Sunday came early. Mom and I crashed on Saturday night with plans to attend Father Flanagan's Mass on Sunday morning. I'd seen and met him, but thought mom might like to as well. I didn't sleep well, waking up early, then falling back asleep until about 10. I made the call for us to skip church and instead get lunch before our 1pm appointment. The truth is, I was exhausted, but the church was also an hour-long drive, round trip, and we almost felt guilty driving so much with the gas crisis in Atlanta. Everywhere we went, we'd think there had to be a wreck on the road, thanks to the upwards of 40 cars waiting in a single line in front of us. Instead of a roadblock or accident, we'd always find a line inching toward the lone gas station with fuel in a five-mile radius. It was more than a little disconcerting.
So, with "going green" and going back to sleep in mind, we decided to take a slower approach to morning. Mom could read my signs--if I didn't get sleep, Sunday would be a tough day. You know when you're too tired and cranky to try on those jeans at the mall? Same with a wedding dress, only you have to be on even more in the mood because you're stripped down and sharing a small dressing room with a newly-made acquaintance that now knows everything about you, down to the mole of your shoulder and every inch of your measurements.
Mom and I spent the better part of an hour at my aunt and uncle's house clicking through the wedding dresses online, looking to find the dress from the hot pink store. Surely it had to be online. I wanted to see it again, see if it was worth the angst of ordering from a questionable store. As I clicked, I realized I wasn't sure about the dress, but I knew I liked it more than dress 1, so I called and cancelled our 4pm follow-up at the first dress shop, then mom and I got dressed and headed to lunch.
We found dress store #3 in the adorable town square of Roswell, a subsection of the greater Atlanta sprawl. We buzzed by, noticing the adorable storefront and both of us had a good feeling about the day. On the other corner of the square, we found a super cute bistro that served a mean Sunday brunch featuring everything from shrimp and grits to biscuit benedict, plus an omelet station, waffle bar, several salads, and all the traditional trimmings you'd expect to find at a breakfast stop.
We toasted our good fortune (a wonderful weekend, fun time together, and a fabulous breakfast spread) with peach iced tea at an outdoor patio table covered by a deep green umbrella. At the end of the meal, we headed across the lawn to the dress store, where we were greeted warmly by name.
Aside from the lack of church pews, we fell in love with the store. It was smaller, but definitely warm and cozy. One other bride was shopping, but other than that, mom and I had the run of the place. The other bride's mother noticed me and pulled me aside, Russian mafia style, saying, "We saw you yesterday at the boutique. We thought we found a dress there, but not a chance. This is where you'll find your dress."
What they don't tell you is that dress shopping is not only competitive (Does she look better in that than I did?), but it's also slightly like cheating (No baby, you're the only dress store for me). You want each store to think that it is "your store". You're not looking anywhere else. All your focus and attention is on them. That's hard to do when, in my case, you're three-timing any given store at any given moment, leaving your measurements and once-heartfelt promises about calling and ordering dresses. When your attendant asks where you've looked, you want to be honest, but let her down easy, but among brides (and their moms) hushed conversations of boutique pricing and selection is rampant. And it feels dirty.
I browsed the store and, disappointed, found most of their dresses to be (beautifully) bedazzled and sparkly. That heavy silver broach thing in the middle of the dress? Not so much me. I gathered a few of the plainer styles, plus a few by a designer I'd been wanting to try, and then continued to poke around. In the earlier stores, I had grabbed armfuls of dresses, but now that I knew my own tastes a little better, it was easier to be more selective. Bridal dresses aren't like normal dresses (Obvious 101, anyone?). Sure, they hang on racks and are well spaced out so as not to bunch, but they hang in protective bags with the trains hooked over the hangers. Any given bag looks like white marshmallow fluff, so it takes time to become more discerning, noticing the details like lace or jewels, low necklines, gathered waists. Eventually you begin to learn, which saves you a lot of trying on that's, well, all for not.
I warmed up to the task and soon, when the rest of my support team arrived, we really had the run of the place. For Sunday's shopping, mom, B's mom, and I were joined by B's mom's best friend, my aunt, and my aunt's best friend from church. What? you ask, Five people shopping with you? Are. You. Mad?
There's only one thing I can say: I would not have had Sunday any other way. These five women were amazing. They were encouraging and supportive and hilarious and we laughed all the way through the appointment. At points, there were tears, not over a dress I was trying on, but over the laughter than ensured. When I left them at the end of the day, they were considering going out for their own Champagne toast. Without me. Yeah, it was that good. I'm thinking of farming them out as a unit. I could've done calculus with these women and still had a great time.
The fab five settled around the couches in the boutique and waited for me to model the dresses. Dress one, all aglow with sparkles and sequins, was perfect for a Disney-themed wedding and actually quite beautiful on, but I'm sure B would've worried about denting me when we hugged or even tried to eat cake and it was nearing 90 degrees in that skirt, so it was out. Then came, and went, in quick succession super sparkly, the mermaid, satin chic, and, oh. This one. Wow.
I walked out wearing the final dress and the moms (and chorus) all smiled. The helper, Suzanne, added a sash and they smiled bigger. On came the veil, shoes, and sparkly hair things (which were quickly removed), and the moms cheered. It was, and felt, perfect. Not too heavy (or hot), but not too sweet and plain either. I felt like I should be wearing it to an old country church. It made me feel pretty and warm and I knew B would like it. It was me.
Mom and I fluttered over the material, saying how much it resembled the dress I had loved at the hot pink store, but it was somehow... more. I told her that, after seeing this dress, I realized that, while I loved the other dress, it made me feel like it should have something extra, more of a kick. Be a little more special. This dress, especially with the sash, was special.
The moms (and co.) cheered and smiled, even posing for a picture for me (see above) relishing our success at the store.
We had one more appointment to go, so we thanked Suzanne and told her we'd sleep on it and call her in the morning to "pull the trigger." (My words, not my moms.) I figured some of the posse (as B's mom labeled them) would peter off, but all insisted on coming to the next appointment. Now invested, they had to see how the story ended.
As we walked to the cars, I told mom I was happy and that the final store would "put the nail in the coffin" on the dress hunt. Again, my words, not hers, and not fond ones by the way. She confided that she was thrilled I wasn't choosing the dress from the hot pink store, we just had no way of knowing if I'd really get what I wanted when I needed it. We smiled and pulled onto I-75 and followed B's mom (and co.) on to the next appointment, located smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta.