Finding a wedding dress has been almost three years in the making. I had been looking at dresses online very casually, mostly out of boredom. We hadn’t set a date so I didn’t feel a push to look for one, and more importantly not having had money the last two years made me loathe shopping. Moving to Seattle also put a bit of a damper to the wedding dress hunt since the selections here are far less than in New York. That’s an understatement. So finding a dress wasn’t high on my priority list. I can only recall a handful of times when my heart beat rapidly over a dress.
The first time happened in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York when we walked into a cute flower shop, and far back into the store in front of a brick wall was a slinky ivory lace dress. It was romantic, feminine, refined, delicate, and felt like something from years past but for a modern bride. The lace was not like I’ve seen on other dresses where you can look like a table runner or a walking doily; rather, this was restrained and subtle. I saw myself in that dress. I started envisioning the fake art deco jewelry that would match the dress. The shop owner of course saw the look on my face and told me it was a one-of-a-kind dress designed by someone who occasionally sells his bridal dresses and veils in the shop. It seemed more than appropriate that someone like me would find her wedding dress in a quirky flower shop than a big box bridal shop. I can’t recall exactly how much that dress cost, but it was high enough for me to walk away whimpering. The second time was when I saw a photo on a wedding blog of this short white New York city hall dress – immediate love. This dress screams ME in so many ways:
And the third time also happened years ago when I saw a photo of a bottom part of a dress. The details and patterns were stunningly, heart-achingly exquisite and unique. I had no clue what the top or back or side of the dress looked like. Who’s the designer? Is it a wedding dress? How much does it cost? WHERE CAN I BUY OR BORROW THIS DRESS? I saved the image to my laptop where I continued to admire it now and then for over a year. Then recently as I was getting my daily wedding blog fix, I saw the dress. I recognized the pattern immediately. My heart sunk further when I read “forget about it, no way in hell you will ever be able to afford this dress even if you deferred your wedding by four years” (aka Oscar de la Renta). I’ve seen pretty much the same dresses on rotation throughout the popular wedding blog sites, but this was the first time I saw this Oscar de la Renta dress on a bride. I had fallen in love with the pattern years ago, and now I had a full picture of the dress. If I could borrow the Oscar dress for half a day, this would be the ultimate wedding dress. And this dress is as traditional a dress as I would wear since I never wanted a large poofy standard on-top-of-the-cake wedding gown – the kind of dress I’d daydreamed about NOT wearing; pretty much mentally and physically running away from since I was a little girl. If my mom and I were to have spent time wedding dress shopping together, I’m a 100% certain she would have hated all the dresses I picked out and vice versa, except this one. Eh, it wasn’t meant to be. Champagne taste on a happy hour beer budget.
I’m sure many brides-to-be are caught in the predicament between what they want and what they can afford. At the same time, even if I could afford a $15,000 dress, I’d rather spend $1,000 on the dress and $14,000 on a honeymoon to Santorini or Peru. For my fiance and I, life experiences are far more important than material possessions.