Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to Buy a Wedding Dress in Under Three Hours

I've had mixed feelings about wedding dresses. On the one hand, I think that they are far too expensive and generally uninteresting. On the other hand, when else will I and the dress get to be the center of attention for a day?

Anyway this past weekend I went dress shopping for real with my FMIL and her friend. And by for real, I mean, I braved the crowd and chaos at Filene's Basement Bridal Sale in Union Square, lovingly named "the Running of the Brides," after the festival of San Fermin in Pampalona, Spain. You know, the one where tourists get gored by bulls running through quaint Spanish streets. Right. (It is marketing like this that sort of makes me happy that this industry is shrinking. Hopefully it will make the advertising around us more intelligent. Though of course, I'm not actually happy that people are losing their jobs.)

Here's me walking to the subway in my "I can this off easily without exposing my underwear" outfit. Note the tennis shoes and the relaxed stance. I was ready.

I approached the day with this attitude. I get to hang out with my FMIL, whom I love, and her friend, who I also think is great. They are really excited to help me find a dress. Much like I don't really believe in THE ONE in love, I don't believe in THE DRESS. Things will fall into place, and I don't need to scratch and claw my way to perfection. If I didn't find a dress today, it wouldn't be a big deal.

We met up at 11 AM. After the morning craze, when apparently women who had lined up for hours before ran into the store and stripped the racks. We arrived to a calm, if disorganized scene.

I wasn't really sure what to do. So I grabbed a dress that didn't look hideous and tried it on. See.

Here are some things that I learned:

1. Wedding dresses are heavy. It's strange how much silk can weigh when there are a gazillion layers and yards of it.

2. Some dresses really do make you feel like a princess. It was kind of a fun feeling, but they also sort of made you feel like a robot.

3. Wedding dress designers must have all signed some sort of pact that obligates them to put beads and sequins on everything. I had a hard time finding dresses that balanced bejewelry and simplicity. Most were really gaudy (which is cool if that's your thing) or really plain (also cool if that's your thing).

4. Sizes don't correspond to anything. I fit into the size 10s just as well as the size 4s. We realized this after about an hour of looking for size 4-6 dresses and not finding much.

5. Apparently being a bride means you don't have to adhere to any rules of propriety. I definitely saw a woman wearing only her underwear (no bra) standing in a pile of white silk and many others walking between the aisles in thongs and bras. Really? There were photographers, fathers, fiances, and all sort of strangers in the store. I'm no prude, but really? Wearing a tank top and leggings would ruin the look of a dress so much that you made the decision to be generally naked instead?

6. I could not have done this alone. My FMIL and her friend were dispensable. They were cheerful with a great eye. We decided early on what shape looked best on me, and they scoured the racks and even followed around a couple people who were holding onto dresses. Here they are putting the dresses back onto the hangers.

They are so sweet.

Anyway I was about to give up. I was getting hungry and tired of looking at the sea of white, ivory, lacy-beaded fluffiness. Then I tried on this dress, which I had seen earlier but decided that at size 10 it would be too big. Anyway it wasn't, and I really liked it. So we stuck around until our friend returned from feeding the meter so that she could see it.

I liked this dress a lot. It was simple and elegant, but it had a little bit too much skirt. I like to think of this dress as my inspiration because it gave me a little more energy and while we were waiting, I found a different dress and tried that one on. That was the one I had on when our friend came back, and I could tell from the look on her face and on my FMIL's face that I had found my dress.

Anyway I'm not putting up a picture of that dress because FP reads this. Send me an e-mail if you're dying to see it. I didn't have an epiphany when I tried on the last dress. It just felt comfortable. Maybe it did feel different from the other dresses, a little more like me. I don't know. I looked at the price tag and figured why wait? I had no real desire to do the whole bridal salon thing. Here was a perfectly beautiful dress at a good price. So there you have it. Wedding dress. Check.

Now, if only the rest of it could be this simple.


Meghan said...

Congratulations! I think that you and I have a lot in common in this crazy process--be reasonably sane and snarky and the rest falls into place. Let's hear it for three hours to find a dress! And you didn't have to fly cross-country to do it :)

Michelle @ My Wedding Report said...

I'm glad that you found it!! Can't wait to see pictures!