Whew! It’s been a while, but after the adventures in stationary I really haven’t wanted to do anything wedding-realted. Plus, Mark came in town for a week and a half and spending time with him, as well as studying for my three finals and packing for month-long trip back to Ohio, took priority over anything wedding related.
I finally made it back to Ohio today, but it wasn’t with out one more bridal freak-out: The dress.
Here’s the thing: I bought the dress in February 2009; more than a year and a half before the wedding.
The day we (my mom and I) bought the dress I had received an email that a little couture dress shop down the street from my parent’s house was having a 50% off off-the-rack sale.
In the twenty-some-odd years we’d lived down the street from it, we’d never been in the store. More than wanting to dress shop, we were curious. And knowing one, it’s a bit strange walking into a bridal shop unless you are getting married and two, I wouldn’t be able to afford the dresses unless they were a hugely discounted, my mom and I decided to brave the cold, wet February Sunday “just to see.”
At this point, I had already pre-purchased one dress, but looking at photos of me in it, the dress looked more lounge singer than virginal bride. I quickly canceled the order and asked the store I had purchased it from if they couldn’t have a lace gown shipped in from the trunk show where I had originally tried it on. They agreed, but it would be another month or so. With my wedding more a year and a half away I thought shopping around couldn’t hurt.
We walked into the hidden dress shop. Being in a pre-Civil War house it was tiny and dark and stuffed to the walls with white, fluffy tulle and silky satin. I pulled a few dresses, tried them on and wasn’t really impressed. I wasn’t in a buying mood either.
It was near closing time and the sales lady pulled a beautiful, sparkly dress. It was a little too much sparkle for me, but my mom and the sales lady begged me to try it on. I obliged, walked out, stepped on the platform and looked in the mirror. The way the jeweled design was set out, the sparkles met at my belly button, converging at one giant jewel. I rubbed it and made a joke about my Troll tummy, only to look up and see my mom crying.
“Really mom?” I sighed. Of the 30 plus dresses I had pulled and/or tried on, I barely got so much as a smile, let alone tears.
“T, this is it!”
“No. … I don’t think it is,” I said, studying the dress in the mirror. Then looking at my mom again. “Really?”
My mom’s crying was only encouraged by the Indian-accented sales lady. “Yes, yes! You buy! This is on magazines!”
I frowned. I’ve never saw this dress in any magazines. As a journalist, I always thought of myself as a super-researcher. Anything I buy, I not only read reviews from multiple sources, I study them and I make sure others have used it. I never saw this dress or this designer ever mentioned. And trust me, I am a bridal blog fanatic.
To skip ahead, my mom bought the dress much to my protest (well, as much protest as I could, well, protest without throwing a tantrum … looking back I probably should have stomped my feet. It might have saved me from this blog post). When we drove the short mile and a half home, I promptly called my fiancé and told him I found a dress. Then I cried. I hated it. It was terrible experience. I was on the platform telling my mom and the sales lady I didn’t like it, but nobody listened. It was as if I was in a dream; literally an outer-body experience.
From then on, when my mom would bring up the dress, I wouldn’t talk about it.
“Tara, tell so-and-so about the dress!” my mom would say.
“Why don’t you tell them since you picked it out?” I would respond, usually followed by silently sulking out of the room.
I figured I would like it some day. It is a beautiful dress. But as the rest of my life and other wedding plans unfolded around me, I forgot about the dress (or I tried to black out the experience).
I did eventually have to get fitted, which happened in April. But a few weeks ago I asked my mom to send me photos she took during the fitting. When I opened the email, I burst out crying. I looked terrible! It just wasn’t me. I couldn’t look more uncomfortable. It was as if someone forced me it in. At the very least, it didn’t look like my wedding dress.
In the last year and a half, a lot has happened in my life. I quit a job where I was content being relatively unhappy, I took a Caribbean adventure working on a yacht, I moved to Florida all by myself and started on a new (and very intense) career path. Slowly I am growing up and coming into my own. I am learning what I want and learning to speak up. Being apart from my family (and mainly my mom) has given me a freedom to just be me. And me isn’t a Troll belly or super sparkle.
I feel stupid. It is just fabric. But I also know that it’s the outfit I will wearing when I become Mark’s wife. When I become bound to him for the rest of our lives in front of hundreds of our friends and family. When I start the next chapter in my life. Marriage is a rite of passage. And in most cultures rites of passage require much preparation, a ceremony and, usually, ceremonial clothes. So, yes, I feel as if I need to give this wedding dress another shot.
Thankfully, God is looking out for me. The day after I gathered the courage to tell my mom I was thinking of getting another dress, I received an email about a 75% off sale at a bridal store in town. I quickly RSVPed to the event.
There is also some pretty cool Web sites, like preownedweddingdresses.com, where, I learned I’m not the only person who has had a change of heart. (Why don’t other brides talk about this?!)
I don’t know if I will find another dress. It would be easier to keep the one hanging in the tailor’s basement and just go with it. After all it is just a dress, and this is just one day. But perhaps this dress represents more than just September 18, 2010. Perhaps it represents taking a stand, growing up, admitting to mistakes, swallowing pride, and ultimately learning that sometimes you just have to do what is right for you.