But this post isn't about my wonderful partner. It's about my wonderful dress. Yes, THAT dress. The wedding dress that I'll just magically know is "The One" for me once I put it on and twirl.
I call BS. I understand that many women have that YesYesYes moment. Some of my readers have talked to me about it. There's an entire tv show (and dress salon economy) built around it. But I'm of the opinion that searching for "The One" dress can be just as damaging and elusive as holding out for Prince Charming. I even had a yesyesyes moment myself before I came to my senses and realized that the beautiful, perfectly fitting dress just didn't feel right for me. And that's because the beautiful dress didn't meet my real wedding dress criteria. And furthermore, I know that there are numerous dresses that could meet my real wedding dress criteria and make me feel amazing.
- I'm paying under $1000 for dress and alterations. The less, the better, but $1000 is my splurge limit. (I am also very willing to re-sell it after the wedding, but I'm not including that cost assessment in my line-in-the-sand upfront budget.)
- It must be comfortable. I want to eat, dance, hug, sit and cavort in this thing all night long without feeling like it's painted on or like I'm trapped inside boning. Buhdoop put it well when she said "the dress needs to be able to fit inside a bathroom and easily handled by me. I'm sure my mom or my bridesmaids would be happy to help me go to the bathroom, I just don't want them to."
- It has to fit the feel of the wedding. I want something that suits our outdoor venue. I want it to feel elegant but still appropriate for a casual-yet-fancy wedding.
- It has to fit my personal style needs. I want something that doesn't feel traditionally weddingy, because a lot of those dresses don't speak to my soul, however beautiful they are. I love architectural modern lines and I like playing with shape, texture and color. One of my favorite buildings in the world is the Bilbao Guggenheim museum and one of my most coveted items of jewelry is this ring. These things speak to my soul, and I am looking for a dress that does the same.
- Preferably, I am looking for an ivory, non-strapless dress. White doesn't suit my coloring and v-necks are more flattering on my figure (and I don't want to worry about wardrobe malfunctions, uniboob or weird arm fat bulge issues that seem to happen to me with many strapless dresses)
And then, I found it. A Nicole Miller dress I'd fallen in love with a year ago but mentally put aside due to the price tag ($1800) and fact that it never showed up on the resale sites or ebay. I was catching up on wedding vendor resource blogs for ideas and saw the dress had been listed for sale on Wedding Chicks two weeks prior.
Yeah, it was THAT Nicole Miller dress that's no longer available in stores. The ad promised me a $600 like-new sample from a salon that had gone out of business. I was shaking as I emailed the Wedding Chicks, hoping it was still available, wondering if it was anywhere nearby to try on. The answer to both questions was yes. It was available, and located about an hour from my house in Orange County. It turns out that Amy Squires (co-owner of the Wedding Chicks) was selling several dresses on behalf of her friend and couldn't have made my dress shopping experience any more fun. She got genuinely excited to help me try on all the dresses she was selling, lending me heels and a hair flower to flounce around in for the full bridal effect. (I'm pretty sure there was about an hour of flouncing, no joke.)
- This dress was a no-go from the start (too simple)
- This dress was freaking amazing. It was also easily the heaviest dress I've ever tried on and suited none of my wedding needs. But the flouncing was out of this world (and I've mentioned my out-of-character love for Pronovias) so trying it on was so much fun.
- This dress was a major temptation, especially at $600. (I tried it on here and loved it then too.)
Now, I've mentioned my fear of photography and general self confidence issues. So when an accomplished professional photographer wanted to just have a great time shooting pictures of me in a pretty dress, I had a moment of panic. And then, I calmed the heck down and started to have a great time with Amy too. (She's so friendly and fun that it was hard NOT to calm the heck down.) We put on some makeup and fixed my messy Sunday morning hair. She decided we needed a better background than the closet door so I went and flounced a bit outdoors for nature shots. It was a beautiful dress and a total blast. Amy even touched up a few of the photos for me before handing me a CD full of high-res images from our impromptu shoot. Here are two of my favorites (please excuse the need for alterations, particularly on my upper half, but you get the idea)
Of course, I bought the dress. I couldn't have asked for a better dress shopping experience with a dress that met ALL my dress shopping criteria.
And yet... it's not "the One" and so I've been wracked with self doubt for the last several weeks. I flounced, I fell in love, I bought it for all the right reasons, and now out of nowhere, weeks later I'm suddenly conflicted. What if I want something sleeker and sexier? What if I really want something short and vintage-inspired? What if I've also fallen in love with independent designers like Holly Stalder, Elizabeth Dye, and Chrissy Wai Ching? Those dresses are all off the table now which has led to second-guessing and panic about the dress I actually have.
It is absolutely absurd, and I keep looking back at my list and my photos to calm myself the eff down. There is no "the One" in partners or dresses, only partners and dresses that work extremely well for each of our individual priorities. A dress is a dress, and I'm going to glow on my wedding day regardless, with the dress fading into the background against our joy. This is all stuff I know, but today I'm looking for reinforcement. I want to hear from the ladies who have been there, done that with wedding dress self-doubt and who have experienced the it-will-happen-regardless wedding day glow. I need to hear that it's going to be okay, and I need to hear if you like this dress too, because weddings have been eating my brain lately and leaving me in a puddle of budgetary and planning self-doubt. Eff you weddings - I choose J and I (probably) choose this dress, so there.