Saturday, June 19, 2010

From really liking to loving the gown

the bride in the white wedding gown she picked
The bride in her wedding gown
From pre-engagement to the wedding, couples go through a whole host of emotions. One bride-to-be, 31, who asked to be called "A Northeast Gal," agreed to share her experiences leading up to her wedding to "A West Coast Guy," 29, in a series of diary entries.

Today, A Northeast Gal talks about the hunt for a wedding gown... (To see what A Northeast Gal wrote in her last diary entry, click here.)

The basics:
Date began dating: Late March 2006
Engagement date: Feb. 27, 2009
Wedding date: June 26, 2010
Place of residence: Boston, Mass.

When my fiancé and I first got engaged I wanted to know what we each envisioned for the wedding day. We separately answered three questions and then compared our answers.

1) Ideally, what would the cost of our wedding be?
2) What four words would best describe the mood of our wedding?
3) What time of day would you like to get married?

Amazingly, having never talked about a wedding budget before, we both said $5,000 for our budget. Are you gasping? We were naive and thought we could spend $5,000 for an event we could be proud of. Of course there are most likely some of you who probably did manage to have a $5,000 wedding and maybe even invited over 100 people -- congratulations -- you are far more creative and laid back than me and I am truly impressed!

I can say with confidence that our $5,000 "budget" flew out the window once my mom and I started researching how much tent rentals cost for a backyard wedding. We realized $5,000 was just not feasible. Ultimately, my fiancé and I decided to pay about 70 percent of $5,000 on a ceremony and reception site. Personally, I didn’t want to shell out tons of money and still have to worry that a backyard wedding might get rained out, so my fiancé and I opted for an indoor location. As it turns out, we have a lovely location with a view of Lake Champlain.

So, all that to say, when I started dress shopping I still had in my mind a wedding budget closer to $5,000 so I set my dress budget at $200. I also had trouble feeling comfortable paying a lot for a dress I would only wear once. I am the type of woman who can rationalize buying expensive jeans, shoes, or a purse because I will wear those many times over, but an expensive wedding dress was difficult for me to rationalize. Plus, I never dreamed of my wedding day and therefore the dress was not something I had envisioned as the focal point of a “walking down the aisle” daydream. This gave me freedom of choice, but it also meant I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted my wedding dress to look like.

the bride in a white gown she rejected
A dress the bride rejected

Thankfully, at the time I was living in Southern California and there is no shortage of stores there. I found a shop online that sells vintage inspired dresses that are made with inexpensive materials and therefore remain reasonably priced. My parents visited that spring and my mom and I took a trip to Burbank, Calif. to go wedding dress shopping together. There were so many fun dresses to try on. The one dress that I liked the most (see photo above) wasn’t available in the size and color I wanted to try on, although I tried on other sizes and versions of the dress. I loved the dress but it was a little heavier (because of the beading) and slightly less comfortable than I had imagined it to be. I left the store thinking I might be back if I didn’t find something else that caught my eye elsewhere.
the bride in a gown she rejected
A rejected bridal gown

A friend from school took me to a well-known wedding dress box store and I tried on a number of dresses (one of those dresses is at right). There were some lovely ones but in the end I felt like the dresses were too expensive for what they were. Plus, they had me wear these undergarments that I found really uncomfortable. I think most brides want to look their best on their wedding day. I want to be comfortable on my wedding day so I wasn’t going to be wearing a corset of any kind or anything else that sucked things in. Thankfully, I’m a slim enough build that I can get away with that. I know, so annoying right?

the bride in a black bridesmaid dress that she rejected as a bridal gown
A bridesmaid's dress
Some time later I had the idea that there are so many beautiful bridesmaid dresses that are reasonably priced but that would look really elegant as a bridal gown. I brought three friends with me to try on a bunch of bridesmaid dresses. I ended up finding a dress I really loved but I could only try it on in black (see photo above and to left) and I just didn’t know how it would look in white so I couldn’t commit to buying it.

A bit later I got an e-mail about a wedding dress sample sale occurring in Woodland Hills, Calif. I took a friend and we drove out there to see what they had. They actually had six or seven dresses in my price range that I liked at first glance. I tried each of them on and there was a beaded glamorous one that felt very fancy and then there was the dress I ended up buying (see photo at top)!

In the end, the fancy one felt like it might not fit the wedding my fiancé and I were planning. We hadn’t ironed out many details yet but I had a sense that it wasn’t going to be a super fancy event. I really, really, really liked the dress I ultimately selected, and the price was right. But did I love it? No, probably not.

Over the course of the following several months I had my doubts about the dress, however, every time I took the dress out of its protective bag I felt reconfirmed in my choice. It was difficult to love the dress because it was too big on me and some beading had come off, so the overall feeling I got when wearing it was more “eh” than “wow!” I can say though that I was happy that I ended up with a more traditional wedding dress, meaning I didn’t go the bridesmaid dress-turned-bridal gown route.

Although the bridesmaid dresses were beautiful and in white would have looked classic I think I would have felt less bride-like in one of those dresses on the day of the wedding. As the wedding draws closer I’ve brought my dress to an excellent seamstress in Roslindale, Mass. As the dress began to fit me better, I began to fall in love with the dress. I’m now really excited to wear it!

I also believe the dress I selected will fit the mood of our wedding day.

I bet you thought I wasn’t going to tell you our answers to the last two questions. My fiancé wanted the mood to be relaxed, laid back, funny, and calm. I wanted the mood to be relaxed, festive, causal, and meaningful. My fiancé wanted an afternoon wedding and I wanted a sunset/evening wedding. We are having a 3:30 p.m. ceremony followed immediately by a reception in the same location. The reception will go to just after sunset. The sunset will be quite late because we are getting married around the longest day of the year. As for the mood, we will just have to wait until June 26, 2010 to find out what the mood ends up being.

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