June 22, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: The Dress

Pssst! Over here! Yeah, it's me. I just climbed out from under the rock and millions of piles of paper on my desk. My to-do list keeps getting shorter when it comes to the wedding but longer in all other aspects of my life. Please tell me this is normal. I'm starting to stress. Oddly enough not over the wedding but everything else. FOUR MORE MONTHS!!!

Our planning is still going really well. We sealed the deal with a credit card and oohs and ahhs and a cupcake on our wedding cake. We still have to iron out the fun details such as flavor of cake and delicious fillings but the overall concept and quote have been agreed upon. When I last discussed my plans and how they were going we were knee deep in appointments but I'm happy to say as of now we only have 2 more appointments and things to truly secure before we start ironing out final details, those two things are a wedding director for the day of and an officiant. Yes, I know I have the entire wedding pretty much planned and no one to perform the ceremony, crazy right?

I'll start off by saying originally we planned to have one of our dear friends officiate for us. Long story short after much consideration one friend feared he wouldn't do a good job and I completely respect that. I know that personally I couldn't do it for someone, I get too nervous. I'll sing for your wedding all day long, but speaking on public freaks me out. Our second dear friend we considered wasn't sure where he would be at that time, currently his life and job are up in the air and he may be relocating. Rather than commit and have to bail at the last minute he did the responsible and respectful thing and declined. Again I totally respect and understand his choice. Now we just need to find someone. We are planning on going the route of a Justice of the Peace. Mike and I are not religious people, I guess you could say we are more spiritual. We don't belong to a church and neither of us want to go through classes in order to get married. Sure, I know that just sounded really selfish but to be fair, we've lived together for almost 7 years, and moved in together after only dating for about 7-8 months. We celebrated our 1 year anniversary while living together. SO there you go. We know each other and while I know marriage does make a few things different I really think the two of us have a firm grasp on our relationship and don't need a class or meetings to tell us otherwise. That being said, we have a few leads on religious pastors that would marry us, if we take the classes. If all else fails in the Justice of the Peace department or Officiant department we will track someone down. It was suggested we go to the court house to get married one afternoon and then make it official at the celebration, but personally if I was going to do that I'd save a lot of money and just do that and have a party later - NOT pay to do all I'm doing. I also thought it was a bit too selfish of us. I totally get why couples have the wedding at the courthouse and there have been odd say, Tuesdays I've thought to myself... If Mike asked me tomorrow to marry him, I'd take my paycheck and run to the courthouse with him and get married right there on the spot. In the end I realize how many friends and family members would be disappointed if I did that and it brings me back to earth. Our special day isn't just about us, it's about sharing it with all the people we love. That's the point of a wedding. Fingers crossed we find the right person to marry us.

I've found a possible wedding director. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to look around for that on the internet. I figured it would be easy here in the land of extravagant weddings to find a director. Planners are easy... but just finding someone to come in and delegate and direct a wedding is more difficult. I understand people want to sell the entire planned package, but that wasn't what we needed. We simply need a direct and friendly person to tell members of the bridal party where to be, what to do and how to make it all flow seamlessly. Thankfully through a friend I found a woman looking to get into this business and help out with my wedding. I'm excited to meet her she seems bubbly and full of spunk, just what Mike and I wanted.

Other than that - it's all the small details left to tie up in a neat bow. Rings, accessories, final flowers, final cake information and food, and fittings. Did I mention I got a dress? Hence the title of this entry?

Yep, last weekend I finally found my dress. I had only been dress shopping twice before this past weekend. The first time I went dress shopping it was a bit of a joke. I was really nervous about trying on bridal gowns. I thought I'd need something simple, almost destination wedding worthy. There wasn't much to choose from at this particular store in the way of destination wedding attire. My eyes were immediately drawn to the bridesmaid section. I think the girls at the store were less worried about me since I seemed to be making such an odd choice in dresses. I must have pulled 2-3 bridal gowns and then the rest were bridesmaid dresses. I was clearly out of my comfort zone and floundering. My dear friend Miss K was with me, she is one of my bridesmaids and helped me go through dresses. I think we both felt a bit uncomfortable with it all.

