Wednesday, May 7, 2008

THE DRESS, Part 1: The Dresses That Weren't

Note: I acknowledge that some people do not give half a damn about the experience of buying the dress and they just want to see PICTURES of the damn thing. So I'm going to post the whole story in a post or two and pictures above and you can look at one, both, or neither, depending on you cynicism and hatred of love and all things pretty. And how much I may have already told you to your face.

Okay, so the overly long story:

I realize that I never actually mentioned how our first wedding weekend went, all the way back in January, when my mom and sister came up and we went to a bunch of dress shops and a bridal fair.
I won't waste your time with the bridal fair...I wish I hadn't wasted my time with the fair either. All I got out of it were some tuxedo possibilities, the consideration of chair covers, and a bunch of unnecessary emails to my wedding email address.
But we did do dress shopping. Ohhh, did we do dress shopping.
I had gone shopping before, very early in the wedding process, but that experience had sucked, frankly, do to poor customer service/lack of my own enthusiasm. This time would be different, I decided, because we would really TRY to find something. And I thought we WOULD find something.
That weekend.
I was sure of it.
This was January, I'd like to point out. Four months ago.
Ashley (the Miss-0-H) was going to come but then she had to work, so just the Jackson girls (the Ma-o-B and the Mrs-o-H) set off on the magical fairy princess dress adventure. First, we went to Bridal Traditions on Pacific St. It took us a while to find it because it was in a strip mall, and we drove by it a couple of times until my mom finally noticed that it said "tuxedo rentals" on the side. The ladies at Bridal Traditions were very, very nice. My only beef would maybe be that they don't make appointments, so I think I waited half an hour for a fitting room. But that just gave us more time to sort through dresses.
Most of the dresses I tried on at Bridal Traditions were posted here, with the intention that I would talk about them later...which I am. It's just been months and months and nobody cares anymore.

The first dress we tried on was supposed to be a joke dress. We'd pulled it off one of the dummies because my sister said it'd be neat to see me in a mermaid dress. According to my body type, most bridal magazines and websites said I should be in a mermaid dress, but I'm not a wee person and I can be pretty self conscious. But I thought it'd be fun to see. We weren't going to actually consider it because it was over three times what I wanted to spend.
Here's a tip...don't try on really expensive dresses because they tend to be really, really pretty. Turns out those bridal magazines know their shit. I do look really good in mermaids.

Although that dress (which my family thereafter referred to as The Expensive Dress) looked REALLY good, I didn't get any strong feelings off of it other than "PRETTY" and "SOFT" and "THIS LACE MUST COST A FORTUNE PER YARD." I didn't think "MINE." And that's the feeling I wanted off my dress. Especially if it will cost me the down payment of a new car.

(However, as the months passed and I realized that I had to order a dress pretty much right away, I started reconsidering a lot of things, like the fact that maybe that feeling doesn't exist, or maybe it just doesn't exist for me. So I reconsidered at this dress, also from Bridal Traditions, which wasn't a big contender when I tried it on, but made me look really pretty in pictures. And I'm super vain like that.)

I would like to say that, except for the wait, the whole Bridal Traditions experience was VERY positive. They learned my name, they seemed to give honest advice about the dresses. Their dressing rooms were enormous and they let my mom and sister in to help me (and then my family could deal with the Worst Strapless Bra Ever). It really was a beautiful experience. I really appreciated that that was the first place I went dress shopping with my mom and sister, because it was very classy, comfortable, and nice. It made me feel a lot like a bride.


My mother HATED David's Bridal, and I've got to say, my experience there wasn't super positive. Now, I'm not a snob. I know a lot of beautiful dresses that have come out of David's Bridal, I have seen brides rocking the DB and looking like fairy princesses. It's not about the dresses. It's the experience. Maybe I went on a bad night, but we were given no help finding dresses (luckily I know my own size), the girl who was supposed to be helping me ignored most of my questions and didn't understand basic dress terminology, the lighting was terrible and unflattering and the dressing rooms are smaller than ones I've been in department stores. There was no room for people to come in and help me, luckily I was only trying on shorties and mermaids at this point because if I'd brought in a big poofy dress there would not have been room for me. My mom calls it the Dress Warehouse. I think it still gives her nightmares.

