Yes to the Dress

Wedding

I worried that I wasn’t going to have that tearful, this is it! moment. That unlike so many television brides-to-be, I wouldn’t know when I’d found my dress. I did know a few things though:

I would rather be comfortable than look ‘skinny’.

I wanted to have a dress that I could wear all night.

I didn’t want to need help going pee.

The hefty price tag of my dress wouldn’t be a bragging right.

I was deeply uncomfortable about the idea of spending half a month’s salary (or more) on a dress, no matter how important.

As soon as you say ‘wedding’ the price soars on most things you can think of: flowers, meals, alcohol prices, photography, shoes, accessories, cards, underwear… and definitely THE DRESS.

It’s hard NOT to feel beautiful in dresses that cost twenty times the price of things you wear in regular life. I liked them ALL, with some exceptions, and I was lucky that my small bust and tall frame meant that if it fit around my body it looked pretty good. I didn’t face the complicated support and lift issues that more ample, curvaceous brides might have to deal with, or issues of hemming. How do you know what dress is the one when they all feel so pretty?

At the time I had red hair and the contrast was striking; pale skin, red hair and cream, off white, blush… satin, lace, tulle… it was a mini nightmare of choice overload.

The aha moment came when I picked up an unlikely candidate in grey – it was a party dress, very theatrical and almost like a ballet costume. As I picked it up, I noticed that its petal pink, blush and oyster counterpart was hanging behind it. I added it to the pile. As soon as I got it on I felt like a little girl, gleeful in my desire to spin. It went quickly from ‘love this’ to ‘maybe this is the one’ to ‘this is it.’

It also really helped that it was less than half the price of other gowns. I let my gut decide and my budget concurred with a sigh of relief. I had been adamant that I wasn’t going to get suckered into a big ticket dress. This dress wasn’t what I thought I’d find, but very strangely, it had everything that I had been looking for: it was not white, it was soft and romantic, interesting and unusual, light, one shoulder, no corset, open back, the illusion of strapless without the constant need to hoist, and even before being taken in it felt magical.

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The first look. It felt so light and dreamy. I knew if heels were going to come into play we’d need to stitch in a few extra layers of tulle to add length.

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Moment of truth: is this the way I want to feel and look when I walk down the aisle. It seemed too easy. Yes.

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Give it a spin. With the full skirt and one shoulder strap I felt certain that dancing all night wouldn’t be a problem. The flowers at the waist were removable, too.

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I had a sheepish face on when I realized how excited I had gotten. I guess that’s how you know. Even before alterations, which my mom’s neighbour completed for us at very minimal cost, and adding four inches of tulle layering to the hem, it feel really amazing and so comfortable – like I’d stepped out of a fairy tale. Mine.

It even matched the drawing I had sketched out months before I started the hunt, quite closely.When I was all ‘jacked up’ as they say, even the Iphone photos capture it pretty clearly – this was definitely a dress to which I could say an emphatic ‘yes.’

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Three hours to show time. Getting ready at the Grand Hotel.

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Accessorized and ready: Something old, something new, something borrowed… something blue not pictured here.

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Ultimately, the dress I wore was the right pick, even though many more traditional and some very modern dresses felt beautiful, I went with the one that gave me a thrill. Good luck on your hunt!

Say Yes: Step 1 of Dress Shopping – Inspiration

Wedding

Before our wedding I found myself immersed in the “Say Yes To The Dress” frenzy of looking for the perfect one, while simultaneously being repelled by the astronomical price of these one-time-only frocks. As a fan of vintage and re-used clothing, of hand-me-downs from my mom and grandma, as well as the ‘look longingly with a sigh’ window shopping of online and magazine page-turning… I was at a loss for an answer to the big question: how can I find a dress that is personal, unique and beautiful, at a price that I can feel comfortable about (knowing that I’m on a self-imposed budget AND that I’m likely to spill something on myself… cause that’s just the kind of girl I am)?  I culled inspiration from all sorts of places: Etsy, Pinterest, Bridal Magazines (given to me in stacks by previously married friends). I was definitely also interested in a second-hand gown from one of the many dress donation charities. But, where do you start?

I Pinned. Well, first I drew. I sketched my perfect dress. Then I started a folder of Pinterest images and tore out pictures from magazines until I had a really clear sense of what I was drawn to. Then I started to distill that down to what I liked AND could see myself in. What looks great in pictures doesn’t always mean that it’s a good fit for you, your body, your wedding venue, etc. I also had the added challenge of finding a dress that would coordinate with the UNSEEN dress my wife would be wearing.

Guiding words: romantic, whimsical, vintage, soft, comfortable to dance in. Like a vintage photograph or a bouquet of faded flowers. Key colours for our day: Blush, taupe, cream, gold and pewter.

Confident that our visions were aligned, and with my sister-in-law as the go between stylist, we set out. Ultimately, when I look back, the dress I got was strangely similar to my original sketch, even though I’d put it in the back of my mind once we started looking at actual dresses. From start to finish. Here is some of the inspiration and the final result.

I loved the idea of a low back and looser fit. Flowing fabric and a dance-floor-floor friendly cut.

I loved the idea of a low back and looser fit. Flowing fabric and a dance-floor-floor friendly cut.

Something vintage with a bit of glimmer and glitz. I loved this look, but worried (after years of dance competitions) that sequins are both hot and scratch delicate upper arms!

Something vintage-inspired with a bit of glimmer and glitz. I loved this look, but worried (after years of dance competitions) that sequins can be hot, and make the dress weigh a ton, but also have the potential to scratch delicate upper arms!

