Just after the stroke of midnight, in the first moments of New Year’s Day, my Dear One proposed marriage. It was quiet there on our couch and I was full of Spanish bubbly and we were watching fireworks explode on television over the Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Of course I said yes. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot to do.

We notified one lawyer that a prenuptial agreement had to be drawn up for Dan and notified a second lawyer to watch for the draft so that he could advise me. We thought about whether to tell the kids and decided that we probably should. We thought about where to do the deed. Fortunately most of the information we needed was on the county government website and we opted for a wedding at home with the clerk of the circuit court doing the honors.

Then we got into the important stuff.

Would I like a diamond ring? Gosh. I’ve never had one as I didn’t get one the first time round. Well yes, I would love a ring but wouldn’t that be expensive?

Diamonds, in fact, are very expensive; at least good ones are. Selecting a diamond ring, moreover, is much more difficult than one might think. We looked online. We looked in stores. We went back to the Internet. Eventually we choose a stone (a one-carat radiant cut). We chose a setting (yellow gold). We chose a wedding band (a classic, unadorned circlet of matching yellow gold). And I tried not to think about the hit my Dear One’s bank account was about to take.

Next I had to think about bridal couture. Since we still, as of this writing, have not made the announcement public, I was loath to ask a friend to accompany me. Somehow it was hard to say to any of my busy chums, “Gee, wanna spend a whole day in a shopping mall helping me find a wedding dress? But you can’t come to the wedding.”

So I ended up, all by myself, at the largest shopping mall in the state north of Baltimore without any idea of what I might want. I had asked my Dear One what colors he favored and blue and pink bounced to the top of the list. I did the white thing once and once is enough. I generally wear black when I dress fancy these days, but the refrain, “marry in black and you’ll wish yourself back” echoes in my head. I started in a Nordstrom and quickly found myself nearly in tears. I’m not young and I’m not thin. Practically nothing in their inventory looks appealing. The few acceptable garments I saw were either too small (misses) or too large (womens).

I then began the slow trek down one side and up the other of each floor of the Mall. I stopped at every store that sold clothing of any kind. Ann Taylor. J.Jill. Talbots. BCBGMAXAZRIA. White House/Black Market. Macys. And I kept choking back the tears. I’m old, I’m fat, and I’m gonna look old and fat no matter what, so why am I doing this?

I ended up in Nordstrom’s basement in the place they call “The Rack.” That’s where they dump everything they can’t sell but I actually found something to try on. I went through a dozen or more things, ultimately leaving with two shirts, a blouse and a dress. I went back up to Ann Taylor where I had seen a silky black cardigan-jacket and bought that. Yeah, yeah, I know, “marry in black…” Well, the jacket could go over the pink dress, or with a black skirt and the new pink floral blouse. I also ordered a pale silk blouse, the blush color Ann Taylor calls “ribbon” from their website.

I still don’t know what I’ll be wearing on February 6 but I know it is hanging in the guest room closet, safe from my Dear One’s eyes.

I know what I am not wearing, however. I finally confided the news of my upcoming nuptials in Stonge, class correspondent for Emma Willard’s class of 1969 and dependable source of bracing wisdom, who was begging for news for the next issue of the Bulletin.

She said, “Just don’t wear that black-and-white dress to your wedding.”

I realized she was referring the black dress with a pattern of little red roses I have worn to every event in the past fifteen years. I wear it to art openings, lectures and the theater. Sometimes I wear it when I teach. I wore it to my mother’s funeral. I wore it my 40th reunion. I wore it on my most recent birthday when we went out to dinner. For that matter, I wore it when I went shopping for bridal couture.

I won’t wear it to get married…but I bet it lands in the suitcase if we decide to go on a honeymoon.