When the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, it unleashed a monster. This is the story of Groomzilla, who is planning an October 25 wedding.
I am a groomzilla, and like the bridezilla sisters who paved the way before me, I take no responsibility for my actions. I blame my mother Jacquelyn.
Growing up in my suburban Southern home, there were three sacred objects for which every visitor learned to quickly feign respect: the big pink hurricane lamp, atop the big yellow baby grand piano, beneath the larger-than-life oil painting of my mother on her wedding day. For twenty-five years, my mother's likeness held court in a formal sitting room that doubled as a museum of 1970s wedding glamour.
My mother wore a white long-sleeved, form-fitting satin gown, long auburn hair spilling over her shoulders from beneath a simple lace veil. The painting was done in New York by a mail-order company that blew up wedding photos and converted them into oils on canvas before placing them in ornate, gold-and-ivory rococo frames with a built-in display light. From her Madonna-like vantage point in the sitting room, Bridal Jacquelyn stood guard over the locked cabinet containing the unused wedding china, the pristine wedding silver, the never-unfolded wedding linens, and multiple volumes of wedding photos chronicling the golden age of frosted lipstick. Once a year, everything came out to be re-organized and cleaned: stemware, silverware, memories of "your bastard father," and the apocryphal story about when the rehearsal dinner reached a dramatic climax as the waiters brought out "the amazing European ice cream – strawberry – that everyone raved about." (For the record, it was just Häagen-Dazs, but I never let my mother know that by the late 1990s this was hardly on par with Beyonce flying in flowers from Thailand.)
As an adult, I can laugh at the charming but tasteless spectacle of Bridal Jacquelyn's Museum of Pre-Divorce Splendor. However, no matter how many hours of HGTV and Style Network I clock as a modern homosexual consumer, I will never shake the lessons learned in the shadow of the big gilded picture frame: (1) your wedding day will always be your best memory, (2) you should spare no expense in the tacky crap you buy for your wedding, and (3) a bride is the ultimate glamazon diva, if only for a fleeting afternoon. At the age of eleven I decided that one day, I would be memorialized in oil….though hopefully not in a dress, since my gay survivor narrative was to read a little more British aristocrat chic than plucky drag queen bildungsroman.
Fast-forward to the present day. I am twenty-nine, an attorney in a fast-paced megafirm, living in 1100 square feet of gentrified bliss, with enough mortgage and student loan debt to warrant my own government bailout. The California Supreme Court has affirmed my right to a wedding registry at Neiman Marcus, but it feels a bit like an unfunded mandate. How can I plan a day worthy of memorializing in oil paint before the November election? Where is my gay reparations check to help me afford a stylist, a calligrapher, an artisinal cheesemaker, three albino virgins with a harp, a glitter-and-rainbow machine, a team of midget aerialists on wires to simulate Baroque puti, a Valentino gown for my mother-in-law, a liposcuptor and a phalanx of angry queens with clipboards and headsets shouting at their minions, "Damnit, Bruce, I said 'CUE THE CHAMPAGNE FOUNTAIN!' The champagne fountain was supposed to begin bubbling BEFORE the albinos started Canon in D!"
This, then, is my groomzilla story: How can I simultaneously meet the expectations of glamour coming from a society that fetishizes gay style, live up to the childhood memories of my mother's wedding, and operate within the constraints of my budget, schedule, and fiancé's patience?
Next Thursday: Groomzilla convinces his fiancé that couture expires faster than fruit flies, and the sweet smell of retail is in the air outside the wedding chapel.