This post is one in a series of retrospective articles of my own experiences on the other side of the table – as the bride.
Reality television has lead a nation of women to believe that finding their wedding gown will be the second most important decision of their life – second only to finding the spouse they’ll marry wearing said dress. The quest to find this Holy Garment Grail lead me straight into the belly of the beast itself (so to speak) – Kleinfeld’s in NYC. (Please note: Kleinfeld’s is a lovely, top-notch retailer and any references to “beast,” end times, or other hyperbolic exaggeration are regarding the sensationalism of reality TV, not the actual store). I wanted the full experience. I wanted a day trip to the Big Apple with my mother, a big grapefruit for breakfast in anticipation of squeezing into the sample gowns, and – above all else – free reign to try on every gown during the Monique Lhullier trunk show.
The greatest injustice that reality TV has done to brides is convincing them to expect an out-of-body experience when they finally try on “the one.” With this “One Dress to Rule Them All” mentality, I half expected the halo of a warm glow to emanate from my body when I stepped into my wedding gown. Instead I tried on a dozen gowns, looking just as beautiful in the next one as I did in the last, and was pretty darn confused at the end of the day. In my head, I was riding on horseback in my dress – ethereal, all draping fabric and loose curly hair. But when I stepped into the dresses, I became something else.
And then, ladies and gents, the real magic happened. I saw myself reflected in my mother’s eyes. I saw myself trying on the first gown again – a true classic, A-line, ivory lace, strapless. My hair was up in a classic chignon, and I was a bride. Choirs of angels didn’t serenade me in the dressing room, but I had to make a decision. It wasn’t the picture I’d imagined in my head of the “perfect dress”, but then again my fiance was not what I imagined the “perfect man” to be either. I fell in love with my gown the same way I fell in love with my husband – slowly at first. It wasn’t love at first sight, but I’m glad to have and to hold both of them for the rest of my life.
The moral of the story? Enjoy dress shopping, but don’t forget what the real prize is.