Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Here's to having a brilliant bridesmaid!

They say that every girl dreams of her wedding dress.  And there's a slight possibility that may actually be true.  Or at least the wedding -- I'm about as ungirly a girl as you can get, but I still have always had some idea in mind of what type of wedding I wanted.  Including - gasp - the white dress.  But what I would vehemently argue is that not every girl dreams of *shopping* for said dress.

“I found the guy! After more than twenty years of being single and jerked around and cheated on and alone, I found my soul mate. Pardon my French, but you think I give a shit about the flowers?”  ― Lauren Weisberger

bahahahha okay so I didn't write it, but it made me laugh and seemed about right.  I like flowers.  Flowers are pretty.  But I'll tell you -- having a destination wedding makes life so much easier.  I have a page of flower options.  I get to pick one of those.  Cake options involve chocolate or vanilla.  Food: steak or Italian.  No tasting, testing, exploring 800 options only to find out guest Y who is oh-so-important is allergic and the whole family will have a meltdown and never speak to us again if we don't change everything to accommodate.  None of it.  It is...  Awesome.

But the dress...  That one thing I am left to my own devices on.  They'll help me get it there.  And potentially even steam if necessary once there.  But the choosing and the buying?  That's on me.

Oh dear.  Have you seen my wardrobe?  Right.  And what clothes I *do* have that look good -- yeah, Steph found those for me.

Logical solution, Steph needs to help me find a dress.  hahaha and I am sooooo lucky she was in on this plan, because I would not have survived the first excursion alone.

Yes, the first excursion.  As in there was more than one.  I'm not even kidding.

Day 1: was picked because it was supposed to be rainy.  Wouldn't want to waste a nice day shopping after all.  Yeah, it was gorgeous.   Boooo.

We started in Dundas, which I've never been to btw.  Really cute little town -- quite liked it.  The store itself, however, was fairly intimidating -- rows and rows of white and an older sales lady behind the desk watching with an eagle eye.   There was one other group of women (apparently you're supposed to shop for your dress in a pack!) there who were farther in the back, but there were two (or possibly more) completely separate dressing areas, so other than being vaguely aware of their existence, we seemed to have the place to ourselves.   Ever brave, Stephy dove into the racks of white in an attempt to find the "just right".  Obviously one of the first things is weight -- I'm getting married on a beach in Costa Rica.  It can't be too hot or too heavy.  And probably shouldn't have all that long a train ;)   Then there's the fact that I really don't care for lace...  Or glitter...  Or flowers.  And please, above all, no lace flowers with glitter centers!   Seriously.  It was like somebody glittered my grandmother's drapes.

Okay, deep breath.  Stephy found some dresses that seemed suitable while sales lady watched from the distance, and I dutifully tried them on.   Except...   The stores seem to only stock one size of each dress -- and it's easier to pin them to fit a smaller person than to make them larger for a bigger one.  So they start at about size 16.  Which would be perfect if I were, in fact, size 16.  However, for me, it's sort of like trying to wear a big, white, shiny, tent.  But here the sales lady proved very helpful as she brought her handy Home Depot clamps in to make the dress pretend to fit me.

And I'll tell you.  The first time you stand on that platform in front of the three mirrors...  Surreal.  Totally surreal.   And just a little terrifying.  Fortunately, I really didn't like the dress.  hahaha so that took a whole lot of pressure off.   Tried on a few more in this store.  One was reasonable -- but when I saw the price I just about fainted.  Frig.  Without fail -- can always pick the most expensive thing in the store.   And we were in Dundas.  It wasn't a cheap store.  Suffice to say way out of budget.  And the internet had told me my budget (which admittedly is much higher than I can afford w/o finding a new job *now*, would be reasonable if I were working at all).  We quickly escaped that store in search of more affordable venues.

Relocated to Waterdown -- a surprisingly pretty drive.   I knew there were three wedding stores within a few blocks of one another so we parked where we found space and went to the closest one we could see.  This one was still a wall of white, but a younger friendlier sales lady, who may not have had as much experience, but was all for being pleasant and helpful.   However, this was a much smaller store and she had another group to help too, so she was doing her best but somewhat tied up with them.   It's all good -- I had Steph.  Who again pushed through the racks till she found things that looked promising.

Trying things on here was all kinds of interesting.  Again, giant sized dresses.  It's really hard to keep a strapless dress up while you zip it when it's almost big enough to fall off even when zipped!   But more of a challenge were the ones that laced up.  Which, I admit, I kinda loved.  But awkward needing help to get dressed ;)   Sales lady again appeared with clips -- slightly less intimidating than the industrial ones at the first store, but no less effective.  And at this store I think we found two plausible options.  One that would need some lace removed (apparently no big deal) and one that would need straps removed or changed.  But overall actual options.  And firmly within budget.  Phew.

