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Entries in Averting A Crisis (3)

Thursday
Aug182011

Wedding Assumptions: You vs. Them

I’ve been lurking around a couple bridal bloggers sites recently; women who are gnashing their teeth over the details. I get this, I really do. As a self-proclaimed control freak, sometimes it is about absolutely nothing but the details, big picture be damned.

Is this you? If so, you need to fucking relax. Or at least pretend to relax. Or try to pretend to relax. Your fiancé will appreciate the effort.

Why? Because here are the cold, hard facts: some people suck and regardless of all the details you put into something, not everyone will notice. Or care. Or care to notice.

Don’t believe me? Here:

My rehearsal gathering was exactly that – a gathering at a bar. We could not afford to feed our 40+ out of town guests twice. It was a cash bar. There wasn’t any food. This information was supplied to our guests repeatedly with helpful links and locations as to wear to eat, directions and personal favorites. Who listened? A few. Not many. And those who did listen chose to eat someplace far away, encouraging others to go with them and generally making a mess of my whole plan. Those who did not listen were oddly shocked at the lack of food and left early in search of sustenance. My mistake in all this: assuming that people read and remember what you tell them about your wedding.

You vs. Them.

These assumptions cross all borders and boundaries and can make your life a living hell if you let it. For those of you who have been through the RSVP phase, you know how incredibly ignorant, selfish, stupid, petty and generally lame people can be. The people who request a +1 when one CLEARLY wasn’t invited. Those parents who want to bring their kids though you’ve indicated on your website, Save the Date and through family members that your wedding is NOT kid-friendly. The brother-in-law-to-be who wants to bring his new stripper girlfriend. I had a family member RSVP that they were coming only to revoke that RSVP a few days prior to the wedding. Granted, they had a good reason, but it was annoying all the same. I also had to come up with extra invites two weeks before the wedding to placate family members I hadn’t seen or heard from in over a decade.

You vs. Them.

Attention grubbing in-laws or bridesmaids might try to steal your wedding day thunder. Aunt Mildred might talk smack behind your back because of your lack of a formal receiving line or pie buffet in lieu of a fondant tower.

You vs. Them.

What you need to realize is that your guests, particularly ones who don’t frequent the likes of wedding blogs, magazines or who are 253 years old, have no clue about weddings these days. Lots of people show up expecting to see a pair of silver bells as a motif and lots of white draped tulle. They plan to eat dry chicken picante with a house Chardonnay followed by the Electric Slide and the Chicken Dance. We know (yes, you do) that these things are probably not going to happen at your wedding. Your guests do not. For the most part, you should expect them to expect picante and ancient dance rituals. Wedding Assumptions on your part are a HUGE mistake. You will only be disappointed if you do and you do not want to be disappointed with your wedding. But guess what? It is WAY OKAY if a guest is. It ain’t their wedding. It’s yours and your fiancé's.

You vs. Them.

Now, I don’t want to seem like I’m encouraging you to give your wedding guests the big, fat finger. You do want your guests to have fun and not go hungry, but in reality, there is only so much you can do for people. Those who complain totally deserve the big, fat finger. There are many ways to give someone the big, fat finger without actually flipping off your great aunt or the slut your now brother-in-law brought as a date even though you strictly forbid him to do so.  A well-timed comment said with a sincere smile works wonders. Don’t be a bitch, but be direct. Don’t sugar coat, just tell it like it is. I did this on more than one occasion and it was generally met with understanding (pre-wedding) and absolute compliance (during The Big Show).

I did gnash my teeth over it, of course. I have some regret over the time I spent with my teeth, but it was only because I had to figure out the way to be a bitch without sounding like a bitch. That’s definitely a tough one for me. Go figure.

While you’re excited about the RSVP’s coming into your mailbox every day, expect the lame. Know that your wedding day assumptions are most likely totally different than most of your guests. It’s YOUR party. And it’s not just a party. It’s the day that you are committing your life and love to another person, forsaking all others. That, my friends, is a huge fucking deal. The way you and your groom decide to do that has nothing to do with formality, convention, traditions or the almighty dollar sign. In no way will it always be easy, but then again neither is marriage. Get used to working at it. Trust me though, it’s totally worth it.

