When I was seven years old, I saw the Disney version of Cinderella and the inner princess in me was born. I loved the sewing and singing mice, and the fairy godmother who turns rags into a beautiful gown and a pumpkin into a coach pulled by six white horses. I couldn’t resist Cinderella meeting her handsome prince and living happily ever after.
As I got older, I didn’t buy the message that a man had to “save” Cinderella. After all, why didn’t Cinderella just pack up the mice and high tail it out of her evil stepmother’s house. She could have started a dress shop with the mice. The fairy godmother could have helped her secure a micro loan. Then she could have met her Prince Charming and after a lovely courtship gotten married in a dress she designed herself. She did have those great sewing mice to help her.
But, that’s not the story I grew up with and the story that my inner princess loved.
So, how could I resist watching the royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Katherine a few weeks ago? Because my daughter Lizzy enjoys the whole princess package as much as I do, we had great fun enjoying it together. We even saw a little of it with my own mother when she came by early in the morning to see Lizzy dressed for school in her pink party dress and a little tiara in her hair.
There we were, three generations of women enjoying the pageantry of the royal wedding.
As much as my own mom had raised my sisters and I to be strong independent women, even she has always been a sucker when it comes to a wedding. I used to love her stories of how she planned her wedding, designed her bridal bouquet, and picked out her dress.
We couldn’t resist watching a Cinderella story come to life.
When I got engaged and was planning my own wedding, I obsessively read bridal magazines and pored over pictures of gorgeous designer gowns and stunning flowers.
I had come across a story about a new designer and the beautiful bridal boutique she had recently opened at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. The store sold her designs as well as a lot of the designers I saw in magazines. I wanted to buy my dress at Vera Wang.
My budget doesn’t always fit my desires, but I planned in my mind how I would be able to purchase the gown of my dreams on my down-to-earth budget. Since I love fairy tales, I decided that I was going to go to Vera Wang and find the perfect dress for me in my price range. Just for fun, I added to my daydream that I would get to meet the designer and they would like me so much that they would throw a few special things in for no charge.
I had a lot of free time at my job.
More for fun than anything else, my mother and I made an appointment to shop for my wedding dress at Vera Wang.
As we went through the store with the saleswoman, my eye went to the most beautiful dress I had ever seen. Not unlike Cinderella’s weddding dress in the movie.
It was a simple, white silk gown with the most delicate pearl bead work on the off-the-shoulder neckline. The saleswoman saw my face and got the dress. I figured I was in trouble and tried to decide just how important eating really was to me.
She zipped up the dress, and I completely fell in love. She smiled at me and said that this gown was very reasonably priced. And, without knowing my daydream, said if I didn’t mind coming back on the weekend, the designer was having a trunk sale at the shop. I could meet him and get an additional 10% taken off the dress. I was in shock. It was my fantasy come true.
I bought my dream dress. I met the designer. And, true to my fantasy, he added pearl buttons down the back of my dress and cut the dress to my exact measurements, all for no extra charge. I had my Cinderella moment complete with a perfect wedding to a man I truly adore.
Now, 18 years later, we have a daughter who for the last two weeks has been walking around with my shawl on her head and pretending to be Princess Kate.
Lizzy’s special needs affect her life so completely, and I’m not really sure what her future will bring. Meeting someone and getting married seems unlikely.
When feeling a little too filled with self pity, I expressed that thought to my own mom, she said it didn’t matter. Lizzy could wear a wonderful dress and have a great party anytime she wanted to.
A few days ago I decided to open the box that held my beautiful wedding dress so that my daughter could wear and enjoy playing in it now. She had the same look of joy that I had when I first laid my eyes on it. “Oh, mommy, it’s sooo beautiful. I’m a princess.”
Then she proceeded to add two hats, three crowns and six bracelets and made it her own. It was a magical moment for both of us.