June Bride on a Feather Bed

I attended art school in Atlanta. This introduced a Cleveland-born-and-bred girl to a world of southern sayings. Some of my favorites:

Hotter than Savannah asphalt.
Higher than a Georgia pine.
Hornier than a ten-peckered owl.

And my absolute favorite:

Prettier than a June bride on a feather bed.

It’s such a loaded phrase. And it was on my mind all weekend. ‘Tis the season, you know. June Brides will be filling the salons and the Target Wedding Registry kiosks.

Let’s track this frenzy, shall we? It starts with the wedding porn, you know.

There is an entire section of bridal magazines at your local Borders. And brides-to-be need to buy these magazines new and not used because well, who wants outdated colors at their wedding? And all the effort into finding just the right cake

And bridal party gowns that will never be worn again

and making the choice between the veil or the tiara or both and how the hair should be worn

all moving toward the excitement of finding out that any bride—or those that can afford it—can wear a wedding dress just like a Disney princess!

Because, if you learn anything about weddings, you must learn this: It is all about the dress.

So this whole June Bride thing really hovered over me this past weekend. I drove out to Jersey to see my 8-yr-old niece receive her First Communion. For those of you that are not catholic, this is a pretty big deal in the Catholic Church. It’s when Catholics accept their role in the church as a parishioner and as a follower of Christ by receiving the Holy Eucharist.

There is a lot of symbolism in receiving the Eucharist, as with many religious ceremonies. But I am only going to focus on one thing here. While receiving First Communion is a sacrament within the Catholic Church, for many female Catholics: it is all about the dress.

Which is why June Brides were on my mind all weekend.

You’ll notice in this picture that the little boy is wearing a suit—not a tux. But the little girl is wearing something very akin to a wedding dress.

The shoes, the tights, the dress—and yes, the veil—is a huge focus for the female First Communicant. They even parade them down the church aisle like little brides linked with their male partner. At my niece’s ceremony, the church even played Pachelbel’s Canon, a song quickly becoming the most popular of wedding hymns.

(This happens again for nuns, btw. When they receive their vows, they essentially are “marrying” God. They even begin wearing a gold wedding band on their ring finger.)

My niece was so excited about her dress that it was a huge focal point the whole weekend. Her cousin, who received her First Communion the weekend before, belongs to a parish that is economically diverse so all Communicants wear a white robe—church provided—for their ceremony. But my sister-in-law’s sister told me that most of the girls had communion dresses on under their robes, anyway.

There is no way any female catholic is going to be cheated out of a chance to wear that dress and veil. My mother made my communion dress. It was the highlight of my entire second grade year—it had a baby-blue ribbon braided into the bodice and on that day, I felt like the most beautiful girl on the planet. Because that’s what we tell our brides, right?

Us girls. Always wanting to be the bride. Wonder where that comes from?


7 thoughts on “June Bride on a Feather Bed

  1. Ashley Yang says:

    My question is, was all this bride stuff this hot a few years back and was I just too young to realize it, or has it gotten even CRAZIER as TV has gotten even more desperate for trashy reality shows? I’m talking “Say yes to the dress” and “Four weddings”, and all the other filler stuff TLC puts on when they aren’t showing the good stuff, like “I didn’t know I was pregnant!” or “Midget chocolatiers” (which has a politically correct name which I can’t be bothered to remember). My best friend and housemate LOVES “Say yes to the dress” and has actually tortured me watching marathons of the damn show for hours on end, which usually end with me wrestling her for the remote in a scene that would fuel dozens of adolescent boys’ fantasies and screaming, “Dammit, what is the appeal? They all look the same! THEY ALL LOOK THE SAME!” And they do! The dresses. Are. All. White. I’d be more interested if they were shopping for bridesmaid dresses. At least those are pretty colors! Frankly I’d be more interested if they were searching for prom dresses. (Another ridiculous craze that I’m bearing witness to, as my high school’s prom is this weekend–but by the way, I got both my prom dresses in less than 15 minutes of shopping, for under $100, at Eastview Mall. And I looked damn good. Booyah.)

    But yes. This wedding nonsense is reaching ridiculous heights. Frankly I was never a little girl who played bride-and-groom or kept a wedding scrapbook. Maybe it’s because my parents ran away so there were never any wedding pics for me to ogle. Maybe I was just THAT smart from an early age and realized it’s stupid to spend that much money on what basically amounts to a party–when you could be, I don’t know, putting it away for the rest of your life? If you’re going to spend it, spend it on a honeymoon, all right? Go somewhere exotic. But 6k on a dress is just ridiculous.

