First of all – let me give you a little warning, what comes next is the critical, unvarnished account of a Saturday spent shopping for a wedding dress…it is not pretty, nor is it for the faint of heart, so proceed with caution!
I wanted to make it a fun day with some of my favorite girls, so I suggested brunch at Hector’s in downtown Kirkland to start – I figured some yummy food and a few mimosas would put us all in the right frame of mind to find “The Dress”. Amy Jo even mentioned that it was like a Sex in the City type of brunch! Well, it was a great idea…and it was fun, however we had the SLOWEST waitress on record and we ended up being late to our first appointment at the most dreaded David’s Bridal…not a good idea.
Let me back up, I am sure that those that know me well just went, ‘What the h*ll? She went to David’s Bridal?’, and were very confused. I had been reading the bridal magazines lately, big surprise, and they all had coverage on the fact David’s has a new line of destination wedding dresses as well as a designer line, plus I had actually found two dresses from their website that I liked – and they were under $700 – so I figured, why not? Well, let me tell you why not…you are cattle prodded through a process that NO one should have to be put through, waiting in line for a room, even though you have an appointment, then they try to force you to put on a bustier that is horrible…and then to top it off, they want you to put on a crinoline too! I tried the bustier, but was in complete shock…so I drew the line at crinoline. I am getting married in Jamaica…who need bustiers and crinoline in 85 degree heat & humidity on a beach?? When I told the very sweet (and very young) sales gal that I didn’t want to try on the dresses with either, she was in shock. I guess most people love the process of putting on all of those accoutrements and then proceed to try on every dress in the store, but they don’t know me. I am 36 years old, I know what my body looks like…I know what looks good on me, and I don’t want to waste my time or theirs on the pomp & circumstance of the process. Let’s just put it this way, at David’s, I ended up trying on 3 dresses and then left…the poor sales girl looked shocked that I didn’t want to spend the rest of the afternoon trying on dress after dress, and prancing out onto the cheap carpeted “stage”, under the worst fluorescent lighting possible, to show my friends all of different kinds of craptastic material those dresses are made of at David’s.
So at this point, I am feeling a bit deflated…but since I had never planned on finding a dress at David’s, I am buoyed by the possibility of what we might find at our next stop – a small bridal shop that does expert alterations in North Seattle. We get to the bridal salon and it was so refreshingly quiet, and had a large selection for a tiny shop – plus we were the only people in there, so we all started pulling dresses. By this time, everyone has a pretty good idea of what I wanted…very simple – no lace, no sequins – with a very defined waist and strapless. I try on the first dress…ok, but nothing special, then the second…then the third — uh oh, we may have a winner! I ask how much the dress is from the Russian shop-owner and get no answer, my first warning sign. Then she tries to get me to try on every other dress in the shop…telling me they would fit me better, it was insane! I mean really, here is this dress that I love, and I would like to buy, and she tries to get me to find another one. Finally, after wasting about 10-15 minutes trying to figure out if I could buy the dress, if it would be delivered in time for my wedding or even how much it costs — we gave up and left, but not without the dress information! We suspect that she was worried about getting the dress in time for my wedding, which is only a few months away – and do all the alterations (I would need many!) – but it was a pretty frustrating experience.
After leaving this shop, I am pretty much pouting and spending my time on my phone looking up the brand, style and cut of the dress I loved at the last shop – while we are on the way to Redmond (just East of Seattle), to our last bridal boutique – this shop specialized in more high-end dresses. But at this last boutique, I didn’t find much at all, in fact the only dress I really wanted to try on, happened to be one that they wouldn’t be able to get in time for my wedding. We then find one dress that has some (remote) possibility — IF we remove the one-shoulder strap, change it from sweetheart to strapless, remove the train, remove the beading, and take off all the crinoline. Oh yeah – so basically make an entirely new dress – awesome. And even then, the dress may not be available in time…lovely!
At this point we are back in the car and I am thinking – aloud, to the whole group – if I am going to have this bridal boutique custom dress for me, based on my measurements – what stops me from ordering one that is closer to what I want on my own, and most likely for much less?
Once I get home, I dive into the forums & community boards on my favorite wedding websites, scouring for information on reliable companies, with great reviews, that do custom order wedding gowns. Well, ‘lo and behold, I not only find one dress but two dresses online!! One of which is an exact replica of the dress I tried on and LOVED at the second bridal shop. And the other dress is a little different, but still fairly similar in style and really looks like something I would love. You might be asking, why 2 dresses? Well both of these dresses together still cost less than HALF as much as either of the dresses I was considering on Saturday. The way I look at it, within 6 weeks I will have 2 dresses – 1 of them is bound to be pretty darn close to what I want, and then I will work with a seamstress to make it fit like a glove.
Wish me luck…I can’t wait until they get here!