So I got married 14 years ago tomorrow.
About 14 years ago two days ago, I fired my florist. She was the one weak link in my entire plan. Mike and I spent about 10 months casually planning this wedding, with some intense moments but really, it was fine. I had a big binder of potential stuff and then a slim notebook of what we were going to do. My aunt Gracemarie helped with 90% of it--she knew the organist, the reception hall folks, the place to get the invitations, and so on. My father told me what limousine service to use and I bought my dress on a trip to Houston over spring break. The reception hall had led to cake, dj, and photographer. In the days before digital, there weren't as many choices--looking back I wish there had been, because I've seen some spectacular photos in the past few years--but on the other hand, our photographer and his wife became sort of wedding planners for me and pointed out things I'd missed and let me know what not to worry about, etc.
Everything was good. My bridesmaids were fine, the church was fine, my family was fine. And then there was the question of flowers.
Yes, I had a florist--a young woman working on her own who had done the flowers for my cousin's wedding. I had met with her at St. Cecilia's and had pointed out to her that it was sort of a manic interior already (they have all this curlicue painting, plus mosaics, plus stained glass, plus marble). We both stood there in May and decided I didn't need much in the church. I wanted champagne roses as my bouquet and my bridesmaids to carry white daisies. Seriously. Small flower order. Knowing what I do about Flower Row, this should have been a cinch. She could have done two weddings that weekend and just dropped my stuff off on Friday afternoon. Seriously. When I said "didn't need much in the church" I meant it.
But I hadn't been back in touch with her until July 1, when I was going to let her know when she could meet me.
"Up at church, right?" she asked. Whatever, I told her. Either way--either at my Aunt Sarah's house or at the church. And there was an "umm."
Sometime in the next few moments, she made it clear that she hadn't listened to a word I'd said--no, that isn't true. She'd listened to the part about the bouquets and she had the flowers for those. But she had also ordered flowers for the church.
A lot of flowers.
Over $700 of flowers.
I got off the phone and sat in Mike's living room zoning out. Seven hundred dollars, not including her time and labor and all that jazz. I mean, she'd ordered a bunch of gladiolus, for goodness sake. Gladiolus.
We weren't a budget wedding, but nothing but the reception topped that number (obviously the reception did). The photographer, the dress, the organist, the church, the dj, the cake, the limousine, invitations, nothing. And these weren't even something I wanted. I thought about it, and I talked to one of my bridesmaids, who worked at a florist in California.
"We could do it ourselves," she said with a nervous look on her face.
And so I called my florist back on the Wednesday before the wedding and fired her. I wasn't nice. I wasn't diplomatic. It was my one and only "bridezilla" moment. I knew it was bad when I got off the phone and I had this adrenaline rush and everyone else in the room looked awkward and nervous.
It was evening and we went to meet my parents down at the south Grand Ted Drewes--they'd driven in that afternoon. And I stood there in line and announced what I'd just done. My father looked at me like I've never seen him, in total disbelief. Dumbfounded.
On Thursday my parents met the florist at Flower Row because she'd already ordered these flowers I didn't want--and picked up and paid for the roses and daisies and greens. Robin and I went to Michael's to buy the parts she needed to put it all together. Mike's apartment had buckets of flowers and a table set up. Robin was set up to make my bouquet and 5 daisy ones.
Marita (maid of honor) got into town and we looked at all the bridesmaid's dresses. My color was Eddie Bauer green. It was 1996, remember. A nice color, actually, and a nice dress. We'd bought fabric and mailed directions to Marita's mother (an amazing seamstress); my mom made my sisters' dresses; I made one bridesmaid's and Robin hired a seamstress.
My mother's versions and Marita's mother's version were identical. The bridesmaid I was working with had been hopeful rather than actual in her measurements--a little bigger on top than reality and a little smaller on bottom. So Thursday before the wedding, I reworked seams and got that done. But Robin's. The directions involved a certain length from the floor. The seamstress had done this with Robin in her bare feet, and Robin was the kind of girl to wear spiky heels. In fact, she showed them to me, and when she put on the dress with them, it was 2 inches shorter than everyone else's.
No big thing, right? Just take up the hem and do it again. But this "seamstress" had done a rolled shirtwaist hem. Many curse words were mumbled under my breath. But some time between Thursday morning and the wee hours of Saturday, Robin fixed the flower problem and I fixed her dress. I think I did a 1/8 inch scant hem by hand and then she was only a teeny bit off everyone else's version.
It's not the worst, obviously. Everything went fine. No monster mother-in-law moments. The limo didn't forget me. The organist didn't sleep in. No one died. I didn't go blind. I have been at/heard the stories from the brides whose weddings involved these things. Our wedding was just fine. The reception was fine. The honeymoon in California was perfect.
And no one, I mean no one, noticed any lack of flowers at the church. Or the hems of dresses.
My one piece of advice for brides to be is to let it go, the best you can, on the morning of. Whatever happens, nobody is blaming you. And nobody remembers the ceremony as a terrible thing. All weddings are lovely. The music is off or the reader stumbles or the priest forgets your name or whatever--it doesn't matter. People remember the reception: decent food and alcohol and a fun time. The best wedding reception I've ever been to was a barbecue in the park. I got drunker than I ever have before and there was good talk and games and spam (the meat product--I was very drunk). What could be better? The worst was a formal sit down meal at a mansion here in St. Louis famous for weddings. The food was awful and everyone sat there chewing politely and thinking about making their goodbyes.
Be in the moment and don't worry about your makeup or hair or dress or flowers. If your soloist tells you she just can't sing the communion song, she didn't get the music in time, tell her to tell the organist to wing it. One of your bridesmaids walks out? Forget her--work it out later (or not). Anyone who notices will think someone got sick, or it'll give them something to wonder about during the homily.
By the time they open those doors and you walk down the aisle, the worst thing you can do is still be in control.
And 14 years later--hell, 3 days later--none of it matters anyway: you're married and it's the sacrament of marriage, not the sacrament of wedding.