Maybe I should start with all I see is red because finding my wedding dress was not a part of the planning I was looking forward to. So many people say how magical it is and how you’ll just know. I just knew I saved that until last. I wrote down my thoughts on the whole ordeal right after it happened and it is such an important share. Enjoy!
“When we started planning, M and I knew a lot of what we wanted. We had already done so much– hey we had been together awhile so we planned early! We had our big guest list, website, venue, dj, photobooth, videographer, photographer, registries, bridesmaid dresses, etc. done by the time January rolled around. I had promised myself that I would find a dress during my birthday month.
Being a “bigger” woman in this society is not always easy. I am probably not what most would call fat at all, but I am extremely curvy, voluptuous, thick even. I’m actually a smaller size than the average American woman- I have two big attributes: boobs and a butt. Then you see my waist, at least ten inches smaller than my hip measurements. I hate pants because they never sit right, I love dresses, and yes, my fiancee is definitely a boob guy. I knew I wanted a corset and a full to fuller skirt, I knew I probably wanted a strapless or a sweetheart neck, I knew I wanted ivory, and I knew my budget. Going for a dress is something I wanted to be excited about, but my body image got in the way of all that.
I decided to start at the same place in Manhattan where I got my bridesmaid’s dresses; it was across the street from one of my job locales too. My mom met up with me and away we went, both of us taking big breaths. We went inside and waded our way through a sea of white. Bags and bags of white and ivory dresses, brides everywhere yanking at these giant bags, and a very long waiting list of ladies waiting to try on dresses. We pulled out some dresses but could barely see what they looked like. The dresses were divided by designer and in plastic zip ups; getting an idea of the look of these gowns was frustrating. I had a list of style numbers with me and they didn’t even have most of them. I found a few and pulled as many dresses as I was allowed, also concerned that none of them would fit me. I took deep breaths. Then we waited…. and waited… and waited. They called my name. An older woman with a thick accent and glasses shouted my name incorrectly and I wondered if she even knew what food was. She was a stick. Awesome. I get inside the dressing room, dragging my mom in with me. The woman we will call O asked me what I was looking for. As I started describing she cut me off, telling me that all the dresses I pulled would probably not fit because the sample sizes were mostly 8s and 10s. Wedding dresses run small, I get it, but c’mon! I’m a bride, i wanted to shout, and hello I’m not obese. WTH. All I wanted to do was try on a dress! (I was glad to see an array of multi-sized brides in the shop!) So O put me in a dress. It was fugly. She left the room to “find me something that might fit” and I turned to my mom saying we were leaving. When O walked back into the dressing room, there were tears in my eyes and she could tell. Her tone softened and she put me in the next dress I picked but I had already checked out. I was shutting down and all I saw in the mirror was someone not worthy of wearing a beautiful dress. I was punishing myself for being a heffer bride despite my many efforts to the contrary (whole other issue of health). But the next dress was special, one of the few style numbers I had written down that they actually had in stock. O said it probably wouldn’t fit me but it did, save two inches. My mom started crying and O said I looked beautiful. They brought me out of the dressing room and to the middle of the floor in the open. Everyone oohed and aahed passing me, saying how perfect I looked. When they put the veil on my head all I could think was that I wanted to leave but this dress was pretty. No clarity. My mom exclaimed this is it and i bet you any amount of money you’ll buy this dress. I felt how beautiful that dress was; it was everything I dreamed of. I was irrational at that point and not wanting to be swayed by my mood or my mom. I tried on 3 more dresses and didn’t love any of them. O turned out to not be a troll and I appreciated that. She gave me all the information on the pretty dress while I played it off how much I liked it, still thinking I’m not worthy. Wow, whatta downer blog this is turning out to be. Time to pick this baby up!
I had an appointment the very next day at a small local bridal shop. I was excited. I had friends who loved this place; they had a lot of the designers I liked. I was trying to be more positive. Mom and I went in to this small but cute shop, told the woman (presumably the owner) our price range and showed her pictures of the kind of dress I wanted. I watched her size me up and down as she dove into a nervous, hand flailing word vomit of why they have nothing for me. As we followed her around the shop, she pulled out dress after dress that looked exactly the same. I had showed her very current styles of beading and A-line; all she had were weird cuts and lacey lace lace. She had none of the styles I was looking for and nothing current but she made me feel like I was the one who wasn’t current or fashionable. She literally said that she didn’t want me to be disappointed because she had nothing for me. She escorted us to the door, even opened it, and said thanks for coming in. My mom and i walked out in a haze wondering if that had actually just happened. I will put them on this blog because frankly I have never been so appalled by someone’s behavior. (Something Special in Wyckoff, NJ- I wish them new ownership this year!) Was I too fat, was my budget not good enough, or did she really just not have what I wanted? I think we are 3 for 3 there! Wow, this isn’t getting any better. Moving upward!
