Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I Bought My Wedding Dress

... and it was PAINLESS.

Yesterday I jumped on a bus to East Hastings near Boundary Road to browse for a wedding dress. This is something I've been dreading for a while, but I decided to bite the bullet and continue my productive streak.

Since I returned from Toronto, I've been getting lots done. In fact, I've accomplished more since Friday than I have in the first six weeks before I went to Toronto. My 'to do' list was growing out of control, and now it's finally getting tackled.

I feel different, too, more energy and more motivation. Maybe the pace of Canada's largest city lit a fire under me, I don't know. In fact, I even finished my TAXES on Monday, something I'd been needing to finish for a long time but 'hadn't gotten around to it'. It's my largest return to date, which probably accounted for me getting my arse in gear: money!

The Medieval Dress
The Medieval Dress,
originally uploaded by formerly TaGurit.
Just to be clear, this is NOT the dress. But, it is a style I wanted to use as a guide. Generally, I knew I wanted:
  • (chiffon) sleeves
  • empire waist
  • no train
  • lighter material
  • ivory
  • NOT poofy
But, I also knew MOST wedding dresses are not like this. I was seriously considering renting a dress, too, but then I thought of how much of a hassle this might be, eg., Eliza picking it up in Vancouver, taking it to Pennsylvania, bringing it back, wearing it in Vancouver, etc. I'd probably have to pay through the nose for extra drycleaning and keeping it for more than a week, too.

I walked into the first shop. They mostly ignored me, which is what I wanted, and why I dressed more like a student. The dresses were heavy with beadwork and trains and either very 'princessy' or 'frumpy-flashy'. I'm 33. I'm too old for that Cinderella tiara fantasy (not that it was ever a childhood fantasy, anyway). I'm too young to resort to Las Vegas glitz on my chest (which is not me, anyway). The only dress I liked wasn't even bridal, it was a bridesmaid's dress. Very simple, Vera Wang-ish, if you know what I mean. I made a mental bookmark of it.

On to shop #2. I had to ring a doorbell and take off my shoes. The dresses were wrapped in protective drycleaning bag plastic. Most of them were too ornate. I talked to the owner about what I liked, and I soon got the impression I wouldn't find it there. I saw the same dress I liked in shop #1, but in a different colour. I couldn't even try it on because she said all the samples only come in a size 10, which I'm not.

Shop #3. I was starting to wonder if my list was more unrealistic than I'd imagined. I could budge on probably every item (I wasn't even adamant about white OR ivory, but definitely ivory over white), but I would only compromise if the style was in keeping with our Art Nouveau theme of organic shapes. The owner encouraged me to step outside of my parameters.

OK, that was an understatement: we locked horns over my parameters. She thought the empire waist would make me look pregnant. She wanted me to try a two-piece. I pooh-poohed the dresses with heavy beadwork and busy designs.

"Plain," I said. "It has to be plain."

I rejected nearly every one of her suggestions, stubbornly sticking to my guns about the empire waist. Finally, she gave up.

"Nevermind, my opinion doesn't count," she muttered. "I'm only telling you from experience."

I ignored her, as I do most salespeople. She found two dresses, and the one that looked more 'bridal' and less 'bridesmaid' was the one I ended up buying. After I put it on, she admitted I was right -- about the colour AND the empire waist cut. There you go.

I phoned Eliza.

"I need a second opinion."

She fought rush hour traffic to get there by 6 o'clock, when the store closed. The woman said her lease was up at the end of July, and she wasn't renewing it. She wanted to spend more time with her kids, she said. Everything in the shop had to go, and everything was 50-70% off, and negotiable.

I bought an $830 wedding dress for $400. We also found a dress for Eliza, which was slashed down to $100. Both dresses are being altered for $50. I can't believe we bought BOTH with alterations, for $550.

I budged on the train -- it has a train. There are buttons that continue all the way down the train, and it would be a shame to cut it off. I was going to lop off the train to make a veil with the organza overlay, but the buttons get in the way. So she's going to make a bustle for it so I can put it up. I'm also getting her to take OUT the crinoline, so it's NOT poofy. The material is heavier (another compromise), so it'll hang nicely.

I also budged on the sleeves. It doesn't have any, but it's neither low-cut in the front or back. The design on the front is very low-key and it continues to the back. I took a couple of photos of the dress, but I'm not going to post them here. I'm just e-mailing the photos around. When I go back after the alterations I'll take a photo of the back, which I neglected to do yesterday.

While excited about our deal, Eliza is disappointed that the dress-shopping was over so quickly.

"That's it?" she asked. She wanted this to be an experience, but I then reminded her that there's still the matter of shoes and accessories. I'll bet it takes longer to find my shoes than it took to find the dress. But the last time I went shoe shopping with Eliza, we managed to find two pairs, so maybe we'll be lucky this time, too.