BB was graduating in Madison in May 2008. It had always been the plan that his parents would attend; now it was the 4 of us. BB and his Dad also had to go to Taiwan and Dallas on business around this time and his Dad was taking him (and FMIL and me by default!) to Pebble Beach Golf Resort as his graduation present. They booked around-the-world tickets for them to incorporate everything.
My fab FMIL then convinced her husband that since we were flying out to the US via the East Coast anyway, us girls might as well stop over in NY on the way and then spend a couple of days in San Francisco (the closest big city to Pebble Beach) while they were working in Dallas.
Then BB and I started dreaming of a little holiday of our own to celebrate his accomplishment. We’ve got a long list of places we want to go, Mexico features. Then BB’s uncle told us that he had timeshare in Mexico and we could have a week! Talk about impossibly unbelievably great coincidences. We booked the mammoth itineraries involved.
FMIL and I flew out together; the boys were safely on their way to the Far East. We arrived in NYC, booked into our room and started walking. Now I may have told you what a wonderful person my FMIL is, but I haven’t mentioned yet that she’s also stylish, trendy and a serious shopper like me, be it window – or otherwise.
I came prepared, I’d done hours of research on the Internet and booked appointments in advance at places that had dresses that interested me. We spent four days in the city trekking from outlet wedding warehouse to upscale bridal boutique. My partner was keen, eager, enthusiastic and honest. Thank goodness for the honesty. I tried on at least 50 wedding dresses (we were in NYC damnit and had to make it count), probably more like a 100, and one was as different from the next as anything you can imagine. We visited RK Bridal, Bridal Garden, Kleinfeld, Pronovias, Wedding Atelier and Designer Loft.
With my stubborn conviction that I would find a fabulous bargain within 4 days, we went to the more economical stores first. At RK Bridal you don't need an appointment and on weekdays it's rather quiet so we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. The racks and racks of plastic-covered paleness can be daunting, but armed with my printouts we went straight for the kill.
I tried on four different Watters dresses, including my beloved Brescia. I am tall and slim and quickly realised what a mixed blessing it is when almost every dress looks nice. They all looked nice. Nice was not gonna cut it though. FMIL was trying to remain objective but I could tell that she thought they were all too plain. I nattered on about fab shoes and blinging jewels to dress it up, she seemed unconvinced but open to persuasion. We left for the next store, Watters prices and shipping details in hand. I figured if the Brescia still haunted me over the next few days, I'd be very happy to marry in it.
The Bridal Garden is a non-profit boutique that sells not-quite-new designer gowns at up to 75% less than the original price. Some gowns are unworn samples donated by stores and designers. I thought I just might find a slightly older simple Vera Wang number here. Sadly, I think you have to actually live inside the Bridal Garden to ever be there when something great comes in. The dresses I tried there were simply outdated and outmoded. Next.
Just before leaving for NYC, I’d discovered Pronovias and lost my heart in a big way. If I was going to take FMIL up on her offer and go for a princess gown, it seemed that this was where I would find it. Their new flagship store had just opened in NYC a block from our hotel, so I bounced in one morning to see if I could get an appointment. The shop is gorgeous to the point of intimidation but the receptionist was so damn sweet and accommodating, I felt more and more sold on the whole brand.
When we arrived for my appointment the sales assistant was sadly not as lovely as the receptionist. She brought out the dresses I requested but didn’t seem interested in our feedback or opinions, she just steamrollered all over our expressed doubts and misgivings, seemingly desperate to make the sale. She was nice enough to offer me the store sample of my favourite dress, which would cut out all the waiting and shipping and stuff, but I just wasn’t convinced.
The dresses were all beautiful in a classic wedding way, but that was my problem. In the Pronovias advertisements and catalogue they style and shape the dresses so that even the more voluminous ones look quite slim and restrained. I’m quite convinced that this is only enhanced by the fact that they are modelled by the world’s prettiest top model Doutzen Kroes…When I tried them on (and as you can see in the catwalk pictures) they are really quite princess poufy.
We told Pushy Sales Lady that we still had an appointment at Kleinfeld’s. She very maturely and professionally trash-talked the stock, prices and sales staff of Kleinfeld’s, which had us scurrying out the door as quick as we could. Pushy ran out after us and shoved a gift bag in my hands. It turned out to be a lovely set of ivory silky pyjamas, thanks Pronovias!
At Kleinfeld’s we had a lovely sales lady, Pamela, helping us. She was kind and patient, she listened. I tried on a few dresses from Lazaro - we were back to the all-over-lace!
These dresses were imposingly beautiful but once again, quite traditional. If the fit was all soft and clingy it might have moved me more, but in reality the dresses were quite stiff and structured.
On the opposite end of the structured scale, I also love Claire Pettibone's whimsical fairy dresses, and got to try one on. It was so pretty, so sweet and frothy. Just a tad too sweet and frothy for me.
Then Pamela brought out an Amy Michelson number. Not the one I posted before, but the new season version of that dress. It’s all slinky and sexy, and it’s called: The Millionaire. What a name! FMIL, Pamela and I all gasped when I stepped out of the change room. That dress is va-va-voom. So glamorous, so look-at-me wow…
I loved it, it fit like a glove. Pamela said it was the first sample, it had just arrived, and we could leave with it. No ordering, no waiting, no shipping, no fuss. Stick it in my suitcase and fly it home. I was so tempted.
Another coffee-fuelled strategy session was necessary. I do not make impulsive decisions people, careful deliberation, that’s me. (Except of course the time I impulsively left my boyfriend of 10 years for a Beautiful Boy…)
Now, the problem with my indecision is that it only gets worse the more choice you give me. So I sat down with my list of shops and dresses and weeded them out. The final contenders were Brescia, Camara (the Pronovias dress with the big beads in two pictures above) and Millionaire. One was sweetly innocent, one dreamily romantic and the other one was sex-on-legs. Three aspects of my personality? Three different weddings? I could picture the Brescia at the ceremony on the veranda, the Camara in gorgeous pictures among the wheat fields and the Millionaire amidst twinkling chandeliers for the first dance.
When in doubt, get more options. I decided to let it all stew away in my brain until clarity came. Meanwhile, there were still two boutiques on my list for the next day!