Friday, April 1, 2011

Wedding Dresses (435 Days to Go)

I'm fairly certain I mentioned before that I have already ordered my dress, so I won't be giving it away on here.  Prying eyes of a certain fiance may find their way onto this blog and I don't want to ruin a surprise.  

Now there's a way to start your morning off right.
Dress hunting started off more or less with a facebook post about a dress sale at MB Bride that found it's way onto my homepage because I was a fan of Cavanaugh's Bride Show.  Now at that moment, I was on anything but good terms with my mother, wondering if I could even fit into a sample dress size, and if I was totally crazy for wanting to go buy a wedding dress after being engaged for less than three months.  I did what any good facebooker would do: I changed my status and queried my friends as to whether or not wedding dress sales only happened in the beginning of the year or if there would be any that happened over the summer.  Almost immediately I got back a response from a recent Ms. to Mrs. that I should jump now because sales would not be available during the summer.  At least not sales like this.

Because MB Bride is halfway between me and where I grew up, I felt like it couldn't get much more convenient.  Plus, I knew I was going to ask my grandmother to do the alterations so I wanted her to see my dress before I put any money down on it.  So I called my mother to find out whether or not she was going to be in a supportive mood.  I found that to not really be the case as we almost immediately picked back up on a fight we'd had the week before after going to the bride show in which my MOHs attended.  My mother is apparently very much set against me having two MOHs and one of them in particular.  So this did not lead me to want to see her face to face anytime soon and possibly have to listen to her be incredibly critical not only of one of my co-MOHs but possibly a dress that I fell in love with.

Luckily my FMIL had a trip across the state the second Thursday of the sale and said she didn't mind going with me if I could wait until then.  I agreed that I could wait but a new worry came over me.  What if I got to the bridal salon and saw some other girls with their mom and started to cry?  I didn't want to get all weepy because I regretted having my mom there.  It was a Catch 22 of wedding dress shopping.  So I decided to mentally prepare myself by going to another bridal salon all by myself.  I had a knitting class in Robinson the Saturday before my FMIL and I had planned our appointment at MB Bride and so I called and scheduled an appointment with David's Bridal for right afterward.

My student was yet another of what I like to call a "back on the bicycle" and thus the class ended a little early because we didn't have any hiccups.  So I got to the bridal salon early and waited just to sign in.  Never go to David's Bridal on the weekend.  Never!  Some other lady and I stood at the back of some pack of ten bridesmaids and a bride-to-be who hadn't bothered to schedule an appointment and therefore had to fill out a ton of paperwork and overwhelmed the check-in desk.  Finally, I pushed forward, grabbed two clipboards for myself and her and we stood at the back rolling our eyes and wondering what had possessed us to bother with appointments.  We chatted and finally the posse moved to the back of the store.  We were told by the staff to go catch up to our friends in order to make room for new customers coming in.  Again, some eye-rolling as we handed in our completed forms and informed that that we were not with the large group and that we were two separate customers.  Don't get me wrong, it was chaotic and there was a huge clump of brides-to-be starting to form all waiting to check-in so I can appreciate their confusion.  I also didn't want to be stuck waiting another half hour while a bunch of people jumped line in front of me and my appointment.

Finally I was ushered to the back with my consultant and I handed over my bookmarked copy of their catalog that I'd had plenty of time to peruse.  I swear to this day I didn't see or try on a single dress I marked.  Perhaps they were not in stock in my size?  Granted, I don't feel as though they had anything in my size because not even their undergarments fit me.  I cannot fault them there either since I am one of those miraculous unheard of 38As.  Yes, I'll admit it...on a good day and the right bra I might make it to a B.  And I definitely can't fault them since I found out that Victoria's little Secret is that they don't actually make a bra in my size.  They claim to do so.  They don't.

They actually looked a little like them too.
Image Source

So I tried on probably a dozen dresses while I was there.  I told the consultant that I was planning an outdoor summer wedding and didn't want any tooling or fluff but that I did want a full length gown.  I instead was ushered a bunch of tea length frothy dresses.  This didn't make me very happy but I stayed in good spirits because I had the two guys from the balcony on the Muppets Show nearby doing a running commentary of my dresses and the dresses their wives were trying on for a Shriner's Ball.  By round two we got the message across and some full length dresses made it on over my head.  However, once I started to show a little interest in a dress, my consultant became very stubborn about bringing me anything else to try on claiming she didn't want me to get confused.  I wasn't confused.  We were just barely starting in the right direction as to what I had in mind.

It took me multiple tries to find one with the fine print stating
that the dress shown was going to cost a lot more than $99.
Image Source

I was in sticker shock though.  For a store that is constantly advertising $99 dress sales and they were currently in that said sale, I was wearing dresses that would cost me over $700.  Now as I mentioned before, I wanted my grandmother to do the alterations, she's an expert sewer and I've picked up a lot about quality work over the years.  I was severely disappointed in the quality of the dresses for $700+.  The zippers were completely exposed, there wasn't a dress I tried on that didn't have beading hanging off, (I know they get a little beat up but it was a little ridiculous) and the cuts were far too simple to be that expensive.  I got out of the store after making some loose alibi about wanting to come back with my FMIL in order to get her opinion claiming to be hung up between two styles.  I wasn't entirely thrilled about my experience but I had gone in on a weekend so I guess it was partially my fault too.

