Mighty Life List
Oct 12 2010

Mighty Closet: Our Wedding

Our photojournalist wedding photographer showed up at the hotel at 7 a.m. I was wearing a silk robe that I got at Thrift Town in Sacramento for $10. It’s still one of my favorite things.

I changed into one of those horrifying velour tracksuits that was very popular at the time, and one of our groomsmen remarked that I looked like a movie star trying to go incognito. Mostly I just wanted a zip-front something to wear all day so I could change out of it without ruining my hair and makeup. Also I might have wanted to practice a cheerleading routine or something. You never know.

(That kissable bundle is little Evan Frasier; I was his nanny briefly. He is 43 now.)

My dream wedding dress was Audrey Hepburn’s bridal dress from Funny Face:

I’ve mentioned before that I have clothing nightmares. We were on a tight budget when we were married, and I was accordingly horrified by the idea of spending $1,500 on a dress.

I was set on a short dress, which I thought would be easy to find, but absolutely no one wore them at the time. When I say no one, I mean I went to every bridal salon and department store in San Francisco, and found exactly one short, white dress, for $1700 dollars. It was not cute.

Three months before the wedding I still didn’t have a dress, and I was beginning to hyperventilate and have tooth-griding nightmares. For those of you who’ve never been married, lots of women order their dresses a year out, and many bridal salons look at you like you’re nuts if you expect less than a six-month turnaround.

Bryan finally had enough of my whimpering and rocking in the corner. He said, “We are going to the Gunne Sax outlet and buying something.” We ended up buying two dresses, one that would become the bodice for $80, and a size 14 tulle monstrosity for the skirt, which was about $100. I asked my dear friend Lisa (Hi, Lisa!) from Stitch Bitch if she could lop off the skirt and smush the two dresses together. She did it for less than $100, because she loves me. This is how we ended up spending less for my dress than we did for the bourbon at the wedding. Fact!

Lisa didn’t want the dress to be too heavy, so instead of using 300 layers of tulle, she put some horsehair ruffs under the sides of the skirt to make them stand out. This meant that the skirt was nice and poofy, but I could still use the restroom withoutout aid. Bonus.

I got a satin headband at Britex, and my mom-in-law sewed a circle of tulle to a metal hair comb the night before the wedding. I’d hoped for a cage veil, but this was in the hours before Etsy, and they were impossible to find. I thought about skipping the veil entirely, but when my girlfriends pinned my veil in my hair, it was the moment I realized I was really getting married.

I grew up with a gardenia bush in the backyard, so I had a gardenia in my hair and one for each of the bridesmaids. They wore them in their hair or pinned to their shirts as they chose.

Thanks to tequila and vigorous dancing, my hair flower fell out, and no one mentioned it because they didn’t know I had 14 more in the back. Word to the wise brides, extra hair flowers ladies.

I also wore red shoes, which was strange at the time. One of our guests mentioned that he particularly loved my shoes because his mother always said red shoes were for little girls and whores. I like to think I fall squarely in the latter camp:

Later, I pulled on a red sweater with a rhinestone brooch, because it gets cold on the docks in San Francisco. The sweater was a merino Bennton cardigan, and I still wear it.

Bryan’s suit was a striped Donna Karan cashmere blend on sale at Nordstrom Rack. His tie was Calvin Klien. My maiden name is Berry, so the boutonnieres were Eucalyptus leaves with unripe blackberries, all collected on the wedding site. We asked our groomsmen to wear black suits, and we got them matching ties.

My bridesmaids were from size 0 to size 14 and were 4’11″ to 5’10″ — we even had a pregnant attendant — so I had to find something that would be flattering for everyone. I chose white cotton wrap tops and red wool skirts from Foley’s, which I asked the bridesmaids to wear full length or have hemmed to the knee as they chose. My bridesmaids actually did wear the pieces again, and the whole outfit was $70. Separates!

Pro tip: When you’re getting married, it’s helpful to have girlfriends who are all knockouts. I love you, girls.

Old? A penny in my shoe. New? My dress. Borrowed? My lipstick. Blue? My engagement ring, which is a giant ’60s era cocktail Aquamarine. Oddly, I do not have a close up photo, but it is lovely.

For the rehearsal dinner I wore a red, heavily embroidered shift, of which I also cannot find a single photo. By the end of our wedding I was so through with red that I could barely look at a tube of lipstick without shuddering, but seven years later I’m coming back around.

36 Responses to “Mighty Closet: Our Wedding”

  • Sarah Says:

    I love this Maggie. Your dress is fabulous!

    I was an oddity that year too and wore shoes that I had dyed bright aqua blue (my favorite color and the color of our wedding). My own mother thought I was nuts but I loved them dearly.

  • Ainsley Says:

    Okay, you have GOT to get us a photo of that ring! Pretty please!

  • Beth Says:

    This is lovely — thank you for sharing. I’m one of those readers who has gone back trying to find all the pretty from your wedding, so it’s fantastic to see.

