Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Fabric Is Your Dress?

Silky Satin





Peau De Soie







So many beautiful fabrics that call to mind elaborate dresses from flowy to grand,

and they are all:

100% Polyester.

Fabric of champions.

It's not just your Daddy's leisure suit anymore!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Reader Question

What Is A Woman's Tux?

It is basically just what it sounds like, the same exact garment that a man would wear, but proportioned through the hips, shoulders and across the bust differently to fit a woman. I think the question is really, why would a woman need a tux, right? There are several scenarios is which a woman would wear a tux. The first is the one I mentioned in my past post, a woman who identifies more with a tux than a wedding gown for her wedding day.

Much more common is their use by women who will be standing for the groom with his party. So men, if you have a female attendant, you have the option of either 1. dressing her like the rest of the groomsmen in a tux, 2. have her dress like the rest of the bridesmaids, 3. have her wear the same dress as the rest of the bridesmaids, but in black and white to match the tuxes, or 4. have her wear a completely different dress in black and white to match the tuxes. At my store I have had several dresses over the years that have been popular for female attendants because they have tuxedo-like collars or belts or such.

Another use for women's tuxedos has nothing to do with weddings. We get a lot of women looking for women's tuxes for novelty reasons, that is, they are in a theatrical production, they are working at a restaurant that requires them, they are participating in a ceremony of some sort. These are all reasons why a woman might wear a tux! Thanks for the question, Madison!

And, answering another question you asked, whether a full figured girl can look good in a mermaid, the answer is a hesitant yes, but it depends on a number of factors. I generally don't recommend a mermaid for a girl who is disproportionately bottom heavy. Its all about accenting the tush, and if that is already the focus of attention due to its size, I think a different style would suit. But if the bride is proportionately full figured, or is full on top, but not on bottom, the mermaid can celebrate her curves and balance her out. Remember from my previous post that a plus size is probably smaller than you think. A size 20 is really a size 16, and that every bride that is a size 16 is shaped differently. So now, enquiring minds can know!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Feeling Good About Love

For Feel Good Friday this week, I'd like to tell you about a movement in America that makes me happy.

This is a blog about me and my career selling wedding dresses. Sometimes I write about the brides' stories, and sometimes I'll write about weddings from my perspective. I never intended this to be a political soapbox. Yet I can't help but be happy that thousands of people across America who are blissfully in love are slowly gaining the right to be married. That's right, I'm talking about Gay Marriage.

I have never fully understood the argument against allowing two adults of the same sex to be married. If your faith does not agree with it, then, by all means, don't do it. I would never suggest that a religion, and their clergy, should be required to perform marriage ceremonies for same sex couples. But I do believe that representatives of the government, and clergy from certain accepting faiths should be allowed to perform a legal marriage ceremony. I have also heard the argument that gay unions are biologically unproductive; that the point of a marriage is to procreate, and if people began forming same-sex unions then the future of the human race and its procreation would hang in the balance. Okay, but does that mean we need to render birth control illegal as well, after all, a couple that chooses not to have children at all is "endangering the human race" as much as a homosexual couple.

So away from the politics for a moment, and fast forward to my store. Some might say that I have a vested interest in the making of gay marriage legal. After all, now I have the opportunity to sell the happy couple TWO dresses instead of one! I admit, this is true! I have known several women couples through my store, most of whom have both bought their dresses from me, (although some have had one wear a dress and the other wear a woman's tux) but I think of one couple in particular. I really enjoyed working with them. For ease of conversation, I'll call them Nora and Colleen. As I was helping Nora try on dresses in the dressing room, I got to share a moment with them. As I laced Nora into the dress that eventually became "the one" I was privy to both the look of expectant hope on her face as she turned to face her fiancee, as well as the look of pure love and pleasure on Colleen's face as she saw her intended looking so beautiful and they both registered that they had the freedom to make their love official. How can such affection not be celebrated, and how can this not make me happy today?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Brides: Made in the USA

There is an overwhelming and pervasive sense of patriotism in our country - our economy has been affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and regional floods, our coastline is the victim of an oil spill and a war rages on on the other side of the world. We all want to support our brothers and sisters by spending our dollars locally, and if not locally, then at least in the United States.

