It's supposed to be thrilling, right? It's what every girl dreams of: the moment she finds the perfect wedding dress.
Well, wedding dress, schmedding dress, I say.
It was relief and not thrill that I felt when I finally plunked down the cash for the 273rd dress I tried on over a 3 month period. But it wasn't the "yippee, I found the dress of my dreams" kind of relief. It was the "yippee, I don't have to shop for wedding dresses anymore" kind of relief.
I think I can say that I categorically hate wedding dress boutiques.
First of all, they smell funny. A weird odorous combination of feet (you have to take off your shoes in wedding dress boutiques), old lady perfume (from all those grandmothers of the bride, clutching their pearl clasped purses from which the moolah for granddaughter's dress will materialize), plastic (every wedding dress is sheathed in a large plastic body bag), and sweat (brides-to-be sweat a lot while trying on dozens and dozens of forty pound dresses) permeates the boutique. That smell clung to me for hours after I left each boutique.
Secondly, you have to let the skinny little 19 year olds who work in wedding dress boutiques dress you. Because, you know, a bride-to-be can't be trusted to put on a dress all by herself. So there I was, shivering in my big-girl underwear and wishing I'd remembered to shave my armpits, listening to a perky, childless, unmarried sprite tell me to "dive right in." She meant dive right into the dress. I learned that you never put on wedding dresses feet first. Always head first.
Thirdly, I was always the oldest bride-to-be in every dress shop we went to. Now listen, I don't really have any hang-ups about my age. Yeah, I have a few more gray hairs than I'd like, a few more "smile lines" than I'd like, and I recently noticed a new mole on the back of my right hand, but I generally feel pretty young. But if you're over 28 and wedding dress shopping, you may as well be 80. The sheer volume of engaged 23 year olds is staggering. They were everywhere. Who knew?
Fourthly, wedding dress shopping was bad for my ego. Did you know that wedding dresses are sized up? So, while I usually wear a size 4 or 6 dress, in wacky wedding dress sizing world, I was a size 10 or 12. And here's something they never tell you: if you put on a wedding dress without adding the whole hair-makeup-shoes-jewelery component, you just look like a poser. You don't look like a bride. You look like a grown woman playing dress-up. Also, in the "wrong" dress (and many, many of them are "wrong"), you get to see all of your worst physical traits amplified. Who knew my upper arms flapped in the breeze like that? When did all that cellulite appear? Seriously, do I really have that many pimples on my back? Ugh, fat thighs. Why didn't anyone ever tell me I had such broad, manly shoulders? Why on earth does my face have a different skin tone than my neck? Could my butt look any bigger?
Fifthly, wedding dresses are expensive. And I could never shake the nagging reminder that this is my second wedding and that maybe I shouldn't be spending money on a "real" wedding dress.
And lastly, I DIDN'T LIKE ANY OF THEM! If the damn dress wasn't too poofy, it was too low cut. If it wasn't too low cut, it had too many bows. If it didn't have too many bows, it had too much tulle. If it didn't have too much tulle, it required a ridiculously expensive bra. If it didn't require a ridiculously expensive bra, it was too skimpy. If it wasn't too skimpy, it was too Gone With The Wind.
And when I finally found the dress I loved at a high end boutique in Burlington, it cost $6,000.
And then, one day while doggedly Googling phrases like "plain wedding dress," "cheap wedding dress," "non-poofy wedding dress," and "anything I don't have to try on and then look at myself in a full-sized mirror wedding dress," I stumbled onto a wedding dress line by J. Crew.
J. Crew makes wedding gowns?
Indeed they do.
And right there, right in the middle of the web-page, being worn by a 95 pound, 6 foot 1 inch model, was my wedding dress. Cream colored, non-poofy, cheap, and no stupid bra required. And J. Crew had aptly named the dress the "Sophia."
This dress was my destiny. I called Colby and asked her to meet me down at our local J. Crew store. A very nice gay man helped us find the dress in their in-store catalogue and order it from the warehouse.
A week later the very nice gay man called me at home to tell me that my dress was in.
I held my breath as the very nice gay man zipped me up and then gushed appropriately about how lovely I looked.
I snuck a peek at the tag. Cheap! And a size 6!
I bought it on the spot.
We're getting married in 10 days.