The Dress That Found Me

Posted on June 23, 2011


I got my wedding dress at a boutique in downtown Rochester. It was a small shop, intimate and cozy, and the woman helping me immediately put me at ease. (This was the aforementioned Eva Longoria lookalike.) I would not have normally even touched that store because I was on a super-tight $3k budget, but my roommate told me that they were having a big sale, so on a lovely Saturday afternoon in August, my sister, mother and I went to have a look.

One thing I loved about the wedding planning process was the precise decision-making. It was the one event that I could customize in almost any way I wanted to, and so I got in touch with my true tastes. I dug up all of my inspirations and loves and honed them into colors, dresses, suits, and invitations. It’s an incredible experience. Aside from neglecting the table decorations (because when the time came around to pay attention to them I was done caring about anything), everything else was exactly what I wished it would be. It was my quaint, weird wedding that made me inexplicably happy.

The Arts and Apples festival was taking place in Rochester the day we went wedding dress shopping, so the whole downtown was unusually full of people. It was sunny to the point where it seemed like the sun was dialed up just a bit brighter than normal. On the way we were listening to a piece on NPR by David Rakoff that was entitled “Frenemies” (a wedding toast, what a wonderful man) that was utterly hilarious and brilliant.

The first dress I tried on didn’t fit me very well. It felt awkward on my body. The second dress I tried on was alright. It fit me much better than the first, but I wasn’t in love. Then we came to dress number three. It fit me like a glove and had everything I was looking for. It was strapless but it stayed up well enough so I wasn’t tugging on the top of my dress and pulling it up all evening. It had lots of lace and intricate beading that made it ornate and complex. The back was a silk lace-up. The dress hugged me in all the right places and the it started to flare out right past my hip bones.

When I put that dress on something happened. It was like my mom, my sister, the Eva-Longoria lookalike assistant, the prom dresses, the entire store, were stripped away. I was alone with the mirror. The dress wrapped around me and stared into my soul. I was alone in the universe for just a moment with one dress. It looked me square in the eye, quietly, and I knew I had found my companion. And it didn’t deceive me: through all of my disaster dreams, my loneliness, and decisions, my dress was there for me. It was my constant, the one symbol holding everything together. (I know I’m taking this all too seriously, but even though it is just fabric and beads, it somehow turned into a very spiritual event for me in a way. Maybe that’s why I’m afraid to put it away.)

I don’t think anyone was prepared for the fact that I would find my dress and be one-hundred percent decided within a half-hour of arriving to the first store. While I was trying on dresses, my sister was holed up in her own dressing room trying on prom dresses. I barely saw her. It was treated like a regular shopping trip. We went to David Bridal’s (also known as Evil David’s by Beth Kander) later that day and nothing in the store even held a candle. I’m sure Evil David’s has perfectly lovely dresses, but my mind was already decided on one dress and nothing else would satisfy.

The best part about the whole situation was that the store I was at was consolidating inventory with their other location and were subsequently were selling their samples at half price. The even stranger thing: the sample size fit me perfectly without any tailoring. I nailed this section of the wedding budget completely on acciddent.

This is how a lot of things happened for me in the wedding planning process. The wedding hall, the shoes I wore… I didn’t know what I wanted until I saw them and I usually (but accidentally) found things within my budget. I mean, I knew the store was running a sale but I don’t think we had necessarily talked a budget before I said I wanted the dress, so how could I have known? It was like me and the dress were meant to be. My roommate just happened to mention that sale. I just happened to be willing to go look. The woman helping me just happened to pull the right dress. The dress just happened to be number three and I was in-and-out of the store in less than an hour. And the dress just happened to be exactly what I had always wanted and exactly within my (impossible) budget.

Again, the universe being nice to me.

Posted in: wedding