I am THAT girl. The girl who had thought about her wedding since she knew what a wedding was, and who had already planned all of the details by the time she was 15 (of course, at 15 years old, it did seem pretty cool to have the New Kids on the Block play live at my wedding!). Needless to say, when I finally got engaged, I was super excited to start the planning process. More than anything else, I could not wait to go dress shopping! I will admit, that I was a little bit nervous because I LOVE to shop and I LOVE clothes, however, I am a little quirky when it comes to certain things. I knew all along that I wanted something that would be jaw dropping, but really unique. And I worried whether or not I would find what I was looking for.
When it finally became time to look for my dress I went to the mecca of wedding dress stores: Kleinfelds! That’s right, the actual “Say Yes to the Dress” store. Keeping with tradition, I brought along my mom and my sister for support. My mother…not much of a help. After all, she would tell me that I looked beautiful wearing a burlap sack. My sister, on the other hand, was more the voice of reason, being somewhat of a style guru. The only problem was that my sister was very much a traditionalist, and tended to stay away from dresses that were even remotely “different.” Her own beautiful Ream Acra wedding gown with the beaded bodice and satin A-line skirt, was totally her, but totally NOT me.
Dress shopping, as it turned out, became the thorn in my shopaholic side. Nothing bummed me out more than trying on hundreds of dresses and never once getting that feeling that you are supposed to feel when you finally found “the one.” I wanted chills, goosebumps – to never want to take my dress off and wear it out of the store! But all I ever felt was “blah.” Not only did my heart never skip a beat, but it sank! And I actually started dreading going shopping!! Don’t get me wrong, I definitely found some beautiful dresses that looked fantastic on me – but they just were not “the” dress. Eight stores and at least 8 dozen dresses later, and I had just about given up!
During this depressing process I had found one dress that I absolutely fell in love with! Just a few issues: 1) It was $10,000 dollars. Yes, you read that right! 2) It was very slinky and almost nightgowny, which was beautiful, except a part of me kinda thought that on the day of my wedding, the one day that I could go over the top and be a total princess, I wasn’t sure if that was the direction that I wanted to go in (now if I was rich enough to afford TWO dresses, this would have totally, without a doubt, been my second dress of the night!). 3) You fully needed the body of a runway model to pull it off, and lets just say, my daily forced gym routine did not have me in that type of shape quite yet (if ever!). Nonetheless, the Badley Mischka gown sat in the far corner of my brain, but eventually I realized that it, too, was not “the” one!
Eventually, what began as my most exciting quest, finding my wedding dress!!! became the most annoying and miserable experience of the entire wedding planning process. I should have known – everything else had gone so smoothly; the reception hall, the band, the florist – all fantastic and EASY experiences. Clearly something had to go wrong at some point. And so, here I was, having looked in every single store in the NY area, and I had nothing!
I eventually decided to go back to Kleinfelds. After all, it had been my first stop and it had the biggest selection, and now so many dresses later, at least I had a better idea of what I was looking for, so why not go back to the place where they had everything? My appointment was for Tuesday night at 7 pm. The last appointment of the day. I had work (I am an elementary school teacher) and then I was working the after-school program until 5 pm. My mom was going to pick me up from work and my best friend was going to come into the city with us (this was the only appt that my sister was unable to attend). By the time I was headed into the city, I was exhausted, had a migraine, and apparently (as I would later find out) a slight fever!
They don’t rush you at Kleinfelds, but obviously I felt like I could not spend 2 hours there and force them to stay open for me. Besides, I was STARVING and feeling ill. I wanted to go home, badly. At this point, I really and truly just didn’t care. I let my mom and my friend go to town and pull dresses for me to try on. Ugly, ugly, uglier. Finally, the last dress of the night, and I was ready to put it on, take it off, go eat something and succumb to the fact that I would be wearing a t-shirt and jeans down the aisle. I was d-o-n-e! The rest is a blur. I remember putting the last dress on. I remember my mom and best friend oohing and aahing, and I remember thinking “I seriously do not give a shit anymore” and the words “fine, I’ll take it” coming out of my mouth. Tears were flowing (my mom and friend of excitement, me of relief to be getting out of there) and next thing I knew, my measurements were taken and down-payment made – and I had my dress. Relief! Now I never would have to look at another dress again. Thank goodness!
