- 2 years ago
- Wedding: Banquet hall
Since my engagement last Christmas, I’ve been at a bit of a dress stand-still. At Easter, we set the date for July 2015 but in the interim, FI got a dream job offer out of state, so we packed the car and left! What I had largely planned to be a thrifty, DIY event with a lot of help from friends has slowly progessed to a high class event at banquet estate near our hometown. Forever intrigued by formality and historical extravagances, I am very excited, though unprepared, for this turn of events. For the year after college, FI and I were working long hours at hourly jobs hoping one of us would get a promotion to afford us moving out of parents’ houses. My parents were also in a bad way with a lot of money tied up in real estate after losing grandparents on both sides. Now, FI and I live comfortably on a single salary higher than either of us was raised on. In addition, my parents are in a much better place and have pledged financial support for the wedding. Justly, this has influenced the expectations of our family, our guests, and ourselves; and we are happy to oblige. In the five years FI and I have been dating, my family has lost a dozen family members and close friends, including three of my grandparents and my sister’s best friend, with no weddings or births in the interim. Everyone is looking forward to finally celebrating, and so are FI and I.
The influence on my dress shopping, however, has become somewhat of a mess.
Before our engagement, I bought a very simply and heavily discounted dress from the department store where I worked. Because it was an online return in a very large size with a defect, I paid a whopping $8.78 for it after my employee discount. It was a simple empire-waist wrap dress, that in any other color would be a bridesmaid’s dress. I had planned to add a hoop skirt or crinoline, blue/silver sash, and a corset back at the tailor’s when I had it taken in. (It’s about three sizes too big.) I would have brought it to the old-school Italian tailor who modified my (more complicated) prom dress for a whopping $30. Now, the tailor is 1,000 miles away and this bargain currently sits wrapped in my bottom drawer.
Enter the second dress: Discontinued Alfred Angelo #1139 with indigo accents. Right after we booked the wedding venue, I panicked and started looking for dresses online. I thought I would be quickly back to work and be perpetually short on time, the lifestyle to which I was previously adapted. In my search, I found AA1139 with almost everything I wanted: silver beading, blue accents, a detailed back, and most importantly it was a strapless A-line. Unfortunately, I was not originally looking for a long train. The ceremony is outdoors, and though the indoor dance floor is roomy, I’d like to be able to move and dance with my guests! (I gotta be able to dance Cotton Eye Joe! Lol!) Then, the dress popped up on eBay for $150, when most other sites wanted $400-$600. They had larger sizes left from a dress shop that was newly out of business. I called my mother and sister (MOH) and my father gave the go-ahead on the cost. I was over the moon, until the I tried it on. It was precisely as described: sealed and never opened. However, once I tried it on, I realized that I was probably 20 pounds over fitting in it as-is. I hadn’t accounted for the difference in designer sizes versus street sizes in my excitement. The train was also very long and cumbersome. The dress is made and lined with a heavy satin. The drag on this dress is immense. My long, incredibly curly hair was also catching regularly on the beading, a situation I had not foreseen. I took a couple selfies for my sister and mother and banished the dress to the depths of my closed (and away from FI’s curious glance).
It was at this point that I learned that I had plenty of time on my hands: FI’s company is moving and we are relocating right after Christmas! My job search came to a screaching halt. In my leisure, I drove the three states to attend a family event when my parents and sister hijacked me to go dress shopping. They knew I wasn’t completely happy with the Alfred Angelo and we drove an hour into the city to check out what David’s Bridal had to offer. I had no price guidelines when we walked in, but my family was happy to help me play dress up. I was checking pricetags while the nice lady was trying to help me into the gowns. (Though I baffled her by getting myself into everything but a lace-up corset gown.) My parents fell in love with a tight, structured bodice with full silver beading, a beaded tulle skirt, and a corset back. I was struggling to get past the drag of the train, overall restriction of movement, and the shortness of breath. The dress was going to be $750 plus another hundred for undergarmets and a good deal more in tax. My parents kept encourging it, but even under the pressure of the sales girl I couldn’t. My brain could make the jump from an $8 dress to $150 dress (which was still double the cost of my prom dress), but for the life of me a could not fathom $900 for a wear-once gown. We talked later about the cost and budget. We agreed that it is a good fall back incase a dress doesn’t come along before the wedding. The dress fit right off the rack and the ordering would take six weeks. Though the dress could be ordered (in double the time) without the train, no one could see taking it off when it would not reduce the price. They liked the train; I don’t like carrying it around (bustled or not).
Which brings me to option three: design my own dress. I’ve been drawing dresses since I was nine years old. I received a sewing machine from Santa (my grandmother) a few years later with a “sew the fleece squares together” kit that I loathed. I desparately wanted to learn to pattern, but when my grandmother would let me buy a pattern, my mother wouldn’t let me buy the fabric. When I’d get the machine out, I was cluttering the kitchen table, but there wasn’t space or a desk in my bedroom. I became increasingly frustrated and turned instead to handsewing doll clothes while teaching my younger cousin to mend. We’d use paper towel for patterns and old sheets for fabric. I entertained the notion of making my own prom dress until it was dismissed by both mother and grandmother. It was later in life that I learned that neither my mom nor my grandma could sew clothes from a pattern. While my grandma could make simple curtains and hem pants, my mother didn’t even know how to work the machine. It had been my great-grandmother, my mom recently told me, who had a good hand at making clothes and picking fabrics. She had been apprenticed to a high-end British deparment store before emigrating to the United States. After college, I bought my grandmother’s sewing machine when she sold her estate at public sale and retired south. It was the machine her mother had bought her: a heavy-duty 1952 Singer. I’ve been making a few pieces from patterns since moving out with fiance, and with a good bit of success. I’m working on a bodice mock-up at the moment and teaching myself to work with patterns (and satin) on a trial basis. (Algebra and trig are good for something!)
So, now here I sit. Do I bite the bullet and wear the uncomfortable, albeit gorgeous, David’s Bridal dress? Do I slim down or modify the Alfred Angelo? Do I go to town on the deep discount dress and modify to my heart’s content? Or do I pick out a pattern with all my specs and put my idle time to use?
What do you think bees?