I Do…Love Wedding Dresses—by Jamie Levine
My daughter’s new favorite television show is Say Yes to the Dress. The other evening, she watched three back-to-back episodes and got angry at me when I turned the TV off after I noticed that a fourth episode was beginning. And last week, while I was shopping for a few toiletries at a local drug store, Jayda parked herself in the middle of an aisle and started thumbing through a copy of The Knot magazine. “Mommy! Look at this pretty dress!” she kept calling out to me, and got upset when I stopped turning around to look. “Jayda—I’m sure all of those wedding dresses are beautiful, but I’m really not interested in looking right now—I need to finish shopping,” I explained. Then I noticed a woman down the aisle watching us, and realized she probably thought I was getting married. Not even close. I simply have a wedding-dress-obsessed-five-year-old daughter.
At the start of the summer, Jayda’s twenty-something-year-old babysitter got married—and Jayda had the opportunity to attend her very first “live” wedding. My daughter spent so much time picking out her dress (and even convinced her grandmother to buy her a special sparkly purse to match) that it seemed she was getting married, herself. And at the church, Jayda was mesmerized by every moment of the ceremony (a long Catholic one that I had been certain would leave her fidgeting). In fact, a woman sitting in the pew behind us approached me after the ceremony and asked, “Was that your daughter’s first wedding?” When I admitted it was, she continued, “I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her—she was glowing and seemed so enchanted by everything.” Yes. Jayda was.
Ironically, I’ve never been wedding-obsessed, myself. Even when I was younger and assumed I’d be married by the time I turned thirty or so, I never fantasized about a garish, expensive, great big traditional wedding. And while I suppose I always figured I’d wear white when I did walk down the aisle, I never had a specific dress in mind—and certainly not one with a long train, or lace and beads, or any of the details that seem to thrill my daughter.
At five, Jayda’s wedding fantasies are all about the glamour and the beauty of the bride—and the fairy tale ending, too. Her favorite part of the wedding we attended occurred when the groom kissed the bride. She’d been waiting for that event throughout the entire ceremony, and giggled with delight when it finally happened. At that moment, Jayda was sure her babysitter had found the handsome prince who would make her happy for the rest of her life. And I’d love to believe that she’s right. Weddings still make me cry. And they still make me hopeful about happy endings for every bride and groom. But when Jayda asked me if she could be the flower girl at my wedding, I just told her that if I ever got married, she could be anything she wanted to be. I explained that any wedding I was in would be about her as much as it was about me—and that we’d both be “getting married” to someone wonderful. But I continued that “we didn’t need to think about it right now,” and that “as long as we had each other, everything was great.” My sweet young daughter smiled happily in response; then she announced: “Ok. But we do still need to find you a new boyfriend, Mommy!”
I recently suggested to Jayda that she dress up as a bride for Halloween; she was thrilled by the idea. And I’m thrilled, too; I’m dating, but I’m in no rush to get married even if Mr. Right does come along. This way, Jayda can live her wedding fantasy without me having to splurge on more than a girl’s size 5 lacy white costume—and some reasonable shipping and handling charges.