A Bride Discovers That Finding a Groom Is the Easy Part; Planning the Wedding—That's Trouble
To chart the course of such pre-nuptial torment, to show other brides and grooms that they are not alone, correspondent Katy Kelly talked with Angie several times a week during the months before her wedding. Her story is not, alas, unrepresentative.
When she and Mark first met, he was 20 and she was 16. Recalls Angie, who works for her father Domenic's tile company: "My dad said, 'You are not going out with him. He's too old. He's got a Corvette. And he's bad news.' " Undeterred, the couple dated for five months before her parents shipped her off to relatives in Italy for 4½ months to keep them apart.
That, of course, was one step from surrender. "Now my parents think Mark is great, "says Angie. The wedding was performed at Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church in Washington, D. C. By the time the great day was finished, and the 225 guests at a glitzy hotel reception had washed down their last cannoli with a swig of champagne, all Angie could say was, "It was beautiful, but I'm glad it's over."
October 3, 1987
Mark proposed. It was great. He was tipsy, sappy and sentimental. When we got home, we told my parents. Mom was surprised, but she congratulated us. Daddy didn't say anything. Mom had to tell him to shake Mark's hand and welcome him to the family. We cracked open a bottle of champagne. Daddy didn't say a word all night.
We called my grandmother in Italy to tell her the news. (She's my dad's aunt, but we refer to her as our grandmother.) She wasn't excited at all. She said, "Don't get married in America. Come to Italy and I will find you a husband."
When I got engaged, I started thinking about bridesmaids. I wanted 14, but Mark said that was too many. I decided on 10. My sister, Rita, will be maid of honor.
My grandmother is coming from Italy.
I've been looking for a dress. The most expensive one I tried on was $10,000. Mom almost had a heart attack. Finally I tried on one with a high neck and puffy sleeves. It was beautiful. The headpiece with it was obnoxious. Rita said, "You look like a crazy lady," but I got it anyway. The dress and veil cost $3,700.
I want to be married at Holy Rosary Church. I was baptized there, had my First Communion there and was confirmed there. Now we're trying to find a place to have the reception. We went hotel shopping, and I chose the Grand Hyatt Washington because Daddy installed all the tile and marble in it.
My grandmother in Italy called to say that her doctor won't let her make the flight alone. Daddy offered to send me to pick her up. She said to me, "But Angie, how would you handle it if I had a heart attack and dropped dead on the plane?" I told her I'd freak out. How would anybody handle it?
February 20, 1988
I picked out the bridesmaids' dresses. They're dusty rose with bow sleeves and pink net tops. I was going to pay for them, but I just couldn't do that to my parents. I talked to the girls and they said, "Angie, we're glad to be in your wedding, we'll pay for them." The dresses are fairly cheap: $225.
I took my bridesmaids to see their dresses. They all had different opinions. One said she couldn't wear it because she had too much of a chest. I told them beforehand they had to pay 50 percent up front. Nobody had any money, so all week I was calling my girls, trying to collect.
I chose my invitations this week. My mother and I picked them out. They're cream colored with light-pink doves and roses on the front, and you open them like double doors to see the words. Mark's family wanted a plain white card, but I wanted something with a little more style. Mrs. Desimone has a friend who's a printer, so she's going to order them.
Mom got a dress for the wedding. Tonight Vanna was wearing one just like it on Wheel of Fortune. Mom is on a diet.
Little things that Mark does are starting to drive me crazy. The way he eats and smacks his lips irks me. Little by little things are starting to change. Six months ago if I had on my tennis shoes, he would take them off and start rubbing my feet. But now he says, "Take a shower first."
The wedding is more expensive than I ever thought it would be. Just the reception is around $75 a plate. I worry about people who don't RSVP. I'm going to be paying for all these plates that are sitting there uneaten. I think about the children who'll be coming. They aren't going to eat a thing, but we have to pay for them anyway.
The pressure is on. Every little thing Mark and I do makes the other snap. We were going through the McDonald's drive-thru and the bag fell apart in the car. Mark went crazy. We are both off the wall, arguing about stupid little things. He told me that he thinks we are under so much stress that we are taking it out on each other. He said, "Let's take one day at a time and not try to get so much done every day. It's not worth it."
Sometimes I worry that Mark's expectations are too high. He's used to being taken care of. His mother keeps her spices in alphabetical order. My parents tell me I'll still have them, but it will be different. I don't want to move out, but Mark says we need to be on our own. He wanted us to live together before we were married, but I just couldn't do that. It would've killed my parents, and they would have killed me.
Weird things keep running through my head. What if it all goes downhill once we're married? What if six months from now it doesn't work? What if Mark finds somebody else?
I am really upset. I can't get three of the girls to pay the deposits on their dresses. It hurts my feelings. It's like they are so wrapped up in their own lives they don't have time to think about me and my wedding.
This morning two of the girls said they didn't want to be bridesmaids, that things were too tense, and it was a lot of money to spend. I was relieved.
Mark's mother called me at work. She said she felt that wine-colored type would be better on the invitations than the rose color I picked and that she had changed it on the order form and turned it into the printer. I put her on hold. I was almost in tears, but I got back on the phone, bit my tongue and told her, "That's fine."
I dreamed that it was three o'clock and I was starting to dress for the wedding. I couldn't find any stockings. No one was helping me. I was a wreck. I got to the church and Mark was gone.
Mark and I discussed where we want to live. I'd like to stay close to my parents. He wants to live in Waldorf, 14 miles away. The apartments there look like Army barracks.