    One of my close friends got married this July 4th. Her wife had two dresses, one bought way in advance and one ordered at the last minute from the Internet. My friend? We started dress shopping for her in earnest in May, after months of various plans falling through. She had several dressmakers cancel on her abruptly.

    I have never seen women so freaked out as when we walked into bridal boutiques in mid-May, telling them, “It’s for a July 4th wedding.” “July 4th of THIS YEAR?!” they would say, their voices and eyebrows going up about the same amount. She ended up going with the incredible place where the salesgirl, instead of saying, “Well, maybe, I think…” went, “Okay, let’s do this.” Yeah, the dress was polyester, but it cost in the hundreds and it was made to order in less than six weeks. She looked stunning.

  • Megan G. Says:

    Stunned into silence by your dress story.

    …Stunning!

  • alice Says:

    I smiled like an idiot while reading this, realized I was smiling, tried to stop, couldn’t. Maggie! Jazz hands!

  • Meg Says:

    Our wedding dress stories are not dissimilar, though six years apart. I too wanted short, and the bridal salons have still not really caught up. One place put me in a $15K Vera Wang ballgown and offered to chop off half the skirt? What? No. I did some specialty shopping, and found some short dresses in the low to mid four figures. That was not going to work. My sister tried to make me something, and then it didn’t… get finished… or fit… exactly.

    PANIC!

    Three months out? A short 50′s white party dress showed up at La Rosa Vintage. $250. Bam! Best. Dress. Ever.

    That said, one week before the wedding I went to try on veils to make one, and decided I haaaaaattteeeedddd veils, even though I was sure I was going to wear one. So, I bought some white tulle to make a hair flower. Turned out my dress was OFF white. Who knew? My husband apparently. Anyway, I came home to him tea dying all the tulle. And that’s why you marry ex-pro-theatre husbands. The end.

  • Kate Says:

    You look stunning, and I love, love, love your dress. I never would have thought of doing that. The red shoes are the topper.

    Call me vain, but I’m still in love with my own wedding 7 years later, but I have to say that seeing pictures like yours with fresh ideas made me have a lot of, “Oh! I wish I could do it again!” moments. I had no veil and really think I should have gone for one in retrospect.
    Also, I got married on the beach and wore shoes and will NEVER LIVE IT DOWN. I had no idea that for the rest of my life everyone’s first question upon hearing that we got married on the beach would be, “Oh! Barefoot?” Nope, sorry.

    But why am I talking about myself! This was supposed to be a comment about you and your awesome taste. : )

  • Misha Says:

    I’ve never met or heard of anyone else with an aquamarine engagement ring! I want to see yours. I love, love, love mine.

  • Amy Says:

    Wow, your dress turned out wonderful, and it really does remind me of the Funny Face dress. Hurrah for blue engagement rings and short dresses – I’m in the same camp!

  • melissa Says:

    Really enjoyed this peek into your wedding day…and your red shoes. I too wanted a short dress (this was 6 years ago) but was fortunate to walk into a shop that literally had THE dress I tore from a magazine as inspiration. Halter, V-neck and lace for $350. There was no way I was spending more than $500. Other things that were awesome about my dress – it did not require a bra!!

  • AmyB Says:

    I got married in SF in 1998. I also wanted a short dress. I had my moms altered (my grandmother had made it for her including making the lace) so it was above the knew with crinoline under it and awesome kenneth cole shoes.

  • Kathleen Says:

    I’m in the if I had to do it over camp. Oh I’d marry the same guy! That part is going very nicely thanks. But If I could have a little chat with my self about that day and most of all the dress from hell (Alexis Carrington playing the part of the Devil) I would!

    You are a true inspiration Maggie! Two dresses, what a clever woman!
    I’m stealing that idea for the next big event dress I need!

  • Wendy Says:

    My mother always told me that if you wore red shoes it means you weren’t wearing underwear. Apparently she knows your guest’s mother!

  • Manders Says:

    LOVE your dress. LOVE IT. Like, I want to find wherever it is and steal it from you. What a clever idea, and what a beautiful result.

  • Meegan Says:

    My wedding was so by-the-book boring. I was too insecure at the time to do what I wanted and did instead what was expected of me. I envy your originality! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-planned my wedding. You will never know this feeling, lucky you! I can’t complain too much though, because I married the love of my life and we are celebrating 6 years of bliss in November. Ha-Cha!

  • MomVee Says:

    I wanted a short dress, too–specifically like Grace Kelly’s dress at the end of “High Society.” This was 16 years ago, and it was not happening. I ended up with a dress I loved, but I have always felt at little bad seeing your wedding pictures. Now that I know what you went through for it, I feel better.

  • K Says:

    My engagement ring is aquamarine too, Maggie and Misha! I love mine too.

  • Shevon Says:

    I’m going to come out and admit it, when I got married in 2004 I borrowed your idea of red shoes. I still love the red shoes with the white gown!

