Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Dress

This is NOT my dress.

I'm not one of those girls who has been dreaming about her wedding day since she was five years old. I have never purchased a wedding magazine in my life. I do enjoy the blog A Practical Wedding, but only because it is sensible and sane, and also has a lot of pretty pictures. So it should come as no surprise that when my mother offered to take me shopping for wedding dresses while I was visiting for the holidays, I had a list of things I did not want in a dress, but no idea of what I did want. 

Things I did not want in a wedding dress: 
No tulle.
Nothing too poofy.
No Disney-esque, Cinderella gowns.
Nothing gaudy - IE, excessive bead work, rhinestones, weird stitching, etc.
No long trains. I am easily tripped.
No veil. 

Things I did want in a wedding dress: 
Something sort of vintage looking.

Yeah. We had our work cut out for us. 

So many dresses.

A few days after Christmas, my mom, my two younger sisters, my best friend from high school, and myself headed to David's Bridal, which we knew to possess a wide variety of affordable dresses. (Hello, budget wedding!) Even though my mother very generously offered to buy me my dress, I still wanted to be reasonable. The idea of spending ridiculous amounts of money on a dress I will only wear once (unless, of course, I can pull a Young House Love and transform it post-wedding, which I am definitely considering) is appalling to me. This is also the main reason I did not want an engagement ring - I'd rather save the money and just wait until our wedding day, when we will both get rings. One piece of jewelry is enough for this lady. But I digress.

We made an appointment at David's Bridal for 11:00 AM and arrived mostly on time. As this was my first time going wedding dress shopping, I didn't know what to expect and was surprisingly nervous. The first thing I did was take a catalog and fold down the corners of all the dresses that struck my fancy. Then I was whisked away to a dressing room on a long, low stage, surrounded by mirrors. My family and friend sat in a row of chairs at the edge of the stage and waited for me to put on the first dress and come out to model for them. To say it was surreal would be an understatement.

The woman helping me try on dresses decided that, even though I said I didn't want a poofy dress, I should try on some poofy dresses anyway. "Just to be sure!" Okay. Why not? She handed me poofy dress after poofy dress, zipping me up and cinching the back of each one so tightly that I could barely breathe, then leading me to teeter around the stage while my small audience voiced their many opinions. While all the dresses looked fine and were very pretty, they just didn't seem very me. My family agreed, especially my youngest sister, who would often start shaking her head hell, no before the dress was even off the hanger. Tough crowd.

Meanwhile, my middle sister was paging through the catalog I had looked at when I first arrived and showed a dress that had caught her eye to our mother. "This one is pretty," she said.

"It is," my mother agreed. Then she noticed that it was one of the dresses I had folded over. "And she liked this one. Do you have this dress in stock?" she asked the woman who was still ferrying poofy gowns back and forth to my dressing room. "Can she try it on?"

They did. I did. And that was it. I had found my wedding dress.

No, really. 90 minutes after we arrived, my mother was handing over her credit card and signing her name on the dotted line. Best of all? The dress was on sale. It was still a ridiculous amount of money, but everyone told me that it was not at all ridiculous for a wedding dress. ($599, because I like to keep it real. The dress was originally $799! Crazy!) As for buying a dress the first time I went out looking, let me say this: after ten or fifteen dresses, all that ivory fabric begins to bleed together and you start to forget what you liked and what you hated. It's sort of like going snowblind. I was lucky enough to find a dress I loved on the first try, and I wasn't about to risk second-guessing myself. Also, having one less thing to think about is awesome.

I don't have a photo of the dress and I don't plan on posting one until after the wedding. I don't consider myself very traditional (hello, waiting nine years to get engaged!) but I like the idea of surprising Nathan on our wedding day. I will say that the dress is not poofy, there is no tulle, and no one will confuse me for a Disney princess. I will also say that, while it is not vintage, it does have a sort of 1940's feel to it. Most importantly: it looks awesome on me. If I learned one thing from this dress shopping experience, it is that wedding dresses are almost universally flattering. This is perhaps the wedding industry's singular act of kindness, and for that I am grateful.