Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dreaming big

When Will and I became engaged (nine years ago this year – wow), seemingly overnight I became fascinated with bride magazines, The Knot dot com, and TLC’s A Wedding Story (did anyone else love that show?  And is it even still running?)

All at once, I adored everything “wedding” - seeing the dresses other women wore, the cakes they chose, the locations, the receptions (sit down or buffet), the color schemes, the groomsmen suits, and my personal favorite, the flowers.  I spent hours (yes, back then I had hours to spend) at Barnes & Noble soaking up wedding books, articles, pictures, celebrity planner novels, and trying my best to get ideas without getting overwhelmed. I read endless essays about wedding etiquette, the dos and don’ts of a successful celebration, how to spend (a little) less money, the best items to register for, how to avoid becoming a Bridezilla – you name it, I read it. 

One theme that often crept up during all of this wedding research was that many women had been dreaming about their wedding days since they were little girls.  I read things like, “I used to put a pillow case over my hair and pretend it was a veil,” or “I would walk down the hallway in my house with my mom’s fake flowers in my hand singing the Wedding March.”  And while I was excited, very excited, to have the whole wedding experience, I can sincerely say I never gave it much thought until I was a bride-to-be.  I never understood how a little girl could have any interest in a wedding; it seemed like such an adult undertaking for a small being to wrap her tiny mind around.

And then … we had Frances.

Frances is officially wedding-obsessed.  Her favorite part of any movie (usually Disney Princess-related) is when the couple finally gets married.  She has already dictated who in her preschool class she is going marry (oh, and Brennan, you have been warned).  She’s decided how many children she and this adorable Brennan boy are going to have (ranging anywhere from 2 to 101, depending on the time of day).  She puts on her ‘bride’ costume (which is really just her longest, fullest fancy dress costume) at least 3 times a week and begs George to stand in Brennan’s place long enough so that they can do the kiss at the end (George has yet to cooperate).  And just yesterday, she drew this picture of her wedding day:

Brennan is on the left, Frances on the right.  Like any good bridal outfit, her veil is center stage.

It’s actually a fairly accurate portrayal if she and Brennan were going to wed this afternoon.  No surprise, she is about 5 inches taller than he is.

And while this whole wedding-centric focus is new to me, it is completely foreign to her father who is still trying to figure out why he wore a morning coat and not a true tuxedo to our 4:30pm nuptials.  But there is one part of Frances’s daydreaming that can completely undo Will:

The part when the princess says goodbye to her daddy.

In fact, if you look closely at her drawing, you will see a rainbow above Frances and Brennan’s heads.  The last scene of The Little Mermaid shows Ariel’s father, king of the merfolk, waiving his magic triton above the newly married couple’s boat and creating a rainbow for them to sail away through.  And like any four-year-old with a vast imagination, Frances assumes this is exactly how her wedding will end (and if Will has anything to do with it, I’m sure it will).

I recently asked Frances why she likes the wedding scenes from movies so much.  Her reply?  “Because the bride always looks so beautiful in her dress,” in a come on Mommy, are you seriously asking me this obvious question tone.  And part of me wanted to write an essay detailing my worries (social, political, feminist) surrounding this message, these movies, and what I should do about it as the mother of an impressionable female.  Thankfully (for you the reader especially) I decided to just calm down.  Frances is four.  Frances is a girl.  Frances loves her dresses, loves her dolls, and loves to dream about a day when she is a married mother to her undoubtedly wonderful children.  What is the harm in that, particularly since I am living her very big dream as we speak?  There will be plenty of time and opportunities (not to mention an endless supply of strong, positive female role models in this family) for me to ensure Frances knows there is more to growing up than marrying her prince.  But for now, I am happy being a part of her evolving world and to experience a new wedding ‘day’ nearly every afternoon.

And Will is busy planning the big rainbow reveal in twenty (no, thirty; no, forty) years’ time.  Maybe by then, he’ll be ready to say goodbye.

Happy Tuesday, everyone!


  1. I like Brennan's big smile! Frances and I went shopping a couple of weeks ago and a wedding dress was part of the wish list. Unbelievably, there was a play wedding dress and a wedding accessories kit. Happily, it was hanging very high over the shelves and we moved on to princess crowns before the dress was noticed. Some things need to be saved for another day! However, when the real time comes, I hope I'll be invited to see some of the options - even at my age, it's fun to look!

    1. If I know Frances, she wouldn't have it any other way!