Sweet and simple. Eden // Rose Gold Sequinned, Backless Wedding Dress $1,850.00 CAD Truvelle

Sweet and simple. Eden // Rose Gold Sequinned, Backless Wedding Dress
$1,850.00 CAD – Truvelle

Romantic wedding dress with a floral belt and fluttery sleeve.  $413.12 CAD Barzelai

Romantic wedding dress with a floral belt and fluttery sleeve.
$413.12 CAD
Barzelai

Fall Brittany Wedding Dress Gown-Gorgeous A-line champange sweetheart floor length $2,754.13 CAD TingBridal. I absolutely love the colour and vintage feel of this dress. The soft hem and peplum, with the sweetheart neck seemed in keeping with our vintage theme.

Fall Brittany Wedding Dress Gown-Gorgeous A-line champange sweetheart floor length
$2,754.13 CAD
TingBridal. I absolutely love the colour and vintage feel of this dress. The soft hem and peplum, with the sweetheart neck seemed in keeping with our vintage theme.

Low-back Grecian draped by Whitesrose

Low-back Grecian draped by Whitesrose

Gorgeous detailing and intricate back: a little exotic, a little art-deco.  Inspired Wedding dress reception dress flapper alternative backless dress. $749.87

Gorgeous detailing and intricate back: a little exotic, a little art-deco. Inspired Wedding dress reception dress flapper alternative backless dress. $749.87

This dress has a very theatrical flare that reminds me of ballet costumes... and actually resembles quite closely the dress I ended up purchasing. Strapless tulle and organza princess wedding dress. Lemandywedding.

This dress has a very theatrical flare that reminds me of ballet costumes… and actually resembles quite closely the dress I ended up purchasing. Strapless tulle and organza princess wedding dress. Lemandywedding.

Sweet Gatsby detailing and flattering cut. French Lace Cap Sleeve Empire Waist Sweetheart Neckline Wedding gown,Illusion Neckline, Layered Chiffon Skirt, The "Isabella" Gown by Schone $2,724.09 CAD

Sweet Gatsby detailing and flattering cut. French Lace Cap Sleeve Empire Waist Sweetheart Neckline Wedding gown,Illusion Neckline, Layered Chiffon Skirt, The “Isabella” Gown by Schone
$2,724.09 CAD

I fell in love with the delicate, fragility and texture of this ecru coloured gown. The flattering detail at the bust and the irregular hem was so reminiscent of a ballet costume that I almost caved and ordered it online. Alice- Silk Chiffon Wedding Gown $3,317.48 CAD Leanimal

I fell in love with the delicate, fragility and texture of this ecru coloured gown. The flattering detail at the bust and the irregular hem was so reminiscent of a ballet costume that I almost caved and ordered it online. Alice- Silk Chiffon Wedding Gown
$3,317.48 CAD
Leanimal

Full length.

Full length.

Starting to notice a trend in fabric, cut and back detailing. Ruffled Silk Wedding Dress - Lori $625.94 CAD SaintIsabel

Starting to notice a trend in fabric, cut and back detailing. Ruffled Silk Wedding Dress – Lori
$625.94 CAD
SaintIsabel

Very Duchess of Cambridge: This one has it all... flow, shape skimming cut and romantic details.

Very Duchess of Cambridge: This one has it all… flow, shape skimming cut and romantic details.

The bigger the skirt, the ... harder to get through a crowd. This cupcake dress was, surprisingly, the furthest thing from what I thought I'd want, but when I started trying on dresses, I found that these dresses really produced the lash-fluttering effect I'd been hoping for. Maybe all that time in dance costumes had an impact after all!

The bigger the skirt, the … harder to get through a crowd. This cupcake dress was, surprisingly, the furthest thing from what I thought I’d want, but when I started trying on dresses, I found that these dresses really produced the lash-fluttering effect I’d been hoping for. Maybe all that time in dance costumes had an impact after all!

Seeing some similarities emerging: off-white, soft skirts and layers, sweetheart necks, bare shoulder(s) and back, waist details... Custom Wedding Gown- Summer Sunshine-Alencon lace and tulle A-line floor length wedding dress-made to order: $2,253.38 CAD TingBridal

Seeing some similarities emerging: off-white, soft skirts and layers, sweetheart necks, bare shoulder(s) and back, waist details… Custom Wedding Gown- Summer Sunshine-Alencon lace and tulle A-line floor length wedding dress-made to order: $2,253.38 CAD
TingBridal

Romance and a story, told through the details.

Sometimes the photos I was drawn to were more about the mood: Romance and a story, told through the details. This pic has a timeless quality and softness that exudes intimacy, despite the wide-openness of the setting. 

Proof in the pudding – the inspiration found its way into the final choice.

My tulle-skirted, one shoulder gown, in blush, with a paper bouquet and Granny's vintage fur.

My tulle-skirted, one shoulder gown, in blush, with a paper bouquet and Granny’s vintage fur. Photography: Sweetheart Empire.

Soft? Check. Romantic? Check.

Soft? Check. Romantic? Check.

And the palette worked out perfectly, even with our bridal party, who all wore different variations of our colour scheme. Timeless, but so now. I love these photos as much a year later as I did on the day. But, I'm biased.

And the palette worked out perfectly, even with our bridal party, who all wore different variations of our colour scheme. Timeless, but so now. I love these photos as much a year later as I did on the day. But, I’m biased.

And the details came together beautifully, even though we hadn't seen each other's dress before hand.

And the details came together beautifully, even though we hadn’t seen each other’s dress before hand. Photography: Sweetheart Empire.

Stay tuned for Step 2 and 3, as well as future Wedding Planning posts.