55: The Bridesmaid Dress

55: The Bridesmaid Dress

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

The Bridesmaid Dress

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be.

~Douglas Pagels

Poofy, purple, petticoat, parasol — just a few P words to describe my bridesmaid dresses. In 1998, not one of those P words would be associated with fashionable, let alone wearable. This story explains how my bridesmaids became the most grateful bridesmaids on the planet. All because of a dress choice.

“I love the dress,” my maid of honor said. Not an uncommon sentiment, true or not, uttered in dress shops around the world when the bridesmaid dress is finally unveiled to the eager group of women. My bridesmaids were no different except that I knew their feelings were heartfelt.

I love purple, and I love poofy dresses. You should see my prom picture. I don’t know how my dress and my date fit into the picture, let alone the car. (Maybe that’s why he rented a limousine.) My initial choice of a bridesmaid dress should have been no surprise to my dear friends. What they didn’t know, however, was that the dress was a practical joke.

I found a local costume shop and a friend to accompany me to the store. I searched rows of costumes to find the perfect dress. Little Bo Peep, Cinderella, Scarlett O’Hara and many others were represented. Between the petticoats I found it — a lavender southern belle dress. If you aren’t familiar with the style, let me enlighten you. The skirt portion of the dress looks like a bell. The hoops and layers of petticoats help the bell keep its shape. When you walk, no chime sounds, but the forward and backward motion of the skirt makes a bit of a whooshing sound. The lavender taffeta shimmered through the white lace that covered the entire dress. The sleeves puffed over the shoulders like a mushroom top. Elastic lace gave a snug fit on the upper arm. However, my outfit was not yet complete. White lace gloves complimented the lace overlay on the dress. A gaudy purple parasol was the finishing touch. The shop clerk allowed me to take a picture when I explained the purpose of my visit. My smile for the camera widened beyond the scope of the lens.

I sent a copy of the picture to each friend through e-mail and waited.

“You’ve got mail,” rang out from my computer. Susan was the first to reply. “It’s lovely. I especially like how the lace gloves compliment the lace on the dress.” Stacy sent a short reply. “So glad you found the right dress. The wedding will be great.” Deanna complimented the color. Denise found a polite way to suggest the parasol might overshadow the dress. Sandy didn’t say much, but didn’t complain either. Each e-mail brought me great delight and barrels of laughter.

After a day or two of only positive replies about the most hideous, gaudy, purple, poofy dress anyone would have to wear, my laughter turned to tears of joy. My friends loved me enough to wear a hideous, gaudy, purple, poofy dress while holding a parasol with lace-gloved hands in public. I had to release them from their hidden torment.

We met at the bridal shop a few days after the initial e-mail. I thanked them for their kind comments and pulled the real bridesmaid dress from behind a rack. It was a purplish blue (I had to have purple), flowing tank dress with optional shawl to cover their shoulders. Their wide-eyed faces turned into smiles of relief. Their misery ended. Those bridesmaids not at the store were immediately called to relieve their tension.

Although the chosen dress wasn’t perfect for everyone’s taste either, it didn’t matter. No bride can please all her bridesmaids with the choice of the dress. Through my practical joke, I came to know that I had chosen my bridesmaids well. The day of my wedding, I was surrounded by supportive, loving, lifelong friends all wearing my favorite color — purple.

~Debbie Wong

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