I was determined to try on dresses that day. I had had too many setbacks. I told my mom I was going to Macy’s in Willowbrook where they have Demetrios gowns. It was risky because I didn’t have an appointment but I just had to. No one could go with me; I was on my own. I walked in and the staff welcomed me with open arms. They were ALL amazing. The manager was kind and lovely and my associate Kandyce was BRILLIANT. They both helped me handpick gowns and then helped me into them. This was where I started to see what I wanted. THEY helped me see this even though I did not find the dress of my dreams. I think that’s also when I realized I had already found it. I knew that I wouldn’t return to O at location #1. I was going elsewhere.
I made 4 other appointments. Now I was a woman with a mission. I needed to get a wedding dress. My fourth attempt was a bridal shop close by. A pretty shop, Mom and I were introduced to a kind and lovely woman who was to help me out. I instantly bonded with her over my venue locale and then about the styles I was looking for. It was like she knew me and I kind of fell in love with HER. She had me sit down while she got me some dresses in the styles I requested and showed her pictures of. They also had the dress that made my mom cry and I was giving that dress a second chance in a happy environment. This godsend known as Claribel (owner of the new Brielle’s Boutique) brought me several dresses. My size wasn’t an issue here- they might fit, they might not but she said I could still see what I needed to. I put on a dress she picked for me, beautiful, classic and in my style. I trusted this woman even more. But next I tried on THE dress. It was two sizes smaller than the sample at stop #1. I immediately worried but with Claribel, I hadn’t a worry in the world. She put the dress on me, got a veil on my head, and brought my mom to tears once again, but I had to make my own decision on this. It was my day finally, my choice, but I knew my mom was right. After several other dresses, all so beautiful, I just KNEW that was it. I told Claribel we would call and let her know when we were coming back.
I cancelled 3 of my other appointments. I went to one more shop, a fantastically organized and awesome place. The dresses were gorgeous, the shop was organized, and everyone was so sweet and friendly. I tried on a few and the woman helping us was so funny and honest. She was real with us and felt like family. This experience and my experience with Claribel erased all the bad. I found a dress here that was beautiful, but much more simple than THE dress. I took pictures and knew I had to think about it. I got in the car with my mom and showed her pictures side by side, knowing then that THE dress was absolutely positively THE DRESS. I wanted the bells and the whistles too.
I emailed Claribel and went in to try the dress on one final time. After having the flu, the 3 sizes too small dress came even closer to fitting me. I knew that was it. We signed the paperwork and Claribel agreed to take great care of us through the next steps. As I excitedly showed close friends the picture of me in my dress, I know I picked a ME dress. It had everything I wanted. The price was on target even with alterations. I could imagine myself in it, walking down the aisle, dancing in it and I knew Mark would love it. It’s amazing how your mom sometimes knows better than you.
Here’s where it got spooky: Claribel knew friends of ours. She was their neighbor. My mom grew up with them and I had known them practically since birth. Spookier: My man had helped me find places to get dresses when he saw how discouraged I was. He sent me a link to a bridal shop that he remembered. It was a closed shop; it belonged to Claribel. Fate, much?
Ok so what’s my moral? Some people are asses. Some people have big boobs. Some dresses won’t fit and some dresses will. No matter what happens start off each experience with the cleanest slate you can. You never know how the sourest of situations can switch to the sweetest of times. Most of all, ladies, without being a bridezilla, it’s okay to be the princess on your wedding day. Put your body image issues in your hand and hold onto them but don’t let them take over this experience. What if I had given up and just bought something to buy something? I told my best friend that I don’t think people make mistakes because we have every chance to turn it around. I write this blog to help people and to share, to show that we are all human! We can learn from each other how to turn it around. Look in that mirror and see that we ARE worthy no matter what the scale says. Allow yourself happiness.
I’ve been on the bridelines a long time and I am just now figuring out how to take my place on the field. Thank you Claribel for helping me remind myself of some things: I deserve the big day. I deserve the gorgeous dress. I deserve this amazing man. I deserve to be happy. And I am. 🙂