Monday, November 23, 2009

Wedding Dress Shopping: Not the Bonding Experience They Show You in the Movies

Not everything about my wedding dress shopping experience was positive.  Though I did feel that high people talk about when it comes to finding “THE dress,” there was something else going on with mom. 

Mom was so quiet that I wondered if she was just out of her element.  Though I was looking for clearance wedding dresses, she paid $15 at a department store for the dress she wore for her wedding, so this was just all foreign to her.  But I expected her to be making embarrassing jokes and laughing too loudly at them, not staying quiet.  I felt a little  disappointed, because I had this vision of us tearing up at the sight of me in a wedding dress...haha SO cheesy, I know, but, well, yeah.  At the very least I thought going to a wedding gown store with her and trying them on would be fun, but she was so stony faced that I felt a little uncomfortable, like I could have done this alone for the whole lack of input I was getting. 

Well, I tried to shrug it off because I was still excited, as soon as I put that dress on I was felt, "This is it; this is exactly what I had in mind."  So I figured, "It's not like I’m lost without her advice and she's letting me down, so no use feeling bad here." I'm glad I looked at lots of wedding dresses online before making my first appointment!

So with all that going on in my head, once I was ready to make a deposit they told me the price of the alterations.  That’s when I felt freaked out.  The cost of alterations was going to nearly double the price.

That’s when it hit me.  I asked myself, "Do I really want to spend all this money for a dress I'll wear once?  It's just a dress; I could wear any white dress and the wedding could still go on and it will be totally special."  Mom said just what I knew she'd say: “Well, it’s up to you.”  Yes, obviously; I’m the one paying.  I decided that maybe I won't do alterations through the wedding gown store, I could shop around for a seamstress.  So we put down a deposit and walked out.

And that’s when she finally she told me she had "devastating news." 

I just knew her head was not in it.  

Her news is that they cut her hours in half at work.  And if that's not hard enough to manage, (it's going to be 8 to 12 hours per week) now that she's part time, she's losing her health insurance.  It's illegal to be without health insurance in Massachusetts, and it’ll cost her more than she'll be making each month.  If they laid her off she'd be collecting unemployment and get help with insurance, but since she's still employed, she felt like she was stuck.  
So I was upset for both reasons.  I felt cheated about the experience of shopping for a wedding dress with my mom.  I had thought this was going to be a night she and I would always remember fondly, her first born becoming a bride.  I tried to suck it up and be supportive since she suffered in silence while I tried on gowns, and because hers is a much bigger issue than my dress.  I immediately told her that this is a blessing in disguise because it's been clear how much she hates this job; it was killing her and this is going to force her to make a change.  But I knew she was right when she said, "But the economy's bad and I'm old."  It took her nearly a year last time to find a job.  

So I didn’t enjoy our dinner out after that.  I was upset for her, plus I couldn't get the voice in my head to stop saying, "You're paying THAT MUCH for a dress you'll wear ONCE?!"  So by the end of dinner, she made some comment to the effect that I shouldn't have made the deposit.  Instead of saying something I'd regret I excused myself to use the restroom because I felt really overwhelmed. 

Once I calmed down and came back I think she realized that wasn't fair; I'd asked her for advice before I paid and then she told me AFTER the fact that I did the wrong thing.  So she told me what she meant was that SHE wouldn't have paid that much, but I made the right choice.  Everyone in the store said how beautiful that wedding dress was (there were I think 3 other brides plus their entourages) and how beautiful I looked in it, and how she and I have different tastes but we both agreed that was the best dress for me.  So I felt better.  I know she was just stressed when she upset me.  And I knew I found the one I wanted, and I got a good deal, so I didn't have a right to feel upset about tonight.  But I couldn’t really feel happy now either.  I worked on focusing on her worries instead of my wedding dress any more with her.    

Fortunately, when I got back to mom’s house, before I headed home, I found that Adam had stayed up (until after 1 am UK time) to ask me how my dinner out was (I'd left out the part about going to look for wedding dresses when I told him I was visiting her today).  And although he doesn’t like to hear about the wedding planning stuff (he says it’s too soon to plan anything before we can apply for a visa) I couldn’t keep this a secret.  Amazingly, instead of freaking out, he was happy for me!  I told him it was the first store I went to, and it was such an amazing price that I couldn’t pass it up, and he seemed very pleased.  And I felt less disappointed about the stuff with mom.  My groom was happy and so was I. 


  1. Oh, no! I'm very sorry to hear about your mom. She's stuck between a rock and a hard place. And I'm sorry to hear that your dress shopping experience with your mom wasn't like the movies. That's actually EXACTLY how I'm expecting mine to be also, so it was good to read this.

    My mother rented the wedding gown she wore for $120 in the 80s. I don't know if this is a time she'll feel out of her element, but we've had similar fights over things that I've done differently than her. Like my experiences in college, how I went out drinking a few times freshmen year. We got into huge fights about it (after all, she was a strict southern Baptist then), but I had to step back and look at the bigger picture. She had been married to my dad and had a baby daughter when she was in college. She couldn't relate to how different it was for a single girl who was "on her own" for the first time in her life.

    I'm so happy that you found a dress you love within your price range. That's wonderful! :) And I'm glad your groom was excited with you.

  2. I hope your experience with your mom goes better :) And I hope you find the perfect dress too. I follow your blog so I'm looking forward to reading how the shopping went!

    I got over the disappointment about how my shopping experience went pretty quickly. We still have the wedding to get emotional, hehe.

    I think it's good for brides to remember that things WILL go wrong when planning your wedding, but it's okay. There will be lots of wonderful moments too, they can't all be perfect. I'll try to remember my own advice the next time something goes wrong, hehe.

  3. I got stressed just reading this. It's very interesting to see what was going on in your minds. The mother daughter relationship is very complicated. I have a daughter in her 30's, and we don't get along. She really won't communicate with me; meaning she won't air out her issues she has with me. Reading this makes me realize that the problem with all mother-daughter relationships is probably lack of communication. Your wedding will turn out great. You might even have some things happen that you can laugh about in the future. As for your mother, I think you're right, something much better is waiting for her.

  4. Thank goodness she finally found a new job (she'd been looking for MONTHS).

    And she and I are going to another bridal show next week, so we're still having fun with other pre-wedding activities, at least :)

  5. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I found these shoes that are wedges that would be great bridal shoes in the "white".'padi'_wedge_slingback:279115&cm_ven=Froogle&mr:trackingCode=1BF7F8C1-CA2B-DF11-9DA0-002219319097&mr:referralID=NA

  6. I've never been in Nordstrom even though there's a location RIGHT near me. I will at some point, definitely.

    Those wedge heels would be a lot safer for walking outside at my wedding than the pointy heeled sort. I've been looking for metallics. Seems like that way I wouldn't have to stress getting the perfect ivory to match my dress.

  7. Hey Amber - Sorry about your experience. Planning a wedding is an emotional thing. And, you don't always have the experience with your family and friends that you envisioned in your head as a little girl - or a big girl for that matter!

    Good luck!

    My Detroit Wedding

  8. It's okay, I love my dress, and the important thing is mom is happy about the guy I picked, haha. And I can look on the bright side that I live less than an hour away from mom, so we've been able to get together to go to bridal shows. So it's not like she's been totally removed from the whole wedding planning experience. We've had lots of little moments instead of that one big moment. Maybe it's the brides whose moms have to fly in from where ever to go shopping with them who get emotional and cry? In any case, I'm over it :)


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