In 1999, we were to attend a wedding for my Patient Husband’s cousin, and being socially savvy, I knew I’d need to wear something dressy for the occasion. (Because while I’m a total klutz about interacting with human beings, and I admittedly have no sense of style, I can remember rules very well: I know you need to dress up for a wedding.)
I went to a local store and one dress looked perfect. It was actually a jacket and skirt combo, tailored, pretty — and all black. I vaguely remembered Miss Manners saying something about not wearing all black to a wedding, and also the family legend about how my great-grandmother had worn all black to my grandmother’s wedding, complete with a black veil, sobbing and crying “My daughter!” through the whole ceremony.
Do you think Great-grandma disapproved? Maybe?
But I didn’t disapprove of this cousin’s choice of marital partner, nor would I have been likely to weep violently if I had, so even though the dress looked awesome on me, I didn’t buy it.
I couldn’t bear to let it go either, though, and we didn’t have a ton of money in those days. So I came up with the perfect plan: I had them hold the dress behind the counter and told them I’d be back once I made up my mind. Then I went home and called my mother because she’d know what was the right thing to do. She told me not to wear all-black to an afternoon wedding, and the case was settled. Sadly that evening, I told my Patient Husband about “my stylin’ dress” and that was the end of the matter. The next day, I went elsewhere and bought a different one.
People do, apparently, wear all black to weddings nowadays. It’s not just for mourning any longer, nor for mothers-of-the-bride who liken their daughter’s wedding to a funeral.
(Nor is it as my cousin said happily to me way-back-when, “the mafia-whore look.” Yes, we’re both Italian. No, no connection to the mafia. But apparently a short black skirt with black nylons and black shoes is “the mafia-whore look.” Said when we were both wearing exactly that to my grandmother’s funeral. I’m never going to forget that, and now neither will you. Enjoy that thought.)
I wore the other dress to the wedding, but I never really forgot that special black one.
On Christmas day, I opened a box to find my stylin’ dress.
I looked up at my Patient Husband, shocked, and I couldn’t even ask him: how had he known which dress it was, let alone the size?
“You made it easy for me.” He laughed out loud at my incredulity. “You’d had them hold it for you behind the counter.”
It’s still one of my favorite dresses, and four babies later, it still looks good on me, but I like the memory best of all. Thank you, Patient Husband!