THIS IS GOING TO BE REALLY SAPPY AND LONG SO EITHER DON'T READ IT OR LEARN TO DEAL WITH IT.
So, the first round of shopping was a total bust. It was such a bust that I didn't really want to try on any more dresses, and put no further effort into finding a wedding dress. This was a problem, because the wedding dress is a cornerstone of the wedding, just like your colors and your season. Without the bride's dress, you can't pick out bridesmaid dresses. You can't pick out tuxes. You're not even supposed to pick out flowers. You find that dress and everything else kind of falls into place.
Or so they say. I have recently found this to be true.
Anyway, my mom suggested we try again, but not in Omaha. She had been hearing from everyone and their dog that if you wanted THE dress, you should go to Loomis or Aurora.
"What's a Loomis?" you ask. "Is that a fancy bridal boutique I am not aware of?" No, friends. Loomis is a very very tiny town outside of Kearny, and Aurora is outside of Lincoln. They are small towns that, legend has it, have amazing bridal stores.
Okay, I said, but in my brain I was thinking Loomis? I'm supposed to find my dress in Loomis? Maybe for you guys from Grand Island and Hastings Loomis is the bee's pajamas, but I've got like seven bridal stores in Omaha.
That's right, I put on airs, and huffed around, and thought it probably wouldn't work out. I thought I was too good for Loomis. I apologize, Loomis. I was wrong.
So I arranged to go back to town for a long weekend, longer than I think I was home for Christmas, even, and we'd go to Loomis and Aurora, and then Grand Island and Kearny if necessary. Because we needed to find a dress right away. Time is running short. They say it takes about four months to ORDER a dress. I'm getting married in six.
So I came home. I bought a new, better strapless bra. We make appointments at the shops that take appointments, my mom and sister take vacation days, and we set out for Loomis on Friday morning. As we were driving I kind of had a feeling like I was going to cry. I didn't know if it was excitement or dread. I decided to try on EVERY style, every color, every cut...I would find something. I had to.
We get totally lost on the way there. TOTALLY lost. You have to cut through another tiny town and take a gravel driveway to get there. And then when we DO get arrive, it is BRIGHT PINK, with palm trees on it. Because it is called "The Bridal Isle." Like, an island. In the middle of Nebraska. We walk in and it has red and purple shag carpeting and inside the dressing rooms there are those really low ceilings with the panels like you have in your basement. There is also a sign that says ABSOLUTELY NO PICTURES.
Oh my god, I thought. What have I agreed to?
A lady comes to greet us and takes my information. Then she gestures to a large wall of dresses. There's a pretty good selection...probably the same number as the Bridal Gallery in Omaha.
"This is wall one," she says. "Pick six or seven dresses you'd like to try on, just to get started."
Wall one? I look around the corner and there are even more dresses...racks and racks of dresses. We are talking DB selection here, people. And almost everything is in my size because this is central Nebraska and around here girls like beef. Woo hoo!
Once we made our "first round picks," they grab me a dressing room and assign me an attendant, Ann. And then they tell my mom and sister to take a seat because Ann will be helping me get dressed. WHAT? I know I'm in theatre but...it was a little like that scene from Fame. You know the one I'm talking about. I was so weirded out she had to remind me to take off my jeans. Oh. Right. No pants under dresses. RIGHT.
After awhile though, it wasn't such a big deal. I chilled in my bra and panties and the platform high heels they gave me to try on with dresses. Kind of made me feel like a model to tell you the truth.
So, okay, that feeling? THE feeling I was talking about? The rumors are true. You do get a feeling when you put on the right wedding dress. You kind of tear up a little bit and you smile all the time, and you think "I'm really getting married. Holy shit." And you're just so fucking HAPPY about it you can't even take it. It's like that. Things click in your head. It seems stupid and totally like a ploy to get you to spend money but it's true.
What they don't tell you, but I think they should, is that you can get that feeling more than once. It's NOT like a soul mate. There isn't one dress out there for you, there are probably like a dozen. This comforts me. What if THE dress wasn't carried in your local bridal shop? That would suck right? But you CAN find it, I promise. I know, because I found three.
