There's a conspiracy in the world that no one tells you about (but I suspect most of you reading here will have some experience with it...)- wedding dress sizing has nothing to do with your street dress sizing. I'm not talking a little difference here & there, I'm talking nothing-nada-you might as well make shit up because it has that little in common with reality. When I walked into the 2nd store the sales woman sized me with her eyes and said "You're about an 8 right?", since that's what my jeans are I answered yes and the ensuing pain and suffocation I suffered as she tried to lace me into a completely inappropriate for international transportation corseted puffball of a dress (her reasoning- every mother wants to see her daughter in a "princess type dress" at least once, even if the princess in question is turning blue from lack of oxygen) was enough to make me dizzy. It was not a good look and I refused to leave the dressing room, mostly for fear of passing out and doing myself and the too expensive dress harm in the fall.
This leads to the next conspiracy afoot in the mass market bridal dress world: If you don't want a floor length, beaded strapless dress with a train that weighs 50lbs (minimum) you're obviously a freak. Even the supposed "destination wedding dresses" were either more of the heavy beaded same or so plain that I could have bought a nightgown & achieved a similar effect- not the look I was going for really. Now considering that it takes six months for an ordered gown to come in (!!?!) & I have to be on the plane to England in Dec it was off the rack or not at all as far these shops were concerned. To be fair, my observations are based on the experiences of the 2 shops that I was able to find within 60 miles of where I live. I'm sure brides to be on the coasts or in major cities might have more choice or luck (but I suspect they are just as shocked about the sizing!) but here in exile not so much.
I made a valiant effort with these two shops (hey, I went in to them willingly- that's got to count for something!) even when I got so tangled in a dress from the first shop I didn't know which way was up & I feared I might have to buy it because of damage incurred from the panic attack suffered trying to free myself. Luckily, with deep breathing, repeating my willow mantra and preforming inchworm-yoga like maneuvers, I managed to to release myself from the evil death trap disguised as a harmless pile of taffeta and lace (seriously, I could have suffocated under all that tulle or been crushed under the weight of the beads!! While I was appreciative that the 1st store wasn't keen on the "hard sell" approach a little assistance might have been nice). By the 3rd dress at the 2nd shop the dazed, frustrated look on my face was too much (or maybe it was the way I flinched & did an instinctive duck & weave move when the shop woman tried to pin a veil & tiara on my head...) and mom hustled me out to freedom where she admitted that a traditional dress "might not be the right choice for me." I could have wept with joy.
I realize now that by having done research online and knowing that there were dresses out there in the world that I did love, I had ruined myself for what these 2 shops were going to be able to provide. I already had a picture in my head of my gown and none of these dresses had even come close to removing it- in fact I beginning to think nothing short of a lobotomy could. Sadly, the dress in question was vintage and had been sold before I ever laid eyes on it. How tragic to fall in love with something that can never be yours, to have the picture of yourself standing there in THE DRESS next to your dashing honey in his handsome suit go *poof* before it was ever fully realized.
Image Source: Posh Girl Vintage
Image Source: Posh Girl Vintage
When I saw this dress I knew I was done and when I saw the looks on the shop assistants faces when I showed them these photos and said this was the type of dress I wanted I knew I was done for. Incredulous, bewildered and sympathetic doesn't quite cover it. Then my mother got crafty and got online. She found a website that reviewed dressmakers and found one that was highly rated in the city about an hour and half from us and we made an appointment to go meet the woman who would become my angel, my deliver from the depths of tulle-strewn hell.
Having read other's stories about dress making disasters I was forearmed with questions and was on watch for warning signs. Though my angel was younger then I expected, her portfolio was beautiful and full of other wedding dresses she had done in styles ranging from traditional to decidedly offbeat. She had 2 in her shop to see in person, one almost complete and the other 3/4ths finished- both beautifully done along with street clothes that were well made. She was incredibly calm, professional and sweet- when I showed her my photo's she was enthusiastic and full of ideas about fabric and details. Initially concerned when I told her my timeline (I went to see her in early August) when she saw the dress she said it wouldn't be a problem to have it done by early December. She said she would do a muslin dress first from my measurments and then make the real dress from that. My only concern was that she was heavily pregnant at the time (due about 3 weeks after we met) with her 1st child but she was so perfect in every respect that I decided that if she was up for it then I would trust her to know what she could take on during this time.
Luckily, my instincts were right on, I had my 1st fitting of the real dress yesterday and it is beautful. Her little girl was in the shop with us and she is the mini-angel befitting her mother. Because the temptation of a baby to cuddle was too much for my mother I have no photo's but the next fitting will be around Thanksgiving so hopefully I will have some to share around then!