Alright on to the next store -- across the street and down a block.  This one won, hands down, for best customer service AND least intimidating store.  Was set up more like a house with the dresses lining the walls but not all in the middle, so far more open and welcoming.  There was even a silly little white dog.  Just had to roll my eyes at that.  But this was the first place where they asked anything beyond who's the bride and when's the wedding.  It was also the first place where Stephy didn't have to do all the finding.  They asked what we were looking for, styles we liked, budget, etc etc.  All sorts of intelligent questions really.  And then started pulling dresses off the rack.  Steph was wandering looking at things on another rack and when she got too far they stopped her because those ones would be out of budget.  Appreciated that consideration.

Dressing areas were downstairs.  Dresses still way too huge, but by this point getting used to this concept.  Sales ladies brilliant -- as I was trying things on they were actively listening to what we were saying about them and rejecting other options or finding new ones based on our comments.  Here were two possibilities.  One I *loved* the back of and was okay with the front.  The other wasn't super-wow on anything but nice overall.  And both in budget.  Definitely getting better.

Last store of day 1 -- this was just atrocious.   Gorgeous old house that had been converted into a store, but dresses packed in everywhere in no apparent order.  Once the sales ladies realized we were there they seemed to fairly strongly resent our presence.  Dressing "room" was smaller than the average broom closet.  To put in perspective, the dress didn't actually fit in the room.  All  kinds of people milling about, some with a purpose, some clearly lost in a hell of white.  It was so unpleasant I just wanted out.  One possible dress whose main selling feature was price, but too stressful being in there.   We left fairly quickly.

And treated ourselves to the wonder that is Yogurty's.   Cause, let's be honest, we earned it.

Skip a few weeks cause, well, I have a life.  And then Steph and I tried again.

Day 2:  One shop only this time and mainly because they have bridesmaid dresses in the impossible-to-find colour that C requested.  hahaha but of course, while there, I had to look at actual wedding dresses too.   Here was the extreme opposite of the last place.  They had it down to a science -- almost felt a little *too* practiced.  Like a wedding dress assembly line.   Hostess greeted us and had me fill out some basic info about the wedding.  While I was doing so, she found us our personal assistant for the day.  She listed to what I wanted, but seemed pretty determined that I didn't know what I was talking about.  Which may be true actually, but when I say I don't like lace and you show me the entirely lace dress "because it's so pretty" -- ummmm no, it's not.  Here though they actually have dresses of varying sizes -- so she measured me and figured out what size I should try.  What a novel idea!  And the dresses were arranged by weight, so anything in the first 2 or 3 rows would be okay for the beach.  Sweet.

Then they had me don a corset and the most horrific slip you'll ever meet.   Full of crinoline and puffiness.  Kinda ridiculous when I told them I wanted simple...  It was also hot.  Very hot.  So after trying on the first dress with that, I ditched it.  Basically anything I try on while wearing it isn't going to appeal to me and I'm certainly not going to buy it, so let's get rid of it.   After that, things went better.  Our sales lady disappeared for a little while, which was slightly awkward as we were in-between dresses at the time.  But other than that, she was good and helpful once she got over the idea that I didn't like lace.  She was a lot pushier than the people at the other stores though and I was really glad of Steph's company AND fashion sense as I could only see "it doesn't look right" while she could tell them *why* it didn't look right.  This helped them narrow down pretty quickly into something that *was* right.  Fairly stunning actually.  And then in a super smart move, they took me to another place in the store where I could see it in natural light -- which made it look ten times better.

Wanna make a guess at price?   In what was essentially a budget wedding store, I once again, without even trying, picked the most expensive thing in the store.  *sigh*   Classic.  In my own defense, my second choice - that I genuinely liked - was the least expensive item I tried on.  Expensive one was technically within budget (ummmm well ignoring taxes), but alterations not included.  They were everywhere else.  Sheesh.

Ah well.  Then it was Steph's turn -- but apparently bridesmaids don't rate the same level of service.  Our handy sales lady directed us to the other half of the store, which had multiple rows of bridesmaid and mother of the bride dresses.  Impressive as most places had a single rack.  She sort-of told us which ones would come in the colour we needed to find and then disappeared.  So Steph did her thing and found dresses that might seem about right and started trying on.  I did a little bit of back and forth to find sizes for her, but otherwise we got it down to three plausible options.  Huge relief there as finding that colour in normal stores when it's just not "this season" was proving to be impossible.

Anyways -- down to the top two or three dresses now.  And some day soon (has to be soon, since these things apparently take months to arrive.  Sheesh) will go try just those ones on and make a choice.  But it's been an interesting game and the biggest lesson learned: have good friends and trust them to help ;)  Cause really, this would've been far more painful and likely less successful on my own.  Yeah for bridesmaids!


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