And So It Begins (The Search for the Dress) by Nia McLean

Trying on wedding dress

“You’re going to cry.” That was Jamelle’s prediction about how I would react to trying on wedding dresses for the first time. Jamelle and I have been friends since 8th grade, so she is well aware how sentimental and emotional I can get. Hearing her words in my head, I walked into David’s Bridal Collections in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, preparing myself for a flood of feelings.

To be clear, I am not the woman that has been planning her wedding since childhood. Granted, there was a phase when I was in elementary school that I was obsessed with the idea of being a bride. This was back when I was still trying to figure out which member of Kris Kross was going to be my husband. I would spend hours sketching my dress and designing my wedding program. Nonetheless, this phase came and went as quickly as the notion of wearing one’s clothing backwards.

As I got older, I hoped that I would eventually marry, but I never got too caught up in the details. Even after getting engaged, my approach to the wedding has been pretty laid back. The rigor of working while completing my graduate studies has not afforded me the luxury to be consumed with wedding planning. Every time I try to flip through the 5 lb wedding magazines I’ve collected, I feel overwhelmed. Still, I knew that if I did nothing else, I needed to start looking at dresses, as I’d read (in said 5 lb mags) that it could take months to find a dress and additional months for alternations. With that in mind, I scoured the net, particularly Pinterest for inspiration and made an appointment at the nearest David’s.

The Knot wedding magazine

I’ll admit that initially it was weird entering this world of tulle, satin, and lace. It was especially weird doing it alone. In all of the cable weddings show I’ve watched I was accustomed to seeing brides being surrounding by their friends and families. However, I am in Atlanta, finishing seminary and my family and friends are scattered between DC, Charlotte, and San Francisco; thus having them around was not really an option. I considered asking some of my seminary friends, but ultimately I settled on going by myself. I felt that it could be an opportunity for me to see what I liked, independent of anyone else’s opinion. Ultimately, I think it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

I got to the boutique early and after checking in I was encouraged to look around until my bridal consultant was ready for me. I was a bit intimidated, so instead of browsing the walls of dresses, I focused my attention on the humongous notebook of wedding invitations. I came to the session armed with my own notebook, filled with magazine clippings of what I was looking for. I even had print outs of my favorite gowns on the David’s website. When my consultant finally introduced herself and asked if I had any ideas, I showed her my look book. A smile came over her face. “Well, someone is organized!” she said laughing before showing me to my fitting room.  Considering everything else that still needed to be done, I silently wished that her assessment were true. I also naively hoped that on my first try, I would find a dress I liked so I could feel like I accomplished something.

Remembering the pictures I showed her, my consultant confirmed my preferred dress style: strapless, sweetheart neckline, A-line silhouette. She went out to the sales floor returned with several dresses including some that were different than what I’d asked for. She assured me that sometimes the style of dress that we never consider is the one that ends up looking amazing. We opted to go with one of my choices first.

Trying on wedding dress

The dress itself was heavier than I imagined and difficult to pull on. Yet, when I finally looked at myself in the mirror, I felt beautiful and (for lack of a better word) bridey. All of the consultants voiced their approval. I gazed at my reflection without tears or the slightest threat of them coming. Jamelle was wrong. The dress, several hundred dollars above what I had budgeted, was not the dress, but it confirmed that I was on target with my chosen style. Equipped with this knowledge, I am ready to try on dresses with my friends when I move back to DC, my friends and family in tow. Perhaps then my sentimentality will kick in and prayerfully I’ll find the dress I want.

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