For me personally, here’s half of the problem: I’m no Heidi Klum. I have a long torso, short legs, and a bit more meat on my bones than is optimal to trying on samples that run about two sizes too small. You should’ve seen me at Nicole Miller Tuesday night: six times in a row, the poor salesgirl diligently (and laboriously) pushed and prodded my size 14 body into size 10 dresses. I was 5 lbs. of sausage getting squeezed into a 3” casing. I found a dress, believe it or not, but the chances of it being “the dress” are hampered by its material, which is a wrinkly, silky taffeta just this side of pewter. Big Yellow Hair’s comment is that my mom would probably run down the aisle after me with an iron. So that’s out.
The night before, I went to a bridal gown resale place in Chelsea. They had a surprising number of really nice dresses in my size either marked down from the designer, or “gently worn.” Trouble was, they were all so over the top with the pouffiness, in order not to trip I had to walk taking giant side-steps, like a speed skater. Could you just see me coming up the aisle, like on the opening credits of ‘The Monkees’? It didn’t help that the girls in the dressing rooms on either side of me were tiny Asians who probably weighed 85 pounds soaking wet. Both Size 0s stood on their little boxes, admiring themselves in front of the full mirrors, as I emerged in a dress two sizes too big for me, my hands out in front of me like a zombie so that the front of the dress wouldn’t fall off my shoulders. Godzilla takes The Bridal Garden.
The first place I went I actually found a dress, and barring something astounding happening at J. Crew next week, I think that dress might be it. Unbelievable, since that place was David’s Bridal, or The DB, as I’ve come to calling it. The DB is not the romantic dress shopping experience, The DB is the “I don’t know where to start” dress shopping experience. You walk in, register with the front desk, where you answer a bunch of questions about your wedding. This is important, because you better have solid answers about your wedding. I did not, and this annoyed my receptionist:
-- “When’s your wedding?”
-- “I think it’s at the end of March 2010.”
-- “You don’t have a date yet?”
-- “Kind of.”
-- “Okay. How many in your wedding party?”
-- “Just the one.”
-- “One what?”
-- “My best friend.”
-- “Maid of honor?”
-- “Junior bridesmaids?”
At this point I’m thinking both “what’s a junior bridesmaid again?” and “what part of ‘just the one’ did she not understand?”
-- “Flower girl?”
-- “Will you be wearing a veil?”
-- “No.” I can’t deal with my own hair, why would I put more stuff on my head?
My face gave her her answer: Give me a fucking break.
Receptionist finally backs off and calls for a bridal consultant. Let me tell you right now: I was sweating this part. It being my first true attempt at dress shopping, I did not want some 20 year old cheerleading me through the experience. “That looks awesome! That looks awesome too! Everything looks AWESOME!” The fates were with me that day, because I got a no-nonsense woman in her late 50’s with a patient demeanor and an eye for what might look good on my body. In essence I got a duplicate copy of my mom.
We rifled through the racks of dresses my size and picked out a couple that I liked, that my mom liked, and that the lady thought might be good for me that I wouldn’t necessarily pick out myself. Again, let me stress the heat factor and the amount of fabric. Add to that, the soundtrack: whatever syndicated station they piped through the place focused on the greatest hits of 1983. The bizarre juxtaposition of trying on wedding dresses while grooving to “White Lines” made me feel like I was once again shopping for my eighth grade prom dress.
All the while, next door to me a young lady, whose wedding dress was a crimson bridesmaid dress, had herself in a fine fettle because she realized she was too fat for the dress she had already purchased. My poor consultant pinballed between us trying to talk both of us down from the ledge; me, because I was prancing around like an ass in the Cinderella pouf-pouf my mom had picked out, and next door because her wedding was in two hours (wedding FAIL).
The last dress I tried on was the one I wasn’t exactly thrilled about, because it had lace. I had fancied myself more a plain dress girl, but turns out the lace one really fit me the best. And it perfectly fits in with the New Orleans wedding that we’re planning. The consultant liked it. My mom loved it. And a 20 year old salesgirl working with another bride to be cinched it: “Ooh, that looks awesome on you!” So I think we might have a winner.
The whole experience has left me in a state of detached bemusement at the irony: after always being on the other side of the dressing room, sitting in the chair like a Bodhisattva offering my opinion about the dresses my friends try on, I finally get to be the Bride-to-be trying on the dress.
Except now I’d rather be back in the chair.