless her grandmother planned on supporting her for the rest of her life, the young woman's wake up call was going to greet her the morning after her honeymoon.

It's a disturbing trend, young people starting out expecting the best of everything. My parents were the most fortunate of all their friends. They had saved enough money to buy a house when they got married. Many of their friends had to rent an apartment for the first couple of years, finally saving a down payment in time for the first baby to arrive.

Homes were furnished with miss-matched furniture and dinnerware, save for the nicer items they received as wedding gifts. You worked hard and gained throughout your marriage. You had goals and dreams and set targets for yourself, including one day, GASP, buying a NEW car.

When did we decide it was ok to start at top? Newlyweds moving into homes that are fully furnished and model-home ready. Neither of their cars are more than 3 years old. A trip up north or to Niagara Falls is not be considered a worthy honeymoon, and if it didn't include either a cruise or a number of spa treatments (for both of them)it simply wasn't worth writing home about.

Methinks we need to adjust our expectations. Otherwise, what do you have to look forward to, other than a mountain of debt and a divorce decree?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Give or take an inch....

So with the Royal Wedding Part II looming on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to haul myself into the bridal salon to get my dress on - extra five pounds and all.

Fortunately, I had been down the week before with Little Sister to try on her gown as well as help out with the three young'uns who also needed fittings. This gave me an idea of what LS was looking for and how receptive the seamstress was to change/suggestion. In a word - she's "not." Therefore, I pulled on my dress and was delighted to see the extra winter poundage means I don't have to alter a thing in the bodice, which previously was a little loose.

I'll work on the Winter Five next - I'm just glad we don't have to alter anything!

Then I pull on my shoes. Amazingly I have a pair of metallic strappy low heels - around 2 inches - that give a nice lift without making me an Amazon. As soon as I straightened up I realized, things were going to head south.

The dress was perfect for me when I was in bare feet. It's too short with the heel. Did I mention it is a floor-length dress? Oh - ya, so now we have a lovely little gap and on top of it all, when I stride you can just about see too much of my foot. Not the look for a floor-length gown.

Also, the style of the skirt is very now. The runched, slightly messy, yet elegant look. The only way it works is if it is even and distributed throughout the skirt. Mine was definitely not even or distributed. The seamstress sighs when I point out the obvious flat areas that will need to be fluffed. She groaned when I asked her to re pin an area that was poorly done and then the situation went from bad - to worse. Now the gown is easily two inches too short all the way around.

My seamstress is convinced she can "fix" this - and re pins all the gathers she has just redone to make them shallow and allow the length to fall. The skirt looks like CRAP. The week before when my niece "M&M" tried on her dress, the seamstress tried the same thing - except LS pointed out the point of the dress was the full, soft gathers and they needed to look deliberate, not pinched and hastily done. LS was getting what she wanted and I totally had her back. When you pay over $200 for a dress, sista, you might as well make sure it's what you want!

With this in mind, I know that this is the look LS is going for - I try to direct the short, rotund woman, who is now perspiring and on the verge of wheezing as she pins and re pins the skirt.

Round and round we go - pinning and re pinning. "Fixing" and re"fixing". I even suggest a different look for the skirt which she refuses to do. Now I admit, I'm no seamstress and I'm not even on friendly terms with needle and thread, so I'm conceding when I say to her "I'm going to have to call LS about this and see what she says," and head to the change room. We book an appointment for this week and I head downstairs.

There is a cloud of brides and their mammas and grandmammas all cooing and clucking and hovering. This is the kind of energy that makes me wish I worked in the bridal industry. That and the billions of dollars it makes every year.

Over the din one of the sales associates calls over to me, "How did everything to up there?" I survey the area and debate. Do I tell her I think her seamstress is past her prime? Slander the woman in front of all these customers? Do I start on a rant about how we discussed extra fabric for my dress because I'm tall and obviously they didn't do it and SHOULD HAVE? No - let's see how the "fixing" works because I'm not carrying the dress out with me and I'm not letting my mouth write cheques my bank can't cash.

So it say it. "FINE." And I leave.

