I left off my story with a search for the perfect wedding gown. The show, “A Wedding Story” was on TLC during the day and I became an addict! “Say Yes to the Dress” wouldn’t be on air for a couple more years, but the producers of TLC were on to something as we brides-to-be stayed glued to the sappy romances of others in between classes. Everyone said that I would “just know” when I found my dress. With friends in tow, we all headed to the mecca of all wedding stores.
Let me just say now, as a second-hand clothing junkie and lover of all things vintage: I never should have set foot into this store. But I was 20 and as I said, I still hadn’t nailed down my style or how to make my visions of vintage bliss come true. The customer service was TERRIBLE and I was treated like scum because I hadn’t nailed down my wedding date exactly. We were waiting on a confirmation from our venue for a Friday or Saturday night wedding. Apparently, this wasn’t good enough for the staff of this mega store and they needed an engraved invitation to treat me like a valuable customer. Can you tell I am still bitter?
After this lack-luster experience, I decided to shop on my own at a local boutique. If you know me, you know that I LOVE to be around people. I am high-energy and get even more energized by conversations and laughter with friends. I mean, I am an actress after all. What would you expect? But for picking out my wedding dress, I decided to visit my second bridal store alone. It was liberating to not have the opinion of well meaning friends about the type of dress that I should purchase.
The little Lakeland bridal boutique (which has since closed it’s doors) was wonderful. I tried on many gowns and the owner could tell I wasn’t finding exactly what I wanted. She pulled out a ivory, spaghetti strapped gown featuring a detailed overlay on top of a structured bodice with a unique train and gorgeous scarf for me to try on. On the hanger, it wasn’t looking very promising, but it was a combination of what I was looking for, so I tried it.
It was perfect.
I felt like a bride. It was unique and classic, with just a hint of my figure and a decidedly romantic charm. The train was my favorite part, as it reminded me of a little garden of flowers at my feet. With the gown came a distinctive scarf that could be worn in a myriad of ways. This strikingly different piece made me love the dress even more! I decided that the scarf would be for the reception, giving a cute transition in my appearance from one location to the next. This dress was very different from the style at the time and was moving me towards my vintage wedding.
Knowing that this was “THE” dress, I put down my payment, was measured for a custom gown since the overlay could not be altered in house, and left the store floating. No one else had seen it, not my mom, not any of friends, but I knew it was the dress for me. In this regard, I was fiercely independent and knew I made a wonderful decision.
Months later, my Mom joined me at my final fitting. I was nervous as I stepped out of the dressing room, rethinking my certainty months before. Catching my breath, I stepped out of the dressing room and in front of the angled mirrors. As tears rolled down both my Mom and my cheeks, I knew that this dress had changed me from a little girl into a woman in so many ways. And that I had made the right decision for my wedding dress.
As a gift to my parents, my best friend borrowed her mother’s camera (her mom was a photo journalist), we bought a roll of color and a roll of black and white film and we headed to Hollis Gardens to take some bridal portraits. Yep, I said “roll” because digital cameras were not up to professional standards back then. Most people didn’t even own digital cameras and you definitely wouldn’t photograph something of importance with digital. For my shoot, we didn’t know what we were doing, but we had a great time and my parents loved the images.
Almost 10 years later, I still like my gown. It was unique, classy and I purchased over half of it with my own money (Mom and Dad had a dress budget and this dress went way over!). It was my first grown-up clothing purchase and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been thinking about doing a trash the dress session this summer in celebration of my 10 year anniversary. But I don’t know if I feel ready to let it go just yet.
(Stay tuned for a post about my photographer and the actual wedding day, the last in this 3 part series about my love story.)