One of the things I looked forward to yet dreaded in the wedding planning was finding “the dress.” I had watched just about every episode of SYTTD (For those not in the know — this is a reference to “Say Yes To the Dress.” It is a show on TLC where pre-Bridezilla drama is documented and home viewers can spew their opinions about how great or awful the brides’ choices are.). So, I kind of had an idea of what I liked, and more importantly, what I didn’t.
Once we had booked our venue, I decided it was time to start shopping. What I immediately found out was that it usually takes 6 months for a dress to come in, and add a few months on top of that for alterations. In addition, most of the shops I went to required an appointment.
So, let’s see… I had 5 months ’til the wedding and hadn’t made a single appointment. Yeah, it hadn’t started out well. Still, I figured no shop wants to turn away $$$. So, if I did find a dress I liked, I figured I was going to have to drop a few hundred more to get it in time.
The day was October 5, 2013. I brought my entourage (which consisted of 1 friend) and my list of shops. The first shop we went to was dress overload. Fortunately, I didn’t need an appointment, so I had a bridal consultant to help me pick a few (i.e., 10 or so) to try on.
I will not name the shop, but I immediately was dismayed by the quality (or lack of) the dresses. But, I was desperate. It was worth it to me to spend a grand on cheap than go cheap and wrap myself in toilet paper.
After trying a few duds, I tried on one that kinda made me smile. It kinda made me want to say “yes.” Cinderella is one of my favorite Disney princesses, and I certainly felt like her in the moment that I had this dress on.
The consultant had dollar signs in her eyes, but I told her that while I really liked the dress, I wanted to check out a few more options. Part of me hated walking away empty handed [insert sad trombone here], but this was a lot of money. While I was desperate, I still did not get that feeling that this was “The One.” It was the “If worse comes to worse, this will do.”
After checking out one more shop (appointment needed, so no one would even look my way) and having lunch, I whipped out my list and decided to call the last two shops on my list. They were local boutiques that probably had odd hours, so I had to pick up the phone (I dread phone calls). It was about 3 PM by this time. The first shop was closing at 4 PM, and I was about 30 minutes away. The second shop was closing at 7 PM. And so the second shop was the winner.
My friend and I walked in and I was completely underwhelmed. The shop was tiny and there weren’t that many dresses. Finally, the owner came out to greet us. She was a dressmaker, so all that I saw were her own creations. Most looked like they would fit someone like the owner – Petite, thin, Asian woman. I’m petite, Asian, but thin… uh… nope.
I was prepared to exit stage right when the owner said, “I have other dresses in the back.” She then showed us to her secret stash, past the showroom, past the dressing rooms, but before the back room where the dresses were made.
It was a small closet filled with dresses. I thought it wouldn’t hurt to look, but she hooked me when she said “Everything here – $600, but half off.”
Uh, come again? Say whaaaaattt?
And with that, I just knew I had to get a dress at Shop #3. Even if I didn’t love it, a little voice inside me said “Cheap dress = Money left over to spend on Jimmy Choo.”
So, I picked 3 dresses. All were great and just my style (and waaaay below my budget), but dress #2 really, truly wowed me. I had that SYTTD moment. I remember turning to my friend, tears welling up in my eyes, and saying “This is the one!”
It fit damn near perfect too. All I had to do was get it hemmed (that is, after I would buy the accompanying Jimmy Choo shoes).
So, I immediately snatched up the dress (though for a moment I considered buying the runner-up dress too), handed the plastic to the owner and was ready to go shoe shopping. When the owner saw I was paying with a credit card, she asked “Can you pay with cash? If you pay with cash, I won’t charge you tax.”
As if the day couldn’t be more perfect, my bank was a hop, skip and a jump away from the shop. My friend and I headed over to the ATM. I swear it was the first time I’d ever been so giddy about making a withdrawal.
We went back to the shop, I paid, then we zipped out. I totally felt like I was robbing the place because the dress was such a steal!
So, my original budget for the dress was $1500. I went high because I wanted to be realistic. But it turns out my reality was better than I could have ever anticipated. The shoes and alterations ended up costing more than my dress. When I tacked on a veil (which was custom made by Crowning Glory Designs for something like $70 (the starting price of ones I looked at online started at twice the cost)), the cost for everything was just under $1500. I love saving money. I made my mom proud!
Many thanks to my good luck charm/Army of 1. I really felt in some way that her presence made a difference. I’m taking her with me to Vegas one of these days. Seriously.