Monday, September 19, 2011

Photographic Proof

In the interest of backing up all the things I've discussed here, I offer the following:

Dress:  The MIC uses heavy photography to justify spending as much as a year's mortgage on a dress, saying that since it's going to be iconic and there will be a gazillion pictures of it, it must be absolutely perfect.  Mine was $250, and unlike say, a mortgage payment, the dress is something I knew I was only going to use once.

Flowers:  The MIC waxes poetic about how you have to spend hours pouring over flower colors, types, and what sort of style they signify before settling on bouquets.  Not true!  Sam's Club has gorgeous wholesale flowers in pre-made packs that are absurdly wallet-friendly.

Theme:  There are plenty of people who have themed weddings, and ain't nothin' wrong with having a theme.  However, you don't have to if you don't want to or just plain can't think of one.  Ours was marriage.  Well, marriage and Borat.  A wedding sack was totally involved.

Cake:  You don't have to get a giant, expensive cake.  Nor do you have to worry about an insufficiently decorated cake table ruining your photos.

Costco cake: it's how we roll.

Not Shedding for the Wedding:  I don't care what they say about losing two dress sizes for your wedding.  It's ridiculous and unnecessary.

Note, if you will, my triceps, which are nothing like Michelle Obama's famously toned arms.
Husband: not running away.  Camera lens: not broken.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post-Wedding Redux and Final Thoughts on the MIC

It's now been almost two months since the wedding, and as I said to my newly-minted husband as we drove away from the reception, "That was really fun and all, but let's never do that shit again."

In the last two months, I've had a chance to recover from the frenzy leading up to the blessed event, write thank you notes until I started going cross-eyed, and, most importantly, to think about everything that went into defying the Marriage-Industrial Complex.  And so, as I sit here in wedded bliss (hubs is making my favorite cookies as I type this.  I'm not kidding.  He's an awesome cook, and those cookies are fucking delicious.), a few thoughts from the other side of the wedding:

1)  Losing Weight for the Big Day is a Sack of Crap:
In the months leading up to my wedding, I was bombarded with ads for Slim-Fast, some heinous show called Shedding for the Wedding, and various weight-loss products -- all asking if I was wedding-ready and sufficiently skinny to be photographed from every angle.  The message, of course, is that if I didn't lose some weight, my husband would be grossed out and I'd look hideous in all my wedding photos.  This, obviously, would ruin them (and all my memories of The Most Important Day of My Life) in perpetuity.

This is -- how to put this delicately? -- a steaming load of shit.  I mean, most of the MIC is ridiculous, but this is really fucking asinine.  Look, I've never been super-skinny.  I'm built for sports, not for modeling.  But the fact is, my husband didn't fall in love with me because he hoped I'd eat nothing but Slim-Fast for two months before the wedding, exercise twice a day, and walk down the aisle looking like Miss Universe's mini-me.  He knew he was signing up to marry a woman who will always have soccer thighs.

So ladies, here's the deal: if your arms jiggle a bit, or if you don't have six-pack abs, your husband isn't going to run screaming in the opposite direction when he sees you on the big day.  The fact is, you don't need to be in the best shape of your life for you to be beautiful.  You don't need to be the skinniest you've ever been for your husband to be totally thrilled with his gorgeous bride.  Advertisements will valiantly try to convince you that this isn't the case, but that's a load of shit.  Your husband wants to marry you as you are, not because there's a Victoria's Secret model lurking somewhere inside you if you can just diet long enough to let her out.

Furthermore, not losing 20 pounds for the wedding isn't going to ruin your photos.  Trust me: there are plenty of photos from our wedding that show my totally not Michelle Obama-esque triceps.  But you know what?  My less than perfect arms didn't make the camera lens shatter.  They didn't ruin the pictures.  You know what would've ruined the pictures?  If a woolly mammoth was reanimated, lumbered onto the photo shoot, and crapped in the background.  But that's it.

These ads were annoying at first, but then they really started to piss me off.  I tend to be a smudge defiant -- well ok, I tend to be really defiant -- so out of pure spite, 14 days before our wedding I had pizza and frozen custard.  It was delicious.

2)  There's No Such Thing as Perfection
The MIC has everyone convinced that one's wedding day should be absolutely perfect.  Bluebirds and small woodland creatures should alight on your balcony while you sing and brush your hair on the morning of the big day, unicorns should frolic outside the reception hall, and everything should sparkle from an overload of fabulousness.

Again: this is bullshit.