It is with this in mind that I will often have brides arrive in my dressing room and start asking questions about the gown they like, "Is this made in the USA?"

Now I don't purport to be an expert on every manufacturer and design house available, particularly the ones that are very pricey. But I can tell you this: the dresses that fall into the $1000 range, plus or minus a few hundred are all made in China. To my knowledge, there are no exceptions to this rule, unless you are talking about a seamstress making a dress custom for a bride, but I'll discuss that in a minute.

Why is it that these garments are made in China? Let's do the math. On a thousand dollar dress at least $500 to $600 goes to the store where it was purchased, to pay for their costs (rent, utilities, cost of samples, commission to salespeople, shipping, labor to have it pressed and prepped, etc.) leaving $400 to $500 to cover the manufacturer's costs (designers, administration and distribution, advertising, materials and factory expenses and, of course, hours of hand labor for the assembly and beading of these garments). Since the Chinese will work for pennies on the dollar that an American will be paid, the same exact dress, were it to be made in the USA, would be hundreds if not thousands more, depending on the number of hours required to make each one.

In an ideal world, we would have all our manufacturing needs, including wedding gowns, manufactured domestically. Unfortunately, since the 85% of brides are going to spend between $500 and $1500 for their dress (most of the rest will spend less), that puts American-made dresses out of the running. If you have the money to spend, and country of origin is important to you, I applaud you for making America and our fellow citizens your priority. If you are trying on dresses and you ask the salesperson where the dress was manufactured, and you think you might be getting a runaround, check the label. It is the law to keep these two tags inside every garment: the country of manufacture and cleaning instructions. So you should be able to find this information out just by looking in the seam of your dress. If this tag is not there, ask about it, because it is illegal for the bridal store to remove it on both on the sample and on your actual dress.

If you fall into this price point, and spending your money locally is important to you, I can offer two suggestions. The first is that you can opt to try for an independent seamstress to make one for you custom. They will not have all the overhead of the design house. The downside for some brides is the leap of faith required for having a dress made that has not been tried on. Even if you bring the seamstress a picture of a dress you love and ask her to copy it, she certainly does not have the pattern and her creation will fit differently than the sample you may have tried on. Another downside is that if the dress has a lot of expensive fabric or beadwork, the materials and labor cost may end up pricing you out of your budget anyway.

The other option for spending locally is what most of my well-intentioned brides end up doing: resign yourself to the fact that the dress will be made in china, but choose to purchase your dress from a longstanding member of your community. So when a bride elects to purchase her dress from me, she is supporting me and my family, my co-workers and their families, as well as the many charities and community causes that my store supports.

My admiration goes to those of you who think of the bigger picture and how you can affect change. America has thrived because of brides like you!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father of this Bride

I wanted to post this last Friday for Feel Good Friday, but was unable to make it to my computer. I was doing a favor for my Dad, you see.

Thinking about my Dad I think of many things. I think about the fact that as a child, my Dad was the one who always patiently combed my long hair when I came out of the tub, even though my Mom would have been happy to keep me in a short cut. He sang gentle songs to me to ease me back to sleep when I woke in the night. He supported me with patience as I decided to try playing the cello, no wait, the drums, no wait, maybe I'll try baton twirling instead. He was the Dad who, when we went to a party, chose to play volleyball with all the kids instead of enjoying some adult conversation.

He never judged me, or anyone else for that matter, regardless of how much he disagreed with their personal choices.

My Husband will tell you that he's the Dad who sat with a restrained grin on his face while his future son-in-law sat squirming, trying to find the right words to ask for his Daughter's hand in marriage. The answer was yes, by the way, and you may call me Dad.

He's the Father who, regardless of the thousands of dollars I had already cost him by attending a variety of colleges and universities for seven (count 'em, seven!) years, and regardless of the intervening layoff and unemployment that had occurred, still managed to offer and pay for a beautiful wedding for me, his oldest daughter.

