Remember that scene in Bridesmaids where Maya Rudolph tried on that puffy getup in the fancy dress shop? Remember how expensive and elaborate the dresses were, and how uncomfortable Kirstin Wiig’s character felt? Remember the complimentary champagne and chocolate covered almonds?
I always assumed that my experience trying on wedding dresses in that sort of environment would be as comedic as that scene from Bridesmaids. Standing on a podium while my friends and family “oooh” and “aaah” at dresses I could never afford felt contrived and not quite for me. It’s for many brides of course, and that’s a wonderful thing, but you’re talking to a bride who got married barefoot in the grass — not really the custom-Vera-Wang kinda gal (and our budget wasn’t really the custom-Vera-Wang kinda budget, for that matter).
Our wedding ceremony had traditional elements, but let’s face it – we were technically already married. This whole “wedding” thing was more of a reception – an excuse to bring the families together and par-tay. The puffy getup and fancy dress shop would have felt out of place.
So, my bridesmaids and I headed out one afternoon to hunt down the perfect dress in some of NYC’s more modest bridal shops, including Saja Bridal in Tribeca. No two ways about it – Saja dresses are beautiful – stunningly, fairy-tale-ly, uniquely beautiful. The shop is small, there are no podiums or labrynths of mirrors, and my friends promised not to overly “oooh” or “aaah”. Perfect.
Not perfect were the prices. While Saja’s pretty modestly priced as far as wedding gear goes, I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t pay more for a dress than an open bar. Priorities. Thus, we headed to where any ladies on a budget go: Loehmann’s, New York City’s answer to Marshall’s.
Among the aggressive masses of bargain hunters in that fluorescent, three-story shit show, I felt at home. We ravaged the dress department and found some surprisingly beautiful gowns in every style and name brand you could want. With arms full of on-sale dresses, I headed to the open-room dressing room (it’s NYC, remember? They wouldn’t waste time building dressing room walls.)
As I slipped on a simple, elegant, classically-adorned Calvin Klein gown, amidst a dozen other women naked and changing around me, my family and friends “ooohed” and “aaahed” just the right way-the sincere way.
There was no free champagne or chocolate covered almonds, there were no palpitation-inducing price tags, and there was certainly no podium. Just me and my bridesmaids, and a $60 dress that made me feel like myself ($45 after I dug out a Loehmann’s coupon from the bottom of my purse – I knew I was saving it for something.)
With my perfect dress in tow, we headed to the movie theater to see Bridesmaids. It was a perfect dress buying day, done completely my way.