I haven’t exactly spent years of my life envisioning what my wedding gown would look like. Sure, I’ve probably watched every episode of Say Yes to the Dress – but it was really an excuse to be snarky over brides spending 15k on a Pnina Tournai gown that looks like it came out of a Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog (I mean, seriously?!? Who spends that kind of money on rhinestone nipple shields?!?)
So while I am excited to go dress shopping, I’m also kinda not excited because I have no idea where to start, and the choices seem overwhelming…and I have a problem making decisions without feeling like I’ve explored all my options (in Gladwellian terminology, I’m often a maximizer rather than a satisficer). In the world of wedding dresses, trying on ALL the options is just not possible. Still, I’m convinced I will be one of those brides that will try on over a hundred gowns before finding settling on one – and that sounds both frustrating and exhausting. Mind you, I don’t typically have issues shopping. But so much importance is placed on finding the Perfect Dress that it’s just a wee bit intimidating.
All this is to say that so far, my strategy for wedding dress hunting has been to just not think about it. Which was working amazingly well…until now. This weekend, my Aunt and Uncle are coming in from out-of-town to go dress shopping. My Aunt had no daughters of her own, and has generously offered to purchase my dress. So we have a big shopping trip planned with my Aunt, Uncle, Mom, Dad, and sister (my matron of honor). And so I realized I to address the Dress Problem.
Off to David’s Bridal! My mission was to at least figure out what silhouette worked best for my body, so I wouldn’t be completely clueless come Sunday. I made a 4:30pm appointment at the David’s Bridal in Manhattan. I arrived at 4:15, checked-in, and was told my stylist would be with me at 4:30.
At 4:40, I was still waiting. I spoke with the woman at the front, and she told me my stylist would be a few more minutes. At 4:50, I was still waiting. I spoke with the woman at the front again, and was once more told it would be a few minutes. The conversation went something like the following:
Me: Hi, I have a 4:30 appointment. I’m wondering when my stylist will be ready.
DB: A few more minutes.
Me: That’s what you told me 10 minutes ago. My appointment is now 20 minutes late.
DB: She’ll be with you in a few more minutes, have a seat.
Me: So like 5 minutes?
DB: A few minutes.
Me: Could you ask her?
DB: She’ll be ready when she’s ready.
Me: I would like to know how long before she’s ready. My appointment was for 4:30. It is now 22 minutes late, and I would like to know how much later it will be.
DB: We never start our appointments on time. Just like anywhere you go, an appointment starts when it starts, it don’t never start on time, it don’t matter your appointment time.
Me: Actually, most places you make an appointment, and you’re asked to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early precisely so that the appointment can get started on time. That’s the purpose of making an appointment. What you just explained to me is that you knowingly planned to waste my time. If I had known my 4:30 appointment didn’t actually start until 5:00, I wouldn’t have bothered showing up until 5:00. I want to know when my stylist will be ready. If you can’t find that out, then I’ll just go ask her myself.
A Different DB Associate: I’ll go ask.
I kid you not – David’s Bridal actually said to me that they “never start [their] appointments on time.” I understand that sometimes stuff happens, appointments run late, etc. But I expect for that to be the exception, not the rule, and I expected a certain level of customer service whereby a corporation apologies for the inconvenience and attempts to address the situation proactively. I do not appreciate when my time is knowingly and intentionally wasted.
At 5:03pm, my 4:30 appointment finally began. The experience did not get any more impressive. First, I was asked 20 questions about my bridal party (how many bridesmaids, colors, venue, etc). As I told my stylist, this is not a bridesmaid appointment and that information seems irrelevant. As we’re already running over 30 mins behind schedule, I would prefer to focus on my dress and not the bridesmaids who aren’t here. Then, I was handed the bridal book to look through – which I handed back, explaining that I had already looked through it during the time I was waiting. After another frustrating back and forth where I explained this was my first time shopping and I’d like to try on a variety of styles, and the stylist finally pulled four different silhouettes for me to try.
