When we made plans to elope, we didn’t think much about what we would wear. Shelley wanted to wear overalls. She’s always planned to be buried in them, so why not get married in them.
I didn’t know what to wear. I’m most comfortable in the clothes I wore yesterday. Nothing in my summer wardrobe of shorts and T-shirts seemed appropriate for a gay wedding in the dunes of Long Nook Beach. I didn’t think it mattered what I wore, until two nights before the wedding when we were at a potluck supper with good friends and announced our plans to elope. People were much more excited than we thought they’d be. And they asked about clothes.
“What are you going to wear?”
“Probably a pair of shorts and a T-shirt,” I said.
“Oh,” they said.
And suddenly I realized I had nothing to wear to my wedding. It was like one of those dreams where you’re in front of a class and suddenly you realize you’re naked. I couldn’t sleep that night.
At work the next day, I told my nurse Lenore I felt bad that I didn’t have anything special to wear to my wedding.
“Maybe you should wear your fairy dress,” she said, thinking it was a joke.
But it wasn’t a joke. It was a brilliant idea.
A few years ago, a friend made us matching fairy dresses for a costume party.
The bottom layer of each dress was satin; Shelly’s was deep violet, mine midnight blue with a layer of glittery toile that went over the satin and sequined wings to complete the look.
At the moment Lenore gave me the idea of wearing my fairy dress, I finally became a bride-to-be. None of the paperwork I had piled on my desk seemed as important as my bridal wardrobe, so I left work early and raced home. I ran upstairs to the guest room and pulled my fairy dress out of the closet. When I stripped and pulled the satin down over my torso, I was transformed into a woman I’ve never dreamed I’d ever want to be. Spaghetti straps resting across my bony shoulders, my flat chest hidden under an ever so slightly puffed satin bodice, my thin frame covered with silky fabric that reached the floor. I looked in the full-length mirror in the hall and smiled at myself. I felt like a princess bride, even though I looked more like an aging Lesbian in drag.
For a fleeting second I wondered if I could convince Shelley to wear her matching costume instead of her overalls. But I knew Shelley doesn’t do dresses. So I gave up on the idea.
When Shelley got home, I told her what I’d decided to wear to the wedding. Her jaw dropped and she said, “What are you, crazy? There’s no way you’re going to wear a fairy costume to our wedding”.
It was then that I realized that our wedding meant more to us than we had thought. For the same reason Shelley didn’t want me to look like an idiot, I wanted to wear something special, something we’d both remember.
After dinner, Shell humored me and let me put on the dress. When she realized I didn’t plan to wear the layer of glitter and the wings, she admitted I didn’t look too outrageous. If that’s what I wanted to wear, she was OK with it.
I couldn’t sleep that night either. My head was filled with things I’ve never thought about before. By morning I had it all sorted out. I’d wear my mother’s bracelet and brand new underwear. I’d borrow Shelley’s Bat Mitzvah pearls, and I’d wear my blue satin gown. When Shelley brought out her blue overalls and asked if she could borrow a necklace, I knew at last we were both ready to get married.