Thankfully the girls at the shop were very helpful. They had their hands full with another bride and her mom and I didn't want to ruin the special moment for the bride that was there. She had her mom and was SERIOUSLY in search for her dress for her big day. She was adorable - I just had a feeling in my gut I wasn't going to find my dress that day so I tried on what I thought I would like, and in the end it all really didn't work. I found one contender, but I wasn't sold or in love with it. The nice girls wrote down the dress style for me, and they also were nice enough to cut out swatches of fabric for me to send my bridesmaids that aren't local to aid in their search for the perfect GREEN dresses.

Fast forward a few weeks and I decided to bite the bullet and get serious and go shopping with Mike's mom for dresses. One afternoon we ran out to another dress store about 30 minutes outside of town. Tons of local girls had told me they found their perfect dress while there, so I was hopeful. Another bonus, this bridal shop had a back room full of cast offs, discontinued dresses and last season wear that they would not be selling anymore. The key to this room was to find a size that would fit you or you could alter to fit you because it was all sold as is off the rack. Sadly, I found a few to try on but none of the cute $99 dresses were the one for me. I even tried on one of the $99 dresses TWICE hoping I would change my mind... I didn't. Instead I searched the entire floor and found a ton to try on. If I had any advice for a new bride trying on dresses. Look over tons of pictures and find styles you like, but be completely open to trying new things on when you get to the store. Find your dream style, and try it on but be prepared that you may not like it on you. It's hard to judge a bridal dress if you've never tried the style on, what looks great on the size 2 model might make you look larger than life even if you aren't. I have to give props to Shana she had a great post about bridal shop issues she's had in the past as well as a new obsession called Big Bliss that I need to watch! I too have had issues in the past not being tiny enough to fit into some dresses as a bridesmaid but NEVER like I had with bridal gowns.

While the 2nd dress store I visited to try on dresses had a huge selection to choose from the sizes left a lot to be desired for me. There were probably four fabulous dresses I couldn't even get on to judge if I like them on me. They were size 4's. Why do dress stores do that? Seriously, at least get the average girl's sizes to offer as well. A small girl can always pull a huge dress tight with clamps and effort from the sales people, but a larger girl like me can't always squeeze into a dream dress. I felt a bit hopeless a few times while I was there and a bit tearful in the dressing room. I know I'm not a huge girl, but I'm also not a cute little size 6 that most brides probably dream to be. [Note ladies: If you are a size 6 be prepared to wear a size 8 in the wedding dress department]. I was shocked how many size 12's and 14's were too tight to zip, but at least I could get them ON my body to judge. God bless dresses that lace up the back!

I found about four contenders as I called them, while shopping at the second store but again, nothing that said YOU HAVE TO BUY THIS DRESS NOW! So I got the style numbers from the nice sales girl and thanked her a million times for helping me. I hated to make her do all that work and then me purchase nothing. Especially after she stayed a bit later than normal after closing to ensure I was able to try them all on. I felt rude but what can I do other than say I'm sorry. I just didn't find THE dress.

While trying on dresses, I started to panic. The sales girl told me that most dresses take up to 16 weeks to come in. Holy crap... that's four months!!! As of TODAY I am 4 months away from my big day!!! HOLY HELL! Then I worried a bit more as we left empty handed but I brushed it off. I've always been a firm believer in fate, or maybe it's the whole thing of "if it's meant to be it will be". None of those dresses were meant to be. 

What's been driving me nuts is all the fall stuff isn't even out yet. Most won't be released until today! But I feared I wouldn't have time to dilly dally on this issue anymore and I went out one last time on Saturday to dress search. I returned to the first shop I went to locally. When I was there the first time I saw a lot of pretty dresses but dismissed them for being too dressy, or thinking they weren't want I wanted. This time I was armed with a bit more experience in what I liked on my body and what I hated. I even took the time to reorganize my dress binder to show case ONLY the dresses I thought I would like and focused my brain on that.

