Participate. That’s the unintended lesson I learned from this adventure.
It was a Happy Hour on a Wednesday when I met this fascinating woman for the first time, Abby. She is full of ideas and solid views on life. She was discussing an upcoming event that sounded interesting to me to go see. When I mentioned wanting to learn more, she exclaimed “don’t come see us, join us!” Hmmmm. Adventure Wednesday is about trying new things, different to me. This would fit that criteria, for sure.
So I searched for “Brides of March” on Face Book and online. (Brides of March site; Brides of March NYC FB2014 event). It has been around for years, is in several cities, and rumored to have been started by the same people who started Santacon. It takes place on March 15th (the “Ides of March” and one of the few lines I remember from my high school years of studying Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) as a satire of that date and the western culture’s obsession with weddings. I learned I could buy a wedding gown online for as cheap as $15 plus shipping. But I already own a gown…and since my sons are most likely not going to want it for their brides, I decided to see if it fit. Even if I was unsure I would actually wear it out in public again.
I called my ex husband and asked for my gown (it was still stored in his attic). He joked “are you getting remarried?” He and I never really did have the same sense of humor, so I replied I wanted it for this event. Yes, he kind of thinks a lot of what I do in my adventures is crazy. So, we lugged my big 80s style, custom-made, no frou-frou wedding dress down from the attic and I brought it home.
Taking the dress out of the box and seeing again wasn’t as traumatic as I thought it could have been. Instead I had the excitement of a new life for it! I tried it on…and it still fit!! That alone was pretty cool. Once I had it on, I KNEW I would be joining Abby and whomever else showed up that day to be a part of this fun event of brides. However, that scratchy crinoline was not. I was in this for fun. Not physical discomfort. My original veil didn’t last all those many years. So I had the excitement and challenge of creating my own head gear. Why not a tiara? I never owned one before, and the mere thought makes me giggle like a girly-girl 5 year old.
The Big Day
After a brutal winter, that Saturday in mid-March was beautiful. Sunny and 60 degrees. I brought a light colored long coat. My dress had been built for the same temps, but in October. I put on comfy walking shoes. I didn’t quite have the guts to take the commuter train in, so I drove into the City, found a parking garage and cabbed it over to Grand Central.
Since I showed up a little early to the meeting spot, I wandered around Grand Central looking for my friend who had invited me. I started getting a clue of what I was getting into when several people let me know how beautiful I looked! And then, there they were. A group of people in gowns, sitting around drinking coffee and getting ready for the day. The organizers, Abby and Nancy, didn’t let anyone know the route we were taking. Ahhh, the added element of surprise! There were several men who joined us too. And from what I learned about them through the day, and contrary to what most people assumed, none are gay. Mostly theatrical and lovers of participatory art & fun. We even had photographers. Our “official photographer” (@edbarnas http://edbarnas.com/proof/20140315bride_abstract/index.html) was awesome. He bought a white Amerikilt for the occasion (to blend in and not change things to being about grooms). (this one I found on Amazon White Kilt.) In addition, there were two photojournalists, one announced and one who was trying to quietly “happen upon us”.
I had a lot of favorite moments, but I think my favorite was at the beginning when the AP photographer was taking a picture of us on the balcony in front of the Apple Store in Grand Central. He was standing on the stairs and we were all facing up. After a few minutes we hear behind us “Turn around! Turn around!” We turn around and there was a huge crowd circled at the bottom with everyone taking photos! My first lesson in participatory art…I was part of the “look at what I saw” and being photographed (and probably shared on social media) instead of the one “discovering” the odd sight and sharing with my friends on FaceBook. The participant vs the observer.