Monday, January 28, 2008

The three-veil bride

If you spend any time on wedding blogland and on wedding message boards, you eventually run into the concept of the "two-dress bride." This is bride who buys one dress, then, in the course of her planning, realizes she hates it/doesn't look good in it/wants a ivory dress, not a white one. So she buys another dress. If you've ever wondered why there are so many unworn, unaltered designer wedding dresses on eBay, offered by normal people instead of sample sale liquidators, that's one of the reasons.

I have to say, I'm appalled by the idea of the two-dress bride. Wedding dresses are not cheap. This is a world where a $1,000 dress is considered "budget." Sure, you can get dresses for less, but these two-dress brides are not usually shopping at David's Bridal. If I spend that much money, I am a) going to be damned sure I love the dress before I put down any money, and b) going to keep loving the dress, I don't care how many other dresses drape their temptations before me.

However, I now must admit that I am a three-veil bride. You might remember the lovely cathedral-length veil I scored back in June. But I was never fully committed to it: I wasn't sure I wanted a veil, and I really feel a cathedral-length veil is really appropriate for, well, a cathedral.

So I started thinking about what I really wanted in a veil. My primary requirement was that it not cost a lot. As I've mentioned previously, I just can't justify spending a lot of money on a bit of tulle and lace that I am going to wear for an hour at most.

I bought some tulle and started fooling around. With some lace I bought off of eBay, I produced this:

This was actually a pain in the butt to sew. It took several days, a broken machine, and a lot of cursing. Fitting a straight lace to the edge of a circle involved a lot of careful cutting and pinning and fussing. But it turned out kind of nice.

The funny thing is, trying on a veil over street clothes just isn't helpful. I put on this lacy thing, and it was too much. It looked stupid and oddly like a communion veil.

So last night, after all the work I'd put into veil #2, I made myself a third veil, a simple square of tulle. Muttering to myself, "Geez. I'm a three-veil bride."

But, see, I decided to make it last night because I had my final fitting of the dress today. I took both the lacy circle veil and my plain square with me. And while I was standing there on Kiki's dais resplendent in gorgeous silk, I tried them both on.

And what do you know? The plain square was too plain. My dress has no embellishments--no beads, no lace, no pintucks or pleating. It's just a smooth fall of silk. The plain square just disappeared next to it. But the lacy circle looked beautiful. Even Kiki said so, even though I'm sure she could see it had been sewn by an amateur :-).

So, we have a winner. Maybe I can stop my obsessive veil-making. Though I do still have enough tulle for maybe two more.....

Next up: I take the veil to my second (yes, second--I may be committed to my dress, but other components are still up for grabs) hair trial.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's get physical

I've never been someone who loved exercise. Never.

You remember those Presidential Physical Fitness tests we had to take in gym at school? I always regarded those as a vehicle for gym teachers to express their contempt for out-of-shape kids. It literally never occurred to me as a child that these tests were meant to actually measure something and perhaps be used as a teaching tool. Certainly they were never used that way: when I couldn't hold that flex-arm hang for the minimum-to-avoid-being-labeled-dead 4 seconds, the gym teacher's lip curled, he looked at me with contempt, and turned his back, never to speak to me again. I used to be vaguely puzzled and hurt that President Ford thought it was a good thing to single out weak kids for sneers and ridicule.

When I was in sixth grade we had an Assistant Teacher in gym. She was crazy, one of those fitness freaks who thinks screaming abuse at you will motivate you to work. She would shriek at me and my weak friends, "No pain, no gain!" I remind you: we were 10. One day we had to run a mile. At the end, I was tired. No, I was exhausted. I was also walking. She ran up to me, leaned into my face, and began screaming abuse at me, about how I should run, how I shouldn't be lazy fat cow. Pushed to my limits after days or weeks of this, I muttered, "Shut up." She flipped out. She ordered me to go straight to locker room. As I left the gym, she apparently thought I had stuck my tongue out at her (I hadn't) because she screamed, "If I see that tongue one more time, I will rip it out of your head!"

I got detention for telling her to shut up. She, no doubt, continues to verbally abuse children to this day. Unless the cutting of school funding has resulted in her being unemployed and homeless.

One can only hope.

Anyway, I've flirted occasionally with exercise since then. In 2002 I lost a large amount of weight, and tried to incorporate exercise into my efforts. But I never enjoyed it, and when it didn't seem to have any weight-loss effect (I didn't lose weight any faster when I exercised than when I didn't), I stopped.

But, with the wedding looming, like many brides I began to think maybe some toning might be in order.

In September, I took up Reformer Pilates. I'd tried mat Pilates before, and hated it, but I had long been curious about the reformer machine. To my amazement, I love it. It is the only exercise I have ever tried where I come out of it energized. I had always thought this was a myth, because exercise had previously only made me exhausted and miserable. Pilates energizes me; it soothes me. When I am stressing out about my life, it's the only thing that calms me down.

Still, though I definitely started developing abs (abs!), my body shape wasn't changing. Pilates is not cardio. It's about flexibility and strength training, not about weight loss. Then in December I visited my seamstress Kiki for the second fitting on my dress, and she is making it fit like a second skin. Don't get me wrong: it looks gorgeous, but I cannot gain a pound between now and the wedding, and if I can do something about that lower belly pooch, now would be the time to do it.

So when I read this article about Physique 57, which promised to reshape my body in no time flat, I decided to try it out.

I can't say I love it, I'll be honest. I find it exhausting. I leave class with shaky legs, and my muscles are sore for days after. It doesn't soothe me so much as distract me. But, despite the fact that it doesn't energize me, I have apparently become addicted. I go three or four times a week (so far--it's only been two weeks :-), and I get anxious if I have to skip too many days in a row. I am clearly obsessed with looking good in that dress! I haven't lost any inches yet, but that pooch is looking a bit flatter. Even my sweetie noticed when he was visiting last weekend. Yes, I find it hard to believe it did that much for me in a week, but combined with months of Pilates, I guess my stomach really is getting tightened up.

I've got 25 days between now and the wedding to turn myself into a sleek, elegant bride. I know it's not possible. I know elegant is not my look: the best I can do is cute. Still, I aspire to elegance, and I am going to come the closest I've ever come on my wedding day. I am determined.

I still can't do that flex-arm hang, though.