Wednesday, November 6, 2013

And then I got judged while buying my wedding dress.

So do you guys remember when I went wedding dress shopping a few months back and had to be naked in front of a stranger? (click here to recapture those memorable moments.) Well, after that experience – and sticker shock that someone would ask me to spend more on a dress I’ll wear for 9 hours than I’d spend on a really fun vacation somewhere not in New Jersey  -    I decided that I needed to regroup.

You see, to put it mildly, I hate shopping - which is odd given my penchant for anything that sparkles. I mean, my aesthetic is somewhere between Vegas Lounge Act and a princess, but I tone it down day-to-day so people think I’m normal when I’m at work.

So you’d assume that wedding dress shopping would be right up my alley. I mean, you can go as poufy and as princess-y as you want and it’s socially acceptable even though it’s not Halloween and/or you’re not five. But there’s something about Group Shopping that has always given me flop sweat, and so after narrowing it down to the style I wanted via Kleinfeld’s - and not being put on tv, inexplicably -  I decided to start doing some reconnaissance of my own at a price I could afford-slash-wouldn’t require a second job.

So, for weeks after my first trip, people would ask how it was going and I’d sort of vaguely respond with something about white dresses and corsets and change the subject. Meanwhile, I’d slip into a boutique here or there on my lunch hour, see what I liked, and then think. I priced things out, took mental pictures of any hint of back fat, and would then mull over my options some more.

But after several weeks of this, I arrived at a moment when I decided TODAY WAS THE DAY. I was going to buy my dress. However, I didn’t mention it to anyone because (a) I didn’t want anyone to come with me and (b) there was really just the one reason.

However, when I got to the store I realized that perhaps my aversion to group shopping was about to backfire. No longer did I look like an independent bride who knew what she wanted. Instead, I looked like a lonely cat lady who didn’t have any friends or family with her for what was supposedly one of the Big Moments in wedding preparation.

But whatever -  my strong sense of self, combined with an even stronger threshold for humiliation, powered me forward. As I went through the racks to find the dresses I wanted, women were fluttering around me talking to each other about lace and taffeta and veils and high heels. They were giddy and wearing Juicy sweatpants and clutching Chanel purses and had their hair done just so. They had clearly been planning this day for months.

I, on the other hand,  hadn’t bothered to shower, or put on makeup, or, you know, bring a friend with me.

But I figured it wasn’t a big deal – it’s like buying a pair of jeans, right? You know what you want, you just want to try them on one more time to make sure you’re sure, and then you can leave.

OR, it’s a process of slow humiliation where you have to walk out in public in a wedding dress and have a stranger take your picture.

One or the other.

But let’s get real – I’ve never been one to shy away from a little slow degradation, so again, I powered forward. I picked a handful of dresses, hung them on the rack, and waited for the Wedding Dress Lady (unofficial title) to call my name and quietly lead me into the fitting room.

Which is what happened in my mind. But what happened in real life is that my name got called, I walked over to her and said “My dresses are hanging over there, should I go get them?”, she nodded, and then I realized that I couldn’t carry four giant dresses by myself because they look light and airy but are actually made out of lead.

WDL: “Candace, could you go help that lady? She doesn’t have any help.”
Me, turning red and sweating: “No, no, it’s fine, I can carry them.”
Candace: “You don’t have anyone with you?”
Me: “No, I’m here by myself.”
Candace: “All by yourself?! Girl, I’ve never heard of such a thing!”

Which I call foul on because I cannot be the first person in New York City to buy her wedding dress alone.

Can I?

Whatever. I took Candace’s judge-y help and walked into the fitting room with the WDL.

Me: “So, I’m just going to make your job really easy and tell you right now that I’m walking out of here with one of these dresses.”
WDL: “Oh yeah? You know what you want?”
Me: “I do. I’ve been shopping for weeks now. And the first time I brought my best friend and future sister in law with me, so I’m not a weirdo with no friends.”
WDL, feeling uncomfortable because of my pathetic over-share: “It’s fine, sweetie. Which one would you like to try on first?”

And so we went through two before putting on my dress. The moment it went on, I knew.

I stood there, stared, and said “Great, I’ll take it!”

WDL: “Just like that?”
Me: “Yep! This is it. Can I take a picture since I’m going to buy it?”
WDL: “Why don’t we take you out onto the pedestal where the lighting is better so the picture does the dress justice.”
Me: “No, that’s ok….”

Lady, the pedestal is where the bride’s family and friends sit to wait for you to come out so they can ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh.’ The moment I go out there they’ll be ‘oooh’ing’ and ‘ahh’ing’ and then they’ll be like “wait, where are her friends?”

But WDL insisted. And I just wanted to take the picture, be proud of myself, and get out of there. So I obliged.

I stepped out, people ooh’d, ahh’d, looked for friends and then...

“Maybe she doesn’t have any friends because she never brushes her hair?”
“Yeah, and a little under-eye makeup never killed anybody….”

(these are the mind-conversations I assumed they had. I’m pretty sure I’ve more or less nailed it.)

But because I’d come too far to turn back now, I stood on the pedestal as a stranger arranged the dress just so for the picture.

WDL: “Candace, can you come take a picture for this young lady?”

Oh good, Candace was back.

And so Candace snapped a few photos, I held my breath in anticipation of this moment being over and never having to do it again, and then got to go back into the fitting room, get measured, pay them a lot of money for a piece of clothing, and get on with my day.

However, all was not lost: I not only have the dress I’ve been dreaming about (I mean, I’m not TOTALLY un-bride-like) AND while staring at the pictures over and over, realized that I had someone rooting for me all along.

Who needs friends when you have this woman more happy
than anyone with my dress choice? See? I wasn't alone after all. 

Happy Wednesday, everyone!


  1. She does look really excited. Maybe you should track her down and invite her to the wedding. Can you imagine how excited she would be then?

    1. Right??? She'd be the happiest guest there!

  2. Congratulations! I'm glad you had that moment that you knew it was the one. Some don't. And they want it, so they keep looking and are never quite satisfied. I worked in bridal for about a year in Birmingham (MI) and it doesn't always happen (and yes I was sure those dresses were made of lead, we always carried them....)

    1. I think that would drive me crazy - I'm definitely very lucky that I found it!

  3. I'm just saying I'd love to go wedding dress shopping alone. People are always wanting to tell you their opinions and everything...not a fan. Good on you for getting your dream dress!

    1. Thanks! (I recommend it as long as you don't embarrass easily!)

  4. I can just imagine her saying, "Yeah, Girl! You found it!"
    And P.S.: Your ending reminded me so much of Doogie Howser. All of his blogs ended so perfectly. They were blogs, right? Before blogs were blogs...

    1. Yes! That's exactly what they were!!! Good call...