My friends and I made a pact when we were little that when one of us got engaged, we would go straight to the House of Fashion Bridal Salon on 21st and J streets and try on every wedding dress in the store. We even contemplated pretending that one of our prepubescent posse was a blushing bride-to-be to sneak into the store in eighth grade. We never tried our luck (or our fake diamond rings) and to this day, even after getting married for real, I still have never set foot inside that store.
I walked down the aisle—really, the driveway of my family home—in a dress that can best be described as Grecian meets Marilyn Monroe: a simple white column that tied at the neck and dropped from an Empire waist straight to the ground. No cupcake confection of princess proportions for me; I wanted to be as comfortable and cool as possible—I got married in September in Sacramento, after all.
I found the dress at the second wedding boutique I visited in Manhattan—such a hole-in-the-wall place that I honestly don’t even remember the name. Now, anyone who’s ever watched “Say Yes to the Dress” is probably wondering why on earth I didn’t go to Kleinfeld’s, the high-profile wedding salon featured on TLC’s guilty-pleasure TV show. I might have ventured inside if I hadn’t been concerned that I’d give my soon-to-be-husband a coronary upon looking at the price tags.
While the dress was originally supposed to be a bridesmaid’s dress, the boutique seemed unfazed by my request to make it ivory and floor length to pass marital muster. This is a great option for brides who are trying not to break the bank or look like a human version of dessert—you really can’t tell the difference if the dress is made well and fits well, and it might save you some cash that would be better put toward, say, your honeymoon or a house. But if frothy, fairytale fancy is your style, by all means, rock that tiara and crinoline—unless you work at Disneyland, this is the one time it’s perfectly fine to look like a princess. It seems that almost anything goes for gowns these days—Lucky magazine has even identified wedding dress trends across the United States (check it out here), so you can see what your betrothed brethren will be wearing when they say “I do.”
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