Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Shop til you drop

My family arrived for their much-anticipated vacation to tropical, sunny... no wait, they came to Delaware to spend their well-deserved vacation week with me! The last week of June was hot. Like heat index pushing 100 degrees, melt your face hot. We spent three days in a row in air-conditioned shopping bliss (King of Prussia, the flagship Anthropologie in Rittenhouse Square & Christiana Mall); ideal for the ladies, not so ideal for Dad and Mr. P.


The non-stop shop-a-thon included knocking a few items off the wedding to-do list. Our first wedding stop was bridesmaid dress shopping at the Ardmore (read: upscale) Priscilla of Boston. BM R and I had the advantage of previewing gowns so we came prepared with a list since it worked well before. We were not missing any good ones due to sensory overload! (Ooooo, foreshadowing.)

Mom and Sister L immersed themselves in the racks of gorgeous dresses while the attendant and I discussed which to pull. I offered her the list, thinking it would expedite things but she seemed to have her own idea about the order of things. A mix of "list" gowns and seasonally inappropriate frocks were handed off to my sister.

First up was a short crinkle chiffon gown with a gathered and origami'd bodice into a soft A-line skirt. Perfect for what I was planning but L wasn't wowwed. And why would she when she's staring down 20 more gorgeous dresses?

PB 415

Even though I had studied the dresses and color availability, I had trouble telling them apart at the speed they were traveling in and out of the dressing room. I found a catalog of gowns (and begged a pen) to use as a guide and impromptu ratings directory. L gave each a rating; I made sure to star her favorites or cross out the No Ways.

These are lovely, but not what we were looking for
(source: PB 416 & discontinued, I think)

Finding gowns in one of the three colors I liked was turning out to be a big headache. And I thought I was remaining flexible by having three color choices and letting the girls pick a dress they liked.

The three: watermelon, canary/dandelion/any yellow really & clover

Random gowns were brought into the dressing room without an inquiry into season, location or colorways. If she liked it, into the room it went. It got to the point where I was pointedly asking for the model number and what colors it came in. The catalog and attendant were equally helpful... that is to say, not at all.

Say hi to my sister and the MOH! (Vineyard 1505)

With each dress, we crept further and further from what I envisioned until we hit rock botton: a completely inappropriate short satin gown that (we were told) only came in dark red, smoky amethyst, black and brown. What the hell am I going to do with that? My frustration levels had peaked. Thankfully, R arrived soon after and deftly took control of the appointment.

My sister modeling her favorite! (PB 401)

Oh, Sister L was loving every minute of it. What fun! They all looked great on her. She got the hint that some were too fashion-forward and half-heartedly offered to wear whatever I wanted. What I really wanted was for her to love her gown! Well, she found her gown: a short satin number with a sweetheart neckline and tulip skirt.

Mega tulip skirt

R's eyes bugged out when she heard tulip - neither one of us could pull off that silhouette! Going matchy-matchy wasn't a requirement, but the girls wanted to wear the same gown. By this time we were on attendant #2; the first one bailed (on the appointment scheduled weeks in advance). We implored #2 to find a gown like L's but with a straighter skirt. The sample she found was long (not short), cotton (not satin) and an unflattering color. BM R was a trooper and gave Sister L's first choice the green light -- as long as her skirt was the A-line version. We were ready to order, but I held off. I was covering the cost (which they didn't yet know) and didn't want uncomfortable money discussions souring the rapidly deteriorating mood. Nor was I finalizing anything with money after that experience!

I confessed to Mom that I was overwhelmed and the whole direction of the wedding was starting to go off-track, starting with my gown. Throwing L's gown into the mix really shook it up. While I loved my gown, I was beginning to regret my pick because it limited our BM dress options.

Things were going to turn around -- I was ready to play show and tell with my gown! My family had yet to see her and I was anticipating a big family bonding moment.

Scene: Dressing Room. My gown is halfway over my head, and although I have tulle in my ears, I'm sure my tiny 5' attendant is silently cursing me as she valiantly tries to pull the gown down over my almost 6' frame. Gown stuck semi in place. The tulle and underlayers are askew but she can't figure out how to fix it and the thought of Take Two seems to exhaust her. A second attendant appears and quickly straightens the underlayers. I catch my reflection in the dressing room mirror and see unhappy doubt bubbling just below the surface.

The door opens. I silently walk out to the 3-way mirror and wait. Crickets... Wonderfully reliable R gushes to fill the silence, which bolsters my spirits. Mom was atypically quiet. And then there was Sister L/MOH. Sitting with arms and legs crossed and her face barely concealing her ambivalence, she mustered a few words and studied it. "I wouldn't have picked this... You're not blingy, but this has more going on than the simple gowns I thought you'd pick. Looks nice." Pretty much, "Meh." (Not that I need anyone's approval, but it felt like I just struck out. Not the experience I built it up to be.)

Me and my maids: Sister L (left) and BM R (right) after our appointments

Mom hovered around me like a mini satellite, snapping photos for reference, still not saying much. My head was in a fog and I later appreciated seeing the gown from another perspective. Blood sugars were dropping, so we grabbed a drink and light meal so R, L and Mom could get to know each other. Food made some things better. Mom revealed she was quiet because she was on the brink of crying happy tears. I could have used some happy tears!

What was your family's reaction when you revealed your gown?

(All personal photos unless otherwise noted.)

No comments:

Post a Comment