Or so I thought.
Weeks started to fly by and before I knew it, I was approaching 6 months until the big day. During this time, I began to have recurring nightmares that would literally make me jump awake covered in sweat! Every nightmare featured me at my wedding in a horrendous wedding gown. Eventually I started to panic. Deep down I knew that I had made a mistake. What was worse, was that I didn’t even have a picture of the dress I had bought. The designer was exclusive to Kleinfelds and they did not have a picture of this specific dress on their website. I didn’t even remember what it looked like!! The bits and pieces of the dress that did stand out in my mind formed together to create what I imagined was a Madonna “Like a Virgin” dress, circa 1985. I felt bad saying anything to my mother since she had paid for my dress, but after months of nightmares I finally called my sister hysterically crying and told her that I was pretty sure that I hated my dress.
My sister tried to calm me down and suggested that I make an appointment to go try my dress on again and she would meet me there. She was certain that I was just having cold feet, and that upon trying on the dress again, I would realize how much I loved it. I told her that I knew for a fact that it was a disaster, but that I would meet her there just to prove it to her. Unbeknowest to me, my mother had given my sister specific instructions that she was to tell me the dress was stunning and convince me that it was perfect.
It was a beautiful day in April when I went to meet my sister at Kleinfelds. I had arrived a little before her and was waiting inside for her when I saw it. My Dress! No, not my dress, not the one I had already bought, but MY dress, the one I was destined to own. There it was, adorning the mannequin and calling out to me. Everything I had been looking for was right there! I needed to try on that dress. My sister had barely made it through the door and I was pulling her towards it: “That’s it, THAT is the dress I am supposed to wear. Look at it!!!” I was giddy! The woman came to get me for my appointment and I told her that I wanted to try on “that dress right there.” This did not immediately go over well because apparently the appoinment that I had was just for me to try on the dress that I had already bought, and not for me to “try on a bunch of new dresses.” Apparently the craziness in my eyes began to show because after I told them that I was, in fact, going to be trying on “the ugly dress that I had already purchased as well as the beautiful dress on that mannequin”, they relented and allowed me to try on just that one.
In the dressing room, with my sister next to me, I satisfied everyone and tried on the dress I had already purchased first. Upon seeing the lace, beading, and overall matronly shape (which did look very much like the Madonna dress, if Madonna had been in her 60′s when she had taped the video) I began to cry hysterially. It was everything I had imagined, and worse. I would NOT be wearing this dress to my wedding! My sister tried, pathetically, to tell me that it was beautiful, but even i could see the absolute horror in her eyes. I could not get that dress off of me fast enought. With a little sigh, they helped me into the other dress I had demanded to try on. As they laced up the corset back, i felt it. IT. That feeling! The feeling of numbness in my fingertips, intense excitement and goosebumps. This was it! There was no denying it. This was the dress I had been looking for. One look at me in the dress and my sister picked up her phone and called my mother. “I can’t even lie to her, mom”, she said, “there is just no comparison.” We both knew it. I had to have this dress even if it meant that I take out a loan and buy both of them! Luckily the dress I fell in love with was made by the same designer, however, they would have to get in touch with her to see whether or not they had already began cutting and putting together my original dress. I would have to wait a week to find out whether or not I was out of the money we had put down already. Fortunately, everything worked out, and 6 months before my wedding I picked out a brand new dress that I loved!!
(I tried to find a picture online of the dress that I had originally bought, but STILL can’t find one! But here is a picture of the dress I fell in love with…and eventually wore to my wedding!!)
So girls – TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and never, ever settle!