Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I love my wedding gown...

So, I have become quite obsessed with Pinterest!  I pretty much check for new pins two or three times a day.  I love the ideas I can get there, for just about anything my wandering mind can think of...  And many things I never would have thought of!  I personally re-pin more jokes than anything but I love to look at the "everything" page to see what people are looking at in general.  I have noticed lots of women posting about weddings and it got me thinking...  Oh no!  Not me thinking again!!!
In case you didn't know, I got a diploma in Bridal Consulting in my early 20s.  Nothing fancy-schmansy, I took the class via the internet/mail correspondence, and it was not only wonderful fun, but it gave me so much more information than I could have ever imagined!  Cultures, religions, traditions!  So many interesting things!  A few years after getting said diploma, I ended up working for a Bridal shop.  A wonderful, local, "mom & pop" kind of place.  It was kind of a fluke that I ever applied.  My brother was getting married and it was the shop his fiance was purchasing her gown from.  I had sewing experience, consulting "knowledge" and was in need of some extra cash...  So I applied!  I was a bit shocked when I got the job, but excited non the less!  Very quickly I fell in love.  With the job and with my boss!  Mary was just what I needed and came into my life at just the right time.  I can't ever tell you what that job did for me, and words will never express how wonderfully Mary and her husband treated me and what an inspiration they both have been in my life, even now when we don't speak as often as we should!  But I have strayed from the point...
My first co-worker at the bridal shop was an older woman who never had a daughter...  Her husband was a vocal coach and you could tell the wife loved to dress up the girls for competitions.  I had never even contemplated putting on a wedding gown before and one day my co-worker decided she needed to see a particular gown, on a person, and I happened to be just the right size...
Now let me be clear, I wasn't that "girl" that dreamed every day about her wedding.  I had no desire to try  on tons of wedding gowns...  I didn't want to try any on.  But I was new and trying to make friends, so I let her play dress up with me.  It really was a pretty gown.  It was white and had a platinum trim around the top of the bodice and around the hem.  It wasn't really my style, but I really liked the idea of using colors.
Anyway, other than prom season, I loved working at that shop!  Eventually my part-time gig turned into a full-time position and I was happily "running" the shop while Mary got to spend a little extra time with her hubby and did the seamstress work for the brides.  Don't get me wrong, Mary was still there, a lot!  And I would remind her that she was there more than she needed to be.  I loved the way Mary taught me how to listen.  How to ask each bride just enough questions to get an idea of what she was looking for and then to explore the possibilities with each lady to find that "perfect" gown.  Of course, it wasn't always fun.  If you've ever watched one of those shows on t.v. where they show you the bride that goes to look at gowns with her whole "enterage" yes, I've been there, it's not a fun experience.  But you learn how to turn that friend or family member away from what "they" are looking for and make them see what the bride is looking for.  I didn't work on comission, so I only checked the price tags to keep the brides budget in line.  If I happened to find her something much less than what she intended on spending, it just made it a better day for the bride!  Of course, every once-in-a-while we would get someone that didn't think our gowns were high priced enough.  Mary and I would joke that we could always add a one to beginning of any ticket price!  Well, we thought we were funny...
That job also gave me a different perception of what "a lot" was.  To one bride, a $500 gown was "a lot" of money.  To another bride it might be $1500, or even $150!  It was about looking at it in perspective.  If she was having a $10,000 wedding, $500 on a gown may or may not break the bank...  I would always be a little off gaurd if I found a bride the "perfect" gown for less than her budget and then she would haw-and-hem about the price of accessories...  Mary taught me to explain that the savings from one budget could allow for some wiggle room on another budget.
I saw hundreds of gowns...  Thousands of gowns...  Both in the store and in the catalogs that would come in for Mary to order stock from.  Even in all of that amazing finery, I never had a doubt that I would simply make my own gown.  Not for lack of money...  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't exactly rolling in dough, I just always liked the idea of making my own wedding gown.
Then I got engaged...  Then I found my "dream" gown...  Well, almost.  You see, I looked in one of the new catalogs, I believe it was the Mon Cheri, Fall/Winter 2001 catalog, and it was an amazing gown!  We had a gown in the store that I think Mary believed would be the perfect gown.  It was also Mon Cheri.  An A-line gown with spaghetti straps and an amazing back.  We had the gown in what was called Ivory and Rum, and the train detached!  With the train off, it was almost like a completely different gown!  I did like the gown, I put it on more brides than probably any other, but the minute I saw the one in the catalog I knew what gown I wanted.  Sort of.  You see, the gown only came in solid white, ivory or ivory and rum.  I wanted white with platinum.  Little did Mary know how much I loved this gown.  And little did I know that Mary had already ordered a sample of that gown for the shop!  When shopping for my wedding gown I tried on two samples with only Mary and myself.  I purchased the one from the catalog, but in my own size, the one we had was a bit too small.  When we got in the gown I took it home, which we didn't normally "allow" and I took off the trim at the top of the bodice and the trim along the hem and back of the skirt and I set to work altering the gown to add my platinum.  It may not have been as perfect as Mary could have done, but I couldn't tell Mary what I was doing...  She would have talked me out of it.
I'm not a big one when it comes to hand sewing, but I had become quite good at it working for the bridal shop.  Boy did that come in handy!  I had to remove multiple pieces of lace and tons of beading from the original bodice and then sew it all back on!  But I had the gown I wanted, the gown of my dreams.  I didn't go into it thinking "Is this what's in style?  Will my future daughter(s) want to wear this?"  I didn't even think I would have daughters!!!  My thought (which was spoken verbally as often as possible) was that I want to be burried in that gown.  "And," I would tell people "If I'm too big for it just drape it over me in my casket!"
That is how a bride should feel about her gown.  Not selfish as if no one else should wear it, but love it so much that it doesn't matter if anyone else likes it.  Only a few customers knew which gown was mine.  And if it met the description of a bride I never had a problem putting the sample on someone.  Mine would always be different, one-of-a-kind.  I even had a friend from High School end up falling in love with the same gown.  Since she was invited to my wedding, I did feel obligated to tell her and re-enforced the fact that hers would be different from mine.  Other than our shared sister-in-law, no one knew we had the same gown.
So, as I look at Pinterest and see the ideas strangers have for their dream wedding gown I am able to reflect and know I got just that gown.  My perfect, one-of-a-kind, colorful, altered by me wedding gown.  And I love it.  Still...
Mary pinning my straps in place

The cathedral train detaches from under the platinum part of the skirt

The gown was not the only thing I wanted platinum!  All the leaves on my bouquet were spray-painted silver so that there was no "green" in my bouquet at all.

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