First up, an A-Line gown. I think it looked better in person than in photos. If you asked me before I tried anything on what silhouette would be the most flattering on my pear-shaped frame, this is what I would have guessed. In person, while it looked fine, it was also a bit of a snooze.
Next, I tried what DB dubbed a fit-n-flare (turns out definitions of Fit-n-Flare, Mermaid, and Trumpet all vary between designers). I was surprised. I never wear dresses fitted through my hips, as that’s my “problem area” that I usually hide with a full skirt – but I actually kinda liked it (not this particular dress).
Oh, the classic princess ball gown. I have no desire to be a princess. But I can’t deny my love of a good ballgown. Firstly, they’re flattering on everyone (ok, maybe not petites), and make your waist look super tiny. Secondly, they’re just fun! I mean really, how often do you get to wear such a ridiculously large dress?
So of course I tried on a ball gown. And the silhouette was just a lovely as I expected. I pranced around the store, twirled, swooshed side to side, and even sat down in all the tulle glory. And then I took it off. Because as beautiful and bridal as the ballgown is, I also knew that it wasn’t the right silhouette for our wedding. We’re getting married outside, in the mountains, in the middle of summer – not in a ballroom – and I wanted my dress to reflect that. A ballgown is just too much dress.
I decided to go the opposite direction and try on a mermaid. After the success of the fit-n-flare, I wanted to go whole hog and see what a very fitted gown looked like. Shock. Before this appointment, I would have never suspected I could pull of a mermaid, let alone that it might be one of the most flattering silhouettes on my figure.
In truth, I’ve always been a bit prejudiced against mermaids. It might be all those aforementioned episodes of Say Yes to the Dress in which everyone wants a mermaid and they’re all gaudy as fuck. So when I put this on and realized that not only can I pull it off with my hips, but that you kinda need hips to work a mermaid, my entire wedding dress world changed.
The one thing I knew going into this appointment was that I wanted lace. Some of the most beautiful all-lace gowns are fitted silhouettes – something about the combination is just so romantic. But since I didn’t think I have the figure to pull off a fitted silhouette, I had pretty much written off images of all lace gowns, supposing I’d settle for a lace bodice with a tulle skirt. Now, all-lace gowns were back on the table!
At this point, we need to pause for a moment and re-examine the picture of the mermaid dress. In particular, note the expression of the stylist who is standing to my right in the photo. Ok, with that in mind, let’s continue our narrative.
Armed with this new-found confidence in mermaids, I asked my stylist if she could pull a few more mermaids for me to try. The stylist”s response: “An A-line is better for you.” That’s right, my David’s Bridal stylist essentially told me that I’m wrong (and fat?) and shouldn’t wear anything fitted. But as my mother would have reminded me, I’m the one wearing the dress, not her, so I have to be happy, not her. So I asked again to see another mermaid.
The stylist came back with 1 gown, puts it on and laces it up, and…it’s an A-line. The fucking bitch brought me an A-line.
I again ask her to bring a few mermaids. She disappears, I go to wait in the fitting room. About 5 minutes later she knocks on the door,”Are you still in there?””Yep.” “Ok, I’ll be out here when you’re ready.” Confused, I pop out of the dressing room and see she has no dresses. “I thought you were bring more dresses?” “No, your appointment is over, I have another appointment now.” It’s 5:45.
David’s Bridal appointments are scheduled to be 90 minutes long. Mine was schedule for 4:30 until 6:00. Just to recap, it started 33 minutes late. And now they were kicking me out 15 minutes early. That is AFTER the stylist shamed me about my body shape, put me in a dress that I said I didn’t want to try on, and then refused to bring out the dress that I requested.
Thanks, David’s Bridal. The experience was certainly unforgettable. Btw, you’re The Worst.
The one positive of this whole experience was that I learned what I was hoping to learn – I figured out what silhouettes look good on me, and so now I have a starting point for the big dress shopping trip this weekend. Eeek!