The next week, I went to MB Bride with my FMIL and we ransacked what was left of the sample dresses.  There wasn't a whole lot left to choose from but we made do and our consultant, Kate, was very helpful.  She was extraordinarily apologetic for not being able to find me an undergarment and made a note on my account to make sure that the bodice would be available on any return trip (and it really was).  Apparently every two days they run through all the undergarments and get them washed, they only get worn once before they're tossed into the laundry and I happened to be there right before laundry time.  We quickly went through all of the sample dresses because only one of the would zip up.  Thus my fear that I wouldn't fit into sample dresses was confirmed and I was glad I had gotten the urge to sample dress shop out of my system so I wouldn't have buyers regret next winter.  The one that did fit was ivory and I wasn't thrilled with the color or style.  I'm a teensy bit old fashioned and feel as though ivory is meant for second weddings.  Considering I'm the daughter of a woman who's been married four times, that makes sense, right?

So, Kate asked me what my budget was and how I pictured my wedding.  I told her my budget was $700 dollars because if that was going to be the best price I could get at David's Bridal, I was going to at least attempt to get a designer label gown (and a better quality gown) for the same price first.  I also told her about my summer, outdoor wedding and she immediately ushered me through the swinging doors of my little suite and to the "outdoor/destination wedding dress" section.  They had a separate room not organized by designer  but rather by style for all the dresses here were lighter weight and meant for outdoors.  It was a dream come true.  We all started in different corners and worked our way around pulling every dress under $700 we could find.  And Kate stuck to it too.  I was really impressed.  In fact I was the only one to break the rule and I'm glad I did because the dress I ordered was originally over budget by $50.

By the time we were done that night, I walked out with a business card in hand with three dress ID #s, their price, and our made up names for them on the back.  I had narrowed it down to "Vintage" which was lace, "Cinderella" which I call the typically princess gown with beading, and "The One" as Kate insisted on calling it.  I had absolutely no idea that night which dress I liked better and was completely torn.  I hadn't really had the "it's the one!" moment I'd hoped for because I loved each one for entirely different reasons.

But the next day at work, I was telling my coworkers about my dress shopping experience and was trying to find images of the dresses on the designer's websites because my camera took okay pictures but didn't quite show off the details of the dress like seeing it in person might.  I was only able to find one of the dresses online, "The One" as Kate had so aptly dubbed it.  And within a few hours of work, I was completely stressed out with my supervisor and wanting to be anywhere but work.  When I sat back down at my computer, the Alfred Angelo website was still up on one of the Mozilla tabs and I instinctively made the image my computer background.  The rest of the day whenever I got upset, I closed all the windows and looked at that dress and smiled.  It was by two in the afternoon that I realized Kate was right and that it was "The One."

After about two weeks, I got an e-mail from Alfred Angelo (because I'd signed up on their website to save a gallery of dresses to show my bridesmaids) saying that they were extending their Valentine's Day sale through the end of the month and that I could get $100 off my dress.  I'd originally been planning to go back to MB Bride at the beginning of March to take advantage of the Alfred Angelo trunk show in order to get 10% off but I decided to go back sooner during the time frame of the Alfred Angelo sale.  I'd been under the impression that it was a sale offered by the designer through all bridal salons and not just through Alfred Angelo salons.  Oops.  But when I got to the salon with my my mother (who was back on somewhat eh speaking terms with me), my grandmother, my FMIL, and my fiance's two-year-old neice and our flower girl, I explained the sale notice I'd received and was informed that Kate would have to check with management.  I was shown back to the changing room, the dress of my dreams was brought back for me to try on again for my family to see and my two-year-old niece-to-be was provided a flower girl dress of similar style to prance around in while we waited for management's decision.  The dress was priced at $750, so as I mentioned I'd have gotten 10% or $75 off if I waited another week, but they must have decided to make me really happy and give me the extra $25 by honoring Alfred Angelo's sale price.  My now 82-year-old grandmother was in shock that I'd picked a dress that would be so easy to alter and it took at least fifteen minutes for my mom to stop crying.  My little flower girl just wanted to spend the entire time dancing with her "Aunt Lissa" while we pretended to be princesses.  It was a wonderful day in the long run and the sale price got my dress in under budget even after the luxury sales tax was applied.  I was ecstatic that I managed to wheel and deal a little on at least one aspect of my wedding.

Now I just have to anxiously await the arrival of my dress sometime in early fall.  Already I'm anxious to try it on again and feel like a princess for just another hour.  It would certainly help with the stress, right?

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