Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How I found my wedding dress: Size me up

Part I: Having my doubts
Part II: Breaking the rules!
Part III: A swing and a miss
Part IV: Do we have a winner?

Over lunch, we decided that we probably didn't need to keep our second appointment, since I found the dress at the first shop (and the sample was in SO MUCH BETTER SHAPE) and they seemed to offer a price match. We did some calculations, knowing that the $987 House of Brides price was inclusive of sales tax and shipping costs (as in, there were none of either!) whereas California sales tax would add nearly 10% to the cost of the dress here. We set our limit, out the door, of $1,050 and decided to head back as soon as we finished lunch: if they met it, I'd have a dress. And if they didn't, we'd go to the other shop.

Well. The shop did more than meet the price; they lowered it. We got my dress for $950! I started wedding planning with an eye to spend $1,200 or less on my wedding dress, and knocked $250 off of that through minimal negotiations. Hooray!

Lest you think it ended so easily, the drama began again when we tried to determine what size dress to order. Given that I had a size chart and the manager, who was a seamstress for twenty years, to measure me, this really should have been pretty straightforward. My measurements put me between two sizes. Common wisdom says order the larger size, and alter it down to fit me. But that's not the advice I got.

In the last few months, I'd lost quite a bit of weight, and probably have a pound or two left in me before March. That said, the smaller size fit the bust exactly, and the waist and hips were only half an inch too tight (easily lost, and barring that, easily contained with some Spanx!). The manager told me that it would be much easier to let the sides out half an inch than to take in the bust, which was covered in lace and beads. There was up to an inch and a half of material to be let out in case I gained weight (not happening!) and the alterations estimate was about $100 cheaper, assuming I even need any.

But then there was the matter of the length. I was measured wearing 4-inch heels, which left the larger size half an inch too short. No problem; 3½-inch heels were totally doable (in fact, I already own them!). But in the smaller size, we'd lose an inch of length, limiting me to 2½-inch heels. Ich, blech! Too limiting!

This is the only time we actually argued all day, my mom and I. Despite the fact that the manager was standing in front of me with a measuring tape and a sizing chart, my mom insisted that I wasn't 5'11" with shoes on (I was actually 6'0" in those shoes that day) and that I didn't need extra length. Or if I did, it would be fine to wear shorter heels. But that wouldn't happen, because I wasn't taller than her (???!!!).

Whatever. The manager told us that for three extra inches of length, the additional cost would be $75, putting the dress at $1,025, which was still totally reasonable, and we just accepted the fact that some alterations would be necessary no matter what: a hem costs less than taking in the whole dress, so there we go. Done. We put a $250 deposit on the dress, with the balance due in 90 days. The dress will be in the store in December.

But it all felt very anti-climatic, really. I had already known I wanted this dress, and nothing I tried on changed my mind. Wearing it again confirmed it for me. What I really, really wanted was an excited mother telling me how beautiful I looked and acting excited that she was shopping with her only daughter for her only wedding dress. But I didn't get that in the store...

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