Birth Trauma Survivor and Maternal Health Advocate

Memoir

Since my “debut” on *“Get Your Gown”  back in 2008, I have been approached several times to do a TV show. (Hint, hint).

I was am an old school TV bride, when the bride’s were scared to go the show and didn’t really try out for it. Back when women wanted this moment to be a private one, shared only with close friends and family. Who would have thought that just a few short years later  grown women would be clamoring for the opportunity to be filmed for millions of people to watch them undress, fight with their families and beg their parents for more money while they searched for their dream wedding dress? This is what the fifteen seconds of fame will do to you. It will make you forget that there are more eyes watching and judging you than just the few people in that dressing room. And, editing will make you or break you.

Fame, no fortune, included.

It was a fluke that I happened to be in the bridal salon when the producers from “Get Your Gown” approached me. Call it being in the right place at the right time or whatever. For me, it was helping out a friend. Later I would be reminded that everything does happen for a reason.

An acquaintance of mine, *Ella, was a featured bride on the show. *Pamela Smith (A very famous stylist with a television show of her own)  is one of Ella’s best friends, and a bridesmaid in her wedding. Pamela was unavailable for Ella’s final fitting and Ella asked me if I would go with her. I was actually scheduled to drop off a sample sale gown I purchased at “Bridal Heaven” two months prior so it worked out for us both. Back in my bride-to-be days, I was always thrilled to go to Bridal Heaven—the Mecca  of all things bridal.

I was newly engaged and had a stack of bridal magazines in the back of my closet that could fill a small public library. I had started to collect them just as one would do with any hobby. Your vice or hobby might be coins, stamps, antiques, alchohol. Mine was all things bridal. When my fiancé would ask if I really needed all the magazines that littered the living room, I would tell him that the magazines were for “research.” I’m a make-up artist, so technically this was not a lie. I was researching bridal makeup looks and I am very passionate about my craft. Don’t judge me. I was addicted. If you know me, and I mean really know me, and not as a casual acquaintance who might have seen me gyrating on a bar at 2am back in 2004, you know I’m a girl who really loves gowns.

I remember the feeling of entering Bridal Heaven for the first time. My heart started beating fast, my palms got sweaty, and a rush ran through my entire body. Yes, very dramatic I know, but that is what happened, okay?  This day was no different. I don’t know what it is about this damn store. I think they pump euphoric drugs through the vents.

I wanted to run into the main area with all of the gorgeous gowns and run my fingers through all of the dresses I had spent months drooling over in the magazines. There they all were waiting for me…Amsale, Pnina, Lazaro, Reem and Monique. I knew every dress by name and style number. I knew how much they all cost. I told you I was addicted. I could tell you every color they came in, how they could be altered, what material they were made of. You want a matching headpiece? I know the perfect one. Shoes? I got you. Veil? The longer the better. Although I did end up wearing a short one (another story for another time). Hair and make-up, easy. Already done. Remember, what I do for a living? I can make you a star.

I was in la la land, picturing how I would wear my hair with a skintight, all lace Monique Lhuillier with the back out down to the ass when I heard someone with a thick accent ask me if I had an appointment. I know the type of accent might be important to you for the visual effect but all of these NYC metro area accents are confusing to me. I am a Maryland girl. Yes, I love crabs but do not call me “Hon”. Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Jersey. The accents, like humans, are variations of the same thing. Anyway the lady was so pretty. Young (anybody under 30 to me), but she had her Bridal Heaven shit together. She was into it. Ready to give me the experience of a lifetime.

Until I told her I was there for my friend’s fitting…

Instead of sitting on a plush couch in the middle of a sea of gowns, I was sent to the basement, a very luxurious basement, but still a basement for Ella’s’s fitting.

It was a sneak attack.

Someone asks me if I am okay being on camera. Am I comfortable being filmed? How do I even begin to answer that? Well, I do feel comfortable being on camera. I have been on camera before. But today I don’t have on enough concealer to be comfortable going on camera. I did very light make-up— I’m just helping out a friend today make-up.  And what is it exactly that you want me to do on camera? I just wanted to watch my friend try on her gown. I need my face on.

