Dress to the Nines

I‘ve been looking through a number of big wedding magazines, and I’ve got to tell you – it’s a nightmare! Every other page is a five-page advertisement, and most of them are for wedding gowns that threaten to latch on to my wallet with their sequined jaws and suck my finances dry.

I somehow never pictured myself getting married in a big, sparkling ball gown. I’m a very simple kind of gal, requiring little embellishment or trendy details. I guess I’ve just always let my, ahem, natural beauty speak for itself . . . or maybe I’m just too lazy to try to put together beautiful ensembles to wear on a daily basis. In any case, the Cinderella dress was never my speed. I also didn’t really feel like spending Cinderella-esque prices to get a dress that I’ll only be wearing for one day. I thought $400 or so as a maximum price would be reasonable.

I started looking for dresses with my mom and younger sister a few days, ago, since the wedding is, after all, only about five months away (how did time go so fast??) Right away, I found a great dress at a department store in the Poughkeepsie Galleria that I thought would look nice with a few beads sewn on here or there – it’s simple, but classic. White, satin-feel material, and a nice cascading triple bustle on the back. I thought it was nice, and the price was certainly right – only $100 for the dress and a matching shawl. I liked it, but my mother insisted that we look elsewhere.

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She took me to Mary H. Abdoo & You, a specialty dress shop in the city of Poughkeepsie. I had heard about the shop through my neighbor, whose daughter-in-law was married in a dress from the shop, and figured we’d give it a try.

I was met at the door by a well-dressed woman (who actually reminded me a lot of my late grandmother, who was very sweet) who greeted us and took us down to the bridal department. There were so many dresses hanging around the store that just looked too gaudy for me. Big, beady patterns and lacy details were the order of the afternoon, it seemed. I was scared, but my mother and sister seemed in awe of the dresses.

I told the woman who was helping us exactly what I wanted (simple, strapless, makes me look thin) and she pulled out a bunch of options from the shelves – options I never thought I’d consider. I saw corset backs, long trains, lace, and beading, beading, and more beading. While my sister and mother looked fascinated, I was beginning to feel ill. I didn’t want to look like an over-decorated cake!

I begrudgingly pulled on the first dress, all 500 pounds of it. The thing was huge, and so heavy in my hands. All I could think of was how I was ever going to be able to get my funky dance moves on in such a heavy thing! I zipped up the side, and trudged out to face my waiting family members.

When I got out to the tri-fold mirror, however, my jaw dropped. In front of me was a graceful-looking, swanlike woman clad in a dress somewhat reminiscent of what Belle wore in Beauty and the Beast – embellished, yes, but in the best of ways. As I fingered the small beads and lacy details of the dress, all I could think of was how all I wanted, on Earth, was to have the most extravagant and gorgeous dress I could find.

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Amazing how your desires can turn on you so quickly, huh?

So after that, of course, the department store dress (though beautiful in its own way) was nothing but a glimpse of my rapidly-disappearing frugal taste. I tried on one dress after another, each more beautiful (and expensive!) than the next.

One dress, designed by Irish designer Mori Lee, definitely seemed to stand out. As soon as I put it on, I just felt . . . gorgeous. It’s so hard for me to describe the feeling that I got when I slipped that dress on, but as the attendant was lacing up the ribbons on the corset back, I was just bursting to see how it looked. When I walked into the room where my mom and sister waited, they gasped. I skipped over to the mirror.

The dress literally looked like it was made for me. With a delicate crisscross design in the front and a small train with tiny beads in the back, it was unique, classic, and lovely all at the same time. I had to have it.

That is, until I saw the price tag. At $650 ($250 over my maximum price), it wasn’t exactly the price of my dreams. I was much more upset than I thought I’d be – I never thought I could ever want something so impractical so much. I shook my head (with actual tears in my eyes!) and we left the store. On the way home, my mother and I spoke about wedding dresses. She knew people who had spent over $3,000 on a wedding dress, and she thought that $650 was very reasonable. I doubted that those prices were typical, since she tends to have friends with much more expensive taste than a lot of people I know.

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I asked around. My high school friend, Angela, said that it was a good price – her sister-in-law had spent thousands. I asked my college friend, Kara, about it, and she said it seemed like a great deal. Tim said that it seemed a little over our budget, but if I really loved it to go ahead and make the purchase.

I made my decision the next day – I went back and ordered it. The salespeople were helpful and attentive, and the owner turned out to be someone I used to work with (who offered me a great deal on alterations, I might add.)

Since words can’t quite express what it looks like, I’ve included a photo. It’s not me trying it on, because I don’t want Tim (who I know reads this) to see me in my dress before the big day!

The whole dress thing made me realize that you only get married once, and weddings aren’t made to be totally practical. If they were, we’d just be getting married in a town hall and going about our business as usual. Our wedding is a day to celebrate our love in a big way in front of our friends and family, and although it doesn’t always have to be lavish and over-the-top you’re going to want some things a little nicer than usual. That’s my take on it, anyway.

-Laura =)

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