I originally thought I wanted and loved one style... it only takes trying on that style two times and having it not work with your body to make you rethink your entire strategy for shopping. My 2nd visit did just that. I knew that I needed to find something completely off my original comfort zone.

I wanted pretty, but not fussy, not a lot of rhinestones because as much as I hate them, I hate even more when people call it bling... drives me insane. I didn't want "bling", that being said I didn't want the dress to be too standard or boring. I was relying a lot on pattern, material and the way the dress would lay. While I adore what I call the "cupcake style" where the bottom looks like billowing fluff of satin, I didn't want a big dress. I went armed with my friend T and prayed we'd find something special. One bonus is that T has been wedding dress shopping before so she had a good eye for what I was looking for and helped me be open minded enough to try on anything and everything.

The sales girl that was there before remembered me and I told her I came to try on some more. She was worried and fearful to ask if I wanted to try on the dress I wrote down the last time. I told her no it was OK I was going a different route and being more open minded. She smiled in relief and then told me thank goodness because she had sold it off the floor last week! I thought that was funny, see it just wasn't meant to be!

I must have gathered about 15 dresses off the floor. I searched high and low and kept price in mind. My dream dress was not going to break the bank - I had tried on a $1200 dress and started to freak out for fear I'd rip it at the 2nd store I shopped at. I tried one of those on again this time, but it didn't float my boat at all.

The first dress I tried on was awesome. I didn't know if I was head over heels for it, but it really looked good on me, if I may toot my own horn. After it I tried on a few more but none of them were hitting the MAYBE pile like the first one. After a few more dresses I found one more to place in the maybe section and then moved on to one I thought was really cool. The top was pleated and it just had this really cool design to the way the fabric had been sewn, there was no bling only layers of fabric in alternating patterns. It was a size 8.... Shit I thought to myself. I tried to step into it but my hips and booty weren't having it, I had to use another plan of attack. Over the head... here goes nothing.... well... I got the dress down most of the way but all the damn underskirts were getting stuck around my waist making it hard to tug it down. After a lot of battling and sweating I got it down as far as I could but again since it was an 8, it was up a bit too high on my hips to get the full effect. I hated after all that effort to get out there and not like it at all, because it was a great dress. Maybe if it was larger, again I don't get why size 8 or smaller are even offered for trying on! I went back in the dressing room and dreaded getting it off. I started to pull it up and couldn't get it higher than my shoulders and couldn't pull it without fearing I might rip it. The more I moved, the more I started to sweat and then worry. I peeked my head out to T and told her what was happening. The other girls were up front helping a customer that came to pick up something. T helped me but she couldn't get it to budge. I asked her to go grab them and I would put on my shorts so I could at least feel comfortable when they got it up over my head. Yes... I was stuck. I figured I had 2 hopes, they get me out, or I pay for the dress and wear it until I lose enough weight to get the damn thing off! After a few minutes of three people pulling I finally broke free and felt less like a sausage and more like a REAL girl!

All I could do was laugh it off. They assured me it happens a lot and even if that isn't true it was really nice to hear! Thankfully to be fair most of the dresses on the floor were 12 or 14 in size. Bigger would be better but I was happy to see that.

After trying on a few more dresses I arrived at my final dress. Moment of truth. I tried it on and it was an awesome dress. It was really cool. It started to boil down to the first dress and the last dress. In the back of my mind I knew I only had this weekend and possibly next before I went on vacation and wouldn't be able to shop. Time is ticking down and the time to order is only getting shorter and shorter. We all deliberated a bit on this last dress and then I decided to try on the first one again.