And at that wedding, dressed in his new tuxedo that is still hanging upstairs in my closet, he shone with the pride that only a Father can feel when he escorts his little girl down the aisle towards her future. The pictures of that day tell the tale of words unspoken.

Even though in our family words are often left unspoken, they are expressed in gesture and action. So although my Dad was unexpectedly taken to heaven a year ago last Thanksgiving as he waited for the family, including his four grandchildren, that was preparing to gather around him for the holiday to arrive, I take comfort in the knowledge that he knew he was greatly loved, and he loved me.

So this past Friday, my Mom thanked me for helping her with the daunting task of dealing with some of my Dad's business papers and such. But after so many years of my Dad being there for me, how could I have been anywhere else but that storage room, lovingly taking care of things left undone.

I love and miss you Dad. I celebrate you on Father's Day and every day by passing on your legacy of patience, integrity and faith to the grandchildren who love you so much.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time...

Not only am I a wedding professional, but I have been invited to my share of weddings over the years. I have a couple of pet peeves I'd like to share in the hopes that I might open the eyes of some brides as to how your guests might receive some of those well-intentioned ideas you have.

1. Who came up with the idea of having the guests at a bridal shower pre-address their own thank you notes? I mean, really, they have been invited to this party for the sole purpose of having them contribute a gift to the future household of the bride. Is it really so much trouble for the bride to write the addresses on the envelopes as she hopefully sends a personalized note of gratitude to each attendee for their generosity? The next step can only be asking the guests to write the note themselves, "Dear Aunt Brenda, Thank you for the dishes I picked out on a registry and you paid for. Love," and leaving it blank for the bride to sign and seal. Perhaps we can save the bride a stamp by asking the guests to bring that, too?

2. At what other kind of party can you invite people to attend, therefore putting you in the role of "the host" and actually tell people that you are providing food for them, but if they are thirsty, they'll need to buy their own drinks? It has become so common to have a cash bar that brides and grooms have forgotten what they are actually asking people to do: come to their party and fend for themselves!

3. Have you ever been to a wedding where the bride was obviously scrimping and saving, cutting corners everywhere she could, only to walk down the aisle in a $7,000 Vera Wang gown? I have! I remember standing in line at an appetizer buffet for 45 minutes, waiting with the other 350 guests to gain access to the ritz crackers, cheese spread crock and cut up veggies while discussing how beautiful the bride looked in her gown. Now understand, I am not looking down on people that have realistic budgets and cannot afford caviar and foie de gras for everyone, that was certainly me at my wedding! Just that everyone has choices to make when deciding where to splurge and where to save, and it might not go over so well to have your captive hungry guests feeling the pinch of your wallet, and watching from below in serfdom with their $3 coke and carrot sticks while the Lady of the Land floats past in her Vera Wang. I'm just saying.

4. Or how about weddings where the ceremony takes place at like 10:00am, but the reception is at 3:00? Now you are in a town you don't know with four hours to kill, completely dressed up, and unsure whether you should grab a bite since, after all, it is lunch time and you need something to do, but not wanting to ruin your appetite for the wedding? Etiquette books tell us that a reception should follow the ceremony by no more than an hour in order to be called a wedding reception. So what was this couple thinking? Probably of themselves and their desire to have their ceremony at this particular location and a reception at that one, never mind that they weren't available at the times or date that the couple wanted. So they figured, no biggie! The guests can entertain themselves!

5. And my absolute biggest wedding guest pet peeve: since when is it ever appropriate to put a reference to gifts on a printed wedding invitation? "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith invite you to the wedding of their daughter Jane Elizabeth to Mr. Horatio Baldazar at 4:00 on June 17th, two thousand ten at Our Ladies of Bring Us Stuff. The Couple is Registered at Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. RSVP by May 1." and the absolute trifecta of bad-manners? A printed wedding announcement sent before the actual event (faux pas #1) with a reference to gifts (faux pas #2) that uses the term "greenback wedding" (and #3)! For those of you that have never been invited to a "greenback wedding", this is a wedding in which the couple is requesting that you bring them money. That's right, like a charitable organization, but without the tax-deductible benefit, they are making a plea for funds, often to pay off the wedding they could not afford in the first place.

