Thursday, June 19, 2008

More gowns from the internet

I'm currently away in England for five weeks for research-related purposes. Although I'm glad to get away from the miserable summers on the East Coast, I can't help feeling like all of my fun party planning has been rudely interrupted by this journey abroad. Also, I miss Econo Boy terribly. When you're used to coming home to your sweetheart in a lovingly decorated apartment and sitting down for a nice homemade dinner with some wine, coming home to an empty dorm room and living on microwave curries can get a bit depressing.

So how do I cheer myself up? Online gown browsing, duh! Here are four that I really like (complete with design numbers so I can ask bridal salons about them when I go home).

Sottero & Midgeley SSM5049. I love three things about it: 1) the silhouette -- it's a slim skirt but not too clingy; 2) the ruching on the bodice; 3) the corset back.

I'm also excited about the color shown here -- it's pale pink. I'm not sure if I'm bold enough to go with such an ultra-girly color, but I hope the sample gown is pink so I can get an idea of what it might look like.

2185 by Mori Lee. I really liked that strapless lace gown I tried on at my one and only visit to a bridal salon, but at $1300 it's a little more than I want to spend. I've been looking for similar gowns that aren't quite as pricey, and I think this Mori Lee gown is really lovely (except for the long train, hopefully I could ask to have it made shorter).

C912 from Jasmine Bridals (the company who designed my friend Susan's gown -- Susan, incidentally, was the person who introduced me & Econo Boy!). It's hard to see on this small internet picture, but I saw this gown in a magazine ad and the detailing on the neckline and bodice is gorgeous. It's a bit heavier and more elaborate than the others but I think it's romantic and would probably be really flattering on me.

Elyssa from Sophia Tolli. I'm kind of in love with this dress -- I think the fabric looks amazing, really soft and luxurious.

Of course, if my first visit to a bridal salon was any indication, what I like online will have almost nothing to do with what I actually get to try on in the store! Also, it kind of stinks that I can't try on any more gowns for another five weeks, just when I'm having so much fun looking. (I guess I could pester some poor British bridal shop person into letting me try stuff on, but I'd feel bad about wasting her time. There definitely isn't any room in my suitcase for a wedding dress!)

Princess for a day?

When I was a kid, I desperately wanted my mom to buy me an elaborate princess gown to wear for Halloween. I’m talking about the kind of gown adults buy when they’re really serious about period costumes – I would have liked nothing better than to trick-or-treat as a genuine Renaissance princess. The pink polyester gown and plastic tiara I got kept me reasonably happy, but I still looked with longing at the top-quality costumes at The Wizard’s Chest (a local costume and game store, one of my favorite places in the whole world) and fantasized about receiving that deep red princess gown as a surprise early birthday present.

And now, or so I’m told, I have the chance to fulfill my childhood princess fantasies. Every woman’s a princess on her wedding day! But for some reason, the word “princess” in conjunction with my wedding doesn’t fill me with excitement. In fact, it kind of pisses me off, and I’m not sure why. The only thing that makes me even more uncomfortable is hearing someone call the wedding “[my] special day.” When I read on a vendor’s website a phrase like “We want to make sure your special day is as perfect as you always dreamed it would be,” my skin crawls.

I think I react this way because as an adult, I find the “princess”/“special day” stuff infantilizing. It sounds like something you’d say to a little kid on her birthday: “Hi, princess! Guess what? It’s your special day!” I’m a woman getting married, darn it, not a five-year-old playing dress-up.

I feel like I’m in the minority in my feelings towards being a princess on my wedding day, though. On one bridal message board I’ve visited, dozens of women gush about “feeling like a princess” in their wedding dresses. Tiaras seem to rival veils as the wedding headgear of choice. And Disney does a huge business in weddings – they even have a ridiculously overpriced line of wedding gowns inspired by Disney Princesses, and you can hire Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage and stay in Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Clearly, this “princess” thing is hitting a nerve for a lot of women. (But what about their husbands?)

That kind of plastic fantasy sounds incredibly UNromantic to me. It’s not that I’m anti-Disney – I will freely confess to loving Disney animated movies. (I can sing most of the score to “Beauty & the Beast” from memory.) But I don’t want to pretend to be some fantasy princess on my wedding day. I just want to be me, marrying the man I love.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What I learned dress shopping

1. Just because a shop "carries that designer" doesn't mean they have the gown you liked.
Alas, even though the store I visited carried Alfred Angelo and Mon Cheri, they didn't have any of the gowns I posted in my last entry!

