Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress
Bride’s Eye View
I can’t put it off any longer.
I realize this is an odd sentiment for one of the most glorious and daydreamed-about experiences of any bride-to-be, but shopping for my wedding dress is stressing me out. There is so much pressure riding on this choice, especially after I heard somewhere that “the style of the gown dictates the style of the entire wedding.”
Oh sure, at first it was exciting to leaf through the bridal magazines and imagine myself in the gorgeous dresses. But as I clipped the pictures and made notes about what I liked (“cute bodice!” “love the beading!”) it started to hit me: these dresses were modeled by gorgeous, six-foot glamazons, styled by hair and makeup experts and photographed under flattering light. How can a petite, average-sized woman who (gasp!) does her own hair and makeup ever hope to look that good, even if I do fall for the advertising and buy a super-expensive dress?
I bite the bullet and call my local bridal shop for an appointment. I had been shopping for dresses with my sister, early in the engagement, but it was a farce; a grown woman playing a child’s foolish dress-up game. This time I decide to shop alone so I don’t tempt the people-pleaser in me to buy whatever my shopping buddy loves. Unlike a lot of women, I don’t have a vision in my mind of the perfect dress. I’m just hoping to find a dress that is elegant but not too fussy, flattering but not too sexy, comfortable but not too casual. Oh, and all this for well under a thousand dollars. Including alterations.
Heading to the bridal shop after work one evening, I am unexpectedly nervous. The shop is a small boutique where I can hardly slip in unnoticed; they assign a saleswoman to shepherd each customer around the shop to make suggestions and recommendations. “Nancy” promptly steers me to a rack of expensive dresses I recognize from a popular designer in the magazines. They look like a bead factory exploded on them. Next is a rack of sheath dresses. No thanks – I’d rather not spend my wedding day feeling like a basketball stuffed into a drinking straw.
Then I see something that makes my heart race. It’s a sign that says “Visit Our Clearance Gallery Downstairs!” I manage to extricate myself from Nancy’s iron grip and dart down the stairs, only to find a dim and dingy space that might as well be called “Reject Room.” Optimist that I am, I pounce on the section for my size and come up with two possibilities: a beaded number with narrow straps and chiffon overlay, and a square-neck with a deeply plunging back. I haul these two beauties up the stairs and catch Nancy’s eye to request a changing room. Considerably less helpful now that the prospect of a fat commission is gone, Nancy sighs and opens a room.
The beaded one goes on first. I am amazed at how the act of putting on a fluffy white dress, even if it’s not THE dress, makes me feel suddenly gorgeous and special. The glittery beaded straps draw attention to my collarbone and shoulders. The cut of the waist somehow makes me look both slim and tall. I now have stars in my eyes and contemplate a completely unexpected dilemma: what if the dresses actually look good on me? And if they do, how do I choose?
Nancy helps me into the other dress. I notice as it settles over me how incredibly light and soft it is. She says, “It’s 100% silk! I didn’t know we had this in the clearance room…” Her voice fades out as I focus on the mirror. It’s way too big around the waist, four inches too long, and I’m not crazy about the squared neckline. But I can see that with a few snips and tucks, it could be stunning. There is just something about it that makes me feel happy, and comfortable, and like I am making the right choice. I can’t take my eyes off the mirror.
Ever hopeful for a sale, Nancy recognizes the sparkle in my eyes and promptly begins to bring in shoes, veils and jewelry to “complement my selection.” In a daze, I try them on. Is that bridelike woman in the mirror really me? I’m on cloud nine. How could I have ever have dreaded this wonderful, exhilarating, momentous experience? I have fallen in love again, and it’s with a wedding dress. I schedule an alterations appointment with the seamstress and sign the charge slip, glad that I stayed within budget.
Later, on the drive home, I realize my dress makes me feel comfortable, special; the way Gary makes me feel. Coincidence?…