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. 


  1. Haha this is exactly how I pictures your dress shopping would go. It was torture for me, I tried on all sorts of poofy dresses and things that dripped with tucks and drapes of this and that, but ended up with the first dress I saw that I liked.

  2. I totally took a picture of myself in my dress in the store and texted it to my then-fiance.  On the same note, we saw each other up until the wedding.  I'm not much for traditions!  Congrats on finding your dress.

  3. Short and sweet! I'm glad it was an exciting moment for you and your family. I remember when we found my wedding dress, I asked the sales person how much it was, and she said the word three. I said, "Oh," because I thought she meant the dress was $3,000, then she said, "hundred." and I said, "Oh, okay!"

  4. I think you are my kind of bride, Chrissy :-)  How awesome to find your dress on the first try and with your family in tow.  (And the caption underneath the first picture made me laugh!)

  5. I nearly killed myself looking for a dress! I realized, while looking, that I absolutely deplore the poofy, rhinestony, satiny stuff (which there's tons of). At the end of the day I settle for a white dress from Nordstroms. Cost me a total of $70. Glad you found something so quickly! I cant wait to see it :)

  6. Is it wrong of me to maybe perhaps hope/wish you'd text me a sneak peek? :)

  7. The dress was easy. I predict the hardest part of wedding planning will be the food. You can see where my priorities lie. :)

  8. Thanks! I don't foresee us following many traditions, but this is one of my exceptions. :)

  9. $300! That's awesome. I tried to tell my mom we could just go to the formal section of Macy's, but she insisted. If I was paying, my price tag would have been much lower. :)

  10. I believe the dress in the first photo is Vera Wang. I do not know what brand my dress is. I kind of like having no idea. :)

  11. I would have happily gone the department store route, but my mom insisted. I didn't mind giving in. :)

  12. Congrats on finding your dress. Sounds like you had a similar experience to me. No fuss! Love it. 

  13. :) Congrats on your engagement, dress find and wedding to be!!!!  I am way out of the box myself and found our wedding to be somewhat traditional.  We didn't see each other the night before up until I walked down the aisle.  I am so glad I did it that way.  I will never forget that moment (or the look on his face). :)  

  14. Reading this post was way better than watching "Say Yes to the Dress"...not that I do watch but channel surfing happens. I tried on only one dress (and drove to Dallas by myself to do it) so I wouldn't have been able to survive like you did.

  15. Nice! I bought a dress off the internet (from a bridal boutique shuttering its doors in CA) and fortunately liked it on myself. Hooray for low stress wedding planning. I had to get Mark to take pictures to send out to mom & sister & friends, though, so that tradition is broken! Also I am terrible at keeping secrets so it would have been torture not to show him.

  16. I always look at the groom's face when the bride walks down the aisle. I guess I'm more romantically inclined than I thought! :)

  17. You are the ultimate no-fuss bride! I love it!

  18. Luckily I do not have the dress here, so the temptation isn't there. Otherwise I'd be in trouble!

    I had grand plans to get a dress at a department store or online, but giving in to my mom was nice, too. :)

  19. jesus our lord savior.  i'm getting shithammered at yer weddin.  this year!!!

  20. I'm counting on you to do just that!

  21. I will say with mine that I did only minor looking at dresses online before I went to the store the first time. I didn't want strapless and looked online only to see that some other choices existed (5 years ago dresses were 99% strapless). 

    I went to the dress place. I picked up 3 dresses to try on.  The lady grabbed 3 others. I only tried on one of hers. 
    1 of the 3 I picked out I got. You were supposed to wear it with a big old slip underneath and I didn't want to try it on with that. The lady gave me weird looks and told me I had to wear a slip.  I bought it. Didn't wear a big slip. I win.

    My dress also didn't need altered if I wore 4" heels. I wanted higher because my husband is so tall but 4" was fine.  (Later I realized it could have been a touch tighter up top but oh well.)

    1. Do you have any photos of the dress? I do not want a train and will be getting my dress altered to get rid of it. The lady at the store clearly did not approve of this plan, but trains are just not for me!

  22. I don't know how I missed this post. But I am jealous that it only took you 90 minutes! I was trying on dresses for over four hours!!!