“Mawwaige… Mawwaige is Wot Bwings us Togevah Today…” from “The Princess Bride”
Greetings Dear Ones!
Contrary to popular belief, the foundation of a good wedding is not about the right venue, the perfect dress, coordinating the bridesmaids’ gowns with the napkins, or knowing when to bite your lip and just smile politely at your mother-in-law. These are just surface elements. Like Love itself, it is what is underneath it all that really counts. And by that, I mean “Foundation Garments.” Yes. Undies.
As this Summer Wedding season grinds on, it’s becoming unbearably hot and sweaty in the tiny, windowless, unvented dressing room/sauna where our customers go to try on their clothing. The result is an olfactory stew that assaults the senses with a blend of acrid perfumes, perspiration, and someone’s unfortunate inability to digest non-dairy creamers.
Bridey-locks is here again. She came in months ago with a gown that was too tight; we let it out. Then she decided to go on a diet and lose thirty pounds; now it’s too loose. If only I could fill it with porridge and make it Just Right. She steps into the gown, heaves the front into place and then opens the dressing room door so that she can a. have access to oxygen again, and b. so I can lace her up. As I start threading the loops on her corset-backed gown, there is a faintly bovine smell rising with the steam off her back. I glance down and see, much to my surprise, a trickle of sweat making its way to the ravine between two ever so lightly furred buttocks. This bride is Naked! She is going commando in a Wedding Dress! Prudence chokes and rushes for her smelling salts and hanky.
I have seen this before. A surprising number of people don’t think they have to wear underwear to a formal fitting. They don’t understand that the primary purpose of wearing underwear is that it serves to keep outer garments from being soiled by absorbing bodily excretions that might stain or damage them. Other reasons are no less important: to avoid friction, to shape the body, to add warmth, for visual appeal, or for religious reasons. I certainly can understand not wanting to add any extra warmth on a day like today—but seriously Honey, are you really more comfortable having everything stick together down there? Cause it AINT visually appealing! No wonder certain religions seek to slip-cover the whole business and hide it from sight.
On my own wedding day many years ago, I decided to wear very sexy lace lingerie that promptly installed itself in the most inconvenient of locations. By the opening hymn, as I made my way steadfastly down the aisle, it was bunching uncomfortably but there was no way to rearrange it through the layers upon layers of fabric, especially in the front of the church, with my back to of all those people. All through Mass and the Vows and the sign of Peace, it hiked its way North more determinedly than renowned climber Alex Honnold during his ascent on El Capitan. By the reception it was getting hard to smile without crouching to give myself some slack. By the end of the night, my legs were fully two inches longer yet I hadn't grown a bit. What began as an attempt to be visually alluring to my Beloved, resulted in a semi-permanent limp.
For a very brief period of time, this experience led me to preach the gospel of not wearing underwear on one’s wedding day—something my dearest friend in all the world adhered to with Dire Consequences. I resolve never to advise this again. When brides or bridesmaids go naked under their clothes (wait a minute, aren’t we ALL naked under our clothes?) I ask them politely if they might want to consider wearing some “foundation garments”—like scuba gear and flippers.
As I say, I am still atoning for once advising a very young, innocent, and beautiful bride to skip the sexy underwear and wear only control-top pantyhose with a built-in cotton crotch. I told her she would be so much more comfortable than if her underwear shifted. Like me, she married in the early nineties, when it was fashionable to disguise brides as enormous lemon meringue pies. “Everything will be so much easier,” I insisted, “if you skip the panties. You can always change into something pretty later.” I made all the bridesmaids gowns and matching waistcoats for the groomsmen. I hosted her bridal tea. I gradually assumed control of the entire wedding, much to the Maid of Honor’s dismay. Wide-eyed, the poor bride agreed to everything I said.
On her wedding day, she marched down the aisle wearing nothing but a pair of sheer panty hose underneath twenty yards of chiffon. I even convinced her to ditch the bra, since her gown was strapless, and use the rubber “cutlets” to fill out the front where her bust was a little scanty. Bravely, she came—lock-stepping slowly towards the altar to the sounds of “The Prince of Denmark’s March” with rubber boobs and no knickers. Shall we pause here and just consider the absurdity of some of our matrimonial costuming traditions and what society (and women themselves) imposes on women for this event? No? We just take it for granted that any of this is normal and sensible and necessary to the plighting of a troth? Ok… Let’s get to the reception then, where it all went ghastly Wrong.
