By Candace Braun Davison
Sometimes, what we tell someone and what we mean to tell her get a little muddled. Here are the things most likely to bring out Bridezilla, Round Two.
"It's so refreshing to see a bride who's not a size zero."
Sure, you mean to make the newlywed feel like a role model -- but instead, alas, her mind is ping-ponging through several not-so-flattering thoughts: (a) the bridal boot camp she endured had no effect whatsoever; (b) she shouldn't have bothered skipping every venti java-chip Frappuccino for the past 15 months; and (c) doesn't this person know she's already had a seamstress talk about having to work around her "birthing" hips? It's the kind of comment that's meant to flatter our feminine shapes and, somehow, just makes us obsess over the exact opposite.
"Oh, God, your wedding: Can we talk about that exploding chocolate fountain?"
Every walk down the aisle has a few Murphy's Law moments where we throw our hands up and tell ourselves that one day we'll laugh at it all. And, most likely, we will. But within the first year, those mishaps are the sorts of things we'd like to gloss over, like when I forgot to bustle my gown and stumbled my way through the first dance like an orangutan falling victim to a tranquilizer dart. Let's not relive those little moments until after the first anniversary. Or better yet, the second.
"I can't believe you made me sit next to her."
What's worse than bringing up wedding-day misadventures is bringing up issues we didn't even know were issues. Or wild cards we just can't control, like the questionably appropriate thing an uncle says or the busboy who spills champagne on your Dyeables heels. Even the seating chart -- despite couples treating it as if they're playing a game of Battleship, Ego Edition, can result in a few duds. We're sorry, and we understand if this means we're sitting between the bathroom and a screaming baby at your wedding.
"You're not taking Dinkleschmidt for a last name, are you?"
This decision may be the biggest headache of getting married -- especially considering the hours that taking a new name requires in Social Security, county clerk's office and DMV lines -- but the thing is, it's not a debate at all. It's the bride's decision. There's a buffet of valid options: Keep her maiden name, take his, have him take hers or create a hybrid. Although I always thought Braunison had a nice ring to it, I kept mine and added his -- "I'm embracing my full identity," I figured. Whatever the decision, the best thing we can all do is respond to her new name as you did to all her wedding choices: smile and know that you're not the one who has to live with it. Even if she's now Julia Gulia, à la <i>The Wedding Singer</i>.
"I can't wait to be a grandparent!"
Oh, Mom. Kids are worth the wait. Even if that wait is almost as long as the one between now and the day I win the Mega Millions and can finally swim in a gilded bathtub full of dark-chocolate M&Ms.
"How many people did you invite to the wedding?"
In the bride's mind, this question is the paralyzing equivalent of your boss asking, "Can I see you in my office?" She may not know how to answer at first, because the person who says this often wasn't invited (gulp), or it dredges up the conversation of who was -- and wasn't -- invited (double gulp). Every couple wants all of their friends, relatives and third-grade math tutors at their wedding, but that horrible, messy thing called "budgeting" gets in the way. One plate of rubber chicken can cost more than a tank of gas.
"How's married life?"
It's kind of like asking, "How are you?" But somehow when that little word -- "married" -- creeps into the question, every response seems like it needs extra vetting. If you say "fine," does that mean boring? If you jokingly complain, how do you counteract the furrowed brows and sudden concern for the state of your marriage? If you wax on about how blissful you are, do you have a paper bag on hand for when people start gagging? Maybe the better question is simply, "What's new?"
"I always thought you'd end up with..."
There's no way that sentence can end well. Whether it's a specific person or someone taller, darker or handsomer, there's only one question surging through the newlywed's mind: Are you calling my spouse Quasimodo? That's one question nobody wants to have to answer.