Tuesday, February 16, 2010

wedding gowns need a safety buddy

I never thought I would end up blogging about my wedding. It seems so...domestic. And dull. All the stuff leading up to the wedding, yes. The immigration headaches, my first experiences in a new country, getting to know my new British family, yes to all of that. But the wedding itself? Hadn't planned on it. Talking to you people about my flower choices and the angst involved in finding an affordable photographer (turns out that is a complete impossibility, by the way), or finally discovering the perfect tiara to match my mom's necklace that came with me from Canada...does any of that even remotely interest you? No. Didn't think so. Anyone who would be interested is off reading some lacy, flowery wedding blog and getting dewy-eyed over this girl's four-carat engagement ring, and that girl's ten thousand dollar (pound?) floral arrangements.

But then my wedding gown arrived.


And suddenly I have lost any control of myself I once had and feel the need to tell you people all about the experience. My apologies. Just go with it. My wedding is in eleven days, and after that I am sure I will get back to my non-girly self. The one who doesn't care if her tiara matches her earrings. Any tiara will do!

So. The gown. A few posts back I chronicled my accidental finding of the wedding gown of my dreams, which I truly thought would be my one and only foray into the wonderful world of the wedding blogger. Well, that gown finally arrived from Canada and I pulled it out of the box, breathless with excitement. It looked as gorgeous as I remembered...which was about all I could remember of it, frankly, beyond a vague idea that the straps went like this and the skirt went sort of like that. With some sparkly things. Mmhmm. I was more than a little relieved to find it actually did have more detail to it than that. I inspected it closely to find the alterations beautifully done, the laces up the back looking perfectly corset-like. My dream dress was actually here and in my hands. I think I may have been trembling.

A quick glance up at the clock showed that I still had hours yet before My Guy would be home from work. So of course I immediately had to try it on. It is impossible to let a brand new wedding gown, freshly un-crumpled from its box all the way from Winnipeg, just sit there and not try it on. I defy any woman out there to be able to resist that temptation.

I stripped down in the middle of the lounge - there was no way there would be room for all that gown in the bedroom - and then contemplated the gown for a moment as it draped across the sofa, beckoning to me silently. This called for a game plan. First, I loosened up the ribbon out of the oh-so-carefully laced corset back. There was no way I was fitting in there with the lacings pulled tight. I suppressed a moment of doubt that had me wondering if I would fit into it even without the lacings pulled tight. Or with no lacings at all. I didn't remember it being that tiny...and then there had been all of the new taste sensations England had had to offer over the past three months. I said a silent prayer and vowed not to have another steak slice or iced bun until after the wedding.

Then came the next big decision. Step in, or up and over? I held the top of the dress open, looking down into it. Surely my butt couldn't possibly get in through that tiny opening...? Well, maybe it would. Give it a try. It was certainly the easiest option. So I delicately stepped into the meringue poof of skirt pooled on the floor. Grasped the top of the dress and slid it carefully upwards. Right up to my thighs.

Yeah. I was right the first time.

So, I lowered the skirt back down to the floor and had a good think. I stood again in my underpants, tapping my chin with a finger.

If I just....no, probably not.

Well, maybe if I....

...oh, please, you can't be serious.

There was nothing for it. I laid the gown over the back of the sofa and just sort of...wormed my way in. I burrowed upwards through the netting and lace until I reached open air again. I got my arms through the holes and wriggled myself up into the bodice. And suddenly I was in. The dress was on. I looked at myself in the wall mirror, flushed with the effort and the excitement. I wanted desperately to see how it would look all laced up, and made some interesting contortions trying to pull on the ends of the laces, without making much headway. Eight shoulder surgeries had pretty much taken away any possibility of me actually being able to reach my own back. It hasn't been washed since I was fourteen.

Undaunted, I pulled the sides of the bodice tight to me with my hands and just imagined how it would look once I was all cinched in on my wedding day. After looking at myself from every angle I decided it might be time to get out of the gown again. I was now more than flushed from my exertions. It turns out nineteen layers of netting and lace is really pretty warm. I was suddenly really glad that most days entering our church is like walking into a meat locker, where you can see your breath and icicles hang from your nose by the end of the service. I figure the dress and the stone church will sort of cancel each other out and I will be at perfect room temperature.