Let's get a grip on reality: things won't be perfect.  Something will be different from how you'd imagined/planned.  Logistical snafus happen, people forget things, vases get chipped, makeup gets smudged.  But -- again with the whole "getting a grip on reality" motif -- it doesn't have to throw the whole day into disarray and a downward spiral of sadness and failure.  The MIC will tell you that things have to be perfect or else they're ruined (in which case you really ought to just give up on life and toss yourself off the nearest cliff), but that's not the case.

Only a small handful of people will even be aware of how you'd planned things in the first place, so if there's a change of any kind -- different music, different cake flavor, different anything -- no one's going to know the difference.  And even if there aren't any last-minute changes, there will be minor imperfections...but chances are, no one will notice.  If they do notice, they won't care.  And if they do care, they're not the sort of people whose opinions you need to worry about.  They're the sort of people who need to get a fucking life.

I'm your great aunt (twice removed) Mildred, and I have no friends - but I
do have 27 cats.  Because I'm so bored, I spend time nitpicking
people's weddings and being as judgmental as humanly possible!  Yaaaaaay!

3)  You really don't have to spend a fortune in order to have an awesome wedding:

When I first started researching weddings and figuring out what to do, I was totally floored by the sheer cost of these things.  There seems to be some sort of cultural expectation that if your wedding doesn't cost at least 20K, it's going to be trashy.  People tend to think that if you don't spend a lot of money, your guests will have to dine on PB&J sandwiches and Spam while the Macarena plays in the background.

(I don't know if you've noticed a trend here, but in case you didn't see this one coming, wait for it...wait for it...) THIS IS BULLSHIT.

We spent nowhere near that amount of money for our wedding, and it was lovely.  I cut plenty of corners: for example, instead of an $8 per slice wedding cake, I went to Costco and got some motherfucking sheet cake.  If I'd gone the traditional route and gotten a big wedding cake for 120 people, I would've been out $960.  Costco, however, decorates the cakes in whatever colors you want.  We chose white icing with some wedding-y colors for the flowers, and spent $72 for four sheet cakes.

Happily, people loved it and thought it was delicious.  An added benefit was the fact that I didn't feel the need to fly into a blinding rage upon seeing uneaten cake.  If I'd gotten cake for $8 per slice and anyone had dared not eat their share, I would've chased them down in the parking lot and force-fed them the damn cake to get my money's worth.

Furthermore, we nixed the DJ and instead hooked my laptop up to the sound system in the reception hall.  Hubs, his brother, and his best friend spent a couple hours putting together the playlist and fixing the iTunes so that it would cross-fade and sound like a DJ -- and you know what?  It sounded just like a DJ.  People danced their faces off, and we saved a few thousand dollars.

I also decided to forgo a florist and instead ordered flowers wholesale from Sam's Club.  For $320, I got six bouquets, a box of rose petals, six boutonnieres, and four corsages.  Had it not been for the fact that we had people over when the flowers arrived, no one would've been the wiser.

However, despite the Costco cake, the lack of a DJ, and the wholesale flowers, the wedding wasn't shitty.  We had an awesome time, and we were able to stretch our budget amazingly far.  So, seriously: save your money!  Use it to make a down payment on a house, save it for your future kids' college funds, use it to go on a badass honeymoon -- but for the love of God, you don't have to spend it all on the wedding.

The MIC wants you to think you do (after all, this is the bread and butter of the entire industry), but that just ain't true.  The expectation that this is what you should do -- because after all, everyone else does, and you wouldn't want your wedding to look lame next to all your friends' weddings -- is both ridiculous and infuriating.  The MIC, of course, relies on this expectation, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't hate it just a little bit.  Well, ok, I hate it a lot.

I hate the MIC and the ridiculous expectations it produces so much that,
if I could, I'd totally shoot lasers and machete-wielding
velociraptors at it with my eyes.

The main point here -- and what I've hoped to convey through this blog -- is that you don't have to listen to the MIC.  You don't have to have an extravagant wedding involving tons of money, lighting experts, or linens that perfectly match the accent color in the bouquets.  You don't need elaborate centerpieces or cakes the size of Wisconsin.  An insufficiently decorated cake table will not make or break your photos.  You don't need to worry about what subtle messages are sent to your guests by the color, font, or decorative motif of your save-the-dates or invitations.

All you need is to focus on what's most important to you, and ignore the rest.  Because at the end of the wedding day, you and your newly-minted spouse should be able to say "The wedding was awesome, and I'm thrilled that we get to spend our lives together," not "How the hell are we going to pay this off?"

