Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Trials of The Dress

According to our wedding website, which calculates these things automatically, there are 138 days until T and I get married.

In other words, there are about 19.5 weeks. This, it turns out, makes wedding dress vendors nervous. Because I was finishing up my master's degree until about 4 weeks ago, I was valiantly putting off wedding dress shopping, which, it should be said, I didn't really want to do anyway.

So, after graduating on the 17th of December, celebrating that weekend, and frantically doing a little bit of Christmas shopping, my fashionable, wedding-dress-knowledgeable, soon to be sister-in-law took me shopping for the first time a day before Christmas Eve. I had been perusing dresses online and had found some short dresses I was interested in, one of which was a Priscilla of Boston. So, we went there and I tried on all kinds of dresses that were enormous and heavy and very much not my style. I tried on some short ones and I liked them, but felt a little more cocktail hostessy than romantic.

And then I tried on an awesome long dress that was silky and sweet. It fit nicely and highlighted all of my finer points while hiding the less fine. And I felt comfortable in it. I loved it, but it was over $2200 and even though I know that isn't SO much when it comes to wedding gowns these days according to many people, I just didn't feel comfortable with the price. In addition, the sales representative informed me that these dresses were being ordered from China and so the time needed for turn-around was about 16 weeks. So. I had to make a decision soon. Crap.

So, then I spent time with my family and T's family over the holidays and celebrated the New Year and then threw myself into a long list of wedding dress shops. It should be said that because I am job searching, I have some time in the middle of the week to just scope things out so I was doing all of this by myself which is perhaps more stressful. But everywhere I went was a bust. They wanted to dress me in huge heavy gowns which I kept saying I didn't want, but they didn't seem to care. I would specify "simple" and I would get tons of beading, long trains and immense amounts of taffeta. And the fabrics? They sucked. Plasticy and loud and these were dresses that were over $1200! Some places would present me with these dresses and then seem disappointed in me for not liking them. They just didn't get me. Shouldn't everyone want a long train and a poufy dress for her wedding? If you don't, you must not love yourself!

I came to realize that I wasn't going to find a simple dress with nice fabric for a reasonable price at a normal bridal store.

I kept waking up in the middle of the night tossing around ideas. Should I just spend the money so I could have a nice dress that I like for our wedding day? I had a bad dream that I didn't have a dress even though it was the wedding day and so I had to improvise... which wasn't actually that bad of a thing, but it made me sad to not be wearing a special dress. This is not my idea of a sane wedding experience. WTF?

Finally, I made an appointment with A Less Formal Affair, which is one woman's alterations and wedding dress company. She screens all the brides that want to come in and asks a lot of questions so that she can pick out dresses beforehand. When I got there, she had me try on several dresses and then finally I tried on a very simple strapless dress made of dupoini silk. With a sash it looks great, and they make them in house. Okay. So, I don't LOVE it quite as much as the other dress, but this one is very nice and it is local and it is more affordable.

And, this is the part where I struggle with the Wedding Mind that makes it so easy to rationalize large price tags for one's happiness on one's wedding day. It is worth it to spend an extra $1300 so that I can have the PERFECT dress? There are going to be a lot of eyes on me that day and that already freaks me out. I want to feel GOOD with all that attention. My mom is giving me the money, so what's the big deal, really?

But ultimately, that amount of money is a lot in the real world. In my world RIGHT NOW. I'll be wearing that dress for one day. It will be a long day and it will be a special day, but when when it comes down to it, that amount of money can pay for a large portion of a honey moon, or plane tickets for friends who can't afford them right now, or a professional photographer or part of a down payment on a house, or I could use it to pay off some of my student loans. These seem more important, not to mention that a locally made dress is a much more socially responsible choice and much more me.

So, we talked about some ways to alter the dress for me and my body and my preferences.

It will be an ivory silk shantung dress, with a sweetheart neckline and a little bit of lace that peeks out from the top. I'll have some kind of belt or sash or something to highlight my waist. And it will be made for me. This is a custom dress for about $1000 with very nice fabric. Plus, I'm supporting a local business rather than paying a popular company to overcharge me and exploit workers in another country with an extensive history of human rights abuses.

So, I think this is a good choice. And last night? I slept soundly.

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