I don't mean to sound negative, and everyone who knows me knows I love weddings. I am looking forward to a family wedding this summer, as a matter of fact. But the sense of entitlement that has become part of the culture blows my mind, "I know I'm on a tight budget, but I deserve to look like a princess on my wedding day!" (end result, situation #3 above), or "I don't really have enough money to get the wedding I have seen on Platinum Weddings, but it's my day, so I'll find a way to pay for it" (end result, situation #5 above) and even, "but it's MY wedding and I REALLY want my reception to be at this venue. If they aren't available at an appropriate time for my ceremony, we'll just have to make everyone wait!" (end result, situation #4).

C'mon people. Really.

Leave me a comment about your wedding pet peeves, I love them!

Monday, June 14, 2010

There is Worth in Curves

To set the scene for this next "Tale From My Dressing Room", it is important for you to understand a couple of basic points.

First is that I am no skinny minnie. I have had a couple of children, and let's face it, it has been years since anyone would have described me as "svelte." In my case, much of this girth comes in the form of an ample bosom. When I have the pleasure of trying on wedding gowns at my store, I find that the 18s are what fits me best through the bust, and that I would need alterations to take them in through the waist and hips. I even overheard another consultant refer to me by name in a closed-curtain conversation with one of her voluptuous brides, "I know exactly the dress you should try for your bustline. One girl who works here, Fiorella (real name excluded!), is VERY chesty, and I saw her try this on and it looked great!" But I digress - my point is that I understand the frustrations of trying on sample sizes that don't fit.

Point two is that in my business, I have become accustomed to vanity. Beautiful girls with lithe bodies finding a millimeter of skin to pinch and muttering "fat!" to themselves. Mothers telling their toned daughters that they should try some arm exercises before the wedding. Brides who are wearing dresses that fit them as close to perfectly as one could expect a sample to fit, pulling at different areas of the gown and asking how they are supposed to make a decision if they can't see the gown fitting them? My outward response is always reassurance and understanding, but inside I am doing a little eye-rolling. I mean, everyone knows that alterations are required for that wedding-day fit, right? So how much better do they expect the sample to fit? And could they please lower their voices in consideration of the girl in the next dressing room who is clearly a women's-size figure? Stop pouting already!

So imagine my mindset when I had a bride in my dressing room who spotted a size 10 dress on a mannequin she LOVED. She just HAD to try it on. I squirmed on the inside, and gently warned her that this dress was a very fitted mermaid, and although we had managed to get several size 10 samples onto her size 20 body enough so she could get an idea, this one would likely prove more challenging. She insisted that she just HAD to try.

I began to put the gown over head. I succeeded in getting the hipline of the dress down over her bustline, but it became clear that it was going no further south than that. I looked at her, the torso of the gown bunched around her middle, giving the illusion of a knee-length skirt with great volume and train. Her arms were stuck straight up in the air. All I could see of her face was her eyes, just peeking over the top of the strapless neckline, the scalloped lace detail covering her nose and mouth. My heart stopped as I had visions of her bursting into tears in self-loathing and frustration as she realized that her dream dress was not to be. I took a deep breath and held it as she turned and faced the mirror. Her eyes grew to the size and shape of silver dollars. Here it comes, I thought, be ready for support and reassurance, and the ever-present box of tissues.

"I LOVE it!", she cried, and sighed with delight!

Lesson learned. I have always been very secure with myself, and have no hangups with the way I look or the size I am. The number sewn into my clothing has never played an integral part in my identity and how I value myself. But years of working with brides and playing into their vanity has jaded me into believing that low self-worth is the norm. Cheers to this bride for having vision and seeing how beautiful she really was and the potential in this dress!

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Empassioned Plea

It is Feel Good Friday again, and this week I am choosing to write about an object that makes me happy. Not happy like "ha ha", but deep-down core wants and desires happy. Subconscious smile from ear to ear happy.

