The wedding dress (Storytime)

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a lovely weekend! 🙂

Today I want to tell you the story of a wedding dress. Or rather, the stories of two wedding dresses.

You see, I used to be married. Actually, I have been married twice, but this story is about the first wedding. But before we get to the wedding part of the story, I should probably tell you that I have never wanted to be married. At all. My parents marriage was a total disaster, and the thought of having to live with someone within a marriage has always pretty much freaked me out. Which makes it really weird that I have been married twice, but that’s what happened, and the reasons therefore is a whole different story. Let’s just go from the point of me not really wanting to be married, and even less wanting to have a wedding. At least a wedding of my own, where I were to be one of the main attractions of that day, so to speak. I did however on occasion enjoy arranging weddings with my dolls when I grew up, but contrary to what one might think it was not because I wanted the whole wedding thing for myself some day. Oh no – I only arranged doll weddings so that I could make all the clothes and dresses, and set the entire stage of the whole thing. It was like a huge display, where I would make bread and things to serve and eat for the dolls out of clay, in addition to making flowers and dresses and all that. But I did not PLAY wedding, I just displayed it, as I would display a lot of other “scenes” as well with my dolls (such as Cinderella, again making the clothes and all being the main objective).

Fast forward to my own wedding. I was 21 years old at the time, and I was about to be married to a man 17 years older than me on paper, but a teenager at heart – a truth I was at this point starting to realize, after having lived with him for a little less than two years. He was self-indulgent and selfish in the same ways a teenager is, and to make matters worse, he was practically an only child. Or, he WAS an only child, whom had had a “brother” in terms of a foster child placed in their family’s care. But he was more like a planet from a different solar system in that family, someone whom just occasionally drifted in and out of the family.

My husband-to-be was the one who initiated the whole wedding thing. During a discussion years after our divorce, neither one of us could remember exactly how the whole thing came about, except that he wanted to have kids, and I – having a dream of going to the university – did not feel the time was right for it, and pretty much laughed it off with something along the lines off ‘we can discuss that the day we are married!’. To me, not wanting to be married at all, it was a way of saying ‘HECK NO, not now!’, but his response to the whole thing was ‘okay then, let’s get married!’. I felt trapped. I had just said kids would not happen until I was married, and he immediately interpreted it as something I wanted to do, and I felt that I had basically said I wanted that, and that I had made some kind of promise. To make matters worse, I was all alone in this country (Sweden), and the few remnants of a family I had back in Norway were 1600 kilometres away (also, this was way back in 1994, so the internet barely existed yet).

All the above things led to a wedding that was everything I did not want, and you can tell on the pictures I shall show you. It was a show completely orchestrated by my husband-to-be and his mother. It ended up being a huge affair, with 80 people invited for dinner, and 120 for the party. I invited maybe 10, and only 5 had the opportunity to attend (as I was living in a different country). The rest was his friends and family. His mother decided whom we were to invite, and I was assigned to hand write all the invitations, handling rsvp’s and then hand writing all the thank you notes after the wedding. He and his mother decided what we were serving our guests, what flowers we were having, and what venues to use. I was barely allowed to participate in any other way than laborwise. Except for two things: The wedding cake and the wedding dress.

Now, let’s talk about the wedding cake first. It was a disaster. I had ordered it from a reputable bakery in Uppsala, and they were going to deliver it to us about one hour prior to serving on the wedding day. I repeatedly checked that they knew were they were going, and they repeated the description back to me, adding landmarks I had not even mentioned, so I felt confident that they would find the address without any problem. They did not. In fact, they got completely lost on their way to the wedding, and the cake arrived only a few minutes before we were supposed to cut it. And not only did it not look anything like the pictures I had been looking at (it looked more like it had been made by children), this was also the hottest day that summer, with temperatures far exceeding +30 degrees Celsius, which meant the icing on the cake had cracked in several places and the cake was starting to sag, after having been transported for so long in a hot car on a terribly hot day.

So the wedding cake thing did not go well, except for the fact that I had at least been allowed to make a decision on that matter. Then there was the wedding dress.

My husband-to-be and his mother spared no expense on foods and beverages. In fact, my husband-to-be used his pick-up truck to haul home all the beer and gin and wine and all, and he had to make several trips to get everything he wanted. We are talking alcohol for more than 2000 Euro (or dollars, for that matter), and it ended up lasting us for more than a year after the wedding, in spite of couragous attempts from several of our guests to empty the bar (I barely even tasted any alcohol at the wedding, it has never been my thing). But then I wanted to make my own wedding dress. If I had to get married, at least I wanted to do it in a dress that I had made myself, and for which I could for once really go all in with embellishments and what not. And since I would be making it myself, it would be a lot cheaper than buying a dress. And at first he said ‘sure!’.

Then I got a pattern I really liked, and I also found a pattern for a dress for the bridesmaid (his daughter from a previous relationship). I explained what I would need to make it, and I was SO excited! I looked so much forward to making this dress, it actually felt worth getting married over, that’s how bad I wanted to make it. He barely listened to what I had to say. Then he told me it would be too expensive and that he wanted to prioritize alcohol and food for the party (which was really the only part of the wedding he had any real interest in), and went to talk to his mother about something or other. And when he came back, the two of them had made a decision on my behalf: I was not to make my own wedding dress. Instead, I was to inherit the wedding dress my mother-in-law-to-be had once sewn for herself, for her wedding.

I was devastated. The one thing that really mattered to me in that whole circus during the six months leading up to the wedding, was taken away from me, and there was nothing I could do. My paycheck came from the company business that his grandfather had once built, and that his father now owned, and his son pretty much ran. In reality, my husband paid my salary, as I worked in the same business as them. And I had no other funds to get any money from, and no family to turn to. I had to accept their decision. So for the wedding I really didn’t want, I wore my mother-in-laws wedding dress, that she had maid. It was not the dress I wanted, and I hated the fact that she had gotten to make her own dress, but I was not allowed. By her and her son. That was a really painful experience.

The marriage did not last. We had a son, now 23 years old, and we got divorced in January 2000. But to this day, I still have that pattern of the wedding dress that never happened, and a part of me still wants to make it. It is not a style I would choose today and I have no intention of ever getting married again, but still…I want to make it. And maybe some day I will, as a delayed act of defiance, if nothing else. Because I have always regretted not standing up more for myself back then.

Me in my mother-in-laws wedding dress. See that face I am making? That is about as happy as I felt that day, and the photographer later said that she could hardly find any pictures of me smiling when she was going through the hundreds of photos she had taken. I just looked sad or tormented on almost all of them. Which I guess is pretty accurate for how I felt, even though I did my best to look happy.
I think this is one of the pictures I look the most happy in, in all of the wedding photos…
The wedding dress pattern.
The pattern for the bridesmaids dress, that I was not allowed to make either. We ended up renting her dress, as well as my husband-to-be’s suit.
This is the one. My the-one-that-got-away-make that I still want to make, even though I would never wear a dress like that today.
The second time I got married, in 2002, I did actually make my own wedding dress. But I did not want to get married this time either, and again felt bamboozled. But at least I made my own dress, albeit it being a very simple one.

 

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