  2. Michele says:

    Ash, I think the reality shows have made it worse. And the publishing industry. The major problem here is that too often, married couples seldom realize the difference between wedding and marriage.

  3. When I made my First Communion as a 2nd grader, I can’t lie, I was excited to pick out a dress. And shoes, of course. Tights, on the other hand, not so much. It’s interesting that you make this connection between First Communion and marriage, Michele. During the First Communion classes, we talked about everything: Jesus, God, how to be a good Catholic, and future Sacraments. But, marriage was never addressed. Instead, the next religious milestone discussion, if you will, was focused on Confirmation.

    I’m interested in what made your niece’s First Communion different than mine, Michele. Yes, we walked down the aisle during the opening procession, but not with male partners. There was no way the girls would link arms with the boys—cooties, gross. Also, a normal religious song played in the background, not a tune associated with marriage. I do remember, however, the girls being told ahead of time we were “brides of Christ.” So, maybe First Communion could be considered a test-run?

    Later in the year, my church celebrated its 150th anniversary. As part of this milestone, the church wanted to get a handful of its parishioners to represent all the religious sacraments. When the service began, two people – who represented one of the seven sacraments – would walk to the alter. I walked down the aisle with one of my First Communion male classmates. The lady who was in charge of coordinating all asked me to do it because she loved my First Communion dress so much. So I walked down the aisle with her redheaded son. We must’ve looked like quite the couple.

  4. Michele says:

    Carrie, I certainly don’t remember walking down the aisle to a wedding hymn. But then how would I have known at 8 yrs old? But I seem to remember the precession was to “Make a Channel of Your Peace” but then, this was my favorite church song as a kid.

    I don’t remember the “brides of Christ” thing either. But I remember not wanting to take my veil off–ever. But then, I also wanted to be a nun for about 3 days.

  5. Alex Cragg says:

    I was born and raised Catholic but it never really held much meaning for me, that is why my First Communion was totally all about the dress and the party that was held afterwards. I remember every Sunday my dad would sit me down after church and make me read from my Communion book and answer the questions at the end of each chapter. I hated it but I knew my special day would be worth it. When I was little, I always dreamed about my own wedding so naturally when I saw my dress was complete with a veil I was ecstatic.
    When I look back upon the whole ceremony I think of it as a mistake. I think that all religious sacraments should be saved for when your older and are more capable of making your own decisions. I distinctly remember when I was in 8th grade telling my mom that I did not want to make my Confirmation. I told her that I wasn’t ready to make that commitment to God and in response she told me that I didn’t have a choice.
    Making my First Communion was fun but for all the wrong reasons. I was more excited for the cake than for the Euacharist. Maybe if more importance was placed upon the sacrament rather than your appearance kids wouldn’t get so excited about it. I know I wouldn’t have been.

  6. Becky says:

    I do not understand this wedding craze. Personally I have never wanted a wedding party like the ones featured in these magazines. The point of the wedding is the celebration and union of two people! For once, this is an event that is not about what you are wearing. I think it is ridiculous the lengths these women and some men, go to in order to achieve the desired wedding party. I felt that I would be more compelled to throw an amazingly extravagant bash or dream of what I will wear, but in reality I have just never felt that the decor or attire of my wedding is of any importance.

    Little girls often dream of weddings, but what is scary is that is the only thing. Not about the partner they will take at that wedding. The wedding magazines and hype will probably never cease but for those brides out there who are more devoted to their partners than their wedding planner, more power to you.

  7. Esther Altomare says:

    Now that I’m almost 20 and the concept of marriage isn’t soooo far off at least to certain members of my extended family. My mother and father, married in their 30s eloped and honestly, I wouldn’t really mind doing the same thing. My grandparents weren’t so pleased about this; however, and remind me of this every time they see me always hinting at the beautiful china I would be set to inherit the day of my own extravagant wedding. I guess it’s a generational thing, but all the dishes in the world wouldn’t get me any closer to the alter at this age.

    I don’t understand the concept of paying, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single days event. Yes, I’m not going to lie, I’ll probably be pretty excited about the dress, if I do in fact get married and host a wedding someday, I’m not immune from the beautiful white dresses glorified on the magazine covers; however, getting married is so much more then that.

    I for one cannot even think about my plans for this weekend without going into a bit of a frenzy, let alone the idea of who I’ll “spend the rest of my life with.” I cant help but wonder if the girls who spend their life planning their perfect wedding, to the perfect man ever actually manage to fulfill this almost entirely unrealistic ideal of marriage and happily ever after.

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