I said yes. And then I said no. Then I said yes again. And I recently said yes once more. For the last time.
To a different dress.
I know things were seeming pretty okay when where we left off. I was feeling good about the dress. Fine, if you will. Since my last post, however, I’ve had a few more (I’m not going to sugar-coat this) meltdowns, all related to the dress in some capacity. I kept trying to make it work somehow, though, attempting to construct a “look” to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm.
My makeup should be dramatic. I need statement jewelry to make the it pop! Maybe a rubber cincher would take a few inches off my waist and give me back the hourglass figure that I thought I had but seems to disappear in the dress?
The problem is: none of these things are me. It began stressing me out. Big time.
This being the case, since the fitting, my mom received more than a couple of tearful calls from me expressing my concerns that I won’t look or feel beautiful on my wedding day. She kept nudging me to go out and see what other shops had to offer. I couldn’t. I felt trapped. The dress was already bought and paid for, and with around six weeks to the wedding I knew how limited my options would be. I didn’t want to go slogging through samples only to come up exhausted and even more disappointed. I was resigned to being fine with my dress. It’s fine. It’ll be fine.
But, really, who wants their wedding dress to be fine?
I left for a visit to the ol’ Midwest on Monday. My mom is going to be doing my hair for the wedding and we wanted to try out a few things, figure out exactly how we’d be doing it for the big day. She took the initiative and made a couple appointments for us at bridal boutiques in the Twin Cities. We’d go for the hell of it, see what was there. At the very least it would be fun.
After six hours at the airport due to a schedule change and delay and a three-hour flight, my mom picked me up in Minnesota and we headed off to grab some Mexican food. We each downed a plate of enchiladas with beans and rice, a basket of chips and salsa, and a margarita. The bridal appointments she’d made weren’t until Tuesday, but one of the shops was just down the road from the restaurant. They were having a sample sale and said we could come browse those gowns that night, even though the appointment was the next day. So we went.
When we pulled up, one of the mannequins in the window was wearing a style of dress that my mom and I had been trading pictures of for the past week. It was obviously new and we were sure they wouldn’t part with the sample, but we figured it was a promising sign.
The sale samples were on the first floor and my mom and I pulled a handful of dresses. The first few were fine, nothing special, but the last was actually quite pretty. My mom liked it. The sweet little sales girl who was popping her head in and helping us liked it. Hell, I liked it. It was just better than my other dress, and this made me freeze up. It wasn’t better to the point that it was wowing me, but it was enough that it had me confused. If this one is better and I can’t even decide on it, then how is it possible that the original dress is the right dress?
As I was standing there, face drawn, staring into the mirror, my mom and the sales girl and bypassers complimenting me, I felt completely lost. I just kept saying over and over again, “I don’t know what to do.” We decided to leave and come back for our appointment the next day.
I had barely gotten my jeans back on when the sales girl popped her head in one more time to tell us that one of the consultants upstairs was free and could take us now if we’d like.
Oh hell yes.
We scurried upstairs. The bridal shop was set up in an old house (bridesmaid dresses and formalwear was the house next door and the alterations department was yet another house across the street) and was small and adorable, but surprisingly well-stocked. We began pulling dresses and asked about the one in the window downstairs. As it turned out, they had two samples. If I loved it, there was a chance we’d be able to take one.
Everything was looking good, better than my dress back in New York, but still not screaming Take me home! We got to the window dress and my mom and I beamed. It was amazing and fun and flirty, and it looked great. The groups that had come along with other brides and had been quietly sitting by suddenly became loud and praising. I had an audience. Oh god, this was fun!
“Let’s try on the others for the hell of it, but this one really could be it.”
When we got into the dressing room, I looked at what was left and picked the one that looked most appealing. As we zipped it up, my excitement fell away. I was stunned. This one was beautiful. And then my hands found the pockets. Pockets! Chris loves dresses with pockets!
I walked out toward the mirrors. The audience approved and the other brides gushed over the pockets. It was the opposite of everything I said I wanted, but I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with it.
“Okay, let’s just see what’s left. But I think it might be this one.”
I tried on one more and it was lovely, but I couldn’t wait to get out of it and back into the previous one. As I walked out toward the mirrors for the second time, my breath caught and I could feel the tears beginning to well up in my eyes.
“That’s how you know it’s the one!” one of the other girls said, touching my arm lightly.
At that moment, I didn’t just see a dress. I didn’t only see myself. The elements all clicked and suddenly I saw a bride looking back at me. I felt like a bride. I felt beautiful. And I said yes.
I knew that I would no longer need to force myself into a flashy necklace or fake eyelashes or ridiculous shapewear to make myself feel like I looked special enough for my wedding. This was it. It completely beat out the one from the window, and it made the thought of giving up my original dress seem small–all of this after 9 hours of travel and with a belly full of enchiladas. There was no way it wasn’t the dress.
I never thought that I would be one of those brides that decides she hates her dress last minute and runs out to find a new one. Even knowing that the first one wasn’t perfect, I fought my emotions just so that that wouldn’t be me. I didn’t think I needed the tears or that magical moment where it all comes together and you know that this is the dress that you love and that he will love and that will make you feel perfect on that day. I thought, Maybe that just doesn’t happen for everyone, and that’s okay. But I got to have that experience and, even if the whole world thinks I’m crazy, there’s no way I’d trade it.
When I found the original dress, I was in a very different place. I was thinking about all the details of the wedding and was more concerned with finding a dress that fit with those ideas than I was with finding one that made me feel great. And I found a really, really good dress, it just wasn’t my wedding dress. With many of those things settled now, it was easier this time to focus on what I really wanted.
It also helped a to have my mom there. Your mom knows you in a way that no one else does and can help keep you focused on what’s important. I walked into that shop still delivering my spiel about the venue and finding something to work with the feel of the space, and she stepped in and reminded me that whatever I pick will look great as long as I love it. She was right. She’s the reason I have my dream dress now. She scouted bridal shops and made appointments and made sure that her daughter would feel amazing on her wedding day. I feel so blessed to have her as my mother and so thankful for the thought and effort she put into this.
Ultimately, yes, I turned into one of those brides that we all roll our eyes at, and then I took it all the way and wound up with a second dress. But I’m so happy that I did. I have the dress I never knew I always wanted, I got to pick it out with my mom, my wedding-related stress has melted away, and I am nothing but excited.
And really, can you blame me? It has pockets!