But, I do have to hand it to them, they had a lot of short dresses, which is what I really wanted.Had we not had Wedding Weekend II: Planning Extreme, and I hadn't shopped for other dresses, I probably would've gone with the above dress, without the jacket. It was simple, made me look cute, and if I wanted to wear it with a cardigan (which I so would have) and added an orange petticoat for the reception, it wouldn't have minded. It was easy like a Sunday morning.

Here are some other DB picks...I apologize for the incredibly ugly pictures...we had no digital camera with us at the time, and my scanner is broken, so I'm taking pictures of pictures. Eww. Maybe when all is fixed and done I'll do a big montage board of all the dresses I tried on.Cute, but too "spring." I, however, look really adorable.

Lacey. I like lace. A lot. But I hated their jacket with it and I couldn't figure out what else I would wear with it.

A DB mermaid (this was a favorite of some). I thought it was pretty but not me AT ALL. Also, the fabric was weird and scratchy.

We left DB with the style number of the short dress with ribbon detailing. The price was right, I could see myself wearing it, I knew how to update it to make it more "me." But I hadn't had that feeling, you know? The one everyone tells you about the moment you say you're going dress shopping. "Oh, you'll just put it on and you'll know. You'll have THE feeling." THE feeling for THE dress. They always say THE dress. Like it's a bigger deal than the fiancee, almost.
Well, I still hadn't had THE feeling.

We had only one place left to go that first weekend, The Bridal Gallery. The BG is right by my house and they have a stop light right in front, so I stop in front of it on the way to work pretty much every day and I leer at the pretty dresses in the window. The people at BG are also very nice, and the experience is very good. I know a lot of people who got their dresses there, as well, and they looked phenomenal. Got to say, though, that they have less selection than the other places I went to.
This was our third dress shop, so we kind of knew the routine. We wanted short, if they had it (they didn't), we liked lace, and suddenly, over the course of like, a day, we were obsessed with mermaids.

This mermaid was very similar to the Very Expensive Dress, and was slightly cheaper. My mom said if we went with mermaid, we should go with this one.I don't remember being this enthused about that dress, but I look pretty damn excited, don't I?

This dress was VERY pretty. (and look at the mock-antiqueness of the pictures. That's unintentionally very cool looking) My mom and sister said this dress might be It. I know, the front doesn't look like much, but oh, friends, the back...
I have a hundred pictures of the back of this dress. I love the buttons. I love the lace. Don't love the fact that on this day I forgot the strapless bra and went with a dark green number. It kind of ruins the feeling. But trust me, it was gorgeous.
Again, a very pretty dress that I felt nothing about except "it's pretty." My mom wrote down the numbers of some dresses, in case we wanted to order them later, and wedding weekend ended, not with a bang but with a "Now what?" We were tired, discouraged, I had a nasty case of bead burn (sequins hurt, yo) and we didn't have a dress.
I tried. I had tried on a lot of dresses, all styles and prices, and nothing felt like it was mine. I wondered if I was too practical to have The Feeling for The Dress, and maybe I should just settle on whatever was cheapest, or looked the nicest. Lucky for me, I didn't settle. The Knot kept sending me emails informing me that I should be on my second fitting by now, and I told the knot to eat me. I ordered a dress disaster off ebay, I considered everything I saw in department stores that was under $200 that was white. I developed a white taffeta ulcer. But I waited...or procrastinated...and I found something that was pretty AND cheap, and gave me all those warm fuzzy feelings. Wanna see it?
Well, too bad. I'm gonna go eat lunch. BE PATIENT.

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