Monday
Jul112011

I Lied to My Therapist About ‘The Skirt’

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Several years ago, I was going through a life change that landed me in a not-so-healthy state of mind. I’ve written about it all before in a post called Does My Butt Look Big in This Gown? I finally came to terms with my not-so-healthy state of mind and put myself into therapy where I worked through some binge-eating and body dysmorphia issues. It was a tough row to hoe, but I managed to get through it. I learned some lessons and how to apply them.

The binge-eating thing was actually kind of easy to get over. I knew exactly why I did it, so it was just a matter of recognizing emotions when they happened and addressing those emotions versus ignoring/placating them with food. The dysmorphia gig is still a challenge. I see things that I know aren’t really there, or aren’t as big a deal as I make them out to be. It drives The Candyman  up the wall if I start in on myself. I try not to, but it can be difficult, particularly when I'm stressed out.

I’m not the crazy work-out fiend I used to be. As a result, I’ve gotten a little…let’s say soft. Yes, soft is the word.

My weight has remained the same, but I can tell that muscle tone is gone and parts of me are bigger. For the most part, I’m okay with a few changes. However, I’ve gotten to a point where the switch flips and my mind starts in on myself. I don’t like my shape or the way I feel, both mentally or physically. I’m on dangerous ground and I know it.

Back when I was in therapy, we talked about some of the triggers and how I judged myself. One of the things I would use to measure my physical self (since weight was never was something that provoked me) was The Skirt. I bought this skirt back in 1999 or so, on sale at the now-defunct Marshall Fields on State Street in Chicago. It’s a gorgeous, Oriental-looking silk brocade by ISDA & CO. and I simply love it.  Since it’s a woven brocade it has ZERO stretch. And I mean ZERO. That skirt was my measuring tool. If I could put that skirt on and walk and sit comfortably, I was “fine.” If I couldn’t, I was not “fine.” I let that fucking skirt rule my life at times, putting it on daily to measure success and failure. When I discussed this with my therapist years ago, it was a mortifying secret. I bawled as I told her. Now I look at it simply as slightly embarrassing, but in a quirky, funny sort of way. I don’t think of it as an ugly secret any more. At the time, my therapist told me to get rid of the skirt. She told me to get rid of it when I was ready, but to get rid of it.

Um, yeah. I wore that skirt to Marie’s (of Marie +Vic’s Unfake Wedding) rehearsal dinner this past April.

And I totally told my therapist I trashed it like 5 years ago. I totally lied.

I just couldn’t let it go because I do truly love it. I just stopped using it to measure myself. Um, until last week.

I know, I know! I’m a terrible patient. I’m a terrible person. I do have an excuse though. Wanna hear it? OK, here it is: I needed something to kick me in the arse to get me back on a healthy track. Honestly, I’ve been eating like a jack-ass. I’ve been eating whatever I want, whenever I want and not caring about the consequences. This behavior has come about little by little over the last 6 months or so. Before I moved, I‘d have at least 3-4 servings of fruit and veggies a day. Now, I’m lucky if I have one. My main source of calcium?  Cheese and mayo– daily. Fiber? Meh. See where I’m going with this? I haven’t been binge eating or doing any of that to replace emotions or anything, just eating like total crap. And once you let it go a few times, it just becomes a bad habit all over again.

So you realize that I wore the skirt to Marie’s wedding – this was at the end of April. It fit, not terribly comfortably when I sat, but well enough to wear. I put this skirt on last week and nearly died. So tight I would not walk out of the house in the thing. It was only two and a half months ago that it fit! I mean, WTF have I been eating? So I sat down and figured out exactly what I had been eating: crap. High fat, low fiber crap. *Sigh*

I had to get back on track and the only way I know how to monitor what I’m eating is by journaling my food via the Weight Watchers point system. It’s always been my wake up call. Some people (myself included) claim that food journaling can be just as neurotic as other eating disorders. For me, I don’t believe that is the case and my therapist encouraged it. It puts things into perspective for me. It reminds me how important it is to drink lots of water, eat naturally grown versus over-processed foods and to get creative with my meals. That creativity thing has been a challenge too. Since we eat at home nearly every single meal now, I’ve fallen on some easy recipes that aren’t always the most healthy for us.

