“Your total is two thousand forty-eight dollars,” I tell the beaming bride-to-be who’s nearly blinding me with her over-the-top white teeth. She’s like Ross Geller from that one episode of Friends.
I used to dream of being just like her—hopeful, excited, no visible baby bump while planning my impending nuptials. Unfortunately, life has kicked me in the teeth often enough that I’m slowly stepping away from that fantasy. Instead, I’m focusing on the fact that women like her are probably more stressed out than your average sky diver during a tornado. Will he say yes? Does his mother hate me as much as I think she does? Should we really be spending this kind of money on one party? And the most important—Does he know I was serious when I said I don’t clean toilets? The list goes on and on.
“You’re the best, Melissa!” the petite blonde with the unnatural orange tan gushes. She says this like I just brought her bail money at two in the morning. As she hands me her credit card, she adds, “You must love owning a bridal shop! I mean, could there be a better job?”
I didn’t think so ten years ago when I became my mom’s partner at Bride’s Paradise. I had recently graduated from college and was so full of hope and anticipation about my own wedding I couldn’t imagine anything better. Not that I was engaged or even dating anyone at the time, but I was raised on television shows like Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezilla, and David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding. I’d fantasized about my big day for over a decade at that point.
For a generation that is meant to believe there’s more to life than marriage, we sure spend a lot of time dreaming about it. Being fed a constant visual diet of what our big day is supposed to look like wreaks havoc with expectations. Somehow a wedding has become more about the show and what we wear than about true love.
Had I only gotten hooked on Law and Order or Dr. Who, I might have become a lawyer or even a Time Lord. Note to self: investigate the kind of credentials needed to become a Time Lord.
I hand the credit card back to Brooklyn as her wedding party circles around her. Her maid of honor squeals—loudly—“Oh, my GOD, Brook! This is it!! You said yes to the dress!” We’ve already taken pictures with the requisite signage and hashtags to ensure that everyone the bride has ever met will know where she bought her gown. Hashtags are the backbone of my business. #BridesParadise #ElkLakeWisconsinWeddings #LoveIsInTheAir #ImSoSickOfMyJobICouldSpit