Monday, December 13, 2010

Say Yes to the Dress; No to the Princesses

So I'm going home to Colorado for Christmas, and I'll be going dress shopping while I'm there.
I'm a bit nervous about this.
You see, my only reference point for shopping for a wedding dress is seeing Say Yes to the Dress while I'm on the elliptical at the gym. To put it mildly, I wouldn't trust those people to sell me a damn plastic bag. If some woman who consistently fails to fill in her lip liner tries to convince me to spend epic amounts of money on a dress by saying things like "This is the most impoah-tant dress you'll evah buy," I will run screaming from the dress shop. I'll die of exposure in the parking lot of a mall in Denver before enduring more of that obnoxious shit. 
There are other elements of this that make me nervous, though, even if I'm not helped by a dude who tweezer-massacres his eyebrows.
First of all, the dreaded princess factor reaches a fever pitch when dress shopping. I've lost count of how many times the princess theme is invoked in reference to bridal gowns. I'm mildly terrified that I'll be surrounded by women who want nothing more than to drown in a tsunami of tulle, or to sob with joy upon finding the one dress in the entire universe that makes them look like Walt Disney vomited tafetta all over them. I don't like tulle or tafetta. I refuse to wear anything that makes me look like a cupcake or that requires having a giant bow on my ass. I'm the anti-princess. Do bridal shops even encounter, let alone deal with, people who visibly cringe when the word princess is used? Shit. I'm already in for it.
Secondly, I'm not willing to spend a lot of money on a dress. I want to get one that I like, but the fact is, I'm only going to wear it once. I wouldn't spend thousands of dollars on any piece of clothing, even if I knew I was going to wear it every week for the next ten years -- so I see no reason to go into debt for something that I'll only wear for a few hours. I'm operating on a very, very limited budget (to be specific, no more than $350 for this thing) because not only can I not afford to drop a ton of cash on a dress, but also because, based purely on principle, I refuse to do so.
But then the MIC pressure-cooker arrives, spewing mantras like "Your wedding dress will be photographed and documented more than any other article of clothing you own." Are they kidding?! If we start measuring the value of clothing by the number of times it'll be photographed, Nieman Marcus will be forced out of business because their clothes will be devalued faster than Soviet currency.

But nonetheless, the MIC kinda makes a girl feel like she's going to wind up wearing a burlap bag if she doesn't shell out serious cash for this unbelievably important, uber-photographed, most-critical-garment-of-her-entire-life bit of fabric.
But really, that's what it is: fabric. Which, if all goes according to plan, you will only wear once. Yes, it's important. And yes, it will be photographed. But -- and maybe I'm being delusional here -- I doubt people are going to pour over the details of it and scrutinize each bead. Chances are, the extent of the attention paid to my dress will be "Oh, that's a pretty dress. And she doesn't have a giant bow on her ass! Lovely!"
While I completely agree with the idea that it's definitely impotant to get a dress that you like, I see no reason to spend as much you'd have to shell out for a month-long trip to Paris or for, say, an entire car. I'll be irritated beyond all reason if someone (salespeople at bridal stores, I'm looking at you) tries to convince me I should spend that much money or risk looking like a haggard, emphysemic bag lady who lives under an overpass.
The question, though, will be whether or not it's possible for an anti-princess on a limited budget to find a dress she likes. Updates to follow.


  1. I have images of Miranda from Sex and the City shopping for a wedding dress in my head. Just channel your inner Miranda, and you'll be fine. You'll find something amazingly beautiful.
    Also, don't be afraid to look at dresses designed for high school dances. I know it sounds like a horrid idea, but I've known more than one bride who wore a "prom" dress as her wedding dress, and they were inexpensive and beautiful.

  2. Oh love. Not sure when you'll be there or how long, but I will be in Denver Dec. 30-Jan. 6. If we overlap at all, I'd love to be your calming influence/sarcastic cohort. ;)

    Miss you!

  3. You should check out the Aria dresses if you get the chance. I picked out *I think* the most expensive one in the store for $400. They have physical shops (for trying on only) in Boston, DC and LA.

  4. Let's not forget I found a slimline 1940s number for $150 with Shaw at Filenes. And I got to try on everything i wanted with no sales front of 100 strangers. But still.

    There are reasonable dresses. I would go in and find a style or look you like first. Don't tell them your exact budget. Be firm you are NOT buying. Take stealthy pictures.

    For goodness sake you are pracitically Jewish, find what you want and we will get a copy or wholesale for you! No one pays full price unless they are on a TV show.

  5. I got mine for $150 and it was technically a bridesmaid's dress, I just got it in "champagne". White House Black Market and J. Crew also have some nice, fairly inexpensive options!

  6. Just avoid the bow. No one puts Baby in the corner, and no one should put a gigantic bow on their ass.

    This makes me remember going dress shopping with Sara. We were all frightened of what the shopping event may force us to sacrifice about our personalities (are bridal dress shoppers allowed to be sarcastic around that much lace and satin?)