When we left off, I had just left the first bridal salon after trying on dresses for two hours and being slightly underwhelmed. I wasn’t discouraged, though, because even though I didn’t find “the dress,” I had learned a lot about what I was looking for in a gown. I had tossed my other print-outs in the back seat, prepared to start the next appointment from scratch and to build on what I learned at the first salon.
I was extremely excited about our next stop on the dress search. It was a “chain store,” yet slightly more personal than some of the nationwide vendors. They offered a wide variety of styles and price points, all of which were within my budget. Meaning? I could try on any selection without fear of falling in love with a dress that was too expensive.
We got to the store a full hour early for our appointment, and decided to check in with the front desk anyway. While there, we saw two prospective brides turned away because they didn’t make an appointment in advance. Neither of then handled the development with grace, and I could hear them composing scathing reviews of the store and its personnel in their head. I realized that much of the negative bitching around the wedding industry was generated from situations just like this.
Here’s a tip: When shopping for a dress, make an appointment. Though you may feel like the most special princess in the world, it doesn’t matter when there are other special princesses who are also organized. Also, suck it.
The manager greeted us seeming slightly tired, but quickly brightened when she saw my genuine enthusiasm for the brand. She told us to feel free to browse the racks, and gave us each a catalog to start selecting styles that I’d like to try on.
We grabbed a seat at a little table outside, and I started placing stars by dresses that fit my new and improved idea of “my dress.” To our surprise, a cheerful young girl met us outside half an hour before our scheduled time, and took us in to get started. In addition, the manager let us know that she’d be pulling dresses for me, and stopping by to see how things were going. (Little did we know that she’d be personally overseeing my whole experience there.)
I consulted with my stylist, Dana* and she handed me the strapless-girdle-torture device. Shockingly, even the BRA was more comfortable at the second salon, leaving me feeling slightly less frightened of the experience.
When I slipped on the very first dress, I knew that this was going to be a totally different experience. It fit like a dream, and my mom’s face when I came out of the dressing room was priceless. We knew we were in for a treat. Even though that dress wasn’t an option for me, I was excited to move on to the other choices.
The second selection was a gown with a ruched bodice and glittering cap sleeves. I immediately fell in love, both with the fit and the way it elegantly framed my face. It jumped to the top of all the dresses that I’d tried that day, by far.
The third dress was extremely exciting, as it was one that I’d immediately fallen in love with, Mom had picked out independently, and even DAD loved. I couldn’t wait to see what it would look like on. When I came out of the fitting room, I knew that it was something truly special. Mom started to get teary-eyed again, when the Manager exclaimed “wait! I have something better!”
Dana and I exchanged grins, thoroughly enjoying the experience (she completely supported the fact that Army Boy and I are considering a Disney World honeymoon, and that my meal of choice for lunch had been macaroni and cheese. Because you totally want to load up on carbs the day you try on wedding dresses. I’m officially the Worst Girl Ever.)
The manager came back carrying practically the same dress that I was wearing, but in luscious silk with a pink sheen to it. It was breathtaking. We ducked into the fitting room to make the switch, and I came out to a gasp from my mom.
It was The Dress. The one that I’d pictured in my head when I imagined myself becoming a bride. I quickly found myself wearing a veil, and with lovely beaded straps added to the gown to get a total picture of what I could expect. I started to picture myself coming down the aisle in this remarkable gown….
Then I saw the RACK of dresses that the manager had taken the time to pull in addition to this one. Though I was pretty certain that I’d found my dress already, I wanted to make the most of this experience. Some of the dresses were from my print-outs, the safe A-lines that I no longer felt the need to try on.
“Let’s play,” I suggested to Dana, and we made our way back into the fitting room.
Option Five was lovely, but not mine.
“What about the dress from the mannequin in the front of the store?” I asked. It was one that intrigued me for some reason- relatively simple, but beautifully made. There was a little bit of purposeful sparkle around the waist, and it was STRAPLESS. (HORRORS!)
Within minutes, I was in the gown, and standing in front of the mirror. Mom was barely paying attention, as she had fallen in love with the seashell colored gown. She and the manager were starting to talk logistics, and other things that we’d need to purchase.
When I saw myself in the strapless gown, I was entranced. The first thing to come to mind was, “I look like a Kennedy.” I felt like royalty. It was light and incredibly comfortable. Most of all, I couldn’t take my eyes of my reflection.
“Oh my gosh…This is my dress!” I said quietly, in disbelief.
“No way!” Dana said in shock.
“Did you say that’s your dress?!” the manager overheard. Mom looked stunned.
“Wait, what’s happening?” she asked, confused.
“This is the one!” the manager affirmed.
“This one? What about the other dress?!” Mom continued puzzling out this remarkable turn of events.
“No… this is it.” I stated, still not turning from the mirror. I felt exactly the way I’d hoped to feel when I found my gown. It was elegant and classy, and in no time I was wearing a gorgeous veil that still makes me want to cry thinking of it. I jumped up and down on the podium.
And that was it. Even though the Seashell Pink Gown was what I THOUGHT I should look like as a bride, it didn’t hold a candle to the unexpected final gown. I was reminded of the girls in the other salon, and how they’d glowed in the right dresses. My dress communicates my personality as a bride- elegant and sweet, with an unexpected hint of fun.
The next morning, I woke up feeling a little sad that the whole process was over so quickly. I’d so enjoyed being “the bride” for the day, and wanted to keep trying on lovely gowns for as long as possible. I knew that I’d chosen correctly, though, just remembering how any one of the gowns in the second store could have been ‘the one’ for me.
I also remembered the rare feeling of the total lack of female competition. I could recognize that Ballgown Girl and Sassy Girl were really lovely in their dresses, even if those dresses were nothing that I would have chosen. Complementing other women is a lovely feeling, and we don’t do it nearly often enough while we’re busy comparing and competing with each other.
Most memorable for me was the fact that sample wedding dresses are generally sized the same, and then taken in or clipped for brides to get an idea of what the dress would look like on them. Every single dress fit me to a tee, letting me know exactly what it would be on the big day. It felt awesome to be curvy, instead of constantly questioning whether a womanly figure fits the standard of “attractive.”
So, in the way that all things seem to go here at Txting Mr Darcy, I have indeed found “the dress” (after only one day of searching), and have checked one more thing off the wedding prep list. Now we sit back and relax for the next step in the process- those pesky engagement photos that have had to be postponed once already due to weather. Somehow, I managed not to remotely freak out- knowing that we have over a year until the big day helps considerably with that- and we’re rescheduled for a week from *gulp* Monday.
*-Names have been changed again, but she was wonderful!