Friday, December 3, 2010

Dress Obsessed

The dress shopping experience has been... well... an experience (to say the least).

Shopping at Priscilla of Boston

It all started back in October. I decided to get the ball rolling early on the gown shopping. I figured, why not? The idea of going into a bridal shop and trying on pretty wedding gowns was quite appealing to me (I mean, what girl wouldn't enjoy this?) so away we went. I took co-worker and Glee-friend Veronica and roommate Ann with me. First stop: Priscilla of Boston. Bad choice. Not only were the gowns all over $2000, but none of them looked great on me. Oh, and their sample gowns are all size 8. If you didn't know, wedding gowns run about 2 sizes bigger than your normal pants size, so ladies, prepare for that before you go gown shopping and don't let it upset ya. In case you're wondering, my gown size is 12. Woo-hoo double digits!

Anyway, Priscilla was a bust. So, onward we went to Houston Bridal Gallery. They had gowns in larger sizes with lower prices and prettier/more flattering styles. I actually fell in like with one of the gowns there. It was strapless with alternating patterns of lace and a cinched waist. It flattered my skinny parts (waistline) and detracted from other parts by flaring out on the hips. It was pretty but I wasn't 100% sold. Plus, the gown was a bit out of my price range, so I didn't let myself get attached. I headed out still with high hopes and then put a halt on gown shopping for a month.

I wanted to take my mom and sis gown shopping with me since they're the two most important ladies in my life, so I knew I was going to have to wait until I was home in RI to have them with me. Thus, it was quickly decided that Thanksgiving vaca would be the perfect time to shop together. We went to three different bridal shops: Sassy & Classy, Bridal Garden, and Cinderella's. With my lovely entourage (Mom, sis, sister-in-law Meg, cousin and hairdresser Sarah, and bridesmaid Kate), I modeled about 30 dresses that day. I found a beautiful one at Sassy & Classy that I thought had potential to be "the one" although I was a little nervous about the flimsiness of the dress and the sweetheart neckline (scooping strapless top = lots of cleavage).

And this is when I started to go lace-crazy. Everything I tried on from hereafter was going to have lace and look vintagey. Why? Because I like the elegance of it and it compliments our theme perfectly (vintage theme - to be discussed later).

So next, we moved on to Bridal Garden across the street. No contenders there. I tried on a bunch of lace ones but nothing was better than the one at S&C or the one back in Houston. So...

On to sushi lunch break. Delish.

Finally, we hit up Cinderella's. Wouldn't you know, they had the same lace gown that S&C had! I started to think that it was a sign. I tried on a few other dresses there, and then put the S&C lace one back on. It was beautiful and definitely vintagey. It fit my body well. It made me feel like a bride.

But then the pressure started. The flamboyantly gay bridal consultant/owner with spikey hair showed me a calculator with a price figure marked way below my budget. He was going to sell me the sample gown at half the price of the dress. Then he showed my mom which made her happy. Then the woman who was helping me into the dress kept saying, "You look amazing. You look stunning. You look beautiful." And they told me I needed to come in the next morning before my flight to try it on again to make a decision. Oh, and they also said that gown makers close up shop during the months of Dec and Jan so I basically had to purchase a gown now if I wanted any hope of having it in time for my wedding.

And then a mild freak out ensued. I was feeling overwhelmed and was tired from a full day of gown shopping. There's a lot of pressure being up on those pedestals! I asked to take the gown off and then got out of there pretty much as quickly as I could. Phew. Pressure was off. I was starting to think clearly again.

But then we got back to the house and John and I started watching a movie. Not even 2 hours after having left Cinderella's, the lady who was helping me into the dresses called me on my cell phone to ask me if I had changed my mind about the gown. Talk about pushy! Well, at that point, I took this as a sign - the opposite of the sign I had seen/felt earlier in the day.

So, the dress shopping ended, and I knew I was going to be leaving RI without a gown picked out and without my mom, sister, and amazing entourage to be there when I tried on more dresses. Thinking about this caused some tears in the airport during our layover in Atlanta. I wanted my closest relatives/friends to be there with me when I tried on/picked out/ bought "the one" but the reality hit me in that uncomfortable airport chair that there was pretty much no way that was going to happen anymore. I had to pick out my dress soon so that there was enough manufacturing time between now and the schwedding and I wasn't going to have my family/bridesmaids/friends in Houston to do it with. And to top it all off, I was feeling overwhelmed and thinking, "I'm just never going to find the right one. Maybe my body isn't meant to look perfect in a wedding gown."

Well, with some encouragement and tear-wiping from John, I picked up my chin and started calling around making appointments at bridal shops in Houston. I even did some gown shopping alone and it wasn't that bad! I went to David's B by myself (on a whim) to try on gowns this past Tuesday and though I didn't find "the one" I got some ideas.

Then, the day came. The day that an average, ho-hum, gownless girl became a stunning future bride with the perfect gown. Sounds dramatic, right? Good.

It was Thursday. Kate Niemer (stellar coworker and Houston Jesuit Volunteer) was getting out of work early along with me so we decided to spend our extra free hours gown shopping. Seriously, I was on a mission and every waking/non-working hour was going to be spent in the search for the gown. First shop on the list - Marry Go Round.

Ok, I need to take a second to sing praises to this bridal shop. It's a consignment bridal gown store meant for brides-of-the-past who are looking to sell their worn or unworn dresses and brides-of-the-future who are looking for discount gowns in perfect condition. The idea is brilliant! And you can tell it's brilliant by the number of gowns the shop has! There must have been 20+ gowns in my size and then more in the back that weren't yet sorted onto the racks!

So, I go to town picking out dresses. They had so many lace ones! And I even picked out some that didn't have lace but I still liked. Well, about 7 or so "not the one" dresses in, one of the store workers pulls out a dress that she wants me to try on. She said that it had just been brought into the shop at noon that day by a bride who hadn't worn it at all. The bride's wedding venue had changed so her designer dress wasn't the right style or fit for the feel of the evening anymore.

Well, it fit me like a glove. I can't say much except that it's not lace. It's better than lace. It's just pure amazing all in one gown. And how did I know for sure that it was the one? It was a collection of the following things:

  • I gave it a grade of an A, instantly.
  • I didn't want to take it off.
  • I didn't want to try any others on, even though I still had more in the dressing room and was originally planning on going to another shop that was having a sample sale.
  • I wanted to buy it immediately so that another bride-to-be didn't have the chance to come in and buy it.
  • I wanted to keep trying different accessories on with it.
  • My mom and dad both loved the picture Kate sent to them.
  • Kate was excited for me.
  • I was happy.
So it was a long process (and you just got all the details... because I knew you were crazy curious), but it was all worth it in the end. Oh, and I'm under budget by about $200. Sweet! 

And, I've decided that the gown is going to be top secret til the schweddin' day (save my bridesmaids and mother, of course). Now, if you know me well, you know that this is basically an impossible feat for me but in the past 24 hours, I've kept it on lock down, so we'll see how I do keeping this secret for the next 7.5 months.

As we left Marry Go Round (with gown in hand!!!), Kate and I posed for this very special picture. And no, none of the gowns featured here are "the one."

A special thanks to Ms. Kate for being such an integral part of my big decision! She was so encouraging and made the shopping experience tons of fun. You can read the story through here eyes/ears/brain at her loverly little blog:

Oh, and if you'd like to see pictures of all the gowns I tried on that weren't the one:

I said yes to the dress and I'm 100% elated!

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