I did it approximately 15 times last Saturday. It was worth it. I found the dress that I'll show my daughter one day - many, many years from now.
But it was a journey to find "the dress".
We were in Indianapolis where I had one of those encounters worth passing on. Once I barreled out of the dressing room, I didn't take time to explain to Momma or my bridesmaids what had just happened. I simply held my hands in the air, grabbed my coat from the coat rack and said, "BLOG!"
They didn't ask questions. We had been in the store a total of twenty minutes.
You know that saying, if you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans?
I believe that.
I also believe if you want to hear a bridal consultant laugh, tell her your budget.
I was skimming the window displays when a gal approached me and introduced herself as Shonda, my "personal bridal consultant".
I should have known then that I was in over my head. The only personal consultants I've ever had were two older siblings, and they've both lead me astray more than once in this life.
Shonda gave me a tour of the entire store then turned to me, head down, pen and card out. "Give me ya number."
"My phone number?" I asked.
"Amount you wanna spend on the dress."
Why do I always assume people need my phone number?
"Ohh, ha! Sorry," I apologized, then I gave her a number.
She looked at me over her bifocals. "Girl, you serious?....You flexible?" Shonda's response worried me.
"Well, no, not really. I mean, I'll go less....of course. But that's a pretty hard budget I'm trying to stick to," I uncomfortably told her. In a moment of awkwardness, I reached out and grabbed one of the dresses beside us while she wrote notes on the card. I grabbed the price tag: 4x my budget. I was crushed. But I knew how much I thought my wedding dress should cost and I was sticking to that.
Shonda grabbed my arm and guided me to the discount racks. Fair enough.
In a rush around the set of discount racks, Shonda grabbed two dresses and asked if I saw anything I liked. If I would have had time to let my eye focus I guess I could have found something, but she didn't give me an opportunity to search for a dress that fit my budget and my guidelines. Probably because Shonda knew better.
She grabbed the two dresses and told me to follow her - into the dressing room. Momma, Laura and Betsy each followed this madness until Shonda stopped them, hand up. "You girls sit here. I got Lizzy (I didn't feel the need to correct her at this point) here in the dressing room."
Until now, I hadn't tried on a dress that my sister hadn't zipped, buttoned or tucked. I was a bit concerned. I turned around and gave Laura a little wave. So long, sister. I followed Shonda into a land of white lights and mirrors.
"Miss Lizzy you just strip down and let me know when you ready. I stand out here 'til you ready."
"Got it," I replied as I closed the curtain behind me, set my purse down and unclipped my necklace.
Approximately 13 seconds passed.
"Not...quite....yet....." I responded while thinking, Ok, listen lady, I'm still trying to pry this second damn boot off.
One minute later and Shonda was in the tiny dressing room with me, holding the first dress.
This was the step-in kind.
One leg at a time.
Shimmy it up.
I had the routine down.
Then, it was stuck.
Right around my hips.
The dress didn't move.
"What size is this?!" I asked, bending my knees back and forth, trying to get the thing to move a centimeter.
"Six. Can you believe they'd put a six on the clearance rack?"
Together, we worked in silence, shimmying, shaking, everything short of jumping up and down to get the dress past my Shafer hips.
I started laughing. Out loud.
Is this really happening?
Is she really trying to stuff me - literally - into a size six wedding dress?
Shonda started laughing, too. Loudly, from the belly, deep down inside, laughing uncontrollably.
"Girrrrrlllll, there is one thing we know....you ain't no siiize six! Pull it down. We ain't doing this."
And before I could even prepare myself, dear Shonda yanked the dress right down.
To my ankles.
And the hook on the back of the dress get snagged on my underwear.
And...you can only imagine.
That's all I'm going to say about that.
"I ain't seen nothing, girl, I ain't seen nothing!" Shonda said as she tried to unhook the dress from me and back herself out of the dressing room, head down.
I was mortified, but still laughing. It all happened so quickly.
In a rush to adjust myself, I tried to make small talk with the stranger who just had arguably the worst experience of her personal bridal consultant career.
"Two things learned today, I'm not a size 6 and you don't get paid enough," I told her through the curtain.
"Ha! .......I tell ya what. You found any dresses you like so far?" she asked.
"Oh, yeah, at a store this morning I found two that I really adore."
"Great. 'Cause we ain't even gonna try to stuff you into that other size 6. No way, no how!" she continued to talk as she left the dressing room, carrying both dresses. "And as for that number, good luck giiirl, Ha!" she laughed to herself.
I laughed, too. Some crazy lady in Indianapolis just saw more of me than the law allows, she's thinks I live in a fairyland because of my frugal ways, and Momma, Laura and Betsy are sitting on the other side of this wall confused and awaiting my fashion show. Did that really just happen?
I learned a few things that afternoon in the dressing room.
1. Stick to the budget. As with any big purchase, you know what you want, what you can afford and what is right for you. Don't let anyone talk you up or down. You'll find it.
2. Self confidence is a great thing that fluctuates. Some days I have it, some days I don't. Luckily, I had it with Shonda.
3. If you can't laugh at yourself, someone else will. Trust me.
4. Twenty minutes can last forever.
I did find the dress - under my budget, thank you very much. It is beautiful, so me and perfect for the day I marry Cody.
In fact, of the dresses below, can you guess which one I chose to wear August 10th?
You're right. None of them.