Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate | AspenTimes.com
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Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“You should just take a few days and let it all soak in,” my friend Catherine said when I told her about my New Year’s Day engagement. “Don’t start the wedding planning yet. Just enjoy this time, because it doesn’t last forever.”

Here’s the thing about good advice: Not only do I tend to ignore it, I typically go and do the exact opposite.

That’s precisely what happened when I sent an e-mail out to my 100 closest friends to announce the engagement and oh, by the way, how does this possible wedding date work for you?



“I don’t think you should mention a date,” Ryan said, looking over my shoulder as he will sometimes do when he senses I am about to do something stupid on my computer.

“But I have friends who live in like, England, or have five kids. They need as much warning as possible.”




“I just wouldn’t. But do what you want.”

Of course my informal little e-mail sets off a chain reaction wherein various camps of friends start talking to each other about when/how they’re coming. All of a sudden I’m getting bombarded with e-mails that say things like “I found a ticket into Denver for 150 bucks! Should I book it?”

I remember when I was in high school I couldn’t wait to become a senior so I could design my senior page in the yearbook. At prep school you got a whole page to do with what you wanted.

As an underclassman, I’d pour over the senior pages and read them over and over again and stare at the photos. A lot of times couples or best girlfriends would share a double-page spread with photos of them together spilling over the center seam. There would be favorite quotes (“What a long, strange, trip it’s been” by the Grateful Dead and “The west is the best” by the Doors were both very popular) and lists of thank-yous to various friends and family members that were cryptically abbreviated to initials (I’d wonder, was SM Sarah Murray, Sarah Mularz or Sarah Moore?). And of course people would always use the most fabulous photos of themselves.

But when it finally came time for me to actually, physically turn in the layout for my senior page (in those days I’m pretty sure we were given graph paper and literally cut and paste our photos and text with glue and scissors), it wasn’t fun at all. It was dreadful. The burden of responsibility was too much. After all, this was my stamp in history. It would live on in the bookshelves of all my classmates forever. The really ironic part is I lost my senior yearbook a long time ago and couldn’t even tell you what was on it. I vaguely remember a photo of me wearing one of those hippie floral print T-shirts from India that smelled like patuli oil no matter how many times you washed it because you had to buy them at the head shop, and maybe one from the beach in Nantucket. But I have no idea who I thanked (though my guess is one or all of the SM girls was on the list) or what my quotes were or what sentiments I left behind.

It’s the same thing with a wedding. Like most girls, I’ve been dreaming about my wedding for at least half of my life, especially considering I’m at least 10 years late as far as the whole getting married thing goes. That would explain my friends’ unbridled excitement in wanting to be there. Well, that and the fact that most of them have not had two minutes to themselves outside the shower since their little rug rats were born and are dying for an excuse to go on a solo vacation.

Before I even had the chance to suggest a Top of Aspen Mountain ceremony/Little Nell reception/Vera Wang gown/Christian Louboutin shoes, my mom put a cap on the ol’ wedding budget.

“You know, costs add up faster than you realize,” she said. Of course it’s redundant since she’s been trying to teach me this little lesson my whole life.

“Yeah, right. I know,” I murmur, thinking maybe I can find Louboutin heels on sale on blackfly.com or eBay.

“No, I don’t think you know,” she said. “You’re not going to get away with much less than 25 dollars a person with even the least expensive caterer.”

Let me be the one to tell you there is nothing more annoying than having a mother who is always right.

“Dad and I are just going to give you some money as a wedding present. You can do whatever you want with it. Have a big wedding or don’t. It’s up to you.”

Oh, crap. There goes that burden of responsibility thing again.

Within two days I must have played out every scenario in my head from Aspen to Costa Rica to Hawaii to just running off to wherever and using the money to replace our old, temperamental car. I would lay in bed at night and turn all these scenarios and people and places and dresses and shoes around in my head, wondering why I was losing sleep over this whole being engaged thing. It’s supposed to be the most special time in my life, right?

Of course Catherine’s advice haunted me, so I decided to take a day to myself and just decompress. I would go for a long run and then to yoga and just spin out all of these thoughts.

As I was running, I came across a beautiful spot with an open meadow and spectacular views. Just like all good things, I knew this was it. It was as soon as I stopped looking that I found exactly what I was looking for in the first place.


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