I started back on the journaling on Saturday and last night, we had the yummiest dinner of spiced chicken and veggies cooked on the grill with homemade, super-yum hummus (recipe from July’s issue of O Magazine). Instead of eating the whole chicken breast, I ate half, added extra veggies on my plate and had a healthy about of hummus. I was stuffed. For me, it’s all about paying attention – making conscious decisions about what to put in my mouth, which I have not been doing. After two days, I can’t tell you how much better I feel. Is that totally cliché? Probably, but fuck it. I have to do what works for me and this works. Since I’ve been down this path before, I know it will take me a few months to get back into the swing of eating healthy foods without the use of a journal. I fall off the horse, I get up and get back on. It’s just like any other bad habit – practicing the new habits and making them a learned behavior takes time. I consider it a refresher course. We'll see how it goes! Wish me luck!

So do you find yourself waxing and waning in bad habit management? How do you manage your own?

*Please note that I’m not looking for advice on weight management, diets or eating disorders. This is my own call to arms and I encourage a dialogue on how to manage habits, not a neurotic frenzy on how to lose weight (though I apologize if the post reads with that tone). I think the internet has enough of that weight loss crap, don’t you?

Tuesday
May032011

Forgive Me, Monique.

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Last week The Candyman and I headed into the Northern Territories (location as described by my North Carolinian husband) to witness my bestie Marie, get hitched. The planning for this little shindig was a lightening-fast 6 months and I was happy as a clam to help out wherever I could: I made her holiday Save the Date cards and designed the pdf for her OOT bag iron-on decal (she basically did hers like I did mine) and I sent her text-message-a-plenty from Hobby Lobby on possible table number options.

Before I discuss the point of this post, I must say that this was hands down, the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The food was great, the booze flowed with the strength of the Potomac River (which was the backdrop for their ceremony), and the DJ was so good that The Candyman was certain one of the old folks would fall and break a hip. The flowers and décor were stunning. Expenses were not spared. I don’t think the word “budget” was used often in the planning. Unlike a lot of expensive weddings though, there wasn’t a hint of pretentiousness in the room. I think the wedding was defined the moment the ceremony started. The bride’s sister and MOH (not the girly-est of girls) looked stunning and received a catcall and words of encouragement while walking down the aisle. The bride, delivered in a fancy antique car (maybe a Rolls?), exited her ride to a standing ovation. I’ve never been to a wedding where people had to quiet and settle down, just so the bride could walk down the aisle. It really was something special and I choked up for like, the tenth time that day.

I am hoping that Marie will eventually be an Unfake Bride so I don’t want to share her recaps before she does, but there was an event that occurred every bride should be prepped for. 

The Spill.

While the newly married bride and groom were off getting photographed, the rest of us enjoyed the passed artichoke fritters, mini bleu cheese burgers and mini pizza things. We mingled, found old friends and sipped on Marie’s signature cocktail (it was purple with a hot pink sugar rim and I only had a sip because it tasted like grape Kool-Aid and I knew it would go down WAY too fast, as would I if I kept at them). I saw a flutter of white out of the corner of my eye and saw Marie and Vic arrive. They were inundated with friends and family and well-wishers. I wanted to be one of them, but held my ground to catch her a little later. I’d spent the better part of the day with her while she was getting ready, so opted to share! As I gazed towards the sun setting over the Potomac, the flutter of white suddenly became a fast moving target. I watched as the bride made a beeline away from the crowd and head towards the interior reception area. I thought to myself, “Wow. Is she gonna break the seal and pee….already?” and then I saw her face and my thoughts became, “Holy shit, what the fuck just happened?” As she came into full view, my heart sank. Trailing down the side of her amazing Monique Lhuillier dress was perhaps a quarter of a glass of RED WINE.

The Spill.

