Friday, May 29, 2009

The Wide Lawns Wedding Guide - Part 3

The Dress

Girls really flip out over their wedding dresses for some reason. I guess it's the whole princess thing. I wasn't hung up on the dress, but I was incredibly naive.

A couple months after becoming engaged my mother suggested we go dress shopping. She thought wedding dress shopping would mean several visits to several stores. All of my friends had spent days looking for their perfect dress. This seemed to be the norm, but I wasn't interested.

"We don't have to do that. I know what dress I want, so we can just go and get it before the wedding."

I lived around the corner from a bridal shop, which I often had to pass. For the past couple months they had a beautiful dress in their window display and I thought it would work perfectly for me. It was very pretty. My plan had been to go and pick it up a couple weeks before the wedding and this is where my naivete came in. If you get a dress in a bridal shop, they are not "off the rack." They have to be sewn and fitted and all kinds of crap that takes several months. I had no clue. My mother filled me in and we went to the shop.

There were several Bridezillas in the bridal shop in various stages of dress fittings and fit throwings. They kept saying things were uneven or lumpy or wrinkly and I honestly just could not see what they were talking about.

"I want that one," I said about the window dress.

"Are you sure?" said the bridal shop lady.


"Have you tried it on before?"


The lady insisted I try it on and I did, all ready to buy the beautiful dress from the window and be done with the dress purchasing. This is also back when I thought wedding dresses cost a couple hundred dollars at the most.

The bridal shop ladies got me into this thing, hooked it, laced it up, fluffed the skirt and made me stand on a box in front of a big mirror and this is when I realized that the beautiful dress from the window display truly looked horrendous on me. It was foofy and puffy, frilly, itchy and made me look fat.

"This one is on sale," said the bridal shop lady.

That's why they had it in the window.

"Oh yeah? How much?"

"Only six thousand."

I almost fell of the box. I was standing there in a six thousand dollar (on sale!) dress that made me look fat and itched.

"Are you kidding me? It doesn't even look good on me and it costs six thousand dollars? Holy crap."

I instantly hated this dress that I had previously thought was the dress for me. I wanted to tear it off, step all over it and spill craberry juice on it.

"You need to try on some other styles. This one isn't working best for you," the lady said, "I have the perfect dress."

I didn't really like the dress she brought.

"I don't want one of those kinds of dresses that's straight across the top and it's kind of fancy and ball gowny. It's not what I had in mind," I protested.

"Just try it on."

"Ughh, fine."

Once I tried on the second dress, the one that was nothing like what I had imagined I wanted or would ever look good in, I didn't want to take it off. It looked good on me. It hid a variety of flaws, was comfortable if a little heavier than I expected and best of all it was thousands and thousands of dollars cheaper than the stupid "on sale" dress from the window.

"Can I wear it home?" I asked.

The answer was no, so I sat around in the bridal store in it for a little while longer and then I bought it. The whole thing took an hour.

"You are the easiest bride we've ever had," the lady said as I paid.

No one could believe that I bought the second dress and that the whole thing took an hour.

The reason why is because most wedding dresses are pretty and most of them aren't all that different from one another. The key is to find something in your price range that suits your figure without emotionally investing too much into the notion of "Thee Dress." Jeez, you're only going to wear it for a day anyway.

But you don't have to buy a dress from a bridal shop like I did. You can buy dresses off the rack for great prices and they don't have to be labeled as "wedding dresses" either. In fact, I don't even think they have to be white. White doesn't always look good on everyone. I have a friend who found a stunning wedding dress at the Salvation Army. Others I know had their dresses made for them or had their mother's dresses altered and wore those. You could buy a simple sundress at Ross or Target and accesorize it to make it look fantastic. Just make sure that the dress is comfortable and that it makes you feel confident and pretty.

For wedding dresses you can never go wrong with simple and elegant. You start running into trouble when the frills, crystals, beads, rosettes and puffs of tulle take up too much space. A little embellishment is nice. A lot of it looks like some kind of Quince from Hell nightmare. You want people to see you, not some hideous monstrosity of ruffles and sequins with a person hiding under layers of fabric looking like she's trying to fight her way out of a foaming maw of chiffon.

I'm all for creativity with wedding attire. A friend I worked with in Atlanta got married in Halloween and everyone, including her and her groom showed up in costume. I love that. The only thing that I don't like is when brides try to be too sexy. Avoid anything that looks like it's better suited to Samba dancers in Rio during Carnevale. Save the spandex, thigh high slits, clear platform heels, backless Lil Kim dresses for the wedding night, not the actual wedding. Please. "Whorey" isn't the word you want your wedding guests to use to describe your wedding gown.


Anonymous said...

Another thing to keep an eye out for is anything that's 'damaged' down. Missing hooks or eyes? Damaged. Missing sequins a good dressmaker could replace? Damaged. Small stain a clever drycleaner could get out? Damaged. My own dress was, among the other reasons it was on sale (seasonal sale, end of line sale), reduced because of damage. There was a small stain high up on one strap. Well, the dress was perfect, and I loved it, and I figured no one was going to be focused on my shoulders, so I bought it. That teensy little stain disappeared when I had the dress altered.

MtnMama said...

omg, I about spit my soda across my keyboard when I read ""Whorey" isn't the word you want your wedding guests to use to describe your wedding gown."

I love it!

Aleta said...

You should get this guide published! My dress was royal blue and a lovely price of only 90 dollars. Very simple and elegant.

kerry said...

Definitely doesn't have to be labelled a wedding dress, nor bought from a wedding dress store. A lot of the dress patterns that you can buy are actually quite pretty, though they may require just a smidge of alterations, like lengthening it.

Feeling pretty and able to move in the dress... yeah.

