Blushing Brides and a Bitter Bagpiper


This weekend I played the harp for a thousand frenzied brides.

More accurately, I attempted to play with the baby on my lap, stood near the harp with my arm draped over it in an ornamental manner, and wandered around the floor of the convention center exploring the bizarre world of Bridal Shows, including a booty shaking boy band dancing to the Black Eyed Peas, one member of whom slipped and fell down on his aforementioned booty. This particular bridal show was held at the David L. Lawrence Convention center, named after the first (Irish!) Catholic governer of Pennsylvania. I am utterly ignorant regarding architecture, particularly modern, but I love the way the convention center swoops out over the Allegheny River, the huge glass vistas overlooking the water and bridges, and the way the convention center floor is illuminated by great shafts of light. So often indoor expositions are painful in part because you are walking around under eye busting flourescents all day in a clatter of painful ear piercing noises. Here, the glass rises up and lets in the sky.

All right, so my brief research into the history of the building does indicate that there was a fatal truss collapse just before it opened, followed by a section of the loading dock giving way under the weight of a semi and falling into the “water feature” below, all of which supports my distrust of fancy modern architecture.

Still, the sunlight did a nice job of illuminating a thousand frenzied brides let loose in a whirl of tulle, chiffon, rhinestones, pearls, slate coasters, and thousand dollar china.

The light created some particularly beautiful shadows.

Here is my favorite moment of calm in the midst of the storm.

Make no mistake, however, it was a storm. A storm of women of all shapes and sizes wearing convenient labels- bride, bridesmaid, mother of the bride- many of whom were tottering about in sky high heels. There is something about a bridal show that drives women to dress as though they are starring in their own personal romantic comedy. This meant lots of interesting fashions, and heels heels heels.

These red heels may have been the simplest and classiest pair there. By the end of the day there were multiple limping, barefoot women staggering around the floor, staring with glazed eyes at the confections, both pastry and dress varieties thereof. Last year I wore stilletos to this event. I was also eight months pregnant. I identify completely with the suffering of the staggerers. This year I was able to periodically set the baby down, which was preferable. I also enlisted the services of the Utter Romantic Christina, who was thrilled to help wrangle the baby and explore the convention center while dreaming about misty veils and place settings. She had roughly eight hundred thousand times more fun than my long suffering husband would have had being dragged to this event.

Christina was enthralled by the place settings

The various princess-like accoutrements

The peacock cake

And the flower arrangements dripping with crystals

Wait, what is that booth featured above called? Flowers in the Attic? Flowers in the Attic!? I am pretty sure that is a young adult novel featuring a very, very unhealthy interfamilial relationship between children locked in an attic. This is madness. Then again, the theme of the Wagnerian opera that Here Comes the Bride is lifted from is also about a horribly failed fiasco of a marriage between siblings. It is at this point that we hit upon the inescapable fact that American brides are pretty much insane, and I introduce my favorite part of the day: the Bitter Bagpiper.

When I arrived at my booth at the beginning of the Expo, the bagpiper who had been assigned to share it was already there, looking gloomy and glum and full of a deep Scottish malaise. He was dressed for the occasion from head to toe but looked deeply apprehensive and understandably tortured at the thought of sharing the next five long hours of his life with a roomfull of crazed brides in an explosion of chocolate and tulle. He expressed a deep desire to run full tilt to the nearest bar and take a couple of steadying shots, but instead, to my delight, he took comfort in a quart of Wisconsin Whisky. I think the milk did help him through, somehow.

There was something strangely comforting about having a bitter bagpiper to accompany the overpowering saccharine sweetness of a bridal show. All in all it was a great adventure, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I look forward to playing the expo again next year, and to never having to get married ever again.

2 thoughts on “Blushing Brides and a Bitter Bagpiper

  1. Janim


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