Sunday, March 11, 2007

Here Comes The Bride. All Dressed In...


Wedding dresses.

They are really heavy. I'm not talking in the metaphysical sense here. I mean, those things are made of a lot of fabric. And tulle. Don't forget tulle. In fact, you cannot forget the tulle. But, I have limited experience with these things. I've only tried on dresses today. This was the inaugural shopping expedition.

Mom flew in from New York. I assembled my crackerjack team of shopping and style experts and we headed west. Past Cicero Avenue and into the land where Polish, Italian and Mexican families live Catholic harmony. Just like Springfield has it's Hammock District, Chicago has a Wedding District and that is where we were today.

It is not, as one might expect, a glamorous district. But there sure are a lot of bridal salons out there. And a lot of dresses. Dresses in all styles, colors and silhouettes. That is how you refer to them. Not shapes. Silhouettes. I think I learned that today. Did I mention the crackerjack team of experts? You wanna know why I'm smart? It's because I know when to admit that I need help. I tell you right now, without my three ladies, I would still have my head stuck in a dress with an arm poking through one of those fancy, hanger straps they have. I would be lost.

When we first walked into Eva's Bridal I froze up. There were a lot of sparkles, shiny fabrics and pointy bodices around. I got a little overwhelmed and I shuffled over to the desk, a display case of tiaras and other ridiculous accessories. They gave me an information card to fill out and by the time I looked up, the ladies had already agreed upon a gown off one of the racks.
I love these girls. They jump right in where I fear to tread.

We were told it would be a few minutes before my consultant was available and we ushered ourselves into the room of gowns. Floor to ceiling wedding dresses. I had no idea where to begin. I touched a few, wandered past a couple of different price ranges but my chest got really tight and I felt really lost for a minute. I can't even go to Blockbuster without taking six and a half hours to chose from all of the titles. What was going to happen here?

Ultimately, we're talking about a room full of white dresses. OK, some were ivory. Some were antique, some were even baby blue but upon first glance it is a sea of white. It was like being snow blinded. However, there was no hesitation on the parts of anyone else. Head first and into the racks they went with me trailing behind them.

Most of the dresses were hung inside clear garment bags. We were unzipping and digging through massive amounts of silk, satin and tulle. Don't forget the tulle. We saw some really ridiculous dresses. Lots of lace overkill ... er overlay and sparkly detailed bodices. When our consultant (and I say our because today was, for sure, a team effort.) We had three gowns to bring into the dressing room. I gave the pictures I had cut from the only bridal magazines I have purchased thus far and she went off to find more gowns for me to try on.

One of the best things about having spent so much time in theater is that I am pretty comfortable in a dressing room. Usually I'm the one lacing people into corsets but the tables were turned today. I think I did good. I had a specific dress in mind going in but I kept myself open to some other designs and I had three of my most honest advisers with me. Plus my mom. She was there to make sure my boobs weren't going to hang out too indecently. In describing her sense of fashion, as far as my wedding dress was concerned at least, she used the word "parochial." I'm not entirely sure what she meant by that but I have a good idea, considering she favored the more "well structured" and least plunging necklines of all the dresses I tried on today.

Not that there's anything wrong with a modestly cut wedding dress. However, while I am looking to minimize certain aspects of my physique, there are others that I feel should be tastefully showcased on my wedding day. Tastefully.

I think the biggest surprise of the day, besides the whole "wow, I look pretty f'ing good in a wedding dress" thing was that I figured there would be some sort of conflict over dress color. But there wasn't. In high school, walking the walk in the mornings with Eileen Kaufman, when we discussed future wedding dreams I always described myself in something completely nontraditional. And, while I have veered away from my initial feelings on a black wedding dress with bridesmaids in blood red, I am still not too keen on the pure white dress thing.

Now, I'm as virtuous and virginal as the next chick. I just don't think I look all that good in white. Plus, I'm a clumsy eater. And a clumsy walker. Pretty much, I'm a little clumsy all around and therefore I've never favored white. I've had in my head something in a nice ivory, perhaps champagne. I didn't think mom would go for it. Only daughter, only marriage and mom's not the most progressive lady... But she agreed. That was pretty cool. We can only hope that things progress as smoothly over the next nineteen months.

Only nineteen months? Oy. OK.

So the dress thing turned out well. We eliminated some styles altogether. Bye bye mermaid silhouette. See ya at someone else's wedding, Mae West slinker. Hello Grecian draped style.
I know, it's a real shocker that I can rock the Grecian garb. What can I say? Some of us are just born to look good in raw silk. Elegant, simple, classical if you will. Indeed. Lovely dress, shame it doesn't exist in my size.

It's a really arduous task, trying on wedding gowns. I am not kidding about the weight of these things. Thankfully my crackerjack team was there to help me in and out of the gowns. Pulling down underskirts, lacing the aforementioned corsets and making sure I didn't fall off that little platform they give you to stand on, so you can see what the dress looks like without stepping all over the bottom. Not to mention six brilliant eyes and three mouths not afraid to speak the truth. None of the three of these ladies are part of the wedding party. That team is all in New York. But these three, they are my every day go-to team. We have our verbal shorthand and I know I can trust each of them to give me unvarnished opinions. Very important.

I feel pretty good. We dropped mom off at the train to the airport with information on two specific dresses written down for further internet searching. We took some pictures. And no, you can't see them. We're going to try and find the first dress we all agreed on. The one they told me is discontinued.

There's also a second dress. We popped into the shop where one of the girls bought her own wedding gown. Unannounced, you can't expect too much from a shop the size of this store. But the lady was super nice and very helpful. The one dress I tried on there is a winner. It's beautiful, but it's got a lot of "business" going on. I don't know if I want a lot of "business." But we've got all of the information on that one as well.

And I am confident, after today, that I can find a dress I look great in. Truthfully, I wasn't too sure of that until I started trying them on.

I don't know if I did it right though. I didn't cry. Wasn't I supposed to cry? I always hear about brides and their mom's crying when they find THE dress. Standing there, in front of the three-way mirror in a billowy cloud of white, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks. Yaddayadda yadda. No? Good.

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