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The Eskimos may have 100 different names for “snow,” but the wedding industry has even more for “dress.” Ball gown. Mermaid cut. Sheath. Empire. A-line. Fit & flare. Peplum. Lace. Chiffon. Silk. Satin. Taffetta. Tulle. White. Off-white. Ivory. Cream. Blush. Champagne. Eggshell. Latte. Nude (this is the wedding term I use when I’m trying to get my fiancé to pay attention to wedding talk.)
Last weekend, my mom and I went wedding dress shopping for the first time.  It was exhilarating, exhausting, hilarious, daunting, tear-inducing, overwhelming, and overall, a ton of fun. Plus, you get free champagne (FREE CHAMPAGNE! I later deduced that this is to get you liquored up enough to not worry about price tags with at least three 0’s on the end of them.)
When it comes to weddings, there are a lot of “The One”s: The Fiancé (check! See you at the wedding, don’t bother me until then, you put the ring on my finger and now your job is done.) The Ring (When driving, I keep getting honked at whenever a red light turns green, because I’m too distracted staring at my engagement rock. I hope no cops are reading this.) And now… The Dress.

Going into the day, my dream dress looked like this:

or this:

(but white.)

My fiancé’s dream dress for me looks like this:
My mom’s dream dress for me looks like this:

My dad’s dream dress for me looks like this (just add a CLEARANCE, 75% OFF tag to it):

Needless to say, there were a lot of options and some conflicting opinions going into our little shopping trip…
Over the span of two days, my mom and I hit 3 bridal salons. Overall, here are some things I did not know about wedding dresses:

  • They take 6-9 months to make.
  • The samples in the store for you to try on are made for supermodels and girls whose favorite food is lettuce.
  • Sometimes dresses look boring on the hanger, but amazing on you. And sometimes dresses look gorgeous on models in magazines, but like the casing of a sausage on you (you’re the sausage in this scenario).
  • It will be a mother-daughter bonding experience like no other, that you will cherish for the rest of your life… She will cry because her baby is getting married, and she will cackle hysterically when you look like a garbage bag full of cottage cheese.
  • Your consultant at the bridal salon will get further with you than your fiancé did on your first date; at one point, the lady helping me was literally tucking my butt cheeks into a sample size gown while we discussed whether I’d be serving chicken or fish at the wedding.
  • When I tried on a dress that my mom LOVED… Until we looked at the price tag. $14,000.  FOURTEEN GRAND.  I was wearing a car on my body. A car made out of beige tulle, hand-sewn silk flowers, and sequins.
  • When, at one salon, a girl came with an entourage of every female in her family, plus some friends… At least eight people.  They would glare at me every time I came out in a dress, pissed off at the very existence of another bride in their proximity; and, when they finally left, their bridal consultant sat down and CRIED in the middle of the store. Bridezilla is REAL, yo. I saw her with my own eyes. She’s a gorgeous brunette with boobs she probably got for her 18th birthday, and is getting married in Greece (I know this because one of her entourage inexplicably shouted this like a threat at their consultant).
  • When I discovered these are the shoes they have for you to try on with gowns:
(Best call ever. These shoes were designed for ladies workin’ it on their feet for hours at a time.  Mind-blowingly comfortable. I might channel STRIPTEASE and wear them on my wedding day. Hi, Dad!)
  • When the brand rep for one of the designers I was trying on at a boutique happened to be in town visiting; as I paraded out in a gown from their line, she told me to twirl to see the “magic of the dress.”  As I awkwardly spun in my stripper shoes, she cooed, “Faster! Faster!”  When my mom pointed out that the bedazzling on the dress looked like the Wonder Woman belt, the lady retorted: “If it’s good enough for the Duchess [Kate Middleton], it’s good enough for your daughter.”
  • When I discovered dresses also come in such styles as: backless, frontless, crop-top, and what can only be described as “mullet.” (For real.) 
  • When my mom decided she’s most hilarious when making wedding-related weight jokes at my expense: “This is a TRUNK show in more ways than one! [Said as she pokes my unzipped trunk, held together by satin-covered clamps.]” “You know, they make Spanx with a pee-hole! [Loud enough for all in store to hear.]” “Remember your friend ____’s wedding? She looked unhealthy-skinny. A few people were concerned… But EVERYONE thought she looked great. [Said with a twinkle in her eye, after I decided we were having burritos and tequila for lunch.]”
  • When one bridal consultant made me wander out into the parking lot so I could see the dress “glimmer in the sunlight,” and a stoned teenager took a picture of me that I’m sure is being mocked on Instagram somewhere. #AlbinoSparkleQueen #ShesWhiterThanTheDress
  • Movies my mom referenced while I was trying on gowns (as in, this is what I looked like):
When we got home, dress-less and full of skinny margaritas, my dad pointed out you only wear the dress ONE time. Why not just rent one? (Yes, this is a thing, and THE coolest thing ever – you can rent a a couture designer wedding dress that costs $25,000 for a couple hundred bucks and look just as glam and gorg.)  But here’s the deal: I’m not going to only wear my dress once… I’m going to put it on whenever I’m alone in the house, eat ice cream, and watch my wedding video. #truths

This momentous shopping trip was so special because I spent it laughing and fantasizing about my wedding with my mom. I was primped and pampered by kind, generous consultants who made me feel like no other bride as they carried my train, hoisted my gown, fluffed my veil, and clamped me in (when really, we’re all just overjoyed, overwhelmed girls in white dresses.) I got to try on gowns by designers who’ve graced the pages of Town & Country Weddings, the bodies of Kennedys and celebrities, and my fantasies for basically my whole life. But at the end of the day, my friend Barbara put it best: “There is this crazy thing that happens with wedding dresses – everyone looks amazing when they put one on.” Whatever I ultimately decide on will be perfect.

I may not have found The Dress last weekend, but I got to come home to The One that counts: Tony.  And anyway, Barbara’s mom got married in a brown dress and they’ve been married for 39 years. And my mom got married in a costume she bought from an opera house, and she and my dad still dance in the kitchen when he gets home from work. So no matter what I end up in, I know I’ll look like the prettiest sausage in a casing there ever was on my Big Day.

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