Non-wedding-shop options are good for those with figures that are maybe somehow atypical. A friend of mine who is a bit heavy went to shop, and the lady minding the store looked at her and said they don't have dresses in "your" size in a very insulting tone. Got to wonder about some people.

Student/Teacher said...

The dress I wore for our "reception" I bought off the clearance rack at a Dillard's for $15. No joke.

Anonymous said...

My sister bought her wedding dress for $150 at JCrew and it was the most beautiful wedding dress I've ever seen. She looked gorgeous. One of my best friends was married in a thrift shop chinese silk dress and looked so beautiful she made me cry. The dress cost about $25. I think the coolest "wedding" dresses are not wedding dresses at all! I spent $300 on mine - it was made by a local dressmaker out of shantung silk and it totally fit my style perfectly.

Mommy said...

My wedding dress is actually I had made for Easter a couple of years before.
I bought a couple of dresses from a thrift store the other day and plan to alter them into a wedding dress.

Anonymous said...

@ kerry

I got the "We don't have dresses in 'your' size" treatment too when I went shopping for my wedding dress. I was 19 years old and weighed all of 145 pounds, but a large bustline. The woman looked at me like I was something that crawled in off the street.

So, I bought a nice, off-the-rack off-white lace suit in my size and wore that. No train to bog down in the mud, no hem to trip on, no fuss, no muss, no bother.

But so help me gods, I wanted to claw that woman's eyes out and scream "Heavy people get married too, you snooty bitch!" at the top of my lungs.

LegalMist said...

Sounds like you had a very good bridal shop consultant, that was able to bring you a dress that worked for you. I did not have the same luck, and it wasn't because I was looking for "the" dress - just that, as you said, so many of them are too pouffy and frilly. I was ok with some pouf or frill, but didn't want to look like little bo peep. I didn't try on many, but I did spend days and days looking through racks at various stores to find two or three for a price I was willing to pay that I would even think about wearing! What an ordeal!

Anonymous said...

22 years ago I bought my wedding dress for $150 in the "Better Dresses" section of Neiman Marcus. The same company that made my dress had a similar (but not as pretty) gown for $600 in NM's bridal department. Definitely look outside the bridal department!

(PS, I'm still married. You're right. It's not about the dress.)

Anonymous said...

When I went dress shopping it was a horrible, horrible experience. I ended up borrowing a the wedding dress of a friend of mine who's my height and size. She was happy it got used more than once.

sha said...

When I was going to get married, I bought a beautiful white tea length dress from Maurice's for 50 bucks. I didn't get married, but I was able to wear the dress other places, so it wasn't a total loss.

wv word: inesia - forgetting about the internet?

Jenny said...

I'm actually in the wedding process right now, for a December wedding. I looked online for dresses and only went to 2 bridal stores (neither of them had the dress I wanted). I found the perfect gown online and bought it a couple weeks ago. Everyone thought I was nuts, but I tried it on, and it was perfect! Just a little long.

We don't have a wedding fund to spend and we joke constantly that our theme is not snowflakes but is "looks expensive but didn't spend that much!" but I want everything you said, more about getting to have my husband more than a wedding. Since I bought my dress and we already have our wedding rings, we have been seriously considering eloping!

Keep writing your bridal guide, I love it! Also, if you could put in some more cost saving tips, I would much appreciate it! :D

Erica said...

I got married outside and wanted nothing to do with the whole train thing. My mom insisted that we go to multiple stores when I knew the dress type I wanted was really only at David's Bridal. You'd be amazed at how many places tried to tell me that I HAD to have the long dress or I wouldn't feel like a bride, or tried to fit me in ugly bridesmaid dresses that I could order in white. I finally got to David's and bought the second dress I tried.

Deneen said...

What's your take on elopements? Ten years ago my husband and I got married in Vegas. We didn't tell anyone, just drove out and came back married. The whole thing cost about $500, gasoline and a new party dress included. My parents were not happy but luckily I have a sister who did it "correctly" with an extravagant gown, 200 guests, and random bridezilla moments. (And my mom was much happier with all her drama, which tells you why we eloped.)

Ry said...

Your wedding guide is a riot, and I mean that in a good way. I totally agree about the Princess Complex - it's not necessary and not worth it. One of my good friends is getting married next year and thank god she's being sensible about the whole thing. You should really get this published, it's great.

kerry said...

@ auronsgirl

That's awful that you were made to feel so bad. I love your solution, though! I'm sure you were gorgeous in your suit! And I agree with you on the train. Bleh.

Yeah, I got no patience with snootiness. I have good people in my life, and I don't need people who have to think they are better than other people. Everybody's better at something, but overall, we're all good enough.

the Bag Lady said...

Now I want to see what your dress looked like.

My mother was married in a blue dress. She looked stunning.

My mother also sewed my wedding dress for me. I loved it. 30 years later, I still have it. The husband? Only lasted 5.

Anonymous said...

Most major areas have wedding districts and most of those have wedding dress warehouses. The only problem with most of the dresses is that they are a wedding season "out". Honestly, who but you will know. I'm a very hard size to find and at the warehouse even there were only five dresses total in my size. The first one I saw was perfect. Very plain and elegant. It was a $15,000 big name designer dress. I paid $95. $95. Seriously. I was actually sitting in the dressmaker's lobby (to get it fitted, which cost more than the dress) and I saw my dress on the cover of one of the older stack of magazines she had laying around as "the most perfect dress for all shapes, sizes and body types" dated almost exactly one year earlier. And I paid $95.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear for non-white dresses....i am a pale celt and have red hair and green eyes, white is really bad on me. My wedding gown was teal green and I looked like a pre-raphaelite portrait (and my mom made it!!)

bridal-buy said...

You should get this guide published! My dress was light sky blue and a lovely price of only 89 dollars. Very simple and elegant.

About Me

Blog Archive