My journey from dress #1 to dress #2 started in a somewhat traditional way, at a local bridal salon to see if I could find what I'd envisioned in my head. I didn't want to break the bank, but I found that what I was looking for – simple a-line skirt, lace sleeved bodice a la Kate Middleton – was way above my budget. On top of that, the salon experience left something to be desired for me – I still can't put my finger on it, but it just didn't feel right to me. One day it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could find a seamstress who could make my vision come to life, and away to Google I went! I found a few local dressmakers, and one of the designers really blew me away — I HAD to make a consultation appointment with her.
The concept of having my dress made from scratch made a lot of sense to me – growing up, my aunt was a dressmaker who outfitted entire wedding parties. I grew up sitting on her couch every weekend watching brides and bridal parties come in and out of the dressing room in dresses at various stages of construction — the muslin stages, the fitting stages, and finally, at the end, the beautiful finished product – and leafing through wedding magazines, imagining that I'd have her make my dress one day. She'd made my mother's own wedding dress, so why not me? Of course, she'd long retired by the time I was getting married, arthritis taking her abilities from her. So when I found this local dressmaker, whose Brazilian-inspired style reminded me of my aunt's style, I was in love. As soon as I met her for the initial consultation, surrounded by sewing machines and fabric scraps and faced with her sweet, patient temperament, I knew I'd made the right decision.
The process from beginning to end was a joy, from selecting fabrics (a natural, slightly off-white dupioni silk and a soft lace) to measurements (she made me feel comfortable the entire time), to going over styles and having the final proposed dress design drawn up. It was so much fun! I knew it was a risk, not seeing the finished product on my body until a few days before the wedding, but it was totally worth it. I could see it in my head, and it was going to be exactly what I'd envisioned. The designer herself was a dream to work with — always so positive and cheerful, with such a warm and welcoming attitude that it made the experience of stripping down in front of a total stranger into something that was completely fun.
When it came time for my final fitting, about two weeks before the wedding, my parents came down for the occasion, and watched as I saw my finished dress for the very first time. It was exactly as I'd pictured it, down to the very last detail. I was in love!
I was scheduled to pick up the pressed dress a few days before the wedding, which was when things went wrong.
I was scheduled to pick up the pressed dress a few days before the wedding, which was when things went wrong. I dropped the dress off at home, leaving it in a spare room I never used. I was in a rush to get to the post office before it closed, so I never realized that I'd left the door slightly ajar, leaving the perfect opportunity for my curious kitties to get in. I returned to a shredded mess. They'd gotten a little too into exploring the giant white mass that was my dress inside the dress bag, and left some tears in the skirt itself. I found myself in tears, not knowing what to do — it was only three days before my wedding!
I called my now-husband, explained what happened, and he was wonderful about the whole situation. Despite the fact that the dress had already been above budget (a decision we made together, given that it felt so right to me because of the connection to my aunt and past, and that we'd be supporting a local small business), true to his supportive self, he encouraged me to go out and buy another dress without a second thought about the money.
A few minutes later, I texted one of my best friends and bridesmaids (knowing she'd had a good experience at David's Bridal) to ask if it was actually possible to get a dress off the rack there. Fast forward to a few hours later, and she's there with me helping me browse the racks of available dresses at David's with the kind, accommodating consultant who helped alleviate my worries about tailoring, sizing, and all other things that typically take months. The experience was such a positive one. They even rang the bell for me when I found one that worked, and I got to have a “salon” experience at the very last minute despite never having planned to have one.
We managed to find a dress that fit the bill. It got the job done, fit well enough, and could be tailored (within reason) and pressed by their tailors within 24 hours so that I'd have a dress for the big day. I picked the new dress up three hours before my rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, and then just proceeded on as if nothing had happened. While I wish I'd been able to wear the beautiful dress that my designer labored over, what mattered was that I was marrying an incredibly supportive man, with such supportive women by my side who were willing to drop everything JUST to make sure I wasn't alone in what, for all intents and purposes, was kind of a stressful situation. (Ed: no joke!)
It wasn't how I'd planned my wedding dress experience to go, but it worked out so perfectly in the end. Not only can I look back and smile at how my loved ones rallied around me, but now I can smile at the memory of how I wound up with a completely different dress a day before my wedding. Despite having been pretty chill about the wedding planning process throughout, this little wrench in the works was a pretty literal lesson in not sweating the small stuff — even if it seems big in the moment.
Any of y'all have to do a last-minute dress swap? Share your story!