If the Dress Fits…

I may be a bit tangled in the layers of Cinderella’s ball gown, but I think every bride-to-be wants to feel as though finding her wedding dress is like sliding on the glass slipper. A perfect fit in every way. Destined. Meant to be.

For those of you new to the Archives, I am getting married this November (surprise proposal story here). This love affair with the Bohemian has been rather unconventional, our decision to wed, untraditional. So it makes sense that our wedding would be a bit outside the gift-wrapped box, as well.

A simple celebration, full of love, with a small group of close friends and family is our vision. But it seems even the most modest of affairs can quickly turn complicated. Or at least involve some planning.

Being that it’s often hard to find time just to file my fingernails, wedding prep’s been taking a back burner. Most recently, we’ve opted to take a pause on the nuptial project, get through the summer and resume most planning in August (which the calendar says begins today).

But one wisping constant in the wedding realm has not subsided. It’s floated, veil-like, around me, coaxing with fairytale promises, cajoling the ultimate quest. Yes, it’s the search of every bride-to-be. Looking for The Dress.

It started in March when we found ourselves, ever-so-briefly, in Los Angeles. My best girlfriend and I left the Bohemian in downtown Santa Monica, while she and I hit the freeways. We wanted to cover our bases. We shopped specialized bridal boutiques where I tried on poofy layers of tulle, satin ruffles and beaded bodices. Cinderella’s fairy godmother shopped there!

We went to a funky warehouse of second-hand vintage clothes, where there was no fitting room, just a chair and a mirror, where I slipped into a Gunne Sax dress from the seventies. We shopped Nordstroms’s evening gowns and sampled Betsy Johnson couture. We drove into to a Spanish-speaking district packed tight with retail shops. Hidden beside the storefront window where Quincenera gowns sparkled in fuchsia fluff, and cheesy pop music pumped stale love songs into the street, was the discount bridal spot. Its no-nonsense shop-keeper zipped me in and out of about 15 bridal dresses, remaining unphased when I didn’t warm to a single one of them.

As the sun set, we reunited with the Bohemian who had in his possession, one single, simple bag. Within in it, a sharp pair of neatly folded, cream-colored, Armani pants and a stylish white shirt.

“Where’s your dress?” he asked, genuinely puzzled. As if he thought that one could just go shopping in a single day and instantly return with The Dress.

Did he not understand that there was a search afoot? Things of this import, well, they took time…and effort.

But the Bohemian is a simple man who often defies convention. So he modeled his easy finds for us, and we agreed – he had done well. And done it in a single day. Handsome as ever, in his wedding clothes. His search was over.

Mine had just begun. But it made me wonder. Was this all in my mind? Was my quest for the perfect dress only has complicated as I made it?

In the proceeding four months, woven between dinner dishes, laundry loads and Jeb’s summer vacation schedule shuffles, there’s been my persistent attempts at bridal online shopping.

The Bohemian, he shakes his head with a smile, “Another one?” as multiple boxes arrive.

I’ve done Saks Fifth Avenue, J. Crew, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. One by one, ever-hopeful, I have unwrapped tissued packages and zipped myself into their contents. Almost always too big, or simply unflattering, every dress has gone right back on the hanger, as I’m left to read the small print of return instructions, adhere appropriate labels and ship back.

Though I hadn’t given up, I took a break. I knew the clock was ticking (more Cinderella-esque pressure of time) but I needed a pause. Until one day I was feeling rather casual. Almost no expectation. And I simply navigated to a website and noticed that there was this one dress. Maybe. On sale for half off. Only one left and it was in a size 2. Most likely too small (previous dresses had been an 8, a 6 and a 4 – hadn’t tried a 2!) I added it to my virtual cart and clicked to purchase.

And then I left my house. Went on retreat to a remote locale and was reminded – yet again – of how little one really needs. In the midst of our sparse campsite, I reflected on the three tubes of toothpaste in the bathroom back at home and shuddered at the clutter. I did a virtual gutting of our household cupboards. Vowed to simplify our lives even more as soon as I got home.

Later that afternoon, a setting sun with the Bohemian. We sat together surrounded by a mountain panoramic. We were misted by rain in golden light, an arc of rainbow close enough we saw it touch the earth. I fell in love all over again. Knew ever-sure, this was the man I wanted to be with the rest of my life.

The fairy tales, they detail the quest for destiny. You know, kissing all the frogs until the prince is found. Or how Cinderella’s evil step sisters try wedging their swollen feet into the glass slipper, to no avail.

It’s not right, until it’s right. And when it’s meant to be, it is. Or something like that.

And that size 2 dress was waiting for me at the door when I got home. And when I put it on, it fit. It’s simple, beautiful. And yes, I love it.

That quest, I am so pleased to say, complete.

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