"Helping people who help people"

Are you hiring a professional make up artist for your wedding day? Are you doing a trial run of your hair style with a professional to try out a lot of options? Are you getting a manicure and pedicure a few days before your wedding?

If you answered “yes”, you are in the great majority. Indeed, at least some of the pampering above is so taken for granted that when I was talking with someone who is a high regarded marriage educator, who knows thousands of high powered people, talks to journalists all day long, she mocked, among other things, the bride who got a professional make up artist at the wedding she went to recently (she hadn’t been to a wedding in many years.)

It brought me up short! I mean sure, I can argue the typical logic about how weddings are so expensive these days, it’s such a waste, about how if “people only spent a tenth of the time on their marriage as they do on the wedding….” But, even I felt defensive for my decision to have a professional make up artist! I have written about whether you should splurge, and mention my own “need” for this type of splurge. My real weakness was not being disorganized, or procrastinating, or having troubles deciding vendors, it was FEAR OF LOOKING GOOD! I knew that having a professional “do their thing” would give me great confidence up to and through my wedding. (I was right.) My wedding nightmares were all about showing up in my 4th grade, dark brown prairie dress my mom made for our Oklahoma “boomers and sooners” mock land run.

I will try to dig up two photos that will shock you. One is the day after my wedding at the post-wedding brunch. The other is my wedding day. You would be shocked that my hair could do what it did and you’d be amazed how different I look. My dad kept saying, “this is a real plus for women like you who never wear make up! When you DO wear make up you look SO different and it really stands out!” I think many women who wear make up daily might argue they’d rather look good EVERY day, not just on their wedding day. 😉

The first manicure and pedicure of my life was for my wedding. I could not stop staring at my glorious nails for the entire two week honeymoon! I was enraptured with how great my hands looked. I have since had quite a few and get one at least once a year for a big conference.

So the question is whether weddings bring out the dark, evil vanity of us, or are weddings becoming more and more of a VIP event where this is your one chance to shine with all your glory and there is nothing to hold you back. We have even gotten to the point where you’ll even ask your bridesmaids to use Botox, as the New York Times wrote about this summer, instigating massive message board postings on whether it is appropriate or horryfing to ask others to alter their bodies for your big day.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

It is fine to want to enhance your appearance. Women do it every time they go to the hair salon to get a ‘cut and style.’ Women do it every time they either get a new prescription for contacts, or shop for new, stylish glasses. They do it when they buy make up, buy clothes, shoes, skin creams, eat right and excersize. But when does it cross the line to being a crazy bride?

Perhaps one way you have gone over the line is if you would not do ____ if you weren’t having a wedding. Or if you have to spend a lot of time justifying the cost or procedure/product to yourself and your fiance. Or if you do the “ask 10 people on the street” test and you get a majority response of shock and horror at your idea. Or if you are afraid of telling a dear friend what you are planning on doing because you know they will disapprove of you. (Being afraid of their response shows a lack of confidence on your part, and demonstrates the respect you hold for that persons opinion.)

The two “wildest” things I did in response to my wedding vanity was to get contacts for the first time ever, and to get a facial and buy all the products to improve my skin for the wedding day. I could have done both without getting married and nobody would have thought twice. The contacts were ultimately justified as both wanting to be more timeless on my wedding day (glasses are always dating and I had this irrational desire to have a timeless wedding album) and because it seemed like most adults have contacts and why not give it a try. I hate being sweaty with glasses, and I couldn’t be in the sun as easily because I didn’t have RX sun glasses. Turns out I had fun with contacts on a daily basis – it inspired me to wear make up more because without glasses my eyes “popped more.” I went back to glasses pretty quickly but still don’t regret the contacts.

The skin products were great and produced a lovely inside joke with my husband about being a “planty lady”, using the Aveda products. It really did clear up my skin and I spent a winter with soft facial skin and not feeling the normal itching, burning cracking of my skin in the winter. But, as usual with everything I try new I also stopped using it and went back to my normal, neglectful, non-vanity self.

So picture the worst case scenario – your groom ditches you or dies before the big day. Are your “vanity plans” well reasoned enough that you’d still pursue the…Botox, or plastic surgery, or other more extreme and costly procedures, even if the wedding wasn’t going to happen?

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