Saturday, July 17, 2010

Buying a Wedding Dress is Strange and Surreal

Lovely Bridal. Yes it is.

Now that the Wedding Countdown is in effect, I'm back to doing all those things that brides-to-be are supposed to do. On the agenda for today: dresses!

Through various linked blogs, I somehow stumbled upon Lovely Bridal, a bridal boutique in the West Village, and today I checked it out with my mom and Evie, the maid of honor. It experience.

The day got off to an inauspicious start, what with my mom and me walking 20 minutes out of our way, and then with the restaurant we were supposed to have lunch with being closed. Like, forever. Hot, sweaty, tired, and hungry, I was feeling iffy before we even stepped into the shop.

Luckily, things turned up from there. We found an awesome restaurant just down the street, where I had the most aMAZing goat cheese raviolis (must try to recreate...). We walked out and were wondering where the shop could be when Evie pointed to the building across the street, festooned with multicolored bunting and a chalkboard sign. Bingo.

We rang the doorbell and were greeted by the owner, Lanie List, who cheerfully remembered (from my appointment email), my mom's and Evie's names, and invited us to look around the store. Right from the start, I knew Lovely was my kind of store--beautiful, modern, classy gowns, handcrafted jewelry, a sweet and DIY-aesthetic. Lanie pulled some dresses, including one I'd seen online (on Lovely's blog!), and we went upstairs to try them on.

Ok. Trying on gowns. Let me just put it out there, I don't really like being the center of attention. I don't love everyone looking at me, definitely don't know what to do/say. I mean, I don't even really like going shopping for regular things, let alone the clothing that I will wear on the day when I marry my kiddo. So I was, to put it bluntly, nervous. Actually, I confessed to Evie during lunch that I'd been debating throwing back a shot before heading out on this excursion, but then I thought about how once I defended an honors thesis without breaking a sweat and these are just dresses dammit! and I decided I could do it. Sorta.

I tried on the first gown, the one I'd seen online and been drooling over for weeks, came out into the main area, and that's when it hit me--I am getting married. Whaaaat?!! I didn't even need to see myself in the dress, and in fact I almost couldn't look at myself. Lanie put the veil on, threw the blusher over my head, and I just kept repeating to myself, "Hold it together! Hold it together!"

I felt the same thing the last time I tried on gowns, this feeling that all this is really real and I'm actually going to be wearing a dress and standing in front of Dave and all our friends and family, but it was different today--so much stronger. After a few minutes I went back into the changing area to try on another gown.

"You're totally freaked out, aren't you?" Lanie said. I started laughing and said that this whole experience was just so surreal--we've been engaged for so long and now things are actually happening and I don't even know what to think (in an incredibly happy way). So she started telling me a little about her own experience, how she didn't like bridal boutiques and for her wedding just bought a white dress in a store off the street, and then how she decided to start this boutique to give people a relaxed, friendly place to find a dress (and not mortgage their houses to buy it).

I tried on a few more dresses and felt more relaxed--talking about details, silhouettes, lengths--although the dresses were not leaping out at me like with that first one. Don't get me wrong--gorgeous, impeccably-made, comfy--but just not the kind of "this is my wedding gown" feeling that I'm looking for. Before we left, I tried on the first dress again, just to double-check how I felt. And there it was, that feeling again that I had to hold it together, that overwhelming "We're getting married!" feeling.

I do petrified Bambi pretty good, huh?
I swear I'm actually happy in this picture!

Lanie tucked a veil into my hair, threw the blusher over my head, and then started laughing, "I know--you're like, ok, enough!" It was true, but not because I was unhappy--the whole experience was getting so overwhelming that I was worried I was going to start leaking happy tears, and somehow I don't really want to be one of those people who break down in the bridal salon. I told Lanie I wanted to sleep on it, which she agreed was probably a good idea (or maybe she was just worried about my flop sweat getting on her beautiful gowns. I kid!), and we headed out into the sunset.

Do I looooove the dress? Maybe not in the way that I love my red cowgirl boots (which, to be fair, I wore to the boutique), but it definitely was something special. Beautiful? Check. Flattering? Checkity-check. So I'm going to think on it, maybe check out a few more dresses, see how I feel in a few days. It's very weird, all of this, this whole wedding experience. Sigh. Am I one of those crazy people who freaks out over every little wedding thing (uh. yeees?)? Oh wedding dress, I will beat you yet...

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