Last Saturday, I decided it might be time to start looking at large puffs of white tulle in possible consideration for my wedding attire. There was a sale at David’s Bridal, so I convinced my mom this was an excellent plan, made an appointment, and then spent the morning fighting with billowing white fabric in a tiny, tiny little dressing room.
She’s coming for your soul…in a handcrafted, artisan gown with hand painted roses…
When we arrived, they were already running behind for the day, so they let us loose to wander through the racks of dresses. Sorting through white and cream dresses is easier said than done as, well, they all look the same. We hemmed and hawed, ooh-ed over the fancier options, chatted about the finer points of sparkly appliques. I found I was attached to large ball gowns with lacy things all over, bonus points for three dimensional flowers.
The reality of the “fairytale” of finding The Dress, getting lost in a sea of white things in clear body bags.
Our consultant finally met with us, an itsy-bitsy lady of approximately 19 years of age with a large arm tattoo and badly dyed blonde hair. She then proceeded to quiz me about everything not wedding gown related.
“How many bridesmaids are you going to have?”
“Uh, five plus a brides…dude. Bridesdudes? Bridesmanfriend? Wedding guy? So, six. One guy, five ladies. But, ten total considering each side. This is like a bad word problem.”
Blank stare. “Okay, what are your colors?”
“Well, we are attracted to bright colors and are just going to let them all pick their own outfits, so purple, yellow, orange, pink, red…”
“You can buy swatches here for them.”
“Well, I was thinking more the ol’ low key hand everyone a paint swatch and tell them to go wild in outfitting themselves…”
(Stare.) “Where is the wedding going to be?”
“Oh, in a traditional garden and then a super modern reception. Plus there is a bright boutique hotel next door, so it’s a little bit of everything….”
“Okay, I’ll pull some dresses for you. Let me go get you a bridal slip. What is your bust size?”
“I’ll get you a bustier to put on, too.”
So, I then found myself in a tiny dressing room with no mirror, struggling to latch myself into a used bustier and can-can-esque bridal skirt. Essentially, like this…But, you know, with proportional legs and two feet.
Seriously, why do her legs look so short?
This ensemble as a good look for me, kinda like Ellie the Arizona brothel girl trying to make good on her new marriage life. Waist, boobs on display, flashy shirt, I was excited to try on the expensive white overlays! I was ready to can-can dance!
Now, being as I sang opera, I have spent a good portion of my life trying on fancy ball gowns. I look GOOD in a fancy gown. I know how to walk with a train, gently lift the sides of a full skirt to move gracefully around an obstacle (yelling tenor), and wear a large costume with presence. I expected the same feeling of putting on a gorgeous gown to sing. So, when tiny consultant handed me my first gown and I crawled through the layers to put it on, I was expecting a GREAT FLOOD OF EMOTIONS like Randy from Say Yes to the Dress has promised me through multiple seasons. Instead, I looked like a white- sequin-embroidered tank.
With slightly more sparkle…
My waist was gone, I couldn’t move my arms, and I looked super dowdy. Eh. Glorious. My philosophy in clothing is that it is never the person or their bodies’ fault that something does not look good. The sole issue is with the design. So, take it off and try again. So, on to the next gown…Eh again. Slightly lumpy white panzer tank. A few more dresses in, and I was muttering something about looking like a sparkly, waistless Moby Dick while trying to throw yard of poof over my head in a confined space. Ready the harpoons, Ahab!
Throughout this whole thing, the consultant would just hand me gowns in the tiny dressing room to crawl into them myself. That floaty, full tulle shirt you so adore? It actually weights about 30 pounds. I decided to do some bicep curls with a particularly large and heavy dress. I asked the consultant for something different, and she brought me a Glinda the Good Witch ball gown with metallic embroidery. The mom has now joined me in the claustrophobic room, and with two dresses in there with us, basically cannot move for the cloud of white skirt. The dresses resembled armor, the waists and side rigid with embellishment.
It’s a good look for a wedding, right? Will fit right in with our Rustic Rodeo Clown in Paris theme…
I’m was now sweating profusely and my loaner bustier plastered to my sides with perspiration, slightly reeking of ball gown dreams and disappointed budget realities. Tiny consultant pulls some entirely different dresses, I decide to go rouge and take off my can-can shirt against her wishes, and I actually end up finding quite a pretty champagne colored strapless gown with an A-line skirt and white embroidery around the bust. During this entire time, another bridal party has been lurking outside my room and commenting on every gown. They vastly approve of this final, slenderizing gown. My mom, rightfully, thinks it looks a bit cheap, but presents a good starting place for style at another roomier and higher end locale. We decide we are done, and I return to stuff the can-can slip back into its drawstring bag and peel off the sweatiest bustier in the world.
So, wedding dress shopping, not a magical and fun affair as The Wedding Industry Machine would so like you to believe. I was mostly struck by how unflattering the gowns were in general and how they would not do any woman any favors. And, how the majority of dresses in my size very much wanted to cover me completely with frilly white lace. Meanwhile, my inner Ellie the Brothel Girl very much wants the impressive cleavage to fly free on the wedding day. So, I made a couple more appointments with very different salons, and bought my own bustier. Because, if I am going to have to sweat in tulle in the pursuit of a dress, I might as well do it in my own lingerie.