I can't post a picture of it, because it doesn't belong to me.

If it were up to me, it would belong to every bride that I have helped attire for her trip down the aisle, although it would be different for each one.

For some it would be long and dramatic, for others it would be detailed and romantic, and for a few it would be vintage and sassy. But whatever her individual tastes are, it is a symbol of her femininity.

It has the power to take a bride from "very dressed up" to "today is my wedding day."

It has the ability to pull focus from the elaborate gown and luscious bouquet to her face, glowing in the promise of the journey to come.

It is like a magic window with the power to make Dad cry as he sees his daughter through it, not as his precious child, but the beautiful woman she has grown to be.

A tradition begun in the days of arranged marriages, to conceal the questionable looks of the bride to her betrothed, but now worn with empowerment in a bride's celebration of the choices she has made to lead her to this point, and the many choices she will make from here forward.

Please consider making it your choice; please wear a veil.

It would make this consultant happy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Many Dresses Will I Try On?

Please submit your questions through the comment forms at the bottom of each post. I will do my best to answer each one, and will give you an honest answer, unless the question will give away my identity or compromise my job.

I am so thrilled to be able to answer a question from "Hannah". Her question, paraphrased:

"I made an appointment at a local bridal store to try on dresses. When it was over, I realized that I had only tried on nine dresses before the girl told me our time was up. This does not seem right to me, what do you think?"

I am assuming that what you mean by "this does not seem right to me" is reference to an expectation you had that you would try on more dresses. This is a common reaction I hear from the brides in my dressing room when they find themselves feeling like they have found "the one" but count backwards and realize that they have only tried on seven dresses. Their fear is that how can they be sure that this is the best choice if they have only been to one store and only tried on seven dresses?

My response to them is that shopping for a bridal gown has changed over the past generation. It used to be that a bride would not have seen a single dress before embarking on her first shopping excursion, and that the stores she visited would carry a single manufacturer, and relatively few styles. This would necessitate multiple trips to a variety of stores in order to learn the direction of her taste and the breadth of options available before making a choice.

The modern day bride is very different. She typically arrives in my store having viewed hundreds of gowns, mostly online, but also in magazines and on popular shows like "Say Yes to the Dress" and "My Fair Wedding". She has already developed a sense of things she likes and dislikes. In addition, in many stores, such as mine, she is allowed to browse the collection so as to see even more diversity of style before she begins trying on.

Once she begins the try on process she is assisted by a knowledgeable consultant (that would be me!) whose role is very different than the bridal store attendant of yesteryear. It used to be that the kind, gentle woman who helped you was really a seamstress by trade and although she was knowledgeable about construction and fit, she was not necessarily an expert on the latest fashions and trends. Today's consultants have a basic working knowledge of sewing, but we leave that work to the seamstresses and we keep ourselves current by looking at the same magazines, internet sites and tv shows that our brides see, plus some trade publications that help us to see the future of the bridal wear business. This consultant will be able to listen carefully to the things you say about dresses you like and dislike, read your body language and also be able to suggest that perfect dress that is a combination of all the things you are dreaming of. In my store, which has a large collection, the number is around two thirds of brides find their dress on their first visit, and how many dresses have they tried on? Usually between three and ten.

Every store has a different policy, but most salons seem to be trending toward an appointment length of about 1 1/2 hours. Appointments are necessary to reserve precious fitting rooms and staff assistance, much like getting a haircut, you need to reserve your stylist and a chair. Some brides aren't aware that there is an end time to their appointment, and think that they can stay as long as they would like trying on whatever they like. Some stores, especially smaller, less busy stores, might have that policy, but most have an appointment length for the simple purpose of being able to schedule the dressing room for the next bride. A perfect example of a store that has 1 1/2 hour appointments is Kleinfeld.

In this time, you will first meet your consultant, and she will ask you about your wedding, when is it, where is it, what time of day, it's formality, etc. She will then inquire about your thoughts about what you will wear, do you have pictures of dresses you like, have you tried on any dresses yet, and so on. She will also ask you what you have budgeted to spend. After this conversation, you will often be allowed to browse the racks of available styles, and you and the consultant will decide which dresses will be the first to be tried on. By the time we move into the dressing room, we are already as much as 1/2 hour into the appointment.

