Monday, August 16, 2010

Dress shopping with Mom

My parents live 8 hours away. Family bonding time is limited to the 3-4 times a year when we see each other. If we're lucky, there's a week-long vacation somewhere in the mix. I knew when I returned home for Christmas that Mom and I had some Serious Wedding Business to attend to - all within 4 days. Priority #1 was dress shopping.


Armed with my wedding binder full of dresses, flowers and cakes (all carefully curated to showcase our ideas), I set forth to show Mom what we were envisioning. Most of the dresses were well received and there was general enthusiasm all around. At times, she looked like she might pop out of sheer joy. Mom deserved the honor of being with me on the first dress shopping trip. Looking back, I am thankful it worked out this way. I needed someone on my side who knows my personality, stress indicators and has the stamina to shop for hours.

The day after Christmas (I know), we set out to the first shop upon my sister Laura's recommendation. The store was very quiet. We didn't see anyone for the first 5 minutes until a harried employee appeared to apologize as she was the only one working. Mom and I exchanged looks. We browsed the selection in the small first floor room, unsure if we were looking at white bridesmaid dresses or wedding gowns. All the gowns on these racks were too simple or of poor quality. Fortunately, the majority of the dresses were upstairs. Not so fortunately, another bride and her entourage of nine female family members were squished into the small dressing area and spilling into the racks. We sorted through the racks, challenged to find a dress that was anywhere near the styles I prefer. Mom made me pick one (see below) just so there was something to try on. The lone salon employee pointed us in the direction of the dressing room. We were on our own.

(Note to self: Stand up straight! Shoulders back!)

This first dress was completely random and suited the purpose of "let's just get the first one over with". It was not my style. Mom laced up the corset bodice and stood back, already emotional. No surprise that when I stood in front of the mirror, a wave of disappointment washed over me. I had a strong emotional reaction to what should have been exhilarating. I could hear Mom gushing, which only made it worse.

I started to feel dizzy and then had what I can only describe as an out of body experience, floating above myself. Oh no, this will not do! Mom, on the other hand, is so tickled pink, clapping happily and awestruck as she begs me to stay put so she can take it all in. Her effusive reaction coupled with my 20+ years of expectations were enough to cause some genuine traumatization. It was all I could do not to strip down (in front of the 3-way mirror).

Second dress - a little better

Thankfully, the rest of our appointment didn't go as poorly. The salon employee asked what I was looking for, only to look confused then disappointed when I listed the designers. She and Mom double-teamed me into another dress. When asked what I thought, I blurted out, "It looks like Barbie threw up on it."

Mr. P texted me sometime during this ordeal. I'm pretty sure the words "traumatized" and "out of body experience" were somewhere in my message. The phone did not beep back. I was SO done.

And I was debating even posting photos of this dress... The combination of me and the dress: can you bear its awfulness? What was I thinking??

(All personal photos unless otherwise noted.)

What was your first experience with dress shopping? Did you go alone or with family/friends?

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