Immersed as we are in the final two weeks of wedding preparations, I’d like to take this time to remind everyone involved—parents, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, and myself, the Bride—of their roles and responsibilities. To guide us is one of my favorite and most indispensable resources, which I found years ago at a thrift store: The Bride’s Book of Etiquette, published in 1948.
First, I need to remember that since I will be 31 by the time we get married, I must not get carried away: “A Bride who is not quite the young girl she once was would do well to temper her wedding with an informal spirit. You may wear white and even a piece of old lace on your head, but you won't go in for a voluminous veil and a bevy of bridesmaids….As your Groom-to-be is probably marrying you, in part, for the grace and charm your added maturity has given you, it is never wise to let him down by girlish and kittenish display. You are not a middle-aged woman by any means, but you are not quite the jeune fille.” I think I have an old dishtowel that just may work for my “veil.”
It bears reminding that Andrew is actually a very relevant part of my, the Bride’s, day. He must focus on his own tasks at hand, which, fortunately, basically involve simply doing whatever I want: “The Groom is the other half of the raison d’etre for all this fuss and flurry. He may feel completely out of things and very confused with all of the feminine running around that goes on. However, he is a most important personage…No matter how hectic things may seem to him, he will try to observe every little tradition and courtesy dear to the hearts of women.”
My bridesmaids apparently shouldered an unnecessary burden last weekend, when they planned a fabulous shower for me—travel-themed, complete with small suitcases for favors, postcard-printed wrapping paper, travel-focused games—since “Your bridesmaids are purely decorative. Unlike the ushers and the Best Man, they have no real duties other than adding to the beauty of your wedding picture.” Perhaps Molly would not have hand-made the shower invitations had she known.
On the big day, the bridesmaids come into their own: “They are privileged to be as pretty as pictures. They are privileged to dance their shoes thin at the reception.”
Mom would do well to keep in mind that “She is the hub around which all wedding festivities revolve” and that “Her poise and her grace set the mood for the whole wedding.” Because Dad is, as the Father of the Bride, completely uninvolved, “She will keep her husband well posted on all the wedding plans.” She should also remember, no matter how many errands she must run or how many cookies she must bake, that “She is privileged to have a daughter.”
And Dad? Dad must wear appropriate attire, “no matter how much he may balk.” He, too, is “privileged to have a daughter…a daughter he gives in marriage to the man of her choice.” He has no other duties other than a long list of things he must pay for. Tasks like designing invitations and favors and creating endless calligraphed items are nowhere to be found in The Bride’s Book of Etiquette.
As for me, Bride’s tells me that I have a few privileges of my own: “It is your privilege to look as lovely as you know how. You are privileged to have all eyes center on you.” My obligations include throwing copious luncheons, visiting my clergyman, and giving gifts like gold cigarette lighters to my bridesmaids.
With two weeks to go, there are still many things to do. For instance, I must figure out how to arrange my gifts if I am not “having a professional service from a jewelry store arrange my presents for display.” I must think carefully about this arrangement because “Everyone enjoys looking at the Bride’s presents. Most usually, the presents are shown off in some special room in the house or even in two or three rooms.” I must also consider hiring “a detective to guard them.”
A Bride is almost overwhelmed with so many details. For example, my monogram: “A monogram should be worked with care. It is your personal cipher and it should be so used. Occasionally, a Bride will not realize until it’s too late that a combination of initials spells a word, which can be pretty ludicrous. For example, consider the conjunction of ARM on a bath towel.” Should Andrew and I do as Bride’s suggests and monogram our possessions with my initial, Andrew’s initial, and our shared last initial, I now see that our monogram will be MAL—bad in Spanish. These are just the kinds of things that can sneak up on a Bride.
Eleven days to go.