In the dressing room, you will find that putting on a wedding gown, even with assistance, getting it all laced up, zipped up and buttoned, train out and ready for you and your group to see will typically take up to five minutes. There's also the factor of how long you stand at the mirror in the dress considering its pros and cons. And once you have found a favorite, most people wish to put it back on again.

By the time we are fifteen minutes from the end of the appointment, we are usually done with trying on new dresses. We are either entering the measuring and ordering phase, if a bride has found her dream gown, or we are revisiting a favorite or two if she is still unsure. Five minutes before the appointment is over, she is changing back into her street clothes so that I may clean up and be ready to take my next bride on time.

Hopefully, this will make it more clear to you why you tried on only nine dresses at your appointment. If you felt like it wasn't enough, by all means, make another appointment to return and try on more. Or perhaps you'd prefer to try another store where your consultant will guide you through while keeping you informed of the process so that you don't feel abruptly cut off without warning. To keep a bride focused, I will typically say things like, "we have time to try on two more before stopping to reevaluate what you like and don't like" or "it seems clear you don't like this one as much as the last, so let's keep moving and try on another" so that she is able stay on task. If a bride can stay on task, learns more about what she does and doesn't want from each gown she tries on, and is kept aware of her progress in the process, an hour and a half is really plenty of time to choose your gown. Whether or not nine dresses is enough for you - that I can't answer. Some brides come in and try on only one and stop right there and buy it. On the flip side, I had a bride return to my store for a total of six visits before choosing her dress. You'll notice that on "Say Yes to the Dress" they seem to average about three or four dresses per bride. As long as you are selecting gowns with purpose, and not aimlessly trying on everything you see, and as long as you have not entered into the dreaded state we call , "dress blind*" you should continue until you are comfortable with your choice.

Dress blind: a stress condition caused by trying on so many gowns that you can no longer remember the details of any of them, even the ones you've liked.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Very Superstitious

Working with wedding gowns, it does not surprise me the superstitions surrounding THE DRESS. I mean, after all, the dress symbolizes the start of a new journey, and everyone has wishes that this phase of their life will be fulfilling and joyous, right? So if members of a sports team will all get mohawks to ensure a big victory and my husband will wear his lucky underwear to a big presentation, doesn't it make sense that we might see this kind of behavior at the bridal salon?

Everyone has heard that it is bad luck to see the bride in her dress before the wedding. Mothers will commonly admonish their daughters as they take pictures of the dress they are purchasing, "Don't you dare let your fiance see these pictures!" But did you know that this widely-held superstition is really just a culturally specific practice? In Jewish tradition, the bride and groom would see each other before the ceremony for a "veiling". In some Asian cultures, it is common for the fiance to shop with the bride and select and pay for her gown.

The most common superstition at my store is the "it's a sign!" superstition. People are always expressing their belief that a higher power, or fate, is telling them which dress to wear. For example, I'll have a bride on a pedestal in a dress she loves. She is gazing adoringly at herself in the mirror when all of a sudden she will realize that our sound system is playing the song she and her fiance are going to use for their first dance. Yes! This is it! It's a sign! This dress is the one! Now I am no expert in the existence of a higher power, or his/her interest in women's fashion, but I will tell you that I will NEVER mention to this bride that our sound system is stocked with music commonly played at ceremonies, first dances, father daughter dances, cake cuttings, etc. My boss is no dummy!

Then there's the name game. If you have been reading my posts, then you already know that many designers are giving their dresses names instead of style numbers. Another smooth marketing trick! How many times have I had a girl named Becky tell me she just had to try on Maggie Sottero's "Rebecca" and then end up buying it, all because they both share the same name? Are these girls under the illusion that the dress was made for them and that's why it has their name on it? And the marketing people at Maggie are no dummies either, because they keep naming dresses after the common names of the day, yet there is a distinct lack of "Mavis", "Bertha" and "Hortense".