Great day. Dad said, "If you and Mark want to pick out a house, I'll make the down payment." We want a three-bedroom, two-bath.
Mark and I went to Pre-Cana classes. That's where you meet with a priest and talk about the responsibilities of getting married. Father Caesar gave us a test in which we had to list our priorities. Mark put me at the top of his list. I put "being a good wife and a good home-maker, and to live my life as I have been accustomed to."
We talked to my grandmother in Italy. She still doesn't have a visa.
Mark and I looked at town houses. I wanted skylights and a Jacuzzi in the master bedroom. He said we didn't need it, that we could have a fireplace in the living room.
My sister, Rita, and her boyfriend, Steve, one of our ushers, broke up. She is having a terrible time. I tell her to move on. She says, "That's easy for you to say. Mark treats you like a doll." Now we don't know what to do about having both of them in the wedding.
The invitations arrived and they look beautiful. Mrs. Desimone was right.
We signed the contract for a new town house in Upper Marlboro, Md. We ended up not getting the Jacuzzi or the fireplace, but we got a skylight in the bathroom and cathedral ceilings. Our house payments will be $966 a month. Mark calculated our incomes and says the mortgage won't totally rip us. I'm getting an ulcer, but he's not nervous.
My friends gave me a surprise shower. It was beautiful. I got lots of towels, two Crockpots, two toaster ovens, two coffee pots, three frying pans, everyday silverware, sheets and dust ruffles. Mrs. Desimone gave me a dried-flower arrangement for my dining room, and my mom gave me a negligee and four place settings of my china.
I went for my fitting. My dress is way too big, I look like a whale. I'm a size 3 and they got a size 9. When they pinned it, it looked great. Mom saw me in it and started crying.
Mom bought a different dress for the wedding. She looked like a movie star. It's pink, heavily sequined and tea length. It cost $770. We went home and told my dad, and he almost fell over. I bought six pairs of shoes.
Things are still bad between Steve and Rita. I told Steve I didn't want him in the wedding, but he says he's Mark's friend and he's going to be there. I told Mark, "It's either the bride or the usher."
An invitation made out to two people came back saying seven would attend.
We had our last Pre-Cana class. Father Caesar says that the results of the priorities test show we are very compatible. I was nervous talking about sex with a priest, but he didn't ask any direct questions. Mark gave the most perfect answer. He said, "My feelings for Angie are so strong that I am sure everything will be wonderful because I love her." I just kept nodding.
Everything is costing more than we thought. When Dad sees me, he automatically reaches into his pocket.
Rita and I went out to dinner. All of a sudden we were both quiet at the same time. She said, "It's sad, we're growing up. You won't be home as much anymore." Most nights we sit up in her room or in my room and watch television until one of us falls asleep. We call each other five times a day. It's hard to imagine not seeing her every day.
Things are not going too good with Rita and Steve, but at least they're talking. I said, "Rita, do you want him in the wedding or not?" She said, "Do we have to talk about this now?"
Tonight was my bachelorette party. We went to a male dance club. My friends embarrassed the hell out of me. They had one of the dancers give me a black-net bodysuit. When he wanted to put it on me, I wouldn't let him. He said, "This is the first time in 15 years we've had this much trouble with someone." I told him, "You haven't seen trouble yet." Except for that, the evening was fun.
My grandmother called from Italy. She's not coming. She was upset and told Mom and Dad, "You didn't give me enough time to make arrangements for the trip."
This should be the happiest week of my life, and I am mad at the world. I'm rude to my parents and barely talking to Mark. Today I burst into tears because there was no Coke in the fridge.
I went for my final fitting, but the chest was too big. They put cups in, but that just made me look like Dolly Parton.
Tonight we chose our wedding bands. I got a thin gold band with a row of diamonds across the top. It was only $549. I got Mark a thick gold band with diamonds. His cost about $600. I can tell Mark feels pressured. He keeps saying, "I can't wait till this is over."
I'm still nervous about being married, working full-time and then going home and fixing dinner and cleaning up. I'm not used to that stuff. Mom has dinner ready, irons my clothes, washes my underwear. I don't remember the last time I made my own bed. My mom is more like a sister. When there is a problem, she is always there. My dad is wonderful. When you are sad or upset he is always there to make it all better. I'll really miss them.
I think I will be a wonderful wife. I used to think, "Do I really want this?" I probably won't have the 450 SL Mercedes convertible I've been dreaming of. But I prefer Mark over a car and a billion dollars. The only bad part is I'll have to change the way I dress. I like minis and tight jeans, but Mark doesn't think they're appropriate once you are married.
The Big Day
I got lockets as gifts for the bridesmaids, then I went to the tanning spa as usual. I am really nervous. When I think of walking down the aisle, my legs lock up.
As I got dressed, I was pleased, but I felt there was something missing. Did I need more eye shadow? A little more lipstick? I was too frantic.
The wedding was worth all the effort. Mark looked really handsome. I couldn't believe he was wearing the barbell charm that I gave him. I don't remember much of the ceremony, but we can watch the video when we get home. The only thing that went wrong was that the bridesmaids' bouquets were too small and the cake was only seven tiers high, instead of 12, and had no lights. My favorite part was when I smeared the cake on Mark's face.
My sister was really happy that Steve was in the wedding, and I was happy that she was happy.
Mark stayed up till 3 a.m. drinking with the ushers and bridesmaids. I fell asleep in the hotel room in a pair of sweats and a T-shirt. Mark woke me up at 4 and tried to get romantic, but I said, "Stop, I'm sleeping now."