I am given a release form but I don’t remember if I signed it.

And so it begins.

Ella arrived a few moments later. She is also a make-up artist. I love women and I love brides. I love their energy. I love their enthusiasm, hopefulness and vulnerability. I love their fears ands concerns. Brides turn into six year olds. They need to be coddled and told it will all work out. They want their mommies. This is not prom. This is that first Barbie doll. This is when you were allowed to finally get a Ken doll to play with Barbie and be her friend, but only if you promised not to make them kiss and dry hump each other. This is every fairy tale you have read come to life. It is your turn to walk the red carpet, all eyes on you. Oscar Night Perfection.

Ella has a loving and gregarious personality, a long cascade of red hair that would make any woman jealous and a Badgley Mischka dress from the fall collection. Ina, one of Bridal Heaven’s best seamstresses (she only deals with the big bucks gowns, okay girlfriend?), brings the Badgley Mischka masterpiece into the fitting room.

I am pumped. I know this dress. “Olivia”. It was featured in practically every bridal magazine hidden in the back of my closet. This dress, I would have chosen for her too. Ella is petite and full figured. This stunning floor length A-line will suck her in where she needs to be sucked and create a longer silhouette for her body. Her voluptuous bosom looks awesome. The ivory color of the gown compliments her pale pink skin and strawberry blond hair.  The dress has beautiful beaded straps the bodice contains subtle cutouts with Swarovski crystals, some of them gold. The light catches the beading at her every turn in the mirror. And the veil! A cathedral length with beading to match the bodice in the most intricate and delicate design I have ever laid eyes on. How do they do that on a veil? My big old fingers would have busted all through that tulle trying to sew beads into it.

Two cameras. One on Ella, one on me.  People ask us both questions. The mood is light and fun. We laugh, we cry. The bride is beautiful and in love with her dream dress. We are having a great time. I am comfortable being on camera. I have forgotten that I’m not wearing enough concealer.

Ina, the seamstress/fitter/bridal gown whisperer (who would later turn out to be my seamstress) is amazing. She reassures Ella. Yes, the straps will be tighter. Yes, the bodice will be smooth. Several patient Yes’s until Ella is soothed into bridal dreamland. I love Ina. I love Bridal Heaven. I love Badgley Mischka. I love whoever made the regalious precious be-jeweled headband that Ella has chosen as her headpiece. This is bling bling in its most rare and purest form! Thank you Ella for inviting me today. By the way, you look amazing and I have goose bumps from how beautiful and happy you look in your dress.

And then the question.  And then several more.

Am I engaged?  Yes, I’m a part of the club. I’m engaged too. I wanted a city wedding, he wanted a beach wedding. Battery Gardens was a nice compromise, except for the wedding is the following February. It is his fault, he didn’t want to wait more than a year, said waiting till the following summer was too long to wait. Probably around 100 people. We don’t know. I’m not so comfortable anymore.

He is a great guy. The best guy. Yes, I feel blessed that we found each other.

A producer tells me they would love to film me shopping at Bridal Heaven for my wedding gown when the time comes. According to them, I am funny, quick witted and would make a great TV personality. I would have preferred to hear gorgeous and stunning with a great body perfect for sample size couture gowns, but I will take what I can get. Thank you. I tell them that they are too late, I bought my gown two months ago. They ask to film my fittings.

Information is exchanged. Life goes on.

A couple of weeks later I arrive at Ella’s apartment with another make-up artist. There are 100 bridesmaids so they need two make-up artists.

Ella’s wedding party is huge. She is marrying an Italian. They do everything big. I’m Black , does that mean I do everything small? We laugh. I have a small family. It is what it is. Now I want a big family. Looks complicated, but fun.

You would never have known with the energy flowing in her apartment that Ella had lost a dear relative the night before. I forget at the moment who it was.

Mixed emotions lingered in the air but everyone put on their game face. Ella deserved her day. The Badgley Mischka hung on a door waiting to be filled with the life of a new bride to be.

The show must go on.

 

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

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