Say Yes to the Dress!…and the DJ and the Photographer…
It’s on like Donkey Kong, folks. The Big ‘W’ is officially less than six months away! Yes – that’s right – on September 13, XXL and I will profess our love to each other in front of God, family, friends, two wedding coordinators, two photographers, a DJ, a handful of caterers and maybe a harpist and a videographer or two. We are TBD on them. At this rate, we might as well throw in a therapist or two. Who knew that when I said, ‘yes’ to XXL, I would also be signing up to say ‘yes’ in front of an entourage of wedding professionals. Seriously – I’ve heard of some of the popular wedding shows on cable, I KNEW weddings were a bazillion dollar industry (right behind gourmet pet treats), and I’m aware that the term ‘bridezilla’ isn’t an urban myth. None of that knowledge, however, prepared me for the barrage of information and number of decisions required of me. If only it were as simple as saying ‘yes’ to the dress – which, by the way, is not that simple. I really had no clue. Not unlike most women, I had ohhh’d and ahhh’d over a few wedding dress pictures that might have slipped into my Cosmopolitan or Vanity Fairs over the years. One or two may have even ended up on a vision board at some point. Why yes, even Single Space girl fantasized about finding her ideal mate (notice I didn’t say ‘perfect’). Anyhow, let me start by saying that I’ve lived in the Alexandria area for 20+ years, and I had no idea the number of bridal boutiques there were within a 5 mile radius of my home. Holy Mother of God.
Don’t laugh, but I was so clueless about the process that I had no idea that they weren’t like Nordstrom – you actually have to call and make an appointment to be seen. I wasn’t clueing into my friend, Kim’s, subtle clues about ‘planning’ our wedding dress shopping time. I was proud of myself because I had actually Googled a handful of dress shops in the area the day before Kim and I were going to venture out into the world of bridal gowns. “So – what time are we supposed to be at the first place?,” asks Kim. “Huh? – I guess whenever we finish our Bloody Marys.” Beeeeeppppp – WRONG ANSWER. I frantically started calling all the shops to arrange appointment times. Again, I found myself flunking Bridal 101. I am such a rookie, and the embarrassing part is that it’s not like I’m 19 and flunking – I’m 40 something!
Anyhow, I made it through the first round of dress shopping (yes—there was more than one), fairly unscathed. Although, let’s just say I immediately went to Target and purchased a set of 8 lb weights. Hello, arm jiggle. After an exhausting day of tulle try outs, with Kim’s help, I narrowed my selections down to two dresses at two different stores. I never thought I’d be THAT girl, but I did find myself caught up in the race to find the ‘perfect’ dress. There are some beautiful dresses out there so it’s hard to choose. There are also some really, really expensive dresses out there (as well as hideous), and I can see how a bride-to-be (B2B) could get sucked into the evil vortex of more expensive = more beautiful. I recently caught my first ever episode of Say Yes to the Dress where a young B2B cajoled her (apparently wealthy) Mom into bankrolling a $34,000 dress. Trust that I am never going to be THAT girl. In a perfect world (no such thing), it is her BIG DAY, the day she’s dreamed of her entire life, but reel it in people! For the record, I was never THAT girl – I didn’t start subscribing to Modern Bride at the age of 12. Don’t laugh as I’m sure you and I both know THAT girl.
I have to say that the women that work in these boutiques, for the most part, are amazing. They know their stuff and they can dive into mountains of chiffon and tulle (that looks the same to an untrained eye) at the speed of light and pull out two or three dresses that are spectacular for your body. It’s an astounding feat. Wedding Dress Fitting should probably be an Olympic sport. And – it’s pretty competitive. It would be a blast to watch – even a seasoned competitor could injure herself stepping into a dress with a 40’ circumference, weighing in at 30 lbs. I digress.
I was really liking Dress #2, but Kim was head over heels with Dress #1. She went home and emailed me pictures of the dress she had found online, and it was ethereal. I felt like a princess in that dress, but I was leaning toward Dress #2 which I felt was more ‘me’. In the days between Round One and Round Two, I went online, and there’s where the trouble really started. Google Images and Pinterest are a rabbit hole for anyone, but a serious danger for any struggling B2B. Holy Guacamole. I did a search for Dress #2, which was a mistake because what pops up? A B2B in Texas had a brand new one in my size that she had purchased and wanted to sell. She had bought it for her big day and found another dress she liked better. Yes – that’s right. She now had two gowns which apparently is a pretty common pitfall. B2Bs find their dream dress and then keep looking – HUGE MISTAKE. Before you get all judgy judgy, let me just say that I can relate. You find the awesome dress and then you go home and continue your planning which means looking at images of cakes, flowers, décor, etc., and what is next to all those images? Beautiful brides wearing beautiful dresses – dresses that may be more beautiful than yours. Curiosity kicks in and you find yourself googling that dress and now you’re on some designer’s website and lo’ and behold, there’s a trunk show this coming weekend in your zip code and these fabulous one-of-a-kind dresses will be just miles away – and – here’s the kicker – they’ll be marked down 15 percent! Oh – the agony!
Armed with the info that I could now buy Dress #2 online for half the price, I set out for Round Two accompanied by two more sets of eyes and two brains that weren’t muddled by bridal magazines and Pinterest images – my niece, Mandy, and my dear friend, Peggy. We did a revisit to Dress #1, circled back to Dress #2, and added a yet unchartered dress shop to the mix – which, of course, only added to the confusion. And, of course, when we circled back to see Dress #2, the shop owner whipped out a couple of new arrivals that totally sent my B2B brain spinning. They, of course, were fabulous and amazing and so I had to try them on. And, I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret – I loved every minute of trying them all on. I felt like a princess, a queen, a movie star and a Victoria’s Secret model all rolled into one. Even though I have a beautiful engagement ring, and XXL and I had signed the contract for the venue – I don’t think it actually hit me that I was getting married until I stood up on that pedestal surrounded by 832 yards of white fluff and saw myself in the mirror. When I put on the perfect dress (which was not Dress #2), I teared up and said, “yes.”
Written by: Lori Welch