If you read this column last month, then you know I'm planning my own wedding. Or at least, thinking about planning it. Or really, just planning to think about it.
If I sound ambivalent, it's because I am and I'm not. On the one hand, being married sounds wonderful. On the other hand, getting married sounds like a platinum pain in the ass.
Where do you even start? All I really know is what I don't want: a dress that costs more than my car, anything having to do with Jordan Almonds, and rhinestones on my vagina. Past that, I'm drawing a blank.
Fortunately, Brides.com gave me a 12-month plan when I started this assignment. They tell me if I follow it carefully, I'll wind up with a wedding at the end of the year. Then again, I may just wind up with 12 columns and a Klonopin prescription.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is Month One. And according to my calendar, there are a lot of decisions to make.
The good news is that some questions have answered themselves. For example, I'm fairly certain you need girlfriends to have bridesmaids, so we can cross that off the list. We don't like anyone, so the guest list is small. And I know I want K.C. and the Sunshine Band at the reception, if they're still living. But that's as far as I got.
Clearly, I needed help. I needed a place where I could gather information, talk to experts, and get free stuff. But where does one find such a magical place?
And then, out of nowhere, a pass to a bridal show showed up in my inbox. I'd never been to one before, and the timing was perfect. Best of all, it was happening at the Universal Sheraton. If I got bored, I could walk over to Universal Studios and get a churro. So really, I had nothing to lose.
As soon as I opened the glass doors, I knew it was going to be a long afternoon. A wave of old-lady perfume and harp music assaulted me, as did an unnaturally peach-colored woman with a flyer for an airbrush makeover. And while I waited to register, no fewer than three people told me there was free cake, with an excitement usually reserved for organ transplant recipients.
After getting my wristband, I went into the ballroom. And the first thing I saw was a tableful of vibrators. I have to admit, I don't understand selling masturbation to brides. Theoretically, that's a job you don't have to do anymore, like taking out the trash or changing a tire.
"And while I waited to register, no fewer than three people told me there was free cake, with an excitement usually reserved for organ transplant recipients."
But more than that, the whole "naughty" aspect of bachelorette parties seems so archaic. Let's face it, most of us have seen a penis before, so giggling behind our hands at a vibrator is such vaudeville. And even if you were that rare virgin bride, I think coming face to face with a giant, purple phallus at a bridal show would make you want to lock yourself in your room and push the dresser against the door.
Next came a more curious group of exhibitors: people with no connection to the wedding industry, but are piggybacking on the traffic (or maybe just looking for free cake). These vendors included a roofing company, a rooter service, and a water-purification display, because, well brides drink water.
Rounding the corner, I finally found something worth stopping for: the chocolate fountain. As I sat there, gorging on free chocolate-covered strawberries, I realized that I was surrounded by starving models in bridal gowns staring at me with resentment. I put my feet up on a Pilates display and finished my marshmallows.
Then it was on to one of the highlights of the day—a vendor promising the Most Creative Weddings on Earth™. The owner of the business was an elderly minister who rents out his own tables and chairs. "You see this?" he asked, pointing to a photo of some Hawaiian-themed plastic decor. "I own that setup."
Duly impressed, I decided to ask him about some of his most creative weddings. Because this was, after all, home of the Most Creative Weddings on Earth™.
"What kind of ceremonies do you do?"
"Oh, lots. Your rope ceremony, your tea ceremony, your coin ceremony.... I do them all. The Orientals are crazy about them."
"Okay," I continued, "so, you specialize in creative weddings."
"The Most Creative Weddings on Earth™!"
"What would you say is the most creative wedding you've ever done?"
He thought for a moment, stroking his chin.
"Probably at the beach."
Finally it was time to visit the free cake booth, where the mood was a little hysterical. It was only when I got to the front of the line that I realized what the excitement was about: There on an easel behind the table was an enormous framed photo of Khloé Kardashian, cutting the very style of cake that we were about to sample. Yes, we were getting a taste of what they served at Khloé's wedding, and for a brief moment I too felt like a reality TV show star with no discernible talent.
I picked up a paper plate and a plastic fork, expecting to get a mouthful of how the other half lives. Instead, I bit into what can only be described as the Worst Cake on Earth™. I make better cake, and if you've ever had my cake, you understand what an insult that is. The filling tasted like Robitussin, but on the plus side, I didn't cough for hours.
"... and for a brief moment I too felt like a reality TV show star with no discernable talent."
I chucked my uneaten cake into the trash like Keira Knightley at her birthday party, and decided to call it a day. But as I walked toward the exit, I noticed a "psychic" offering readings for $20. And I realized I had one more stop to make.
The psychic smiled as I approached, but her interest flagged when I said I just wanted to ask some questions. Still, she graciously allowed me to have a seat while she texted her husband and sighed.
She told me she'd been working as a psychic for 14 years, after having been tested for clairvoyance in junior high. I don't remember that test myself, but maybe they don't tell you about it. Maybe you're just supposed to find the classroom.
I asked her if she ever felt that a bride was making a mistake, and if so, did she tell them?
"Oh sure," she said.
"Really?" I asked. "You actually tell them they're marrying the wrong man?"
"Of course. They already know anyway."
In a way, that might have been the most helpful conversation I had that day. It all comes down to your own intuition. You already have the information you need. You just have to listen.
April Winchell has been a talk radio host, a sitcom writer, an advertising executive and the voice of hundreds of animated Disney characters. In October of 2009, she created the hit website Regretsy.com, which led to the publication of "Regretsy: Where DIY meets WTF" in April of 2010. Even though she has been writing professionally since 1989, she still finds talking about herself in the third person really uncomfortable.