After discussing with LS - she calls the salon. Speaks with one of the sales associates who pulls my file. Under height, she tells LS, it says I'm 5'8. THERE is the problem. I'm not 5'8. I don't ever say I'm 5'8 because I'm taller than that. If I say I'm shorter than I am, clothes are always the wrong proportion. I look like I'm wearing my younger sibling's wardrobe.

Now add a 2 inch heel and you've got the beginning, middle and end of the problem.

LS advises the associate that this needs to be fixed immediately. The sales associate points out that I didn't say there was a problem when I left and LS replies that it was only because I didn't want to make a scene in front of other customers - for which they should be appreciative.

So THIS week, I'm going back down to see what miracle this poor woman has had to conjure to make the floor meet my floor-length gown.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way.

~Meredith Brooks "Bitch"

I remember the first time I was put in the same context as the word "Bitch".

I was 13 years old and my mother was in the middle of a nasty exchange with her sister. A bitter and eventually vengeful person, this woman had some beef and laid out her anger in a letter, including the reference that my mother's eldest daughter was "a bitch".

This wounded my mother terribly. I can only imagine how she felt inside as I know how I would react if someone made a derogatory comment about one of my children, never mind my sister.

At the time, I was shocked. I remember thinking I knew what incident she was referring to, but didn't think that action would qualify me as "a bitch." It took me a while to process the idea that there were people out there - in this case, a family member, who had a very dark impression of me.

Kinda heavy for 13.... That kinda crap messes a person up for a while.

I can remember referring to this branding throughout my teen years. Kind of an excuse for anything I felt contrary to - because after all, I was "a bitch".

Over time the brand became a badge of honor. I had a backbone I'm not sure I would have discovered as young and my ability to stand my ground comes from the fact that while you have a right to your opinion, I sure as Hell have a right to mine. Don't confuse my ability to concede or defer with weakness. I simply don't care as much about the issue as you do. Because if it matters to me, I will go down for the count. And there are very few people whose opinions truly matter to me any more.

As soon as I realized this, the better I felt about myself. A type of empowerment, if you will. Why worry about other people's opinions when there are very few whose opinions truly matter?

Which brings me to last week. I'm assistant coaching First Born Son's ball team AGAIN - long story there I won't bore you with - and it came time to hold the first practice.

Faced with 13 12-13-year-old boys, I realized there needed to be a strong impression made. The hormones are working. Some of them are as tall as I am and a couple of them easily out-weigh me. This is where you have to go for the weak spot - the brain!

"When I'm talking, no one else is talking," I started, which beautifully shut two of them up. "When Coach J is talking, no one else is talking. That's just common courtesy. When I'm here, I'm not FBS' mother. I'm Coach Sarah to him, just like I am to you. He's not my kid when we're here. There are no favorites. You will work hard. Don't get me wrong, I like to have fun and I'm not a prude - I'm not hung up on swearing or being frustrated when you are practicing. When we are in a game you WILL represent your town to the best of your ability, which means NO swearing, NO trashing the other team AND DEFINITELY NO tearing down your team mates. When I tell you to run, YOU WILL RUN. Softball is a running sport. When I tell you that you will be running an extra lap you, will do it, because gentlemen, I bring my own vehicle for a reason - and that's to stay here until the lights come on if that's what it takes. I will wait you out - that's right, I am a BITCH.

At that point, one kid fell off the picnic table.... All of their mouths dropped open - except for FBS - he knows about my bitchiness.

Three practices later, if someone speaks while I'm speaking, I merely stop talking and look at them. They immediately stop and usually they blush. When I'm running a drill and they are not executing the way they should - I stop - spell it out for them and they immediately adjust their actions. They speak to me with respect, or genuine friendship, since they realize that 90% of the time, I'm very easy to get along with and truly want for them to improve. I despise shouting.

While I would not suggest telling young girls they are bitches as a means to create character, I would have to say what started out as somewhat of a damaging experience has since become something that I would not change even if I could.

I'm a bitch, I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I'm your angel under cover
I've been numb, I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know you wouldn't want it any other way.