Three dresses that made me tear up and say "Ohhhhhhhhh...I'm a bride." And this is why I'm sad I couldn't take pictures, because I wish I could show you these dresses, the ones I didn't get but still gave a little of my heart to. (See, more of the sappiness. Ah, love)
The first dress we will refer to as "Princess Puff." There is a little added twinge of affection for Princess Puff because it is the first dress I got The Feeling for. When Ann zipped it up I just started saying "I really like this one. I really like this one" which in stoic Shannon speak is "AHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Princess Puff made my mom cry. Twice. She said it looked like what a little girl would draw for her wedding dress. It was strapless and the bodice was pleated (PLEATS) and it went a little farther down on one side than the other (causing us to also refer to this dress as "the asymmetrical one") and had a little over skirt that was also asymmetrical that fell over the ENORMOUS underskirt, which was all glittery and sparkly. It had embroidery of flowering branches over one side of the bust and one side of the waist. It was very, very princessy, and I looked like a million bucks.
As I said, my mom cried. My sister said "I think it's a 9...it would be a ten but it didn't make me cry."
We had to try on more dresses. But as I went to take off the dress I said "I just want to make it clear that I really like this one."
The next dress I loved my mom pulled because of the color--it was a light golden brown sparkly mermaid dress and around the bottom there were PLEATS. PLEATS, YOU GUYS. Beautiful pleats that I had to kick through to walk. The color was absolutely gorgeous. The whole ensemble seemed very Halloweeny. Like it would set the tone for the whole event. The sample was a little small, but I could imagine myself in one that fit. And in my imagination that girl looked GOOD.
A debate began. The color was phenomenal, but it wasn't as bridey. The other one seemed a little less...well, slutty... but was way more princessy. Also, pleats. My heart was torn.
Ann brought me back another few options, which worried me. I worry when salespeople bring me stuff, especially since I work in retail. You're supposed to sell the expensive stuff. That's just business. But I tried it on anyway.
I don't know if I've mentioned it, but Anne is my new favorite person.
It was gorgeous. A sign of Ann's bridal genius was that it was an exact combination of the two dresses I already loved. It had the pleated bodice and asymmetrical skirt of the Princess Puff but the simplicity of the mermaid, and was sort of a mermaid cut but still comfortable. Also, I think the whole ensemble weighs about ten pounds, max. Oh, and straps, so I don't have to worry about my dress falling down. Oh, and BUTTONS ALL DOWN THE BACK. Mmmmmm.
She zipped it up and my lip quivered a little bit.
I tried on all three AGAIN, just to be sure, but the third one had it. I had narrowed it down to three based on emotion, so for final elimination I went with logic. The first one was just too fluffy. Even bustled the back would stick out several feet, making dancing difficult and using the bathrooom completely impossible. The mermaid was flat down the front and I tend to have a tummy, so I wouldn't feel comfortable in it even if I lost a bunch of weight.
My sister also made a very nice observation about the third one--it was simple and it makes me look like a pretty girl, not a girl in a pretty dress, if that makes sense
(Actually, she said "Lots of glitter is camouflage uglier girls" but I thought I'd nice it up a bit)
My mom and Ann went off to look at head pieces and I said, "Jessie, I think I'm going to pull a ten..." and then I cried a little bit. But that was okay.
And then I thought,
"Shit. How much does this dress cost? I had decided on a dress and I didn't look at the price tag? What the hell is my problem? My mom is paying for my dress and I don't want her to spend a lot. Also I have horrible guilt problems, and I don't want to spend so much money on something that is exclusively for me, that I'll only use once..."
And of course, Ann had pulled it. The lady who would get commission from the dress. I had seen a dress similar to this one that was on Rack One for $1500 (hence me not trying it on even though it had a jacket) and I thought oh no, oh no, please don't let it be more than $1500...shit shit shit...
I pulled out the tag.
the CHEAPEST GDAMN DRESS I HAVE TRIED ON IN THIS WHOLE DAMN PROCESS. I'm talkin' cheaper than the DB. CHEAP.
She pulled me a CHEAPER dress? WHAAAAAAAAAAT?
Have I mentioned that I love Ann? I totally love Ann. Ann might be an angel. I haven't ruled it out.
After deciding on the dress we took measurements and had a surreal moment when we had to decide between white, ivory, creme or gold--which are all just WHITE, and look exactly the same, but we still took time to decide--and I also picked out my bridesmaid colors and a really kick ass head piece comb thingy. And everything else is falling into place. The dress is the cornerstone, as I have said. And I didn't have to go to Aurora! Win win win.
So go to the Bridal Isle, and don't judge books by their covers, and have faith in taffeta. It will all turn out okay.