I grabbed her hand and nearly yanked it out of its socket, pulling her to where I saw her planner a few minutes earlier. I know I was babbling something along the lines of “We’ll get it out. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.” Truth? I was worried. Silk is the HARDEST and most delicate material to clean, period. Her gown, being Monique Lhuillier, was 100% silk and I had spent most of the afternoon steaming it to perfection. The weave of the skirt was a twisted and textured one, giving it a beautiful drape and as I led her away, I blew the dust off my mental notebook of stain treatments. Don’t rub, blot. Cool water. White towels. Club soda. Salt. Baking soda. Shout Wipes. Tide Stick. Wine Away. Chalk.

Think of a wine stain as an acid dye like food coloring (many wines do in fact contain food coloring, one reason wine stains can be difficult to remove). Acid dyes bond very easily with silk, wool and other animal fibers (remember silk comes from silk WORMS) like angora and cashmere, making them a total pain in the ass to remove.

The first thing I wanted to do was to take her dress off and run it under the sink. Getting cool water THROUGH the stain is the best first step. I knew that wasn’t an option so began with hitting the planner up for something I knew she’d better fucking have in her bag: some sort of stain removal thing. She had some Shout Wipes and we started there. It worked on the smaller spots, but the larger stains were an issue. Another friend arrived with a glass of club soda and a clean towel and several hands had joined me at this point, dabbing and soaking, trying to get all the spots out. Someone else brought some salt. Both salt and baking soda can be mixed with a little water and dabbed on a stain to attempt to absorb it. This was not working either. I think the twist in the weave was keeping the color locked in tight and I was starting to wonder if we’d get it out.

The bride was massively bummed, to say the least. I looked up at her and the tears were about to spill over. I babbled something about marrying the man of her dreams, it was OK, it didn’t matter….and she said, “Just give me a second to cry and I’ll be okay!” Because sometimes, a girl’s gotta get her waterworks on to move on. She suppressed a sob or two and blessedly, another friend showed up with a bottle of champagne and a glass and the rightness of the world slowly came into view. What I always believed as theory before I now know as fact: champagne is the magical elixir of life, making all things less horrible.

I leaned back on my heels and surveyed the repair process. The stains were faded, but not gone. The smaller spots were not noticeable but the larger ones were a bit of an eyesore. What to do? What to do? What to do? Another woman on Gown Patrol started fluffing and moving the skirt around, adjusting the stains, moving the fabric around and it gave me an idea. I grabbed the planner's bag (who was totally MIA: WTF?) and dug around for what I needed: a sewing kit. I took the heavily stained pouf and tucked it up inside another pick-up on her skirt and the majority of the damage magically disappeared. I looked up at Marie and said, “I can sew another pick-up into your dress and hide the stain.”

And Marie was all, “DO IT.”

I was trying to get a needle out, thread it, find scissors…my hands were shaking so badly. The needle was so long it felt like I was sewing with a fucking sword. I was terrified. I asked, “Are you sure?” simply not trusting myself to plunge a needle into a Monique Lhuillier gown. Marie nodded yes. I made the sign of the cross and said, out loud, “Monique, please forgive me.”  Honestly, I felt like I was about to piss on the Mona Lisa.

I couldn’t get my hand all the way up under her skirt and hold onto the pick-up at the same time so I had no idea how many layers I was going through and I totally didn’t want to stab my already-upset friend. As I was sewing, another friend walked in and was all, “WHAT are you doing?” and Marie very calmly said, “She’s a seamstress. She knows what she’s doing.” I almost cried at her level of trust because I certainly didn’t feel like I knew what the fuck I was doing. AT ALL. I just wanted my friend to be happy on her wedding day.

We got the pick –up sewn in and I dug around in the planners bag for some chalk, but couldn’t find any. Chalk is kind of like White Out for wedding gowns. It does nothing to help the stain, but it can cover it in a pinch. No luck there, but another guest had sent her husband out for a Tide Stick, which ended up helping some of the remaining stains. I was so flustered from sewing into a Lhuillier gown, I left the room, now filled with friends and family, offering encouragement and booze to the bride. I felt for the most part, the crisis was averted.

