Wednesday, August 4, 2010

my wedding Wednesday: the dress, part 1

I thought I would start at the very beginning with the dress.  Picking a wedding dress was actually very hard, much harder than I expected.  I like to shop, but when you are shopping for a wedding dress it is like no other shopping experience.  For example - things are much more expensive, the stakes feel higher, there is always a salesgirl in the room with you as you get in and out of the gowns (leaving you with no time to think), there are no photographs allowed (usually), and in some cases they pick out the dresses you try on (strange but true).  It felt awkward to make decisions with lots of eyes on me.   "Is this the one?" is the constant question.  How do you know?  Was I going to cry?  Would that be the signal?  I don't usually cry when I'm happy so how was I going to figure it out?

The search is on... 
I started by looking at magazines. My mom was also in full blown wedding mode and sent me photos of her favorites torn out of magazines.  In one of the manilla envelopes of magazine pages, I found this Vera Wang dress - priced around $4,500 (yes - very expensive).  I fell in love.  I don't exactly know what it was about the dress - I love inverted pleats, so I think that is what got me.  I also love satin (blame my ballet dancing days).   I had to find it, and I did at the Bridal Galleria in San Francisco. 
I made my appointment and took along my future sister-in-laws.  I have to say, the dress fell short.  The back had this horrible black elastic non-bow and was sort of oddly asymmetrical.  The front also made me look about a million miles wide as the inverted pleat sort of pulled open.  

Forgive the bad photo (it was taken on a blackberry) - but you get the idea.  I had been to several other stores before this appointment at the Bridal Galleria, but I had to try this Vera Wang dress on before I could make my decision.  Not a winner! 

A few stops along the way
Here are some of the other highlights from my dress appointments in New Orleans and San Francisco. 

a Jim Hjelm (the color was all wrong for me)

a gorgeous beaded dress at Priscilla of Boston (looked like camellias)

another gorgeous dress at Priscilla of Boston

my mom's favorite at Priscilla of Boston

Finding The One
I ended up purchasing my dress at Marina Morrison in San Francisco. My sister was with me in April when I first saw the dress, and my mom was there with me in July when I bought it.  On that day we went to three stores together, although the entire time I knew that the right dress was waiting at the last stop of the day (I had planned it that way as my mom wasn't the biggest fan of the photos of the dress before she saw it in person - even using the word tablecloth at one point).

Detail of the bodice lace on my dress
The dress itself was lace on net applique made using three different kinds of French alencon lace and was Liancarlo (recently profiled in Martha Stewart Weddings).  I must say that this photo (from their website) does the dress no justice in my opinion - she is sitting down!  
Photo from
The seamstresses at Marina Morrison made sure that it fit like a glove and designed a gorgeous bustle.
The bustle at my final fitting - Bridget did a great job doing it on the wedding day!

The Big Day
On the wedding day it fit beautifully.  It was just the perfect dress for me and for the occasion.  It felt timeless and beautiful, well crafted and comfortable.  It was more than I could have hoped for.
The wedding day!
So where is the dress now?  Currently in the hands of J. Scheer being cleaned (I had a coupon). So far they have been great to interact with - sending me emails like "thank you for trusting us with this most important assignment" - hopefully it will come back soon.   I should get it back in 6 - 8 weeks and I will keep it in a high closet cabinet until its next assignment (Bridget?).

In the end, how did I know that my dress was the right one for me?  It felt simple - it was the dress that haunted me (the only dress I tried on 3 times before buying).  It had gotten to the point that when I imagined the big day - that it was the dress I saw myself in.  Although it had been a long process - it felt like an easy choice in the end.  I couldn't have imagined it any other way. 

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