How I feel five days before the wedding:
This is how it is:
Sometimes you love a person.
Sometimes you do puzzles together.
Sometimes you do puzzles with friends.
Sometimes you feel old.
Sometimes you take naps.
Sometimes you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Sometimes you purchase $30-worth of produce from a local grocery shop.
Sometimes that means you eat kale, turnips, collards, Carolina sweet onions, green onions, rainbow chard, beets, cabbage and radishes.
Sometimes you look up creative recipes for these vegetables you have no idea how to cook.
Sometimes they turn out great.
Sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes you buy a whole coconut and try to open it on a Sunday morning, and that turns out to be a disaster.
Sometimes you spend so much time playing racquetball and swimming and walking to the library and stopping for coffee and wishing it was warmer and talking about going backpacking that you forget how many weeks have gone by since you checked out that backpacking book from the library.
Sometimes you take naps.
Sometimes you do things together, but not really together.
Sometimes you have company over.
Sometimes you go snow tubing on Moonshine Mountain in North Carolina.
Sometimes you get drunk.
Sometimes you spend too much money.
Sometimes you buy awesome boots.
Sometimes you are so happy.
Sometimes you worry about dying — or worse, him dying and you having to live through that and meet someone new and start over and detangle the mess of a life he leaves behind.
Sometimes you think about praying that that won’t happen.
Sometimes you think about your wedding, and you start planning silly things even though it’s still more than a year away.
Sometimes you wear protective goggles into a bar and really pull it off.
Sometimes things are just awesome.
So I bought a wedding dress.
Wedding dress shopping goes a little like this: You walk into a store, they ask you questions you have no idea how to answer (like, how did you envision looking on your wedding day? I am seriously the only girl who never actually imagined getting married when I was 5 years old? I played with imaginary friends and saved imaginary animals. I was practically set on getting married in a loin cloth) and then they pick out some dresses for you that are all sample sizes (read: not your size) because you don’t want to spend $7,000 on a dress you’re only going to wear once (theoretically). Then they clamp you in it and everyone stands around and looks at you. Mom got weepy/emotional/choked up a lot.
OK. Let me stop for a second and explain I didn’t hate wedding dress shopping. It’s actually a LOT of fun to wear all these gorgeous gowns (especially the ones I’ll never afford/buy that are all beady and lacy and extravagant) and look at myself and have my mom tear up and feel beautiful. It is a really cool experience. I wasn’t frustrated or mad or angry that the dresses didn’t fit the first time. I wasn’t bored even though everyone seemed to think I was. For me it was a very internal experience. I think everyone wanted me to be more animated about the process, but the plain truth is that the process still terrifies me. And not only am I a total weddingphobe, I just didn’t want to spend $500 on a dress and then $500 to have it altered. One woman was insane and snapped at my sister/wedding planner.
And then we went to this one shop, The Timeless Bride in downtown Mobile. When I first walked in, I was like “no way” because everything seemed really “pretty” in the bad sense of the word and sort of outdated. But the woman was amazing. She had, seriously, 1,000+ dresses in stock for all shapes and sizes, and they were AFFORDABLE. It was crazy. The other cool side of the coin is that they were vintage. She had wedding dresses dating from 1930 to 2010. The one I picked out was an Alfred Angelo ivory dress from 2010 with a custom-built navy sash. It has a gorgeous lace-up corset that makes the back look really cool. It doesn’t cover my scar, but I’m not ashamed of the scar: It’s part of me. It was the right fit (read: it fit me like a freaking glove and made me feel super sexy) and needed practically no alterations. Plus it was only $500. I think I paid $750 for the whole thing: dress, sewn-in boob cups, headpiece, custom-built sash with some sparkly accents and feeling like a freaking sexy bride. $750 for a dress AND headpiece to match? With NO alterations? You really can’t beat that. The 2012 Collection bridal stores wanted $500 minimum for a dress that I didn’t even really like that much, plus another $300 or so for alterations. The sash would have been extra, and headpieces can run $100-$300. I think the MSRP for the dress I bought was close to $700 alone two years ago.
It really is possible to do a wedding on a tighter budget, but you have to be flexible, patient and open to new experiences. I was convinced I wasn’t going to like The Timeless Bride when we walked in, and I was hungry, and we almost left because Mom was getting impatient (we had to wait a bit because we showed up early). But it was so worth it, and now my wedding dress will be A) something I’m excited about wearing, B) something reasonable, practical and in my budget and C) “me.”
It was the right dress and the right decision, and I never thought I’d say “yes” to the dress. Especially not like that, on that night. I had no intentions of leaving with a dress purchased. I had more shopping to do.
But when you know, you know.