Our son Adam had his first date with Sarah on December 25, 2018. They got engaged on June 23. By the time my husband Larry and I met Carol and Dick, Sarah’s parents, in August, they had the rabbi, the October date, the venue, the DJ, and the photographer all lined up. All that was left to do was for them to send out the invitations and for all of us to figure out what we would be wearing.
In August, Sarah found a beautiful long sleeve white lace dress. At the same store, Carol and Sarah’s sister Molly found their dresses; a long gold brocade for Carol and and a black off-the shoulder top with a lovely flowered patterned for Molly. Julie purchased a beautiful teal green dress on E-Bay, the same place she had found her wedding dress twelve years before.
When Sarah and Adam asked our granddaughter to be flower girl, The Frisco Kid was thrilled—and prepared. “I will wear my Elsa dress” she announced. My daughter Julie gently explained that rather than her Frozen costume, Mommy would be buying her a special dress for her important role in the wedding. “Okay,” she said. “I will save the Elsa dress for MY wedding!”
Like my granddaughter, I originally planned on wearing a dress I already owned. I had purchased a cocktail dress the previous December for our community’s Shalom Club Ball.It was my favorite color—midnight blue—, and the v-necked sleeveless design fell perfectly on mid-knee. When I shared my decision with my maj jongg group, they objected.
“Your son only gets married once,” said Sharon, who led the charge. “You have been waiting a very long time for this! Get a new dress!”
Soon after this discussion, Larry and I celebrated our 45th anniversary by going out to dinner at a restaurant in one of Orlando’s largest shopping center. I suggested to Larry that we leave early so that we could look at suits for him(Adam and my son-in-law Sam had already purchased new suits) and at dresses for me.
When we perused the men’s department at Macy’s, Larry refused to even try on a suit.”I don’t need a new one,” he said. “The one I have in the closet is fine.” His only concession was to agree to have a tailor remove the pants’ cuffs, definitely no longer in style.
I had better luck—or maybe a better attitude—in the women’s department. After several fails, I tried on a more sophisticated version of the midnight blue dress I had worn to the Shalom Club Ball. Sleeveless with a diagonal neck line, it had a beautiful silver broach on the right side. The saleslady who was helping me agreed with me that was perfect for the evening event. She suggested it would look even better if I also invested in some (expensive) shapewear that would smooth out some of my bumps and lumps. As the chances of losing twenty pounds by the wedding were slim, I agreed. Okay, the dress wasn’t a Size 10, but when I pulled the whole thing together— I looked pretty amazing, and Larry agreed.
I asked the salesperson to snap a picture on my iPhone, which I sent to my mah jongg group. Within minutes, my phone was dinging like crazy.
“Yay! You are going to look gorgeousssss!”
“You are one SEXY MAMA don’t play safe go for bold n sexy!”
“You go girl!”
Then the text messages took on a life of its own, where I became to topic of discussion.”She needs shoes to match the dress.”
“[Hair] updo would make it look better.”
“She needs new makeup.”
This discussion continued the following Friday at Mah Jongg. One by one, my “fairy godsisters”:helped me accessorize by shopping in their closets. Beautiful silver sandals. A glittery handbag. A midnight blue bracelet. “Sapphire” hanging earrings.
They had one more suggestion—a trip to Sephora. After a first class make-over, I dropped over $100 on makeup, including foundation, blush, and an eye shadow palette with some silver glitter. I was set!
I wasn’t going to risk a chance of losing the outfit on our flight out to San Francisco. So three days before we left, I packed everything I needed in my carry-on. I carefully placed the plastic clothing bag protecting the dress on top of the shoes, handbag and undergarments. Fortunately, there were no flight problems on our way out, and I hung the entire outfit in our hotel room closet.
That evening, Larry and I met Adam and Sarah for dinner. To our surprise, Sarah showed us Wedding Dress Number Two. She felt the simple white sheath reflected more of her personality than the original Seventies-design.
The days leading up to the wedding were a whirlwind of total happiness and joy. Friends and relatives flew in from around the country. Many took advantage of the beautiful weather and the San Francisco location to tour the area. The night before the wedding, Larry and I hosted a welcome dinner at Sarah’s parents’ home,
The morning of the wedding, my siblings and I took a bus tour of San Francisco while Larry and Adam had professional shaves. We all got back to the hotel in plenty of time to get ready. I put on my new make up, spent a little more time on my hair, slipped on my shape wear, buckled up my beautiful silver sandals, put on my sapphire earrings and bracelet, took the dress out of the plastic bag, and slipped it over my head.
“Larry, would you please zip me up?”
Larry finished knotting his tie and turned his attention to me.
“Marilyn, that is NOT the dress you bought for the wedding,” Larry said. “That is the Shalom Club Ball dress.”
I looked in the mirror. He was right. After all that, I had packed the WRONG dress. Not the dress I bought for the wedding and had spent three weeks accessorizing. Nope, it was the dress I originally was going to wear.
“I can’t believe I brought the wrong dress!” I cried. “I can’t believe I brought the wrong dress!”
In ten minutes, the Uber was coming to pick us up. There was no way in the world I could fly back to Florida and grab the right one. I shook my head and accepted the inevitable.
“I guess I will be wearing this dress to the wedding!” Fortunately, both were midnight blue with silver accents. The only touch needed was a necklace to fit into the v-neck of the dress. Fortunately, my niece Laura had brought a sapphire and diamond necklace on a silver chain. Perfect!
When Larry and I arrived the wedding venue, we saw Sarah in her beautiful Wedding Dress Number Two and Adam in his new suit. Soon after, Carol and Dick came into the restaurant. Rather than wearing the dress she had purchased in August, Carol decided to wear the dress her own mother had worn at Carol and Dick’s wedding 48 years before..
Julie, Sam, and The Frisco Kid came in next. My granddaughter looked like a fairy princess in her pink and white flower girl dress and flower garland.”The onlywomen wearing their first choices were Julie and Molly. The men, inlcluding Larry whose old suit was perfect for the occasion, also hadn’t switched out their choices.
To say the wedding was special is the understatement of the year. I may have brought the “wrong” dress, but Adam had married the right person—a smart, caring ,independent woman who was beautiful inside and out. And, in the end, that is all that matters.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish World News, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York, in the October 31, 2019 issue.