Many years ago before discount stores began taking over every empty corner from coast to coast, a close girlfriend told me she could never grocery shop somewhere where she had to place her new underwear in the same cart as her ice cream. But times have changed and in today’s world my friend can now not only throw her lingerie, laptop, and linguine next to her ice cream in her grocery cart, but also a brand new white wedding dress.
Costco, a membership discount warehouse known for selling beds, laptops, and more chicken breasts in a bag than a family of four can eat in a month, is now selling wedding dresses designed by Kirstie Kelly. When I heard the news, I immediately called my husband at work. I blurted, “Do you know how we always have wanted to renew our wedding vows?”
I heard a sharp intake of breath and then a cautious, “Yes.”
“Costco is selling wedding dresses now.”
“And your point is?” he asked.
“I think it’s a nice day for a discounted white wedding,” I replied while laughing hysterically. He chuckled along with me, for he and I knew we were the only two who truly understood the meaning of “a bargain basement priced wedding.”
Nearly twenty years ago, just as my husband-to-be and I pooled our money and began to plan our wedding, we suddenly realized that we wouldn’t be doing any planning whatsoever. “You definitely have to have the reception dinner served on china, not paper plates,” advised two co-workers. My aunt whom I had only seen twice in my life called to congratulate me and then at the end of the conversation added, “Oh, you definitely have to have all your female first, second, and third cousins as bridesmaids—even if it will cost you $900,000 to buy them all dresses.” My husband’s co-workers said, “Don’t have a groom’s cake, whatever you do. Guests hate making decisions. Just have the bakery build a fifteen-tier wedding cake. It might be more expensive for you, but your guests will love it.” The checkout clerk in the grocery store told me, “You definitely have to have an open bar, even if someone has to mortgage their house to make it happen.”
And every one, and I mean every one, had a horrifying wedding story to tell me. My co-worker’s friend’s cousin’s best friend’s brother pulled me aside at a gathering and whispered, “Whatever you do, don’t have a candlelight wedding. I once saw a bride go up like that (he snapped his fingers for dramatic effect) when her hair accidentally brushed against one of the candles.” He looked off in the distance as if remembering a horrific war battle and then shuddered. He placed his hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Keep in mind that hairspray is very, very, flammable. Just buy three hundred tiny flashlights for everyone to hold while you come down the aisle.”
One night after our pastor pulled us aside and said, “You definitely have to have a soprano soloist at the wedding—altos just sound … well … too manly. Sopranos charge more, but I promise you, everyone will be much happier in the end,” I looked at my husband-to-be and sobbed, “I don’t want to get married anymore because I can’t afford to get married anymore!” My husband-to-be glared at the pastor and whisked me out of the church.
As we drove home, I said, “This wedding is not for us, it is for everyone else!” My husband nodded in agreement. Somehow our wedding had turned into some sort of freak circus event and I was a one-woman act who would be performing in a much-too-expensive dress next to a guy dressed in an ill-fitting monkey suit. That night, we made an agreement. From that point on, we would plan our wedding according to what we could afford and wanted, not what everyone else wished for us.
I bought a four-hundred dollar dress on sale at a bridal boutique. We asked friends to make salads, we ordered meat and cheese trays from a local deli, and we bought paper plates in bulk. We had a cash bar, two small cakes purchased with a two-for-one coupon, plastic champagne glasses, and an alto soloist who sang for a roast beef sandwich and a cold beer. We had the time of our lives.
Personally, I think it’s great when a discount store provides an opportunity for brides like me, who have decided that it’s perfectly okay to be thrifty when planning a wedding—that it’s definitely okay to spend less for a dress you’re only going to wear for a few hours, to serve a dinner on paper plates instead of china, and leave for your honeymoon knowing that your are not in debt up to your eyeballs, but instead, in the kind of deep love that will last a lifetime.
And that’s why I think that any day is a great day for a discounted white wedding, thanks to Costco. So go ahead, throw that wedding dress in your cart next to your ice cream because I can promise you this—in twenty years, no one will remember who designed your dress, what they ate at your reception, or whether you had three bridesmaids or fifteen. They’re just going to be glad you’re still married.
By Vicky DeCoster
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