Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Dress. Yes, THE Dress!

Hive, oh dearest Hive, I have so much to tell you. I've been away for the last few days completely and utterly consumed by this crazy dress hunt, but at the end of all that I do have good news to share.

I made a final FINAL dress decision!!!

OMG, the stress and heartache involved in this process was something I didn't foresee in the slightest. I've learned so much about myself and had so many revelations about things I wish I'd done differently, so I'm going to try and put those thoughts together eventually. But before I get to that, I know y'all wanna see pictures and I think you've earned it for standing by me through this all of this.

After falling off the proverbial wall, putting my pieces together again first required spending hours upon hours scouring internet-land compiling a list of affordable dresses that could ship relatively quickly and that I thought I'd be happy to wear. I needed this reassurance in order to feel like I had not indeed sabotaged myself by "waiting too long" to look for a dress - because I definitely felt that way, and I needed to get past that intense self-blame. Turns out, though, there are a lot of lovely dresses out there that could arrive in time to be altered for our wedding. Knowing that I would be okay even if my search yielded no other viable options, I already felt a bit better.

Next I decided to simultaneously explore two equally feasible options - altering the dress I had already purchased and looking for a completely new dress. First I met with an incredible seamstress named Karen Tierney of Studio Trousseau in Alameda. I brought with me a few inspiration pictures to show her what I was thinking about, including one of a beautiful Rosa Clara shrug and one horribly Photoshopped picture of me wearing the kind of alterations I thought I might need.

During the hour-long consultation she worked wonders in putting my mind at ease. She confirmed that it would be possible to add a lace inset at the bust and then create a matching lace shrug in order to keep the look cohesive. And because it had been difficult for me to find images of chiffon gowns with lace shrugs, she also assured me that it would be gorgeous and wouldn't look like I was trying to hide that the dress fit poorly. I left feeling good about this option, even if I was still somewhat disheartened that adding the lace was pushing the overall look into a little more vintage-y territory than anything else in our wedding.

I headed straight from the seamstress to a bridal salon appointment. (Treating it like a full time job, for real!) After calling around and confirming that I really had gone to all of the bridal boutiques in the Bay Area that carried a significant number of plus-size samples, I knew my only options were to head back to Alfred Angelo and David's Bridal because I hadn't tried on as many of their dresses during my first go-round. This time I worked really hard on being more open-minded about what styles I would consider. I came armed with a long list of possible contenders for each place, but I also told myself that I'd try on whatever the consultant brought me.

I'm so glad I was open to trying dresses that weren't on my list because I got to Alfred Angelo and found out that almost none of the dresses on my list were in the store as a plus size sample. So much for that plan! But onward I pushed, and I even took pictures of some of the dresses I tried.

I felt beautiful in this first dress! My consultant told me the sash could be ordered in black, and that's a look lots of people (including me) have really liked. It's hard to tell because the picture is blurry, but this dress had a lot of bling going on and when we held up the wedding party dress beside it, the difference was shockingly clear. Both me and the consultant agreed the dress was just too fancy for the style of my wedding.

And then for something completely different. This was fun to try on, but it wasn't me.

This last one the consultant brought in without my knowing it and it looked like a bunch of nothing on the hanger. But when I put it on...

I adored it! This sample was several sizes too big so the proportions were all wrong on top, but there was so much to love about this dress. The black sash was just enough to accent my waist without being overwhelming, the bling on the sash made the dress 'special' while still looking appropriate with the wedding party dresses, and it has POCKETS! Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Moving on to David's Bridal I had a similar experience with them not having plus-size samples of many of the dresses on my list. So my consultant pulled a bunch of other dresses and into the dressing room I went. I wasn't thrilled about anything I was putting on, so I don't have a lot of pictures to share. Again I tried on the chiffon dress with the black sash, and I still loved it so I knew it continued to be a good option for me.

I was just about to put on my clothes and leave when she brought in one more dress she thought I might like. This one looked pretty sad on the hanger, but tell me if anything looks familiar to you.

Umm, yeah. Besides being a little slimmer A-line silhouette, it was eerily identical to the Alfred Angelo dress I'd liked so much. Gah! What the hell?! So after one meeting with a seamstress and two bridal appointments, I was feeling hopeful but seriously confused.

Not wanting to make another decision all by myself, there was no way I was finalizing anything without some input from a friend. Lucky for me Party Person N was willing to spend her entire Friday evening driving back and forth to Sacramento with me just so I could get her esteemed opinion about this dress dilemma. On our long car ride she helped me to realize that I really didn't love the idea of altering the Maggie dress if it meant wearing so much lace. That was a tough realization, but I needed to admit that it was true and that my ideal goal was to find a new dress I could love.

First I showed her the Alfred Angelo dress, which she really loved on me. She confirmed all of my thinking about the dress, including that pockets are just about the best dress addition in the world. Then we went over to David's Bridal and tried on the chiffon one and the twin. Doling out some tough love, she told me the chiffon one looked great on me but might be a bit too casual, and I kinda agreed. I think that's the reason I didn't just buy it the first time I tried it on, even though I really do love that dress. As for the twin dress, the addition of a crinoline slip gave it more body at the bottom making it a dead ringer for the AA dress (except for the pockets). And because AA sells that black sash separately, I could just add it to this dress and no one would be the wiser. Party Person N loved this look on me so much that she actually cried a little. Awww! That meant a lot to me and definitely told me I was on the right track.

So we'd narrowed it down to just the Alfred Angelo dress and it's David's Bridal twin. While we were trying to make a decision, the DB consultant told me the dress was being discontinued so it couldn't be ordered, plus it was currently on sale. For $200. Unfreakin'believable! We started thinking that I'd be stupid not to buy this dress. I would have to buy the sample, though, and it had a little pucker in the top of the bodice. Looking at it closely, I couldn't figure out what was causing it so I was a little concerned that alterations might not be able to fix it. That little pucker is the kind of thing a detail-oriented gal like myself could never pretend I didn't notice if it couldn't be corrected. The only other consideration was that the crinoline slip was actually much warmer to wear than the AA dress was. I'm guessing this is because it sat right against my legs, whereas the AA dress had some distance between between my skin and the crinoline. But maybe those minor details were worth dealing with if I could save several hundred dollars.

Party Person N pointed out that to make the DB dress work I would need to buy the dress, the crinoline, and the AA sash, making the total cost about $400. That was $600 cheaper than the $1000 price tag of buying the AA dress in-store, but before our trip I'd found the AA dress online for $590. So Party Person N posed the question to me: "Are pockets, a cooler dress, and not worrying about that pucker worth $190 to you?" After only a second's worth of thought, the answer came to me surprisingly quickly: "Oh yes."

I chose a(nother) dress, and it feels amazing!!! No regrets and no worries about this one, though. What I'm going to do with that first dress is another question altogether, but for now I'm just going to revel in this happiness and contentment because they were ridiculously hard-fought. So, yay!!!!

If you were a two-dress bride, what did you do with the first one?

1 comment:

  1. You look SO PRETTY in ALL of those dresses.. I love them all on you. Seriously! But I'm so so so so happy that you found THE dress and for a good price to boot. I can't wait to see how it all comes together. Congrats!


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