Don't Leave Me Here With My Best Dress On
Years ago, there was a song called Restless Heart by Peter Cetera which of course I found for your listening pleasure on my beloved, You Tube. The chorus went, "Don't leave me here with my restless heart." Only back then my dad insisted he thought the lyric was, "Don't leave me here with my best dress on." Incidentally, he also thought Steve Perry's Oh Sherrie was saying "Clothes on! Clothes on!" Instead of the more logical, "Hold on! Hold on!" Why he assumed both Cetera and Perry had ensemble related relationship woes, I'll never know.
As I'm quickly learning, there are many, many things that go into wedding planning. Everything from the flowers to the limos to the exotic dancers has to be booked weeks, sometimes months in advance. If you have an eye for detail, most of these things may be of no problem to you. If you are the queen of indecision, however, making any kind of decision can become problematic.
I'll pause for a moment while you try to figure out which type I am.
See I'm like every other girl in the world. I have thought about my wedding and what I would like it to be like many times in my life. But unlike many of these women, I hadn't given much thought to the particulars. I used to think I was the observant type, picking up on otherwise minor details and incorporating them into some sort of global roladex that I would one day call upon in order to help me plan my own wedding. It wasn't until I sat down to actually plan anything that I realized what I really need a plan for was...planning.
One of the biggest things to tackle in wedding planning is finding that perfect dress. Many elements of wedding planning can be compromised, but the attire is one thing that is hard to negotiate. Yet again, it's one of those things I always just took for granted. When I got married someday, I figured I'd wear a white dress that was strapless. Before setting into a bridal shop I didn't find that to be humorous, but boy did bridal shops bitch slap the naivety out of me.
See what I failed to realize is that most bridal gowns are strapless. So in saying that I wanted a strapless dress, I've really managed to narrow it down to something like 85% to 90% of the dresses in the store. I said I wanted beading at the top, that drops it down to 80%. I said I wanted beading at the bottom, make it a solid 78%.
But there are other elements, many other elements that go into finding that perfect dress. Are you going to wear a crinoline underneath or not? Do you want an A-line, two piece or princess style dress? How about an empire waist vs. a pickup? And while we're on the subject, what about dress oriented verbiage that sounds an awful lot like reception nightmares? Do the Bustle! Do you want a cathedral length train, chapel length train or prefer no train at all? Do you even want them to do the train at your wedding, period?
I started my dress shopping in the Walmart of bridal boutiques, David's Bridal. Chances are if you live in America, you have a David's Bridal near you. Around here, David's Bridal, or DB as I've lovingly dubbed it, has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Basically, it's the fast food of bridal shopping. If you want to save a bit of cash and don't need the beading to be hand crafted from Italy, DB just might be the answer for you.
I went in to DB with reservations, both literally and figuratively. They were the first stop on my quest for THE dress and to be honest, I didn't know what to expect. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted with my own personal helper, also named Janet. Janet handed me a bridal magazine to dog-ear my selections and went off to find all of my choices in my size or damn close to it.
Now you might be wondering why I chose to emphasize the fact that she went to find dresses in my size. That's because this is another dress shopping element that you take for granted, most bridal stores do not carry YOUR size. They carry the dress in A size. If it happens to be yours, good for you, but more often than not, it isn't. In my situation, this was definitely not the case.
Listen, I'm gonna put it right out there now, yes, I am thirty years old, but I still buy a majority of my clothes from the juniors and children's section. Go ahead, laugh, but I save on time, money and most importantly, fabric. So when someone like me goes to a store to try on the "big girl dresses" my head starts swimming in more ways than one.
DB, however, didn't give me that feeling at all. I put on dress after dress and had a pretty good feeling about what they all would look like on ME. In fact, they even had a few dresses that they offered in petite. I didn't know they carried bridal gowns in petite, but I think I speak for all the little girls out there when I say it's about damn time.
Only problem is that going to DB first and having this experience spoiled me. I know this sounds shallow, but it's not intended this way. None of the dresses looked bad. The worst part about this is that everything starts to look alike. I'm hear to tell you that once you've seen one beaded bodice my friends, I'm afraid you've seen them all.
So after DB I journeyed to another bridal shop that shall remain nameless. It was more of a mom and pop type of establishment that had a sea of bridal dresses, but a lack in customer service. I tried on dress after dress there too, but something was different. For starters, the smallest dresses they had there were still huge on me. A dress shop's remedy for this? These colorful clips that they use to gather all the extra fabric and pull the dress tighter. Never mind that the dress still looks like a decorative hefty bag on the bottom, the whole idea is that you get the "gist" of what you'd be wearing.
Call me crazy, but bridal gowns are a lot of money, too much money if you ask me considering that you wear them for one day and one day only. In fact, don't be surprised if you see me break out the gown I ultimately buy one Halloween or two or five. But this is coming from a non-traditional girl who didn't even go to her prom. At any rate, my point is this. If I'm going to have to spend more on this dress than any other dress I've owned before or since, I'd like to get more than the "gist" of how it would look on me before I purchase it.
With me on my search was my mother, one of my bridesmaids and another good friend. Also along for the ride was a friend from work who is getting married a few weeks before me. Everyone noticed one thing about my choices, I liked the dresses the most that fit me the best. I have one thing to say to that.
I'm sorry. I like to think I have a good imagination. But imagining what I'm going to look like if something could fit me is just not one of my strong suits. You don't go to Target after all, and try on a twenty-four when you're a size four and say yes, I could see how this might work. What you're asking me to do just doesn't come naturally to me.
So there's the stock answer that bridal stores everywhere will give you. We can fix that with alterations. I don't know where YOU come from, but where I come from altering something implies tweaking it. Altering some of the dresses I had on however could ultimately mean taking material and clothing ten needy children in a third world country. In fact, Sally Struthers might want to look into that. I'm just saying.
Sure the dress can be taken in and up in all the right places, but at what cost? What they don't tell you is that alterations can be half the cost of the dress itself. Suddenly your bargain find isn't so much of a bargain anymore.
While I haven't purchased a dress yet, I have discovered something valuable along the way. Amazingly, shopping for a bridal gown is a lot like shopping for a used car. Sales people universally are trained to make you want to buy and they'll throw in whatever they can to get you to do just that. Whether it be a new set of windshield wipers, or a discounted veil, it's still rock and roll to me.
And so the search for the elusive dress marches on. Just as long as I find it before the actual wedding march begins, we're all good.