And so, with that, here's to eschewing the Marriage-Industrial Complex.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Which I Lament My Recent Absence from the Blogosphere

If memory serves (and since this is one of my favorite movies, I'm going to say it does), Diane Keaton remarked in The Father of the Bride that weddings "happen every day, in every country in the world."  This would lead most rational people to the logical conclusion that weddings would not consume all one's free time.

This conclusion would be wrong.

In my experience since I last updated this blog, the wedding has, in fact, consumed all my free time.  I've been waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, worrying about loose ends that have to be tied up before July 30.  I've been in the middle of my daily exercise routine when I've lost my balance on the treadmill because I became worried about thank you notes.  Yes, folks: lost sleep and minor injuries have all ensued at the hands of my impending nuptials.

The way I see it, weddings are like zombies: they both try really hard to eat your brain.
Make no mistake: weddings are ruthless and will stop at nothing in their pursuit of your brain.

This has left me with very little time for blogging.  However, since blogging has generally been cathartic for me throughout this whole process, I'm going to write more as I make the final turn and enter the home stretch.  One last sprint to the finish, and then the big day will be upon me.

Hot damn.

In the midst of my rapidly-increasing excitement, however, I've been bombarded by the marriage-industrial complex through nearly every possible means of communication.  Most notably, my mailbox and my phone.  I'm practically getting buried in this stuff.

Death by marriage-industrial complex
Almost once per week, I get a wedding catalog filled with what can only be described as some of the most heinous, kitchy shit imaginable on planet earth.  Champagne flutes engraved with interlocking hearts  proclaiming that two hearts have become one, so-called "timeless treasures" gifts for groomsmen, and handkerchiefs embroidered with the phrase "Remember the day/you gave me away" for the mother of the bride.

As I peruse these catalogs, I find myself continually hoping that they're just satirical, and that people don't actually buy this stuff.  Apparently, though, I'm very much in the minority for not wanting these items, which are -- obviously -- totally unique and utterly personal, despite being mass-manufactured.

My personal favorite, however, is the apparel.  Flip-flops that say "Just Married," tank tops that say "Bride," skivvies that have "The Future Mrs. (Your Husband's Name Here)" on the ass.  This begs the question: what kind of morally bankrupt, tradition-hating young lady doesn't want a bikini with "Just Married" emblazoned in rhinestones across the crotch?  Good people, I ask you: is this what society is coming to? IS IT?!

In addition to the catalogs, I've gotten offers for specialty bridal tanning packages (your pictures will be ruined if you look washed out in white!), stationery, jewelery, and underwear.  A new low, however, came when my phone rang one night during dinner.  It was a number I didn't recognize, so I let it go to voicemail.  Instead of leaving a message, though, they called again.  This usually signals to me that something is urgent, so I picked it up.

"Hi!" Exclaimed an incredibly chipper voice on the other end of the line, "This is (woman you've never met or heard of) from Mary Kay! I hear you're getting married soon, and I wanted to offer you my services for all your bridal needs!"

I tried to bow out by saying that my wedding is in Colorado, so I'd be doing all my make-up there.  But she persisted, talking about how she also has bridal packages for the months leading up to the wedding -- after all, a bride has to ensure that her skin is fully prepared and perfectly flawless for her big day.

Oh, sweet Jesus.

I explained that I planned to stick with my regular skincare routine and thanked her for her time, but for a few days afterwards, I half-expected to see a carrier pigeon staring at me from the deck while bearing catalogs and offers of cosmetics.

As the official carrier pigeon of the wedding industry, it comes replete with a pink bow for all the pigeon-friendly brides out there.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Expensive Invitations? We Don't Need No Stinking Expensive Invitations!