  • Lee Gibson Says:

    My wife and I have been married four years as of Thursday. (See? He can be taught!)

    We also did red. Dark garnet-y red. The female attendants (we had chicks and dudes in approximately equal proportion on both sides of our party) wore a red dress. What color red? Red. Go get something red, wear it, it will be awesome. They all looked stupendous. The mens? Tuxes. Red waistcoats. Managed to look completely not waiter-y. I rented my tux, but purchased a silk waistcoat embroidered with a similar pattern to my bride’s dress. The dress and the waistcoat were made at points almost diametrically opposite on the globe, and showed up matching almost perfectly.

    The best part was when we arrived in the wedding city (1500 miles from our home, for a variety of reasons). We went to the fancy dry cleaners with our carry-on. The ladies at the cleaners were aghast when she yanked her dress out of the stuff-sak in the carry on. She had no intention of losing physical control of that dress as we traveled. They steamed it cleaned it, and it was gorgeous.
    She looked SMOKIN’. I acquitted myself respectably.

    Both the bride and I wore red shoes. Love to know what your guest’s mom thought about THAT. She’s welcome to put it in her pipe and smoke it!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/moofie/1509575460/in/set-72157602310407117/lightbox/

    I loved the bemused smile on my grandmother’s face when we un-boxed the bridal flowers, ready to wear, packed in cardboard crates, each one strapped into its little flower-delivery slot. She asked where they came from. We said “The Internet!”

    We did absolutely everything exactly the way we wanted, without exception. We had a terrific group of family and friends who were committed to our vision, and they made it happen for us.

    24 hours out, we just stopped thinking about the celebration. We decided that everything that needed to happen was going to happen, and we just needed to slow down and enjoy ourselves.

    I am 100% convinced that our guests had a good time because the two of us were absolutely delirious with joy for the whole weekend.

    Best wedding evar. Best wife evar. (I may be slightly biased.)

  • mintte Says:

    confused about how evan fraiser is a toddler in your pic and 43 now?

  • juliloquy Says:

    Classy, elegant, and fun. Well done!

  • Lauren Says:

    Mintte: She wasn’t being serious. It was hyperbole.

  • heather Says:

    Red shoes, short dress and a blue ring? AMAZING.

  • Janice Says:

    I had the same nightmare trying to find a short dress and discovered altogether too late that you can buy a Funny Face Audrey Hepburn dress on eBay custom made to fit you for about 200GBP (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/wedding-dress-bridal-gown-short-60s-50s-audrey-hepburn-/270566926118?pt=UK_Wedding_Clothing&hash=item3eff0ba726).

    Ah well…in the end I went for a eggshell satin Calvin Klein gown that was floor length but simple and a bargain at 50 euro (again, eBay – yay!) and I can wear again to a black and white ball. Now just need to get invited to a black and white ball…..

  • Joyce R Says:

    Thanks for sharing your lovely memories with us. I have always adored the color of your hair…the only other person I have ever known to have such gorgeous colored hair was my (late) mother….and she was a Berry too! What a stunning lady you are!

  • Cati Basmati Says:

    Short dress and red shoes, my wedding dream! Thanks for sharing, finally!

  • AbraCat Says:

    Wow, it’s all lovely! Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face dress is my dream wedding dress, too(I settled for the big doofy frou-frou dress instead). What a brilliant idea to smoosh two dresses together! The red accents and the sentimental flower choices are great touches.

  • Sarah Brown Says:

    I want to go back in time and squeeee with you while you pin in that veil.

  • andi Says:

    the photo of you putting on the red shoes is absolutely fantastic.

  • Anna Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I hope to be married in the next few years and I’m very anxious about finances. But you have proved you can look exactly how you want without spending a fortune. Ahhhhhh (sigh of relief).

  • Christian Says:

    Loving all the wedding posts this week. So beautiful and fun!

  • kate Says:

    Love love love this post. The wedding dress idea was inspired and the red shoes brilliant! Thanks for sharing it all!

  • Franca Bollo Says:

    Was Petite Anglaise at your weeding? She had the short dress/red shoe thang going on for her wedding, too.

    http://tinyurl.com/2ehtnvl

  • tea_austen Says:

    I love it, Maggie. Down to the red shoes (I’ve heard that quote before, from a fashion pundit, I take pride in it every time I wear red shoes).

    Since it’s wedding week, I thought you might enjoy the recent wedding of Seattle folks I know–1920s/30s theme. While I don’t usually approve of theme weddings, this was fabulous. Reminded me of your Great Gatsby party.
    http://www.baisafoto.com/?p=1588

  • leandra Says:

    I wore orange shoes at my wedding (at the encouragement of my husband) and wore a blue stone pendant as my something blue. We will be celebrating ten years next fall… time flies! :)

  • Min Says:

    You look like a Vargas illustration in that shot of you putting your red shoes on.

    In other words, GORGE!