This year marks the 10th anniversary of my wedding to W. As part of the celebration, I will be documenting our relationship from the proposal up to the wedding, and each year up to our 10th anniversary.
Right after we came back from Japan, I decided to go find The Dress. Finding a gown as early as possible was crucial to helping convince W to move up the date due to my grandfather’s failing health, if push came to shove. Having a tropical destination wedding required a special kind of dress, one that was stylishly made out of lightweight material that could survive the forces of going through the airport’s x-ray machine and the airplane’s stowbin. There would be no time to get it dry cleaned upon arrival and shipping it wasn’t advised. As Tim Gunn of Project Runway says: Make it work!
Wedding industry expenses significantly vary by region, so allocating funds wisely meant I had to hustle to find a suitable cheap alternatives to almost everything on the chart included above to meet our modest 10k budget. Doing the math, I had an allotment of 4% of the total budget for the dress or ~$1100. This was fine with me because I was dead set against paying more than $500 bucks for a gown that was only going to be worn once. Once! That all changed when I saw the promos for Say Yes To The Dress (available on Hulu).
Reality TV was in its infancy when TLC decided to jump in on the bandwagon with a show based on Kleinfeld’s Bridal, a prestigious firm in NYC that specialized in high end, budget breaking, tear inducing, life altering designer gowns worthy of giving up your firstborn just for the privilege of trying them on. Over and over, frugal brides left empty handed unless they sold a kidney or something. The average sale price in store was around $6k! I wanted to WOW people and if this show was right, finding a dress on a budget would take a lot of discipline and strength.
I went back to the drawing board to consider my financing options and opted to use my reserves if I didn’t find a cheaper alternative. After printing, hand cutting, and organizing tens of bridal magazine and website photos into a binder, I made an appointment at David’s Bridal to solve for the unknowns. My Maid of Honor, besties, mom, grandma and sisters wouldn’t be there for the fitting which was fine with me. The less wallets I took with me, the better. I enlisted the help of my fashionista friend, an engineer who happened to be seven months pregnant, to act as an impartial judge. She wanted to see people’s faces when we walked into the store. Hehehe. After an hour and a half of trying every single dress available we left empty handed. 😤🤨😑 The dresses lacked a certain magical quality, and the staff agreed. It happens more than you’d realize.
Crushed by the experience, I asked Google, Yahoo, everyone and their mother for recommendations. Out of all the search hits, Luly Yang’s boutique piqued my interest so I called to make an appointment. Her assistant told me that if they didn’t carry a winner, they had over 1,000 choices via catalogue that could be tailored to match my budget. All they needed were my measurements to get the show on the road. Woohoo! With my friend at the helm the staff pulled 15 dresses for me including a model that was laying crumpled in a corner. Ms Yang told me that it was one of the most popular pieces she had in the store and joked it wasn’t worth putting it back on the rack because it didn’t wrinkle too badly. 🤔🤔🤔 After trying 6 or 7 dresses, I was about to give up. Some one passed me an A-line, Swarovski crystal beaded champagne satin and lace piece that fit perfectly. The reaction I got from the staff and my friend when I stepped out of the dressing room was priceless. I dared to look at the mirror and smiled.
Dress #8, FTW:
Everyone was impressed that I wore it so well. Very few people had picked it as is, and only used the top or bottom pieces. Turns out the dress was designed like a transformer foe brides to combine or eliminate elements to get a unique look. We made a few adjustments to the floor model and came up with a prove tag around $3200, including tax. Luly took my measurements and sent the request to Saison Blanche in neighboring Canada. I handed her assistant my credit card, and she quickly came back with a receipt and instructions to pick up the dress by April/May 2008. I started to hope W was right about my grandfather’s health because I couldn’t wait to see everyone’s look when they saw me coming down the aisle. Budget discipline and strength be damned!
It was a high risk gambit and I quickly set to find a way to offset the hit to my bank account. 🤔🤔🤔 I had to cut something, but what?
For more on the wedding planning story, check out the Countdown to 10! tab, or click below to read the next chapter.