Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shopping for other people is hard

Now that I have my dress, I can start on the next wedding day clothes project: bridesmaid's dresses! (You might say the next project is what the groom wears, but that's his department!) I want them to be navy (I have visions of brightly colored bouquets standing out against the navy dresses), and I want them to be roughly the same level of formality as my gown. Aside from that I'm not terribly picky.

And yet, the search for a nice bridesmaid's dress is proving even more puzzling than the search for my own gown. I would love to find a line of dresses where each bridesmaid can choose a different neckline, but this is trickier than I thought. For example, I went to a bridesmaids' salon in Denver and loved Amsale's line of tissue taffeta gowns -- they are elegant and modern, and come in a gorgeous navy blue.

I'm strongly considering telling my bridesmaids to just pick any Amsale tissue taffeta gown they like. But one of my 'maids is well-endowed and has never found a comfortable strapless bra. Although she has promised to resume the search for a strapless bra should I choose a dress that needs one, I'd really prefer to find a gown that gives her the option of wearing a normal bra. And unfortunately, the only Amsale that has actual straps is this bubble-hemmed monstrosity:

I tried this dress on. In mango (think shiny pinky-orange). It was, without question, the ugliest garment I have ever worn. It made me look like I was wearing a pink potato sack over the world's most enormous butt. AND there was a giant bow in the back. No! Bad designer! Bad!

Another potential option seems to be Aria Bridesmaids, which lets the bride choose the fabric and length but lets each bridesmaid choose the neckline and silhouette she likes best. That's great for my bridesmaid who'd like to wear a good supportive bra -- she loves boatneck dresses like this one.

They also come in a great midnight (aka navy) silk shantung. I've ordered a dress to try on (they have a try-on program, you pay $15 to have a dress shipped to you and you're responsible for shipping it back within a week), and I'm eager to see what I think in person.

The problem here: the dresses are GIGANTIC. According to their size chart, I'm a 0, which I find sort of amazing. My closet is filled with 4s, 6s, and the occasional 8 -- but no 0s. I have never been a 0 in my life. And that's their smallest size, and one of my bridesmaids is definitely smaller than I am. I don't want to saddle her with a gigantic alterations bill.

At the suggestion of pretty much everyone in the whole entire world, I also checked out the website for the wildly popular J Crew bridesmaids collection -- and let me tell you, I almost passed out from shock when I saw the prices. $350?! Holy crap! I tried on a Vera Wang that was $250! But I did like this silk V-neck number (which is fortunately "only" $195):

No neckline options here, though. Hmmm ...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I did it ... I bought a dress!

Phew! After a whole bunch of searching and back-and-forth, I did it: I picked a dress!

It came down to two gowns. One was the one I showed in my last post -- delicate, feminine, light as a feather. The other was one I found in New Jersey -- also lace, also sparkly, also a strapless A-line.

Are we seeing a pattern here? :-)

I had a hard time choosing between the two, mostly because they were so darn similar. But I ended up choosing the one in this post, for the following reasons:
1. It has more of a shape to it -- the fabric is a bit thicker and more luxurious, and it sucked me in and smoothed me down without making me feel like I was wearing a corset. The other gown was lightweight and I loved how the skirt swung around me, but it wasn't quite as flattering.
2. It has pearls in the embroidery. I ::heart:: pearls.
3. It has a shorter train -- I could have gotten the other gown with a sweep train, but the change would have cost me extra and likely put that gown out of my price range.

After all my back-and-forth on which dress I wanted, I thought I'd second-guess myself once I finally made a decision. But I haven't. I love this dress and I'm so thrilled to have chosen one at last!

Next post: my top choices for bridesmaids' dresses.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We'll start with the bad and move on to the good

This wedding planning stuff is seeming much more real every day -- and that's not always a good thing. Sure, it's tons of fun imagining myself in pretty gowns and picturing the flowers and the delicious food we'll serve. But when that gorgeous dress from the magazine makes you look stumpy and the coordinator from the venue you want won't call you back and you're suddenly worrying about how you'll afford all of this -- that's real, but also annoying.

* We wildly underestimated catering costs, mostly because we didn't realize that caterers' listed meal prices did not include staff wages. Because of our venue, I'd really like to do a plated meal and not a buffet. Space will already be a bit tight, and devoting space to a buffet would make it even tighter -- and regardless, we'd only have room for one buffet table, which every caterer has said is not enough for 150 guests.

But bringing the dinners to the guests means more staff, which means more money. And Econo Boy, who insisted on the most expensive day of the week (Saturday) and the most expensive time (evening) and the most expensive season (summer), is now insisting that we should go with the cheaper option, guest comfort be darned. He says the buffet would be "fine" and that people won't mind waiting over an hour to get through the line. (Personally, I would mind. Would I get mad and hate the hosts forever? No. But I'd be hungry and bored.)

* Another budget issue: photography. I would really have loved to get a custom-designed album from our photographer, but at $1000 that's just not possible. So we're going to design our own ... which I guess is fine, but wow, you should have seen these professional albums. So pretty.

* Dress shopping was fun, but picking a dress has turned out to be harder than I thought. The "OMG this dress is PERFECT" moment doesn't happen for everyone, I know, and since I'm not the kind of bride who's dreamed about her dress since childhood, I pretty much had no idea what I wanted going in. All I knew is that I didn't want to be another bride in a strapless a-line gown.

And now, my front-runner dress is ... a strapless a-line gown.

Granted, it's not entirely plain. It's a lace gown, with a pleated blush sash and buttons down the back. I feel lovely in it, and it's so light and comfortable. But I don't entirely trust my own fashion sense and I'm worried I will look boring and frumpy as yet another strapless a-line bride, especially one with very little boobage to speak of.

Note: The gown I have on in this picture is all blush, but I would order it in ivory with a blush sash, which I think will make it a bit brighter and more interesting. Also, my gown would be custom-ordered and fitted, which is to say not held together by giant orange clips in the back (check out the mirror).

* Our venue, a lovely historic mansion in Denver, is now booked -- July 25, 2009!! We're just waiting for the site contract before it becomes truly official. I know it doesn't look like much up against all of the frustrations I just listed, but having a date makes everything seem so much more concrete. Also, even though we couldn't afford an album, I really like our photographer and I think he'll do a great job.

* I have taken advantage of Apple's current "free iPod with new Mac" promo and purchased a new iMac desktop, with a free iPod touch. No, this is not wedding-related, but I think it will be much comfier writing my dissertation on a desktop instead of hunched over a laptop screen. Also, the iPod touch? So awesome. Not quite iPhone awesome, but still pretty dang cool.