At any rate, not wanting to get my gown all sweaty before the big day, I decided to take it off.

This is the point where I got stuck in my wedding gown for an hour. Getting back out of it again involved the sort of physical maneuvers any circus contortionist would have been proud of. And corn starch. Lots of corn starch.

Don't ask.

Who knew that getting out of a wedding gown would be so much harder than getting in? After thinking it over, though, I realized you just sort of have to climb up into the gown to get it on. Whereas you have to actually be able to get all that gown up and over your head to get it back off again.

After trying and failing to get the gown over my head, I bent and twisted and pulled until I had removed all the lacing from up the back. There! No problem! It'll come off easily now!


Or not.

I bravely tried once again to will my butt to fit through the tiny opening and just sort of shove downward. It was not a pretty sight. Sort of like watching a frilly jellyfish try to birth a manatee.

Up and over it would have to be once again.

I writhed.

I wriggled.

I twisted.

I got myself into positions the human body was never designed for.

I went for the corn starch...

Just as I was on the point of admitting defeat, swallowing my humiliation and calling my future mother-in-law to come and rescue me from my wedding gown, I finally managed to worm one arm out of the hole. A few minutes later the rest of me followed. Oh, the joy! The blessed blessed relief! I was hot, I was sweaty, I was panting with the effort. I was covered in corn starch residue. I looked like I had been in a struggle to the death in a baker's and only just barely come out the victor.

Still, I was grinning like an idiot, my beautiful gown in a heap on the floor. And it was mine, all mine.
As a silver lining, I have discovered I can make use of my wedding gown later as a winter parka, should the need arise. That little gold nugget of information was well worth getting stuck in my gown for an hour. And using up half a box of corn starch.

And this ordeal has made me realize one of the most wonderful things about getting married. The next time I need to get out of that gown? I'll have help. :o)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

and it's not even valentine's day yet...

I have been in England for almost three months. And there is so much I could say, so much I need to tell you all. About how I am settling in. How I feel so very much at home already. How some things are so much different than I expected. And how some things are exactly what I thought they would be. There is so much I could tell you about the places I've seen, the new things I've tried, the happiness I have found, so very far from where I started.

And I will.

But not today.

Today I want to tell you about My Guy. That wonderful, incredible man who brought me halfway around the world. And for whom I would have gone across the universe if I had to.

We have been living together here in England for almost three months. Which is almost three times as many days as we have ever spent in each other's physical company over the past two years since we started our long-distance romance. Thirty-two. That is how many days we were together before I got here to my new home. All the rest of those two years was spent on webcam, in telephone calls, on missing each other more than I can say.

Now, when My Guy and I met online, completely by accident, neither of us looking for love on the internet, I really had no idea where it might go. Two weeks after we bumped into each other in a virtual online world, and hadn't stopped talking a moment since, My Guy asked if I would be willing to try a long-distance relationship. At the time I didn't even really know what that meant. Or how it would work. But I didn't care. I had met someone who seemed to be the other half of me, who filled up all the empty places with laughter and hope and a giddy feeling that had me floating through those early days.

I was so scared in the beginning. I worried that I would give my heart over to this man, only to have him crush it completely when he couldn't handle the challenges that I present. I had never before let my heart go unguarded, had never met anyone that I even suspected would be able to cope with...well, with me. But this man made me think maybe, just maybe...

And he has proven to be so much more than I could ever have dreamed for myself. He has a boundless compassion, an empathy that never crosses over to pity, a patience that astounds me still. He also has my twisted sense of humour and makes me laugh until I can't breathe and my stomach hurts the next day. He takes care of me...but also lets me take care of him when he needs it.

We will be married in four weeks from today. And I know that none of this really means anything to any of you. Someone else's love never does. It is all just pretty words that can't ever come close to really expressing how safe I feel in his arms, how beautiful I feel when he is at my side, how I live with the new knowledge of being perfectly loved every moment of every day. There is no way to truly tell you how very much I am in love. But today of all days I felt the need to try anyway.

Happy birthday, my love, my heart. You still take my breath away. You have made every dream I ever had come true.

And then some.