Invitations. They're a rather inescapable trapping of weddings; despite my overall defiance of the MIC, I have to tell my guests where and when my Betrothed and I are getting hitched. It's kind of a logistical necessity.
Now, in my experience, invitations for festivities of any kind are fairly straightforward. You tell your guests where to go, when to arrive there, who's throwing the party, and what the occasion is. You request that they kindly RSVP. You put the invite itself on pretty paper. Or in an Evite. Maybe I'm missing some great cultural trend, here, but invitations always strike me as being there for one sole purpose: conveying critical logistical information. They're fact-based. The pretty paper is value added, right?
Apparently not. The MIC, in all its magnificence, has a lot to say on the matter of the invitations.
Your wedding invitations are your guests' first glimpse into your wedding style -- from the overall vibe and aesthetic to specific color combos and the level of formality. So it's important to make them count!
Ok, am I the only person who has looked at a wedding invitation and thought, in this order, "Oh, how nice! So-And-So is marrying What's-Her-Face. Ok, it's in September. It's being held an hour away from where I live. Let me fill out this RSVP card and tell them I'll be there with bells on. Oh, and this is on pretty paper. Now, where's my calendar? I need to write this into my schedule..."
That is to say, never -- not once in my 30 years -- have I dissected a wedding invitation for a glimpse into the happy couple's theme, aesthetic, vibe, or color preferences. NEVER. Do people really do that? Are there actually people on this planet who, upon receiving a wedding invitation, sit down, ignore the children who need to be fed/dinner that is burning on the stove/dogs who need to be walked/papers that need to be written/bills that need to be paid in order to analyze the invite? Do they put on their special Wedding Invitation Reading Glasses and make assessments like "Their preference for the color green denotes their commitment to having an environmentally-friendly wedding. I see here that the font in which they were printed leans to the right, which means they're forward-leaning people"? And for the love of all that is holy, why don't these people have lives?
There's a lot to research, but lucky for you, we have thousands of wedding invitation photos, tips, and advice for you to get the perfect wedding invitations. First, browse wedding invites online that suit your wedding style.
A lot of research? But...why? As long as I have the pertinent information needed for the invite, why does there need to be a lot of research? Can't I just print these puppies out and be done with it?
And as for invitations that suit my wedding's wedding's style can be summed up in one sentence: my Betrothed and I are getting married. That's our style. Great! Finding wedding invitations that tell people we're getting married is going to be a cakewalk!
Once you've browsed all our wedding invitation photos -- from traditional to formal and even unique wedding invitations -- it'll be time to find a local wedding stationery designer.
I don't even know what a wedding stationery designer is. Is this a job title that people actually hold? (And do they get business cards? If so,  they design those, too?) My exposure to wedding invitations has been through a) receiving them for other peoples' weddings, and b) occasionally seeing couples oogling overpriced invitation designs at Papersource. The bottom line is, though, that I'm disinclined to hire someone to do something I'm perfectly capable of doing myself.
I've heard the argument that DIY invitations aren't as pretty or as polished as those produced by these wedding stationery designers.
That's true.
But so what? The worst that can possibly happen is that I save money and wind up with perfectly acceptable invitations that people don't swoon over as soon as they open them. My invitations will never turn into wall hangings in other peoples' homes. Nobody will look at them and be catapulted into a fit of covetous hysteria because they want invitations that look exactly like mine.
And I'm cool with that. The fact remains: no matter how much money I spend or how stunning the invitations are, people will only keep them until the wedding has happened. After the guests have gotten to the venue on time and on the right day, all invites meet the same fate: the great paper recycling bin in the sky. The bride and groom or their family members might decide to keep an invite for posterity, but they're the only ones. Your friends will not keep them. Your cousins will throw them away. Your great uncle twice-removed will make a paper airplane out of it so he can torment the caretakers in the old folks' home.
So with that in mind, my Betrothed and I plotted out our invitation plan: Target. DIY invitation kit. Printer. Post office. Done.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

In Which I Lament About Save-the-Dates

In recent weeks, my Betrothed and I had an particularly touching conversation:

Me: So I'm doing wedding research, and apparently we're supposed to send out save-the-date cards 4-6 months in advance.
Betrothed: Dude, that's...right now. I thought you weren't sure about doing save-the-date cards?
Me: I know. I see the purpose of sending them, but they cost so much money. And you know how I feel about unnecessarily spending money.
Betrothed: Yes. You'd rather spend an entire day interviewing Ghaddafi while running from a pack of rabid ferrets.
Me: Yes. That is exactly how I feel.
Betrothed: So maybe we send out email save-the-dates? It gets the job done, and it's cheap.
Me: Oh, thank God. No Ghaddafi or rabid ferrets. Although in the end, aren't they really the same thing?

And so, it was settled: we'd do email save-the-dates. I momentarily hesitated about this breach of convention, worrying that we might ruffle some old-fashioned feathers with our newfangled technological e-mail notices. But then I decided: if someone gets all kerfluffled about it being too modern, too bad for them. They can go flagellate themselves with their dial-up modem cord.

I'd rather be chased by the amalgamation of all nightmarish things than spend money on unnecessary items (like thematic save-the-dates)

However, upon logging onto a wedding industry website (which shall remain nameless) to see if they had recommendations for how to send e-save the dates, it took me no time at all to find all manner of absurdity regarding such staples of wedding planning:
It's okay to send your guests a wedding save the date by email, but don't forget that this is the first introduction your guests will have to your wedding. A lot of couples are imagining unique ways to incorporate their theme. Having a destination wedding? Send save the date invitations as messages in a bottle, or design them to look like vintage tropical postcards. For a rustic country wedding, consider branding your save the date on a wooden coaster. 

Per the usual: are they fucking kidding me?

Ok, first of all: what's with the idea that this is the first "introduction" that my guests will have to my wedding and that it will, therefore, require more than the information needed to, ya know, save the date? The first time I read that phrase, my immediate reaction was "Yeah, so?" (Yes, I'm a 5th grader in a 30-year-old's body.) But seriously: so what? Are people going to be thrown into gaping chasms of despair if they don't get a glimpse into my (nonexistent) color scheme? Are they going to recoil in disgust if I fail to imagine inventive ways to incorporate my (also nonexistent) theme into card stock?


If they pay close attention to such things and are disappointed by the fact that I don't, well, too bad. They can spend loads of money on the perfect save-the-date for their own wedding, but for me...again with the Ghaddafi and rabid ferrets. 'Nuff said.

Secondly, branding onto a wooden coaster? Where the hell do they get these ideas!? It's like they jumped off the Good Ship Sanity and took a flying leap onto the Carnival Cruise Line of Extravagant Shit. Now they're sitting on the sun deck, sipping margaritas made of the sweet nectar of the MIC. I mean, really: I'd have to sell a kidney on the black market -- probably to some shady mofo who leaves me with non-sterile, rudimentary stitches, packed in a bath tub filled with ice -- to cover the postage for 200 wooden coasters.

Moreover, though, how does one even acquire wooden coasters to be branded upon, let alone a vendor who just happens to brand things? Does one find an artistically gifted but woefully bored ranch hand who can custom design and create a beautiful brand using hearts, doves, and relevant information about the wedding? If so, why not send out a save the date properly branded onto a cow, and you can send an entire bovine to each person who'll be invited? Now that would be an awesome introduction to your wedding.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe branding is the way to go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wedding Guilt Mad Libs

Ok, so did you ever play Mad Libs? You know, the verb-noun-verb-verb thing where you could pick anything to plug into a sentence, including things like farts and Justin Beiber?

Well. I love Mad Libs. I haven't played it in forever, though, so it occurred to me last night (why do I always come up with fun ideas just before I go to sleep?) that I want to create a Mad Libs based on all the bullshit phrases that the wedding industry spews at brides. A monument to the Marriage-Industrial Complex. A compilation of all the guilt-inducing statements that a girl hears from the day she gets engaged until after the last piece of cake has been eaten. And so, dear reader, I present to you: Wedding Guilt Mad Libs.

It'll go like this:


Your NOUN will be the most heavily photographed and important article of clothing you ever buy - so you need to make sure it's ADJECTIVE!

An insufficiently decorated NOUN can make or VERB your photos.

It's critical that you choose a NOUN and NOUNS to unify the aesthetics of your wedding. The NOUN will VERB your colors. Without them, it will look ADJECTIVE and ADJECTIVE. Lighting can VERB a venue, too.

Your NOUNS will be one of the most highly photographed elements of your wedding. You need to choose NOUNS and NOUNS that closely match your style.

Remember: everyone is VERBing you. If some aspect of the wedding is less than ADJECTIVE, they'll think ADVERB of you for the rest of your natural life.

So here's how mine turned out:

Your Artist Formerly Known as Prince will be the most heavily photographed and important mermaid you ever buy - so you need to make sure it's inhumane!

An insufficiently decorated aardvark can make or cavity search your photos.

It's critical that you choose a birther and pancakes to unify the aesthetics of your wedding. The Hosni Mubarak will detonate your colors. Without them, it will look pliable and filthy. Lighting can deport a venue, too.

Your Hazmat suits will be one of the most highly photographed elements of your wedding. Therefore, you need to choose princesses and flamingoes that closely match your style.

Remember: everyone is chasing you. If some aspect of the wedding is less than highly contagious, they'll think flamingly of you for the rest of your natural life.

I like this a lot better than the actual guilt-addled MIC schtick from which it was derived. Now, to make sure my aardvark is sufficiently decorated...

