Feeling the Love in The Magic Room
By Karen Ballum on December 28, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
In Jeffrey Zaslow's The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters he takes inside that most magical place -- the bridal boutique. He uses the backdrop and history of Becker's Bridal, a bridal store in Fowler, Michigan that has been owned and run by the same family for three generations, to examine how that room and the pedestal on which a bride chooses her dress says so much about our daughters and the love that we want for them.
I've always found bridal boutiques fascinating places. I suppose part of it stems from being in my first wedding at the age of six. As a girl who was very into wearing dresses, a bridal boutique was a magic place of satin, pearls and lace. It was as close as many of us small-town girls get to princess-style dresses in our lives. As we grew up, they were also the places we shopped for bridesmaid dresses (frequently hideous) and prom dresses (which did not seem hideous at the time but upon further reflection not quite as lovely as we originally thought they were).
I have a large extended family and most of my cousins are a bit older than I am, so I spent a lot of time in bridal boutiques and attended a lot of weddings. I saw the work and the stress that went into planning a wedding. I saw how people sighed over the dresses. But perhaps most of all, I noticed how my uncles turned into soft, squishy versions of themselves as they walked their daughters down the aisle and gave speeches at their receptions. Weddings were not about the pomp and the circumstance, they were about love. And that is what Jeffrey Zaslow writes about in The Magic Room.
Zaslow alternates between telling the history of Becker's Bridal and the stories of a handful of brides. It takes a family a lot of work, with long and hard hours, to run a business for generations. Yes, they enjoy what they do and they love one another, but that love isn't always expressed in openly obvious ways. The Becker family works hard at Becker's Bridal, and when they get home, the business seeps into their personal life. There is a lot of love, but love isn't always easy.
Then there are the brides. Through its history, Becker's Bridal has had more than 100,000 brides wear its dresses. Zaslow followed the stories of a few brides that he met at Becker's. There's the bride that was in a car accident just days after picking out her dress. The bride whose mother's absence is keenly felt. There's another bride who is one of four sisters who pledged not to kiss a boy until she met "the one." Her first kiss was the day they got engaged. (Her sister's was on her wedding day.) There are young brides and widowed brides, and they all have a story to tell in which the commonality is love.
Pull up your chair, maybe grab a few tissues, and get ready to feel the love as you enter The Magic Room. We'll be discussing in for the next month in BlogHer Book Club. I hope you'll come join the conversation.