Friday, January 28, 2011

The Dress You Never Wear Again

I have been a bridesmaid eight times.

And I have that many bridesmaids.  Plus more . . .  although they have different 'jobs' like flowergirl wrangler and reader of Irish proverbs.

I wanted my bridesmaids to look and feel gorgeous and NOT hate their dresses.

I didn't want them to match - both in style and colour.  And I wanted to give them as much freedom as possible.

Enter Bridesmaid Dress Disaster Adventure.

I knew I wanted to get our dresses from Frocks Modern Bridesmaids because they have the best selection of non-gross bridesmaid dresses and their staff is super knowledgable and sweet.  Not to mention the owner, Cat, has become a friend of Wedding Belles and myself.  She says it like it is and knows how to put a perfect bridal party together.

We went on one lovely fall afternoon.  Myself, four bridesmaids, my mother-in-law and my flowergirl wrangler.

First mistake?  Too much freedom and champagne.

I should have listened to Cat when she said pick ONE designer.  Nope.  I let the girls go wild.  I thought they would only pick one designer but no - they picked three.

Each girl also picked a different colour.  No problem - according to the swatches they were all in the same family.

Fast forward a few months (and dress fittings with other bridesmaids) when I get bigger colour swatches on the proper fabrics.  Apparently my wedding is a three-ring circus complete with clowns masquerading as bridesmaids.


There were so many shades of blue it looked like we were going on a deep sea barge.

So I had to lay down the law and tell some bridesmaids to pick from colours I selected.

I felt guilty doing this and had to consult all the other bridesmaids to make sure I wasn't being a freak.

First sign you are being a freak is asking if you are being a freak.

I also noticed that the fabrics looked wrong together.  Duchess satin, silk duiponi, easter shantung:  it was a fabric melange of badness.

But I felt I should let this go.

Fast forward to January, when I casually step into Frocks one day to start putting the order together.  That's when taffeta hit the fan.

One of the designers had to be ordered THAT afternoon to get the dress in time.  GAH!  I guestimated sizes and colours for two of my bridesmaids - one of which was coming the following week to dress shop and the other was drunk in Vegas.  But I took a deep breath and made executive decisions.  I nixed Las Vegas maid's dress and chose another one for her.  My sister-in-law's choice was not only my least favourite but the colour was wrong with the rest of the palette.  NIX!

It felt good making executive decisions.  Empowering.  I could feel it.  Turning . . . into . . . . bridezilla.  So wrong but so good.

Anyways, this doesn't sound too dramatic but it was.  It invloved racing across town three times, calls to Winnipeg, frantic texts and emails to Vegas, and crying to my fiance.

I had to stop and remind myself:  There are people dying in the world.

Meh.  I really wanted my vision to come to life.

Okay, so three days later I felt it was time to bring Vegas bride into Frocks to make sure she fit the dress I picked.  I brought her along with another bridesmaid plus my wedding dress.

And my secret weapon:  Cat.

Who I must say was right all along.  Give freedom within a designer, not a store.

Cat knows her stuff.  We hung up my wedding dress and the chosen dresses.

The vision was coming to fruition.  My flowergirl wrangler kept telling me I should never have been so passive on our first visit.  But here's the thing: when you have a large wedding party it's really hard to put it all together.  Unless you are going for a matching bridal party.  Which . . . I don't like.  I could say more but it might hurt other bride's feelings.

Anyhoo, it was hard to imagine all together before it was, well, all together.

I had one final executive decision to make.  One bridesmaid had chosen a dress that's fabric was duiponi silk.  Really, in the grand scheme of things it shouldn't matter.

But it did.

In that moment it DID.  And I knew it would bother me on the wedding day.

I knew she had her heart set on this one particular dress but it stuck out like a sore thumb and ironically looked like my wedding dress.  You would never think to look at a picture of it, but hanging up it actually looked like my dress.

Cat said I was not allowed to tell anyone this was a Frocks bridal party if I allowed that dress.

Unfortunately I was scared of telling said bridesmaid.  Good thing I had some things on my side:  the other two girls also saw how it didn't look right, I was paying for the dress and, the most important factor, I AM THE BRIDE.

I hate pulling that card.  Hate it and love it.

She didn't care.  I make up drama in my mind.

The dress we picked for her is gorgeous.  There are two of them in the wedding party.  The other girls all have unique dresses.  And the colours are down to three:  seafoam, perriwinkle and yellow.

SO PRETTY!  It looks like Marie Antoinette happy time!  Before the guillotine.

When all was said and done, the dresses paid for, and the order in - I sat back and realized:  I am crazy.  I am bridezilla.  Now I get it.  I get what those brides were feeling when I was their bridesmaid (well, most of them).  And that's okay.

Why is it okay?  Because I will have the prettiest bridal party in all the histories of weddings.  In my mind anyways.

What are my rules for bridesmaid dress shopping?

Well, firstly pick if you want to match or not match.  That's easy.
Then pick only one or two of your most fashionable bridesmaids to go on preliminary search.
Listen to what the staff says, they know.
Make your decision and STICK to it!
And if you are picking expensive dresses for your girls?  PAY FOR THEM!  Or at least half.  If you want them to buy their own dresses then pick dresses that cost less than $150.

Well, that's my humble (urm, strong and obnoxious?) opinion.

At the end of the day: people in the world are still dying.  Your bridesmaid dresses are the least of the world's worries.

At least the girls aren't going to be wearing these:

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