Lisa’s Bridal Shop made my wedding dress in Los Angeles. I got married in New Hampshire. The dress was too big to fit in a carry-on bag on the plane. As United Airlines once lost my suitcase and an entire collection of expensive suits that I wore to various film markets, I wasn’t about to put my precious (i.e., unbelievably expensive) dress in checked luggage. I arranged for Lisa’s to ship my dress, along with some of the bridesmaid dresses, directly to Patty’s Bridal & Tux Rental shop in Nowhere, New Hampshire.
I should have packed it and shipped it myself. Some idiot haphazardly stuffed the dresses in a box and slapped a label on it. When Patty of the New Hampshire Bridal Shop pulled the dresses out of the box, the velvet bridesmaid dresses were fine, but my silk wedding gown was wrinkled and crumpled. Patty called me and broke the news.
“Autumn, I don’t know what to do. I’ve never seen heavy silk like that, or bead work and embroidery! We have a steamer, but I don’t know if that material might get water marks.”
Andy and I were en route from the airport to Ex-Stepmother #1’s house in New Hampshire. “For now, just hang it up,” I told Patty. “I’ll call the woman who made it and see if I can figure out what to do.”
“All right. But, Autumn! I just couldn’t believe it. When I pulled out that gorgeous dress, I just wanted to cry,” Patty sniffled. “How could you make something like that and not pack it properly?”
“I guess I’ll find out,” I said grimly. I called Lisa’s shop. Lisa wasn’t available, but I explained the issue to her male partner/ manager. He was apologetic, but had no idea if the dress could be steamed. He would check with Lisa and get back to me.
Once Andy and I hit the Lakes Region of NH, cell phone reception became very sketchy. (For more details, check out this post.)
8 PM Tuesday. “This is Lisa…sorry…[buzzing noise] in shop. Call me back.”
9 PM Tuesday. Andy and I got cell reception at the top of a hill. Lisa’s shop was closed. I left a message: “Cell phone reception here is terrible. Just send me an email or text with instructions on how to get wrinkles out of the dress!”
3 PM Wednesday, another voicemail from Lisa: “I couldn’t understand your voicemail at all. Please call back.”
5 PM Wednesday. I got to Ex-Stepmother #1’s landline and called the shop. No answer. Left message: “Please text or email instructions for getting wrinkles out of the dress that you shipped so poorly. Can I use a steamer?”
2 PM Thursday. Message on voicemail from shop: “[Buzzing] Don’t use a steamer. [Inaudible] It has to be a dry steam.”
I looked at M, my Maid of Honor. “’Dry steam?’ What does that even mean!?”
M: “I think it means they’re just messing with you.”
Me: “Steam is inherently wet. Am I supposed to find dry ice or a sauna or what?!”
We went back to Patty’s shop. Patty had no idea what dry steam was. Some of the wrinkles had fallen out of the dress, but the train still looked like a crumpled tissue someone was attempting to reuse.
4 PM Thursday. I called Lisa’s shop from Patty’s landline. Her partner had no idea what dry steam was, and Lisa had gone home to lie in the dark, because she had a migraine. “Tell her I’ve heard dry steam helps,” I said through gritted teeth, and hung up. We spread out the train of the dress, and I told Patty I’d pick up the dress the following day and take it to the bridal suite at the Lake Nowhere Inn. We crossed our fingers that gravity would have yanked out more wrinkles by then.
7 PM Thursday. At an informal dinner at my Ex-Stepmother’s house. I quizzed all guests on the possibility of “dry steam.” No answers, but much hilarity. Party was a success.
2 PM Friday. Train was still wrinkled. Packed dress in car and took it to bridal suite with M. Hung the dress from ceiling, spread train out across the bed. I said, “The hell with it,” to M. We turned on the shower and flooded the suite with steam, fluffing the train and sleeves repeatedly. Our faces got very, very red.
3 PM Friday. Inn ran out of hot water. Dress had a few less wrinkles. Got ready for rehearsal dinner/ pre-wedding party on century-old paddle boat.
5 PM Friday. Listened to female guests bitch about lack of hot water at the Inn. Expressed surprise and sympathy. Drowned guilt in pastry bar.
10 AM Saturday morning. The wedding was in one hour. My dress was on, still with some wrinkles in the train. Pretty Space Cadet Sister brought her two-year-old son to the bridal suite where my entire bridal party was having their hair done. The two-year-old tore around room, eventually knocking over the buckets of water holding bouquets. Quarts of water spilled on train of my wedding dress. M and my Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister sprang into action with towels.
Pretty Space Cadet Sister and her offspring lived only because I was unable to move, weighted down by the dress and minions on my train. I delivered an angry tongue-lashing instead of a throttling. She defensively informed me that all her child’s babysitters were in my suite. Which was true. Pretty Space Cadet Sister was notorious for disappearing for days at a time and leaving her child with Boyfriend Stealing Baby Sister and Ex-Stepmother #1.
Ex-stepmother #1, now pushing the two-year-old dervish around on a bellhop cart, shot me a long-suffering look. “She’s right, Autumn. There’s no one.”
Me: “Where is his goddamned father?”
Brilliant Blonde Lawyer Sister: “Ha! He always swore the kid wasn’t his.” She flicked on a blow dryer and handed it to M.
Me (yelling): “There are paternity tests!”
Pretty Little Space Cadet Sister shrugged and called back, “Doesn’t matter, I think he’s back in prison anyway.”
Me: “Don’t they have visiting hours on Saturday?!”
M shut off the blow dryer and intervened before I could get any more irrational. “Look, Autumn! It’s okay! The water didn’t leave a mark!”
I whipped my head around. Sure enough, between towels and a blow dryer, my train was dry and spotless…and the wrinkles WERE GONE where the water had hit the fabric.
M tried very hard not to laugh. And failed. “All…all this time…and…and…”
I ruefully finished for her.
“We could have just used the damned steamer.”