catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 8 :: 2010.04.16 — 2010.04.29


Shopping for love

When my husband proposed, I was mainly excited about the ring and our wedding. Little did I realize that getting married would be a major shopping opportunity.

I have always been a shopper. I had a purse on my arm from the time I could walk. Even before I had my own credit card, I loved going with my mom to Marshall Field’s department store, walking with her through the aisles of clothing and bath towels, looking at stacks of new brightly colored dishes or the shoe aisle with everything from sandals to sneakers. Imagine the possibilities. My mom and I didn’t shop with a purpose, we just purposed to shop. We loved wandering through the stores and stopping for lunch. We could make an entire day of it.

After I got engaged, I was immediately given two tasks: plan a wedding (shopping) and plan a new home (more shopping). My mom (my partner in all things related to shopping) gave me a Martha Stewart bridal book to handle the first job. It was a beautiful Tiffany blue book tied with a white grosgrain ribbon. Inside were dividers and pockets to hold ideas and lists, to organize the things I would need to buy. I even had a suggested calendar of what to look at first on what timeline.

This was shopping on a level even I had never done before. The task was overwhelming and daunting. Some of the things were more expensive than I thought. I had no idea that a bridal bouquet could cost hundreds of dollars. Even choosing the men’s boutonnieres was a cause of consternation: should I go with the $9.50 roses or the $4.50 carnations? The florist gently reminded me: “Who remembers what the men wore on their lapels?” I quickly agreed.

Some of the shopping was memorable. I remember trying on dresses and falling madly in love with the very first gown I put on. When I modeled the dress, my dad had tears in his eyes — both because he thought I looked beautiful and because it cost far less than he expected.

Perhaps the funniest shopping moment was registering for my bridal showers. I dragged my reluctant fiancé along from store to store. I thought that this would be a wonderful bonding opportunity, but he didn’t have the same level of enthusiasm that I did. Certainly he will care what kind of pillowcases and silverware we have, right? I really wanted him to have input on this home we were creating.

I remember walking carefully through the bake ware aisle, deliberating over cookie sheets and mixing bowls. I had to drag him away from the electronics department — but not before he had included several high-end televisions and stereo systems on our wish list. I remember stressing about the little things: do we really need a lace tablecloth?

We registered for way too many drinking glasses. My Baptist mother was worried what the church women would think of our long list of barware — everything from tumblers to high ball glasses. I had to assure her that I was really enamored of the different styles and not trying to make a statement about alcohol consumption.

Registering for gifts was like shopping on steroids. Nothing was off limits. Whether with a pen and paper or with one of those new registry guns, it was easy for this type of shopping to get out of control. It was not what I really needed, but all that I could possibly want. This is where the shopaholic madness finally took over.

Somehow during my registering craze, I requested a Mickey Mouse waffle maker.  Now I don’t have anything against Disney or waffles, but never in my wildest dreams would I spend $65 on a Mickey Mouse waffle maker. I remember opening it at my shower and looking at it in a puzzled manner, only to hear one of my mom’s friends exclaim, “That’s exactly what she wanted!”

I did? Was it exactly what I wanted? Was any of it?

I can laugh now at the intense craziness of registering and buying and planning a wedding. I can also say that I am glad it’s over. After all, the shopping is just the predecessor to the real event. No, not just the wedding, but the real life. A man and a woman and building a home together. The stuff is nice. It makes your home pretty and welcoming, but it doesn’t really build a marriage or create a bond. That is the harder work, but it also yields the greater reward.

My husband and I will be married 18 years this fall. I don’t have many of the things that I registered for so painstakingly during those early days of wedding planning. Our tastes and styles have changed through the years. Most of the drinking glasses have broken or gone missing. The waffle maker was long ago returned to the store. The marriage, however, has remained. I am glad that even in my shopping craze, I managed to keep my focus on what was really important.

So with one hand on the registry gun, don’t forget to give your patient, long-suffering fiancé a kiss and a smile. And, as you debate buying those shoes that so perfectly complement your dress, remember that while the shopping is fun, you are marrying a person, not a bunch of stuff.

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