Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2

After weeks of nonstop grading, a much-needed trip to my hometown, wedding cake tasting and flower picking, celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday, and several cuddle sessions with our family cat, Bella, I have finally found time for Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2.

My sister and I decided to match at my dad’s 60th birthday party. We also decided to practice different poses while taking pictures:

I call the series below Bella with Katherine’s Laptop (and doesn’t help grade):

Now that I’ve overloaded you with pictures, let’s get on to the actual post.

Before dress shopping, I got a few tips from friends and websites on how to best approach the whole process. Most of the tips were simple: set a budget, scout ideas beforehand (while also being open to other choices), take a few favorite people with you to each store, and keep your store visitations to a select few places. 

Well, I did really well with the first three: I set a very clear budget in the beginning and stuck to it, screenshotted dresses on Pinterest and cut some out of magazines, took my mother to every single dress shop (except for one, when my sister tagged along as well), and made initial appointments at three dress shops that I had researched extensively online. I just knew that I was going to find THE dress at one of these first appointments, because that’s what my friends and every single TV/movie featuring wedding dress shopping had told me.

Guess what? I was wrong.

If you read my last blog post, you know that somewhere between the 3rd and 9th bridal store visit, I disappeared into a tulle-induced frenzy where I was determined to try on every single dress that I might REMOTELY like. I was on a crazy dress path and it was going downhill fast. I was waiting for that “ah-ha” moment when I put on the dress and everyone around me starts clapping and crying instantly. I’m not making that part up–I’ve literally read a blog post where a bride said this happened to her. So, in my crazy bridal mind, I was determined to have that same moment because, dammit, why not! I tried and retried dresses, determined to have an ah-ha moment of my own.

But then, something my best friend said to me brought me back to reality: “The TV/movies lie to you. The dress is important, but it doesn’t make the wedding, and definitely doesn’t make the marriage.” (I’m totally paraphrasing because I can’t find the original text).

There is a reason we have best friends, and it’s for times like these. Her simple text reminded me that just because the “ah-ha this is the dress” moment happens all the time in the media doesn’t mean that it has to happen to me. Every person’s dress shopping experience is different, and every PERSON is different.

This is the same rule that applies to the reaction to getting proposed to. Even though I always pictured that I would cry, as that’s what you see in the movies/etc, I instead started in utter shock at the ring. On an unrelated note, I’ve also started to think that men holding women’s purses when they shop is not a real thing, but something started in commercials/TV shows. More on this to come.

After this text, I slowly came back to reality and the rest of the wedding dress shopping experience became a little easier, as outlined in my first post. Here, I want to share a few dress shopping guidelines–as it there weren’t enough already out there–to remind other soon-to-be-brides that it’s okay if the “ah-ha” moment takes some time, or happens in a different way than you expected.

Wordifications’ Endorsed Wedding Dress Shopping Guidelines

1. Plan beforehand. Like I outlined above, going in with an idea of the dress you’re looking for is key. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s a helpful reminder.

2. Say no and be firm to dresses you are not interested in. You will be offered plenty of dresses that are not your type or are too pricey. Just because that trick works on other customers–oh, you love the dress? oh, it’s $500 over your budget? oh, you want it anyway? perfect!–doesn’t mean it has to work on you. I’m a perennially nice person when it comes to interacting with salespeople, often too timid to really speak my mind, but I said no when necessary.

3. The step above helps trim down your dressing room options, which is key. You don’t want to take a bunch of dresses you don’t actually like back to the dressing room, and waste your time trying them on, when your dream dress is probably somewhere else in the store. Especially in stores that have a strict appointment time limit, say yes to only your favorite picks.

4. At the same time, say yes to different styles–within reason. Like, if you know you will never, ever want to wear a huge ball gown type dress, then mark those off completely. But, if you know you are open to, say, strapless, even though it’s not your first choice, then try on some strapless dresses. You never know, you might find the dress this way. Let’s just say that’s how I found mine–although my dress doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. Like I would give away what the dress looks like on this blog!

My emotions (in gif form, of course) about halfway through the whole dress shopping process: 

5. Don’t put your hopes on one store. Let me repeat. DON’T PUT YOUR HOPES ON ONE STORE. This was the big dress shopping mistake I made and it ultimately lead to my wedding dress-shopping-frenzy. I was so disappointed that I hadn’t found the dress at this specific store that SO many people had vouched for, that I spun out into a wedding panic.

Which store, you ask? Well, about 2 1/2 hours away from my hometown in TN is Low’s Bridal & Formal, which so happens to house the largest bridal selection in the mid-south. Sounds perfect, right? My mom and I heard about the store and, after asking for opinions on FB on whether or not a visit to the store was worth it and getting a resounding yes from many people who got their dress there, I made an appointment. After such praiseworthy FB comments, I was positive that I was going to find THE DRESS here. Like, steroid-induced confidence positive. And I did find many lovely dresses at this store, ultimately whittling it down to two favorites. Yet, while I was looking for the “THIS IS THE ONE!” moment, I instead spun off in a totally different direction: stressed, anxious, and confused. Sure, I had found some lovely dresses, but none of them were THE dress. Instead of feeling excited that I had found good options, I was stressed about the whole process and upset at the blind confidence I had placed in the store after hearing such rave reviews about it. I had planned on walking out with a dress purchased, and I instead walked out (well, rather, hobbled-I was still in the boot from my fracture!) confused, angry, and a little bitter, which is SO not the emotion you want to get from wedding dress shopping.

