Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Dress or My Journey to Becoming a Bride

Wedding dress shopping. One of the most exciting, happiest days of a girl's life, right? For a normal girl, maybe. Not for me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not ungrateful. I love my fiance. I agreed to all of this. That didn't keep me from feeling an impending sense of doom on the days leading up to the big shopping event. Let me explain.

First off, I hate being the center of attention. I'm extremely self-conscious and shy. The fact is, I felt like I was going to be on display while trying on dresses. And that would just be a hint of what was to come on the wedding day.

Next is the issue that I rarely wear anything other than jeans. I am a blue-jean and t-shirt girl. I am comfortable that way and don't like being dragged kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone. My requests when talking to the bridal consultant included the words "simple" and "not fussy". I actually fell in love with the idea of pockets on my wedding dress. A place to put my hands, just like I do when I'm wearing my jeans seemed very comforting. Sadly, the dress was not suited for me. I think everyone thought I was weird for wanting pockets on my wedding dress anyway.

Also, I am not very comfortable with my body. I know, big surprise, right? I'm a woman and so many of us have body-image issues. I've fought my weight my whole life. I was hoping to find a dress that would somehow hide all of my imperfections. Of course, those are impossible to hide when you're in a small dressing room, half-naked, with a stranger you just met twenty minutes ago. Just the thought of it still makes me cringe.

I had been trying to prepare for this day. I bought truckloads of bridal magazines and tore out pictures of gowns I liked. Being rather particular and detail oriented, I arranged them in order of favorite to least favorite. I wrote something on each page, whether it be a comment about the style, pointing out a detail I liked or something I did not want on my dress. I also spent many Friday evenings watching TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" hoping for inspiration. I would watch these brides trying on gown after gown and seeing the big moment when they found their perfect dress. They would cry. Their family and friends would cry. They would hug their consultants. I, ever cynical, would roll my eyes and think "Whatever."

So, on Dress Day, after going over all the things I was looking for in a dress (ruching at the waist!) and all of the things I didn't want (NO BALL GOWNS!) the consultant selected several dresses for me to try on. All the girls with me knew how nervous I was and assured me it would be fantastic.

I tried on the first dress. It did not impress me, nor my entourage. In fact, I can't even remember what it looked like. Back to the dressing room I went.

Dress number two went on. The consultant zipped it up and we both knew it wasn't even worth walking out in. "It doesn't do enough for your waist," she said. Translation: I looked fat. Next!

Dress number three did wonders for my waist. I walked out and got positive feedback from the girls. It was a possibility, but more dresses waited for me in the dressing room!

I went back and stepped into dress number four. When it first went on, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and thought "eh." Then, the consultant started to lace up the corset back. Soon, she tightened the laces and I saw my waist shrink in. "Damn," I said. "Look at my waist!" I walked out to show my support team. We talked about this detail and that detail. Pictures were taken of the dress at every possible angle. We discussed white versus ivory. I focused on the bottom of the dress. My concern was with the train. It wasn't much, but it was more than I wanted. I won't have attendants helping me to corral the dress at the wedding, so I have to be able to handle it on my own. Plus, I have to walk up a spiral staircase to get to the ceremony location. The consultant said there was an easy fix to that problem. She began to pin up the back to show me what it would look like bustled. That's when I had something close to a bride's "this is my dress" moment. I didn't cry and I didn't hear music, but when I saw the back of the dress I knew that it was the one I was going to buy. That settled it. "I think I like this one," I said. All those dresses hanging in the dressing room would stay on the hangers. I was done!

As we all walked out of the store, all I could say was "I'm so glad this is over!" On the trip back home, my friend riding with me was ecstatic. She was so happy for me. I wish I had been just as happy for myself. I was relieved, not giddy. I was checking off an item from my to-do list, not falling in love with the garment that is supposed to make me feel like a bride.

I still have moments of impending doom. Did I try on enough dresses? Would any dress I put on make me cry? Will it be altered correctly? What if I lose too much weight before the wedding? I think of all the things that could possibly go wrong concerning this overpriced piece of fabric that makes me a bride. What gets me through is knowing that I will only be a bride for a very brief period of time, then it will be over.

Then I'll be a wife. Uh-oh.

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