Then there was the bride who had been searching forever for the right gown. I can only assume that in her mind she felt like she needed to try something different, because what she was doing was not working. So what did she try? She decided to stop shaving. Okay. A little strange, but certainly doesn't bother me in any way. But I'm not sure of what connection she felt like her grooming had with the lack of ability to find the right dress. She did buy a beautiful gown with me that was "the one", and as she stood in her strapless gown with just a hint of fuzz peeking out from her armpits, she said, "It has to be the one if I can still feel beautiful." So maybe there was some wisdom to her method after all.

And for my final story. I had a bride arrive for her appointment who had been all over searching for a gown (are you seeing the trend here of brides held hostage by superstitions?). We had a wonderful appointment and she looked beautiful in a number of gowns. There were several she really liked, but I noticed that she was quite deliberate in the way she examined each dress she considered. That is, most brides will put on a gown and spend most of the time looking at themselves in it in the mirror. In her case, if she liked a dress, she would spend quite a bit of time examining the lace or appliques quite closely while her lips moved silently. Maybe she's seamstress, I thought, and she's examining the quality. Either way, dress after dress was nixed for reasons I did not understand, until we came to a dress she clearly loved. Her face lit up as she wore it, and it looked as though it was made for her. But as she began her close inspection of the gown, she announced that it wasn't the one; she looked crestfallen. I didn't understand, and asked her why she wouldn't get the dress she clearly loved. She pointed to a tiny embroidered flower on the bodice, just one of many embroidered and beaded flowers of varying shapes and sizes throughout the gown. "It has six petals," she said, "I need a dress with flowers on it, but all the flowers need to have an odd number of petals." She must have seen my confusion, for she continued to explain, "You know, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not..."

I was able to save the day by getting her the dress she loved, and having the offending flower applique trimmed down to a five petal variety. And as soon as I'm done writing this, I'm going to get my wedding gown out of its acid-free packing and examine it closely, as I hadn't thought to before, to make sure my husband and I have a future together.

Wish me luck!

Friday, June 4, 2010

For an "Extra Large" Laugh

For this week's Feel Good Friday, a story that had me in stitches and also demonstrated a Mom's choice to look on the bright side of things. Also, I see from the poll at the left of this page that readers most enjoy the crazy stories I tell, so here goes.

A gentleman came into my store to return his tuxedo from his brother's wedding the Saturday previous. (Pause to remind you of the chaos we have in the tux department, don't forget the disgusting story "Don't Read This if You Just Ate Lunch!") If I was guessing his age, I would peg him at somewhere in his mid to late 20's. I was chatting with him about the wedding as I unzipped the tux bag and began sorting all the pieces, shirt, shoes, pants, etc. I noticed that his tie was missing and asked him about it. He looked at me blankly and said, "It isn't in there?" I told him no, it was not, and did he know where he might have left it? I tell him that if the tie is not returned, he will forfeit his security deposit. This is a conversation I have several times every week with guys ranging in age from prom kids to Grandfathers of the Bride, but apparently this was too much information to process. He looked at me with the most vapid of expressions and said, "Let me get my Mom."

His Mom. Okay.

He exited the store, went back to his car and got in, whereupon a woman who looked to be in her 60's that I could only assume was his Mother got out of the driver's side where she had been waiting and entered. I explained to her that the tie was missing and that the security deposit would be forfeited if it could not be found. She told me that it might have gotten tucked in to another tux bag from a different member of the bridal party and that she would check with them. "No problem," I say, for this is a common occurrence. As we have this conversation, I am continuing to sort through the tux, which includes reaching into all the pockets to make sure that all contents thereof are returned to the renter. Usually the contents are either money, wedding favors, seating cards or mints, but the policy is that whatever we find in the pockets is the property of the person returning the tux.

I feel something in the inside pocket of the tux and immediately know from a sense of touch that I am in a pickle.

I do not want to hand this to this woman.

But, it is store policy, and this is the property of her son so I pull it out and hand it to her. A condom.

