A few days before Christmas, I took myself shopping. I haven’t been shopping for myself in God knows how long. The Financial Lockdown Crisis of 2011 is basically a permanent situation until I either get a full-time gig or become a famous bridal accessory designer. You know, whichever comes first.
I went to the behemoth discount mall that’s-super close to my house and wandered aimlessly through the throngs of last minute Christmas shoppers. I was passing by Books-a-Million and thought I’d check and see if there were any good deals for last minute stocking stuffers. I considered The Zombie Survival Guide for The Candyman. I had the book in my hands and was wandering around the store contemplating the purchase, just browsing. I entered an aisle and nearly tripped over a woman sitting on the floor digging through books. We laughed, she moved, I stepped around her and glanced quickly at the shelves she was attacking.
Yup. Wedding planning books.
So I stop and pretend to look at the books a section or two down from her and watched her for a few minutes. Not long. And no, I was NOT being creepy, just interested. I think it was really the way she was looking through these books that made me stop. She’d jerk one out, flip through it and sigh and slam it back into the shelf. She had a growing pile on the floor next to her that she would pick from, flip through and add back to the pile or slam back into the shelf.
I casually moved a section closer to her and watched her do this a few more times before I interrupted her wedding book assault. “Getting married?” I asked. She stopped, looked up at me with this face that I can only describe as totally exasperated and said, with the tone of someone who was NOT excited at all, “Yes. *sigh* I am. And I can’t find what I’m looking for.”
“Oh? What would that be?” I asked.
“A decent planning notebook.”
I squatted down and looked at her pile, then looked her straight in the face and said, “Can’t I give you some unsolicited advice?” She nodded, eyes like saucers. “Don’t waste your money on this shit.” Of course I got the shock-face for Swearing in the South, but I’ve found that if you ignore the fact that you just swore, so will they because they are Southerners and are too polite to do anything but be shocked.
I handed her my business card for this website and said, “You need to get online. You can find everything you’re looking at here for free on the internet. Design ideas, timelines, budget worksheets, DIY projects. And it’s all free.”
Her face lit up and she smiled. “Oh! I’ve been online! I joined The Knot!”
“Oh. Um. No.”
“No?” The face crumbled again.
“No. The Knot is a great place to start [I was trying to be polite], but it’s a bit….dedicated to its advertisers, shall we say? Ever heard of Style Me Pretty? Snippet and Ink? The Broke-Ass Bride?”
Now at this point I almost launch into the whole WIC (Wedding Industry Complex) thing, but stop myself because I know this chick just wants some freakin’ relief from her own brain. Instead, I told her to go to my site, check out my Link ♥ section and review some of the websites listed under Wedding Planning Resources. I explained there were literally thousands of wedding pictures to look at with ideas, links to vendors, DIY tutorials, more than what was on the shelves in front of her and all for free. I also told her that there were brides, just like her sharing their own projects, ideas, pictures and frustrations.
She seemed a bit stunned at this information and my heart went out to her. She looked like I felt about 2 months after I got engaged, before I knew about the online wedding community. I wished her well, she thanked me and I walked away. I got an aisle or two from her and then ran back and handed her a TruLu Couture card too, you know, just in case. [Insert snarky self-promotion comment here]. When I went back, she was still sitting there, but she was just casually flipping through the books now. No more slamming. No more heaving of sighs. The panic was gone.
I decided not to get the zombie book for The Candyman and left the store feeling much like a Wedding Jedi Master. As I walked out of Books-a-Million and waded back into the pulsing river of Christmas shoppers, I gave myself a mental pat on the back and said to myself, “Your work here is done.”