The visit to Low’s slowed down the whole process a bit instead of speeding it up, as I had hoped. Even though many, many people raved about the store, I finally accepted that their positive reviews didn’t mean jack if I wasn’t finding the dress I wanted, even in a store that looked like it was straight out of “Say Yes to the Dress.”

Ultimately, going to 12 different stores paid off–I found THE dress, and I’ll be going to try MY DRESS on in a week and a half. However, if I had known some of the above reminders going in to the whole process, especially the fifth one, the process would have been a little easier. I finally had to remind myself: There are thousands of dress shops with millions of dresses (not really sure on that math) and NO WAY to try on every single one. I had to put aside my inner perfectionist and, once I did, I was able to calm down long enough to say yes to the perfect dress.

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What Would Mom Say?

I have been living independently for close to three years now. I don’t count my college years—well, maybe the last year and a half—because I went to college in my hometown, literally five minutes from my parents. My moving-in-to-college-day was quick.

But that’s beside the point. Even though I have been living on my own for three years, I still encounter many, many situations where I apply the following code: What Would Mom Say (WWMS).

For all you people who get offended easily, the fact that this parallels What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) so well was a pure accident. Sometimes I do have strokes of brilliance.

For those of you have been reading or following, I think my Mom is pretty great. I mentioned in this post that she’s a Mom when I need her to be a Mom and a friend when I need her to be a friend. WWMS applies to the first part of this statement.

Allow me to educate you on the WWMS Principle. I encounter certain situations in my life where I often find making a decision on my own difficult. Most of the time, I can weigh the odds on my own and decide. Many times, I pull in other people in my life, like Rahul, my parents, my sister, or a few of my close friends. Deciding which MFA program to attend was one I bugged people about almost every day, especially my parents and R. Some decisions present such a clear answer that I decide almost immediately. For instance, accepting the House Mom position was one I made on my own, and very quickly, because it felt right.

But as I said, certain situations only Moms can advice on. Which fabric cleaner should I use? Do I really need to dry clean my quilt, or do you think it’s okay to wash in the washing machine? When does raw chicken become unacceptable to cook with? Does it take on a certain color?

Actually, Mom, those are questions I really do need answers to.

Since my Mom and I live far apart, and I can’t keep her on the phone 24/7, applying WWMS stands as a convenient way to apply Mom’s advice without calling her 24,000 times a week. Some examples of times I’ve applies WWMS:

  • Even though it’s Buy 1, Get 1 Free Strawberries, do I really need two packs of strawberries? No, you don’t.
  • Do I really want to buy this shirt, or is just because it’s on sale for $4.99? No, you really don’t want this shirt.
  • If my African Violet shows a root that looks like a bug, is it dying? (Another serious question.)
  • How do you chop garlic? (I actually called her earlier this week to ask her this question.)
  • Can you bake cookies on tin foil? (Another actual question I asked a few weeks ago).

Today, I had the opportunity to apply WWMS again. While I was working out, one of the TVs was on the local weather, which featured scary radar maps and urgent voices telling all of us to stay calm as “bad conditions” approached. I tried to speed through my work out so I could get back home, as I planned a few days ago to go grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s.

I knew the weather was getting bad, so I started weighing the options: Can I afford to not go to the grocery store? No, I’m almost completely out of food. Is it really necessary to drive the 20 minutes to Trader Joe’s? Not really, especially since everyone forgets how to drive in bad weather.

The Wicked Witch of the West is approaching! Or just some bad weather.

I checked the sky, and it was getting kind of dark. Knowing how traffic can back up on the street I have to use to get anywhere from my house—stems right into D.C., has inconveniently timed constructions, and no back road options on my part—I knew the “20 minute drive” would be more like 30 minutes, during which the sky would probably get worse. So, knowing I would probably let my desire to shop at my beloved Trader Joe’s override responsible decision making, I applied WWMS.

Should I drive in tornado-like weather to Trader Joe’s and Target (as I needed some non-grocery things), or just drive the much, much shorter distance to Giant, which will have most everything I need, and allow me to avoid the scary weather? Yes, Katherine. Obviously.

Actually, she probably would have told me to just stay home altogether. But I really, really needed groceries.

So, even though I was jonesing for Trader Joe’s, I got all the necessary groceries at the much closer Giant, leaving the store literally right as the sky broke and started pouring buckets. There were other signs too: on the way to Giant, the sky was littered with lightening. While leaving Giant, I had to wait FOREVER to turn out of the parking lot because people were going BATSHIT CRAZY trying to enter and exit the lot. Plus, a random woman chose the MIDDLE OF THE SUPER BUSY ROAD to cross the street, adding another complication.

All of the caps in the last paragraph were intentional. People drive crazy in bad weather. Me included, but I’m not a stellar driver in the first place.

So, once again, WWMS paid off, as the weather has only gotten increasingly worse since I’ve been home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited about the thundering outside. Being from TN means I miss tornado warnings and watches every other weekend, so I didn’t mind the excitement today.

I suggest applying WWMS if you often find yourself stalling over certain decisions where Mom knows best. Obviously, I turn to my Mom for many other and much more important things, but this is one area where I trust Mom 100%.