I immediately bury my head in the paperwork I am doing in the returning process, but not before I see her considering what I have handed her. Perhaps it is because of her age, but she does not seem to realize immediately what it is, and holds it at arm's length and squints to read the words on it, which even I can read now from where I am standing: "Extra Large".

I was probably 10 shades of red when she registered what it was she was holding and muttered a quiet, "Oh!" She must have felt the need to fill the awkward silence that had developed between her and I and the other guys standing around watching this unfold. She said, in the tone of someone checking a task off a to do list, "Good. At least I won't have to worry about being a Grandmother before I'm ready!"

We finished up and I watched her return to her son, waiting unknowingly, for his mother to return to him, his extra large condom clutched in her hand.

Oh, how I wish I was a fly on the dashboard of that car that day!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Great Expectations

One of the most commonly heard questions in my dressing room is, "when is the last possible moment to order my dress?"

I usually answer this question with a question, "why would you want to wait until the last possible moment?"

The answer to that is typically either because the bride wants to lose weight before getting measured for her dress, because she is having trouble financially, because she cannot commit to a style and wants to look further or because she may be pregnant at the wedding.

Pregnancy and wedding gowns, once a taboo, are now much more accepted. Brides are embracing their status of being with child, most choosing an empire style that flows around the belly, but some choosing to highlight their baby bump with a fitted gown. When a bride knows before she orders her dress, either because she is already pregnant or because she is hoping to be, options abound. An expectant bride does not need to feel any less beautiful on her wedding day than her more traditional counterpart.

But what if you ordered your gown before you knew you'd be pregnant at the wedding? I have had a number of these situations arise throughout my years of selling gowns. My advice here is as follows:

Begin by calling the store where you bought your gown. Let them know your new status. They deal with this all the time, and there will be no one judging you. (Whenever I get the "I am pregnant!" call from one of my brides, my first words are ALWAYS, "Congratulations! You must be so excited!" The common response is a pause, sometimes with tears, because this unplanned pregnancy has changed everything from plans to do a champagne toast at the wedding to where the couple can honeymoon.) Be prepared to answer questions regarding your due date, whether this is your first pregnancy, if not, how did your body change during your previous pregnancy. Armed with this information, your consultant will give you your options which may include:

  • If this is your first pregnancy, your wedding is only a few months away, and your dress is an empire, A line or princess cut, especially if it has a lace-up back, your consultant may tell you that you will likely still be able to wear your dress with minor alterations. Rejoice!

  • If you just recently ordered your dress and your wedding is months away, chances are you will be too big by then to wear it. Talk to your consultant about whether you have the option to order a different size, or switch to a different style. Do not expect the answer to be yes, in most cases once you order a dress the store is committed to the manufacturer for that gown in that size, but it is worth a shot. I have had circumstances in which a manufacturer agreed to swap a smaller size for a larger one, so there may be the off-chance that you'll get lucky!

  • If you have a style with seaming and construction conducive to certain alterations, you may be able to wear your original gown, but with major work. Have a long talk with your consultant and seamstress about the estimated cost, what will need to be done, and how the dress will look in the end. Usually this will be cheaper and faster than ordering a whole new dress, but generally only works if a.) you have an empire or natural waist seam as well as extra length on the bottom so that the entire skirt can be lifted up for more fullness through the belly or b.) you have access to additional fabric (with embellishments, if any) in the same dye lot so that gussets (extra panels) can be sewn into the sides.

  • If the previous scenarios will not work, it may be time to consider a new dress. Talk to the store where you bought the first gown. They'll let you know about your time frame and whether you have time to order something new. See if you can negotiate a deal with them, for example, they might agree to forgive your balance on the original dress if you buy another dress with them, or they may give you a flat discount on the second dress. Or they may agree to swap a sample off the floor for no additional money and keep the dress you ordered as a new sample. All possibilities, but dependent upon manufacturer's rules for discounting as well as the saleability of your ordered gown.

Be joyful! A new life is a blessing! Things may be a little complicated right now as you sort it all out. Take it from me, a mother of two, that this is only the beginning of how wonderfully complicated every mundane task will be for the next few years!