Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’ Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

“So, are you totally freaking out?” people ask. “How are you holding up?”

Everyone acts as if planning a wedding is this horrible thing I have to get through, like a Brazilian bikini wax or a tattoo or Chinese water torture.

I’m sitting there going, should I be freaking out? Is there something I’m missing here?

The thing is, I’m totally calm. I’m not worried or stressed or nervous. I love getting lots of presents and being the center of attention. I was like, totally born to be a bride-to-be.

Then yesterday, when the Head Honcho Lady of our wedding venue asked me if I was going to eat breakfast before the ceremony and I go, “No, probably not. I don’t really eat breakfast.”

She looks at me and goes, “You should eat breakfast.”

And I’m like, “My idea of breakfast is a double-tall soy latte.”

She hardens her gaze and smoothens out her blouse. “You should really eat breakfast.”

“I never eat before noon,” I say. “I’m just really not a breakfast person. Maybe I’ll have a Luna bar at 11 or something, but that’s it.”

She braces herself with her hands on her knees and lets out a sigh. “We’ve had brides pass out up there. That’s all I’m saying. I think you should eat breakfast.”

Silly me, all this time I’ve been worried about all my friends from sea level who will have to navigate my mountaintop party without oxygen masks. It never occurred to me that I might be the one affected by the altitude. All of a sudden I see myself breathing into a paper bag. Or maybe I’m flat on my back on the floor, people hovered over me with smelling salts and fans and defibrillators.

Yesterday I thought it would be fun to hike up to the wedding ceremony site, since I’ve only seen it in winter when it was buried in several feet of snow.

So I’m up there and I’m looking at this thing, and it’s got steps. It sort of looks like an amphitheater or maybe a plank, like the kind pirates used when they drowned people. I’m trying to imagine walking down these steps in my 5-inch stiletto heels with my dad, who is not very tall, weighs like 100 pounds and has a fake hip. The guy has ridden his road bike thousands of miles this summer and keeps shrinking because he burns like 10,000 calories a day more than he eats. My mom calls him “The Stop Sign” because his head is the biggest part of his body.

He’s an animal when he’s got two wheels under him. The guy completed four 100-plus-mile rides this summer, including a 700-mile tour of Colorado, The Triple Bypass and two other century rides in Summit County and Steamboat. But if there’s no bike involved, he’s a little unstable. I know it’s going to piss him off to hear me say that, but let’s just put it this way: If I go down, he’s going down with me. I’m pretty sure I outweigh him by at least 10 pounds.

At the bottom of the steps there’s this platform, and it’s not that big. The slope below it is so steep it seems to drop off into thin air, so it looks like you could literally fall off this thing. All of a sudden I’m having these images of me twisting my ankle, killing my dad, falling down the stairs and rolling off the edge of the cliff into the abyss, never to be seen again. I can just see the headlines in the newspaper: “Princess finally goes off the deep end.”

It’s not like I have anything to worry about. My wedding planners, Virginia and Chelsea from Bluebird Productions (shameless plug), are like, so totally on it. They’re the kind of girls who are all organized and thin and pretty and blonde. They probably got straight A’s in school and went to church and volunteered at soup kitchens and played varsity sports. There are times I’m convinced I heard a chime and saw a twinkle when they smiled, and I thought, this must be a dream. They make spreadsheets on their laptops and have all these questions about things I never would have thought of in a million years. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my wedding is over and I don’t have them around anymore to provide me with a long list of all the things I forgot to remember.

“So, what were you thinking for escort cards?” Virginia asks the other day, taking a sip of water. (I have yet to see her eat or drink a thing, which might explain how she maintains her slight physique, though you can so totally tell she was just born that way.)

“What the hell are escort cards?” I ask, picturing something for a bachelor party. “I don’t have to worry about that, do I? I mean, won’t Ryan’s guy friends take care of that?”

She laughs and explains that escort cards tell people which table they’re sitting at. You also need place cards that tell them which seat is theirs. There are so many things to think about: What color should the toilet paper in the bathrooms be? Do I want it to match my dress or my flowers? If someone gets altitude sickness and barfs during my ceremony, do I want plastic or paper puke bags? If the gondola breaks while all my guests are on it, do I want them to be rescued by parachute or should they be lowered down on climbing ropes? Have I thought of wearing rubber-soled shoes in case I get struck by lightning during cocktail hour?

When people ask me if I’m freaking out, I just smile and send my wedding planners an email to remind me to make sure I get my prescription refilled.

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