Monday, January 31, 2011

In Which I'm Pleasantly Surprised by Buying a Dress

As you, dear reader, may recall from a couple columns back, I spent some time being nervous about buying a dress. Fear and trepidation struck deep into my heart. To put it delicately, getting blood drawn while beekeeping seemed more appealing than buying a dress.
As dress shopping day grew nigh, I got increasingly sketched out. Since my mom and I were driving to Denver - about an hour from my parents' house - for this most sacred and blessed of rituals, it was going to be an all-day excursion. However, since both my favorite bookstore and my favorite Mexican restaurant are in Denver, I hoped to convince my mom that book shopping and enchilada consuming would be far more fun than looking for a wedding dress.

It didn't work.

And so we arrived at the dress shop bright and early on a late December morning. When we walked in, the saleswoman with whom we had an appointment got me set up in a fitting room. I told her my budget - no more than $350 - and she took some measurements and came back with a handful of dresses. I tried the first one on. It was gorgeous. I looked at the pricetag.

Just as I was about to mention that $600 was definitely outside my price range, bedlam broke loose. Two four-year-old girls bedecked in frilly flower girl dresses were twirling wildly all over the bridal fitting area, accompanied entourage of NINE PEOPLE. Now, these girls weren't rappers, so they didn't need to roll with a posse. And no one in this entourage of nine adults seemed to be in a supervisory role as they cooed and fawned over the twirling toddlers.

This, then, begs the question: WHY BRING NINE PEOPLE? I mean, hell, I didn't even bring nine people for my day of wedding dress shopping. If I was scoping out flower girl dresses, I sure as shit wouldn't want nine people there. But for whatever reason, these girls were rollin' with their homies, and, in a nod to Antoine Dodson, they were climbin' in the bridal salon', snatchin' your floor space up.

In the midst of the flower girl dress mayhem, one of Those Brides walked up and, in a moment of sublime entitlement and snottery, demanded that the saleswoman helping me pull every blue bridesmaid's dress in the store for her friends to try on. Every. Single. One. Immediately.

Since it was early in the day and the saleswoman I was working with was one of the only people on staff, she had no choice but to help Miss Thang and her Burning Need for All the Blue Dresses. So there I stood, wearing a dress well beyond my means, trying to keep the twirling flower girls from stepping on my feet, watching Miss Thang roll her eyes impatiently while waiting for all the blue dresses to arrive. Preferably in a horse-drawn carriage and on hangers made of pure gold.
I wanted to hide. I looked at my mom, panicked, and suggested that perhaps I'd be better off taking cover in the dressing room. My mom had the same idea and thought this sounded great, but sadly, social norms and etiquette precluded such a thing from actually happening.

Thankfully, though, the flower girls and their entourage quickly left. Miss Thang finally had, like, 87 blue dresses to examine. I could breathe again.

That seemed like an appropriate time to bring up the budget issue. Now, apparently studies have shown that most brides will buy one of the first dresses they try on. And, also apparently for most brides, budgets are mere guidelines as opposed to hard and fast rules. So, if when a bride walks in for her appointment she's given some gorgeous dresses to try on that are outside her price range, chances are she'll say to hell with the budget and buy one.

Not I, my friends. Not I. I remarked to the saleswoman that I really needed to stick with my no-more-than-$350 rule, and to my surprise...she was totally chill about it. I expected some sort of MIC-inspired schtick about how this is the most important dress I'll ever buy, but she didn't even go there. Instead, she said "no problem" and led me over to the clearance rack, noting that it would be my best bet for finding something within my price range. 

In under 15 minutes amongst the clearance racks, my mom and I found eight dresses that I liked. I tried them on and quickly narrowed it down to two. They were similar cuts - both halter necklines - and I really liked them both. As I stood there contemplating this momentous decision, I felt my neck start to itch. The fabric along my collarbone felt like sandpaper. I looked in the mirror and saw a gnarly, prickly, bright red rash breaking out under the beads on the neckline. I mean, I know that breaking into hives is a hot motif in wedding fashion these days, but I decided that since I appeared to be allergic to the fabric under the beading, this probably wasn't the right dress. Tough call, I know.
In a move that will shock the masses, I bought the one that didn't give me some nasty skin condition resembling chickenpox of the neck and collarbone. Happily, since it was on clearance, it was marked down to $300. But, even more happily, when we took it to the register, it was also on sale. On sale and on clearance! My heart was aflutter with dreams of saving money.

All told, it was $250. Even with some minor alterations, it still comes in under my $350 maximum. Now that's what I call a mothafuckin' victory.

So, while the day started out rather badly, it ended on an awesome note, and I left with a gorgeous - and very budget-friendly - dress in hand.