First, we need to back up a little bit and set the scene. The basic ingredients of the plot are thus: The in-laws are god-fearing, law-abiding, genteel Southern Baptists from Kentucky whose expectations of a nuptial celebration include a morning service, followed by some (non-alcoholic) punch and cookies in the church basement where everyone stands around in gorgeous hats and says polite things and then goes home. That’s it. End of story. Unfortunately, their son is marrying this cute little Yankee harlot from the North whose Catholic relatives are expecting the bash to last three days. They have planned a rehearsal dinner the night before, the wedding and a big sit-down dinner after, followed by a brunch the next day. There will be approximately forty-seven hours of merriment, decadence, and debauchery amidst rivers of champagne. Have I mentioned that all Catholics are going to hell? According to these in-laws. It’s clear to them at first glance that these other “in-laws” are Outlaws. Nervously, for the sake of their son, they proceed. They witness first-hand the alcohol, the dancing, the loud music. Mrs. In-Law’s lips get pressed tighter and tighter together until only the thinnest line remains. To her horror, Mr. In-law is having the time of his life. SINNING. He’s snuck out back to have a cigar and a whisky with the other men. One of them slaps him on the back and says “too bad ya’ll don’t believe in Confession…you could sin all you want and wipe this all clean on Monday!” He laughs nervously. Satan, in the form of a voluptuous bridesmaid—the bride’s college roommate—asks him to dance.
The DJ, the bride’s uncle, puts on some swing music and everyone grabs their partners for some jumpin’ and jivin’. A kilted Scotsman in full Bonnie Prince Charlie attire seizes the bride and begins to dance with her. Everyone else stops dancing and circles around them to watch. They are fabulous dancers. The music is throbbing and their steps are light and quick as he flings her this way and that. Everyone is cheering. Even Mr. and Mrs. In-law can’t help joining the circle to watch their son’s bride trotting around the center of the ring like a frilly circus pony. It’s Magnificent.
The Scotsman decides to show off a little more by getting really fancy and flipping the bride up and over his back and catching her in an arial move that SHOULD have been a Fantastic Finale, had it not been for the beading of her gown and his big flashy buttons. They hit a snag faster than a trout line in weeds. The bride’s front is stuck on his jacket buttons and he is bent over, holding her chest-to-chest beneath him. She is upside down, legs in the air, with her skirts inverted over both of them. All we can see is what looks like an enormous up-side-down mushroom whose two high-heeled stalks are kicking madly. Well, to be honest, we can see a little more than that. A Lot more. We can see things none of us really want to see. Things we cannot unsee for as long as we live. There is a momentous pause. Then a horrible rending sound of fabric tearing as the bride’s gown rips open, stem to stern, along the zipper in the back as the dress gives way. The force of her subsequent fall launches the rubber cutlets into the air in a spectacular arc—which eye-witnesses attest happened in slow motion. The higher of the two cutlets does a full loop-de-loop and comes to rest right on her new Father-in-law’s foot. He looks down so suddenly, with such an open-mouthed, shocked expression on his face that his upper plate of dentures falls out on the floor right next to the prosthetic boob. Not many of us who were there remember what happened after that. How did we get home? We don’t know. We are stuck, frozen there—teeth by boob—like a slide projector that has jammed on a single frame that has since outlasted that unfortunate marriage.
It’s not just women who need to shore up their foundations. This rule goes both ways. Men, too MUST wear undergarments for the good of their garments and their own protection. I’m sure you have all heard the unfortunate tale of the young Scottish man whose fuming bride punched him and started a family brawl at their wedding reception in 2017. When the police finally broke up the melee, and tried to sort out what had started the violence, they discovered that it all began when the Traditionally Attired (sans underpants) groom sat on the bride’s knee and left a small “skid mark” on her gown. Much blood was shed and seven people were arrested as a result of this young man’s poorly wiped backside!
The moral of this story, for those of you who still require morals, is consistent with most of the Wisdom emanating from the experiences in this shop: Give a thought to what is Inside, Underneath, to what is holding you up and keeping you clean… Remember that it is the BRIDE who is expected to blush, not her guests. These things are vital to your Success in so many ways. You never know when your Posterior may become your Posterity. You might spend hours agonizing over menu-choices and music choices and whether or not to seat Uncle Howard at the kid’s table, all for naught—only to have all the Magic obliterated by the untimely appearance of a hairy ass on the dance floor… This is more than I can share with the steaming bride in the dressing room today, so I am sharing it with you, Dear Ones. I know that words alone are not good teachers—at best, they can only validate prior experience—but perhaps the wiser ones among you can glean Something Useful from these tales that leave us all as open-mouthed as a toothless Kentuckian.
Be Well my darlings! May your linens be clean and your laughs be dirty. I love you all so much.