“Guys, I have a super important invitation for you. I have to tell you, it’s not something most children get to do, and especially not boys. But I think you’re equal to the challenge.”

They think about this, pretending like I haven’t just laid down the most inviting gauntlet by challenging them to something “most kids don’t get to do.” (I play this card carefully but often. “Most kids” weren’t allowed to wash the dishes or operate the vacuum cleaner at such a young age. It’s amazing the things they’re motivated to do when they believe they’re in the minority.)

He squares his shoulders and sits straight with confidence. “I feel like we can probably do it, Mom.”

“Do you want to know what I’m inviting you to do?”

“Oh. Yes.”

“I’d like to bring you along to help me shop for my wedding dress.”

For the record, I had no intention of actually letting them choose the dress.  But this season is so precious in so many ways, and I want them to remember being in on every part that makes sense of this transition into my second marriage, the one they’ll remember far better than my first.

My son processes my request. A smile spreads across his face, the one I call his Proud Smile. “Mom, I feel like this will be one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my entire life.”

Touché, my man. Touché. It’s entirely possible. At the very least, I do think your own bride will be thankful for your shopping skills, ability, patience, and tastes.

On our way there, I asked them to tell me what they find most beautiful in a gown.

“Sparkles,” says one boy.

“And glitter. Like Willy Wonka,” says his brother.

And so, off we went in search of a glittery, sparkling bridal gown that would catch the eye of an Oompa Loompa.

I contend that trying on wedding gowns is similar to learning to breastfeed: potentially a beautiful experience in the long run, but more than a little painful as you find what works.

As I tried on one dress after another, they ranked them on a scale of 1-10. Actually, Tucker’s scale ranged from 9.1 to 9.8. He pretty much loved them all. Tyler had more varied opinions. He does not like ivory, I learned. “Mom, it looks rotten.”

I contend that trying on wedding gowns is similar to learning to breastfeed: potentially a beautiful experience in the long run, but more than a little painful as you find what works.

At one point I found myself in a strapless gown, even though I’d told the bridal consultant that I didn’t want to buy one. It’sjust so hard to make sure everything will stay where I want it to, and I’d like to avoid any forced armpit fat or corset overspill on the Day of all Days. The struggle is real, you guys.

Instead of putting me in a dress I liked more, she added a little jacket. A little satin jacket over a ruched bed sheet of a dress.

Tyler said, “Ew. Mom, you look like Elvis.”

IMG_2090Tucker said, “Or Michael Jackson.”

The bridal consultant, whom I am sure had long ago preferred I had come alone, scoffed at my sons. “Well, that was not helpful.”

“Actually, that was very helpful,” I said. “I’d very much like to not look like either of those people on my wedding day. So that’s tremendously helpful.”

Sometimes I think Tyler would have made a very excellent town’s child in the Emperor’s New Clothes. He’ll call it like it is, and the boy saved me from a high-pressure purchase that may have left me high-collared with swivel hips.

Needless to say, I don’t have the dress yet. But I wouldn’t trade that little failure of a shopping day for all the winning purchases in the world.

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