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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Here Comes the Jaded Bride (Again)

Remember several entries ago when Mom had a fabulous "wedding-like" cake made for her fellow single ladies? It was the same night that they all got together for a little tongue-in-check photo shoot. Our Magnolia Cowgirl Leah Yetter recently sent them the finished photos, and once again, the ladies were smiling at the art they created. Although they are saving the hundred-or-so photos for their own private giggles (and maybe one or two framed in their favorite spaces), Mom was willing to share a solo shot of herself here in Candy's Land, as well as a lil' essay she wrote about the experience:

There are some things so cathartic, you shouldn’t give a darn to how offensive it might be. The wedding dress, for example, is given more sanctity than it deserves. It’s an over-priced, fussy, some-shade-of-white adornment. Sometimes it has intricate beading. Sometimes it’s pure woven silk. Oftentimes it cost thousands to buy and hundreds to preserve. And I’m just not sure it deserves any of the fuss. After all, you only wear it once.

And what happens if you wore it once and the wedding didn’t work? You and the groom go your own ways months, years, decades after the dress was given its own day and worshipped by a room full of revelers who stood at the site of you in it.

In divorce, you are left picking up the pieces of a failed marriage and starting an entirely new life you didn’t plan. And among the pieces you take with you, the former bride, is this once perfect wedding dress . . . now fallen to used, unlucky, tainted grace. Do you burn it as a sacrifice to the altar? Do you sell it to a stranger who doesn’t know its story? Do you shove it into storage and swear to never look at it again? Or do you make peace with it? After all, it wasn’t the gown’s fault the vows didn’t take.

It just so happens I am not the only one in my circle of girlfriends with a leftover wedding dress. You make friends you can relate to. And mine are smart, business-minded, civic-driven career women who have lived several lifetimes by the time they hit their thirties. We’re somewhat fearless. And we like to fancy ourselves as hell-raisers. Together, we make quite the creative, untouchably talented crew.

It wasn’t hard for our photographer friend Leah Yetter to arrange the studio and have the lights, camera and background music jamming for us when we arrived – here comes the Jaded Brides – with our wedding gowns from another life slung over our shoulders and a brown bag of brand new whiskey in hand.

None of us had been to each other’s weddings. Changing into our dresses we became like a bunch of bridesmaids, who hadn’t married for the first time, cooing and complimenting each other on the gown that never was.

Then came the hair and make up. Loads of eye make-up just like our wedding day, this time smudged, smeared and streaked on purpose. A really good purpose – our new vows:

To those who have cried and then had your tears dried by your fellow jaded bride.

And no matter how hard we tried to make ourselves look like we felt during the days of divorce, we were funny. We laughed as we applied eye drops to make our mascara run. While creating circles under our eyes, we swigged Jack Daniels.

Well, except for the eight months pregnant one. She wore a long white slip that fit her expanded belly but brought the tiara from her elaborate wedding day. She was our good-sport prego princess, and even though she couldn’t fit into her old wedding gown, it couldn’t have been more fitting.

Standing before the camera, bad silk flowers and liquor bottles in hand, we gave our wedding portraits another chance. This time there was no glimmer of happily ever after in our eyes. But we still sparkled. We also pouted, sneered, scoffed, made obscene gestures and poked fun at the wives we once were . . . and just weren’t meant to be.

So the marriage was far from a fairy tale. And all I ended up with was this lousy wedding dress. But now I can look at my gown again with fondness, knowing I got my money’s worth. And the photos, lessons learned and empowerment to show for it.

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