Jean recently posted that she'd like to get a fake yet glamorous engagement ring, just so that she can go to a boutique and try on bridal gowns. I'm here to tell you all that the experience is probably not worth that sort of trouble.
Last weekend, Kate accompanied me on my first attempt at gown-shopping. The first place we checked out was very, very sketchy. I really hadn't known where to start, and had just written down names of places from the yellowpages.com -- that's my excuse for how we ended up at a nasty little "prom gown" store that claims they carry bridal gowns because they happen to have a few cheap-looking white dresses, covered in sequins, that have trains. The saleswoman at this place was really dreadful, and put me in a serious funk. As soon as we walked in the door and headed toward the bridal section of the store, she put her claws of death right into us, latching on firmly, and would not let go for the remainder of our time in the store. She asked what I was looking for. I replied that I'd like something without a lot of beading -- at which point she really ought to have admitted that they didn't have anything of the kind, and I would be better off to look elsewhere. Instead, she brought out dress after dress, each one (except for a few exceptions) more hideous than the last.
All of these dresses embodied everything I hate about most wedding dresses I've seen -- each one screamed in a shrill, high school voice, "I wore this to Junior Prom!" I tried to think of a means of escape, but couldn't seem to do so politely without first trying on two dresses. I vanished into the little room and managed to figure out how to deal with the volumes of cheap fabric well enough to actually step inside the dress. When I emerged, asking Kate to zip me up the rest of the way, the pushy saleswoman leapt between us, saying, "I'll do that." Katie saw my growing consternation (I can be really anti-social, and I hate salespeople who won't leave me alone when I want to be left alone) and attempted to remedy the situation, telling the woman, "We might be a while here; I'm sure you have other things you need to get done." Said saleswoman replied indignantly, "Honey, I can't leave you alone. We pride ourselves on our customer attention."
Well, she gave me attention all right. She gave me so much attention that by the time we left the store, I felt violated. She seemed incapable of zipping a dress back down just enough for me to grab my zipper on my own -- instead, she'd zip it all the way down past my underwear, leaving me standing in a large room in an open store, blushing to my roots and mad as a wet cat. She also managed to touch pretty much every part of my body during the course of our time there... and I only tried on two dresses!
Once that was over, we did have some good success with Kate trying on a few bridesmaid dresses, just to start getting some ideas of what might be nice. We found a few that we really liked, and since then, I've found another one that I might love, by looking at pictures online.
Well, we left the sketchy place, and the next place we tried was a big improvement. Once I started asking prices, I realized why the improvement was so noticeable. Hmm. Nevertheless, I tried on about a dozen gowns -- and almost all of them were pretty nice. I never like how I look in dresses, but none of these had me cringing at all. Amazing.
If you're interested, Kate has posted an account of our shopping trip as well. Check it out.