Standing in the mirror I looked at the dress and really loved how it fit. T told me a few times she thought it was perfect. So I got dressed and one of the sales reps went ahead and wrote down the dress for me on a card. As I got dressed I ran it all over in my head and figured it was now or never. I walked out and up to the front and as they handed me the card decided then and there I would purchase the dress. As they measured me I started to feel more and more confident in my choice. They informed me I would need possibly a size 16 or 18. She said my chest and waist were actually much smaller and my hips would probably be fine in the 14-16 but that I might be better off getting larger so we could be sure that all of it had enough to either take in or let out. I agreed bigger would be better. I've been working out but I'm still not where I want to be. I was shocked by the numbers but, with the type of dress I purchased the extra fabric may be needed for the back. [I would show you the dress but Mike reads my blog so that's not going to happen, and I can't describe it too much either, sorry ladies].

I went ahead and placed the order for my dress. I was really hoping to be one of those success stories that tells you I only paid $100 for my dress, but in then end I came in well under what I budgeted for a dress, almost less than half of that and it didn't break the bank. I did a happy dance, hugged T and proceeded to text to my bridesmaids the image of the dress. Every text message came back with rave reviews and amazing compliments so I felt amazing while driving home. It dawned on me. I had just purchased my wedding dress. HOLY CRAP... I'm really getting married. Sure I knew that before but with each thing we cross off our list, I get more and more excited about how real it all is.

I got home and told Mike the great news. I think half my excitement was to be finished with the task of finding the dress. It's been so fun, but I'm not a huge shopper, I purchase more for when I need than when I want. And with still feeling a bit uncomfortable with my body, it was a rough ride but it had a happy ending.... that is until the worry set in.

I started to have little fears in my mind creep up... "Did I pick the right dress?"... "That was really easy and went really smoothly"... "I wonder how much the rush charge might cost for the dress?"... "I hope I'll have enough time to get it altered when it gets back so I'm not wearing a lumpy trash bag of a dress".... "F#CK did I pick the right dress?"

Most of these fears were due to it all going so smoothly.... nothing in my life ever goes that easy, that is unless it has to do with Mike. Maybe he's my lucky charm, and I told T she probably was too I was calm and collected the whole time we were at the store, minus getting stuck in the dress. I'm usually a very laid back person so these irrational fears were strange to me. Monday morning I woke in a panic, freaking that the dress wasn't right for my wedding vision, it wasn't vintage enough or it wasn't the right color, what would I do if I hated it when it came in. Crap, did I pick the right dress? This bothered me so much I started to cry in the shower and breathe really fast. What was wrong with me? I never freak out like this, ever! 

I got out of the shower and went to look up the dress on the internet again to assure myself that I had picked the right dress and of course the internet was down. I came into the bedroom and Mike asked me if I was OK. I told him what was up and he reminded me how happy I was when I got home. Then I asked him, but was I happy because it was handled or that I loved the dress. He feels it was both. He knows me as well, if not better than anyone else on earth so I took his word for it. 

When I arrived at work I was still shaken up, but one look at my dress and I immediately started to feel better. Since it was similar but not the same as what I was thinking I wanted, I think I freaked. The material isn't what I thought I wanted and the fear of the color I chose started to weigh on me too. It was so fly by the seat of my pants, even though it was sort of not. I just got freaked. It's a huge purchase, and Mike likened it to purchasing a house, I'll probably be the same way, especially if there are no speed bumps on the way!

I think I'm ok now. I love the picture more and more when I see it. Now I just have to work on my arms and body and get it ready. After the first fitting I know I'm not going to be allowed to lose a ton of weight so I hope I can get where I want to be before that time comes up. Wish me luck!!! I just purchased Turbo Fire and I'm anxious to get it going after vacation! 

Next stop: Accessories, shoes, bridesmaid dresses, wedding rings and engagement photo sessions!

So tell me have any of you had a panic attack after ordering your wedding dress?
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Carolyn said...

I COMPLETELY agree with the dress sizes. SO annoying. I never actually got my dress all the way on before I bought it. You spend that much on a dress, and you can't even see it on. STUPID. I'm so excited that you got a dress! EEK! I bet it's a stunner! I can't WAIT to see it! :)

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

I can't wait to see YOURS!!!!

Hutch said...

I'm now dying to know what this dress looks like! Anychance you'd send the link over email? Yes, I'm being completely selfish here :)

My friends cousin just had her uncle marry them. He got ordained for the day and they said it was a blast. Not sure if there's anyone in your family who would do it or you'd want to do it. Just a thought.

Unrelated, but you can sing?!?!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this is happening so soon!! YAY!
I bet the dress is gorg, can't wait to see it.

There is so much to do but it will be worth it. My H and I wanted to elope or do a small destination wedding also just to cut back all of the hassle, but we didn't and we're both really glad our families and friends were there to celebrate the day with us. It was a good decision. Can't wait to hear more details.

jessalyn said...

you realize you need to email me your dress, right?

i have had a few "did i order the right dress?" thoughts, but they passed quickly. i tried on quite a few, and the one i ordered was the only one i really loved.

i am so excited you for you lady! i need to catch up on your blog posts and read about all your wedding details (per usual, i have sucked a blogland lately...)

Shana said...

Stop second guessing yourself! You picked the right dress and you are going to feel beautiful when you put it on the day of your wedding. I promise!

Lora said...

I didn't have a panic attack, but I will say that my wedding dress was DOUBLE my regular dress size!

I'm glad I followed that advice though, because after it was altered, it fit like a glove. And I can still fit it, 12 years later, which is nice if I ever needed it for a costume or something. (Yes, I try it on from time to time, It's just in a big old heap in a bag in a box in the closet. I didn't bother to have it preserved)

Anonymous said...

sorry no help here, wore my mothers dress, then I ripped it throwing the bouguet(?), don't worry everything will be fine and I'm sure you will be gorgeous.


Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

Lora I love that you still try on your dress! I might have to do the same. I still try to fit into my high school dance uniform [cheer uniform]... that is a comedic thing every time... I've been stuck in it much like the wedding dress @ the store so its rather funny.

Thank you all for your words of encouragement!!!

400 Wakeups said...

Hey chickie....you're right. I would have immediately asked for a photo of the dress after reading this. Good call.

Also, when we got married in Hilton Head, I found an officiant through Barefoot Weddings. I think it's a nationwide company and then they have officiants in the south. I know you aren't technically on the beach but you may want to Google the company and see if you can find someone in the gulf area who would be willing to drive up for the big day. Rich was AMAZING, very professional, and although we didn't have any praying or hymns at the wedding, we still felt like it was a blessed day.
Good luck! xoxo

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

Rock on Ally - thank you for that info!!!!

Anonymous said...

I tried on dresses at several places and found nothing. I was totally discouraged. I was also pissed that nothing fit right even if I liked it. It's so hard to imagine how a dress will look when they don't carry it in your size. Every dress I thought I'd like, I ended up hating it. Then I just tried on this random dress that wasn't really my style and fell in love. I don't like lace or embellishments. I also don't like really poofy dresses or long trains. I'm a picky bitch. Can you tell?

I'm so glad you found your dress. That was seriously the hardest and most stressful part for me.

OUaL said...

I had a little anxiety afterwards, too - it was my second time trying on the dress (about 6 months after my first trip shopping) - and I loved it even more the second time than the first. Figured if I kept liking it more and more that by the time the big day come around I'd be completely in love x30.

My advice : now that you have one, STOP LOOKING AT DRESSES. Seriously. Don't browse online. Flip the pages super fast in Modern Bride. Don't agonize over it. You decided to buy it that day because you love it - don't make yourself crazy over it.

Happy planning :) The little details mean so much - don't overlook them and do what you can early. I think you're brill for hiring a day-of coordinator/director. It'll make life so much easier!

Day Old News said...

I have had so many friends feel the same way, but they all loved their dress in the end! I'm sure it's perfection.

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