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And so, it finally comes time to find: The Dress.
The Dress must be perfect. Bridal magazines warn that it often requires weeks or months of determined searching. The Dress is even worthy of physical injury, if it happens to be located at Filene's Basement during the annual Running of the Brides, a dignity-obliterating stampede of crazed she-beasts who brawl like rugby players over discounted princess gowns.
On her first try at Lord & Taylor, Jaqi does not find The Dress. She finds two dresses. In one hour. The first of the tea-length dresses is green; the second is red, white and black. Jaqi doesn't care which one she wears on the big day; she'd wear both again, anyway. Together they cost $242. Then she's done, which is good, because she has other errands to run.
Meanwhile, to save the couple the $300-to-$800 cost of a hired officiant, Chris's stepmom, Mardie Rossi, becomes a minister through the Universal Life Church Monastery -- an online church that sells a "Ministry-in-a-Box"package for $139.99 and will ordain anyone it believes to be alive.
Now we have it all. We have conquered the odds, triumphed over adversity, proven our mission possible. With a spring in our step, we visit the regional office of the National Park Service -- a bureau of the aforementioned Department of the Interior -- where we file our protest application and stride boldly into the sweet morning sunshine. Then we stride back, because we are told to by the person holding our paperwork.
You have to remove the wedding, she says. The protest is fine, but you can't have a wedding in Lafayette Square.
Why not? we ask. It's a part of the protest; the group will stand and watch. They are still protesting.
It is not a freedom-of-speech issue, she says. You need a special-event permit, which the department would reject. Too much stuff.
We won't have any stuff, we reply. We just want to say words. It will be much quieter than the protest you're going to approve.
If we let you do this, we will have to let other people do this, she says.
Well, then, we say, why isn't a wedding a freedom-of-speech issue?
It's all in here, she says, and hands us a thick packet of Park Service regulations. We look at the packet, full of tiny type and sections called §7.96 (g) (2) (ii) (E). We scratch the wedding part off our application, hand it back and stride out into the hateful day.