2. It is hard to pin a non-strapless gown so it fits on someone smaller than the sample.
My favorite dress was this one, Mon Cheri's Nadia:

But the sample was several sizes too big for me and it was hard to get a sense of how the bodice would look once fitted for someone my size. As it was, I looked like a little kid playing dress-up:

3. It is also hard to take a picture of yourself in the mirror.
Witness how the flash messed up that last photo. Also, I loved this pretty strapless lace gown (designer unknown, and out of my price range anyway) but the picture I took was horrible -- my arms kept getting in the way!

Conclusion: I really need a dress shopping buddy. Without someone to discuss the pros and cons of each gown with, I was stuck with awkwardly saying "this is pretty" to the bridal salon owner. Only with a couple of gowns did I feel OK saying "yeah, not for me" (like the ultra-fitted satin mermaid gown that made my hips look huge). Time to bribe my East Coast-based bridesmaids into visiting a salon with me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pretty dresses from the internet

I shouldn't even be looking at dresses at this point in the process. 14 months is way too early to even think about ordering anything, and Econo Boy and I don't even have a venue yet. The kind of dress I would pick for a church wedding is very different from the kind I would pick for an outdoor ceremony. So really, trying anything on at this point would be pretty pointless.

And yet ... last week I went with a friend to her second gown fitting, and after browsing through the racks was struck with a sudden urge to see myself in a wedding gown. So I called a small boutique nearby that carries two designers I'm interested in, and made an appointment for Tuesday morning. Pointless or not, here I come!

In the meantime, here are some of the gowns I've liked best in my internet searching.

This one's an Alfred Angelo. It seems perfect for an outdoor ceremony (which is our first choice provided we find a good place to have one) and I love the contrasting gold embroidery. But will I look good in something so clingy around the hips? Only one way to find out!

This one is also an Alfred Angelo. I really like the off-the-shoulder neckline and the simplicity of the dress. I'm not big into sparkly stuff or giant poofy skirts, and this gown looks very classic, elegant, and non-fussy.

This dress was on the cover of Modern Bride the week I got engaged, and I really liked the soft lace on the shoulders and slim silhouette. But it looks pretty sparkly in the picture. This would probably be a "church wedding" dress.

And finally, this one. I suspect every bride comes across a gorgeous gown she loves but could never afford -- how can you not, with so many bridal magazines flashing $6,000 gowns across their pages? For me that gown is this one by Lea-Ann Belter. I love the flowing train and the cool tie at the back. But a bit of research showed that Lea-Ann Belter gowns retail for around $4000 apiece. Alas!

Reason #1 why wedding planning in exile is tricky

You can't visit reception sites without buying plane tickets.

Econo Boy and I are both planners. Last-minute, free-wheeling, spontaneous ... none of these are adjectives that would ever be used to describe us. As far as the wedding goes, frankly, we would like nothing better than to have booked the venue, the caterer, the photographer, and the florist within a week of our engagement. So what if we're more than a year away from the wedding? It never hurts to have all of your ducks in a row.

But we're also big believers in "research expensive things before you pay for them." The thought of selecting a venue based only on carefully chosen website or brochure photos is not one we love. Our parents all live in the Denver area and are happy to check out sites for us, but I don't think we could ever persuade ourselves to write that big fat check without laying eyes on the place ourselves.

We will both be in Denver at the end of July and have high hopes for being able to at the very least find our ceremony and reception sites. But I'm a bit nervous. On a recent weekend trip to Colorado, Econo Boy, my mom, and his parents visited a few reception sites. One of them, a promising-looking historic manor, is already booked for all but two Saturdays next summer!

Econo Boy didn't love this site (their carefully shot photos did not reveal the highway just to the right of the outdoor ceremony site), so it's not as if we've lost out on anything amazing, but it worries me that things are already booked more than a year in advance. So much for thinking 14 months is a ton of time! Yeesh.


Hello, and welcome to my wedding-planning blog! If you're here, you probably know my real name and my birthstone and all sorts of other disturbing personal information, like that dream I had about the exploding turkeys.

But just to be on the safe side, I won't be using any real names. For the purposes of this blog you may call me the Bride in Exile. Sounds dramatic, eh? Well, I'm a Colorado native currently living on the East Coast. This has some advantages -- namely, my great grad school program and the grocery store Wegmans -- but I miss the Rocky Mountains, the bright blue skies, the dry air (I loathe humidity) and the general feeling of space and freedom that I just don't find in the population-dense East Coast. Also, it turns out that planning a wedding from out of state is a wee bit tricky.

I am starting this blog for two major reasons.

1. To get opinions from my friends on wedding stuff, since most of them live very far away.
2. To help me organize my thoughts on various wedding issues so I don't become one of those brides-to-be who is always talking about her wedding to anyone who will listen, up to and including houseplants. My houseplants are already suicidal, no need to make it worse.

More to follow soon, but for now, welcome!