By the end of the night, I think the pick-up I sewed in had been pulled out by the dancing and everyone stepping on her dress (this happened to me and my bustle). The bride could have cared less at this point as she was having too good of a time, which I feel is the best remedy to anything that can (and usually will) go wrong.

So here are my words of advice for any bride:

1. First, definitely do NOT drink red wine. My planner refused to let me imbibe in anything but white.

2. Be careful hugging people with cocktails in their hands. This is how this spill happened.

3. Make sure your planner or MOH has a kit with the following goodies: 

  • Tide Stick or Shout Wipes, or both
  • Needle, white thread, black thread (for groomsmen tux-tastrophes),scissors
  • Chalk
  • Wine Away or Wine Out stain removal.
  • Safety pins
  • Duct tape (in a pinch, it’ll hold a ripped out hem or torn bustle like nobody’s business. You can buy WHITE duct tape at Home Depot). Hem tape or scotch tape are good to bring, but neither really hold the weight of a gown very well.
  • Clear nail polish (for stocking runs)
  • Band-Aids
  • Tissues
  • Tweezers
  • Sedatives (if ya got em, bring em!)
  • Aspirin/Tylenol
  • Bobby pins/pony tail holder
  • Nail file
  • Breath mints
  • Lipstick
  • Straws (for beverage sipping prior to the reception)
  • Dental floss
  • Extra pair of cheap pearl/rhinestone earrings and extra earring backs.
  • Hairspray
  • Baking soda
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Super Glue (for broken heels, nails, jewelry)

4. Make sure that if the person who spilled the drink is your personal trainer, that you get him to agree to free training session for the rest of your living days. *ahem*

I did some research and the three most common wedding gown stains are red wine, lipstick and ink. Here are some dress-saving remedies:

Red Wine:  This website conducted research at UC, Davis and found several ways to help a red wine stain. I’m just going to list the practical ones because “3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal volume of Dawn liquid soap” does not sound like an easy wedding-day crisis solution to me. 

  • Gonzo "Wine Out" commercial stain remover.
  • "Wine Away" commercial stain remover.
  • Salt (applied immediately to absorb the liquid out of the fabric).
  • Sauvignon blanc white wine (I’ve never heard of this)
  • A solution of vinegar and Dawn liquid followed by rubbing alcohol.
  • Spray 'n Wash pre-laundry spot remover.

Lipstick: This is an oil based stain. As with wine, you need to get at the stain before it sets. Start with alcohol, which works well. Do not rub, or you'll spread the stain! Take a clean, white cloth and moisten it with alcohol. Then, blot the lipstick stain, which should disappear.

Another home remedy is dishwashing detergent such as Sunlight and Dawn, both formulated to fight grease. For this method of lipstick stain removal, dab on a little detergent mixed with cool water, let it set for about 10 minutes, and then gently begin working on the stain from the outside edges inward.

You can also apply baking soda directly to the stain as a cover up. It will stick to the stain until you can get your dress to the cleaners.

Ink: Hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Put a towel underneath the stain and then soak the spot with rubbing alcohol or hairspray. Blot the stain from the top with another towel as the alcohol dissolves away the ink. It might not get it all out, but it will definitely fade. Some hairsprays have a yellow tinge to it, so spray some in your palm first to make sure it won’t cause another discoloration on the gown.

During the reception, I caught glimpses of Marie dancing, talking with her guests – and in the dimly lighted room, you couldn’t even tell The Spill had happened. WHEW.

Most wedding gowns are HUGE. The have trains and bustles and things that have to be tied and laced and snapped and looped and buttoned and zipped and ….you get my point. It’s not like you can practice wearing a big ol’ gown. Know that it will be stepped on repeatedly, at the very least. Stuff can happen, so just arm yourself as best you can and try to move on if you do have a dress-tastrophe. Remember the love that got you to where you are.

If you can’t get a stain out, or repair a tear or fix your dress crisis if you do have one, just remember my all important factoid: champagne is the magical elixir of life, making all things less horrible.

Do you have another home remedy for fighting wedding day stains? Did you have your own dress-tastrophe? Do tell.