As all you seasoned brides know, you hit.the.ground.running as soon as your brand spankin’ new fiance gets off that knee. From booking churches and bands to wrapping your head around the idea of this HUGE life change, you go from 0-60 in about 2 seconds!
While some girls go dress shopping the next day, I was one to put it off. I was way more interested in crafting the perfect cocktails for the reception and hitting up a few more hot yoga classes before I stepped into an ivory gown. About 3 months into the engagement, my mom looked at me and said, “you know, we have got to do this…there’s a deadline and we’re not tackling this during the Holidays! After Christmas, you only have 5.5 months!” and this hit home.
So, I bit the bullet and started googling wedding boutiques. Shamelessly, I wanted the Insta-worthy experience with the champagne boomerang and the “IT” feeling! So, I booked my appointments for the following Saturday and we were off.
Some of our best friends drove my mom and me to Birmingham for the day – complete with a mini cooler of champagne and Ultras (you know, depending on if we had a success or if we needed to wind down after a long day)!
I went into the day with a biased good attitude…I wasn’t expecting a dress, but I was definitely open to the idea of one. I also had a loose idea of what I wanted, but I wouldn’t say I was married to the no-lace, chic, clean line look I envisioned. So after a morning of being shoved into mermaid style dresses and a whole lot of strikes, our party wearily parked in Mountain Brook Village and walked into the doors of The White Room. I immediately felt relaxed as I entered the spacious, inviting room filled with beautiful shades of ivory that feel so elegantly in the racks. Even if I didn’t get the dress here, this was definitely going on my Instagram story! I was greeted by a bubbly blonde named Cathy who brought such a down-to-earth demeanor to the process. Then, her business partner, seamstress, and MOM gave us a hug! Carolyn felt like my grandmother immediately.
Unlike some other places, they sat me down and asked me what I had in mind, and then asked for a budget. Talk about relief! I often find myself with champagne taste on a beer budget (hence the mini cooler with champagne AND ultras), so I handed off the responsibility of keeping me in budget to Cathy, and she pulled dresses within my price range.
As I stripped down for the fourth time that day, I wasn’t exactly feeling stunning. Yet, Carolyn chatted about everything from her long-hauling days (yes, long-hauling in a tractor-trailer with her husband) to her extensive knowledge of laces and fabrics while her fingers covered the seams and lines of each dress.
Cathy was the voice of reason. She immediately picked up on what I was feeling, yet her 15+ years experience and intuition knew how to stretch me when I needed it. I didn’t feel like I was trying to be sold a dress without regard to how I felt, or how much time I needed to look at what I liked and didn’t like! I mean, there were times where we didn’t even have the dress buttoned and Cathy would say, “nope, not the one…let’s keep going.” and off came the ballgown of satin. She allowed me to have my own process of starting out with the no-lace, ballgown style that I thought I wanted, but she encouraged me to try on different styles as my eyes began to wonder over to the lace dress section. I mean, why not? When else would I get to try on a lace-wedding gown? Now or never!
With the off-the-shoulder, simple satin gown hanging in my dressing room and the back of my mind, I slipped on an an ivory silk shantung gown with Alonson lace off-the-shoulder-bodice. I wouldn’t say the angels opened up the heavens singing – it was more like my mind said, wait a minute…I haven’t thought about this being an option…wow this is pretty, but what about everything else I’ve tried on? What about the idea that I had all along in my head?”
And then I began to twirl…which should be the party’s cue that the bride likes the dress, especially if she’s not one to verbalize. Cathy brought out the veil and Mom’s tears started flowing. I walked around the room to see how the train twisted around me as I turned, to see what I looked like from a distance – to see what I looked like up close! I was soaking in every angle…but, WOAH I was wearing lace near my face! I am not a lace girl….but I felt like a bride. And the dress felt very natural…I didn’t feel like the dress was wearing me. I felt beautiful, like myself, and I just happened to have a gorgeous dress on.
Cathy asked me a great question. She asked me to rank dresses 1 through 4, which I ranked 1 and 2 right off the bat, and then named 3 and 4. She told me right there, “you’ll never walk down the aisle in number 3 or 4.” which is SO TRUE but who thinks about it like that?? (only a bridal boutique owner who’s been doing this 15+ years)
As I pranced around the room in this BEAUTIFUL dress, it was almost like I couldn’t allow myself to commit. There’s such a standard to have the AHH YES GLORY HALLELUJAH moment, and this one came a little more quietly, like oh, wow, this is stunning maybe I could see myself walking down the aisle, will Preston (fiance turned husband) like it? to I don’t want to take it off!” For me, it was the “I don’t want to take it off” moment that told me, hey, this might, maybe be the one. I turned to my support group who had set up camp on the cream tufted sofas, and there’s my mom in tears, a dear friend who is now a bride who loves all things weddings, her mom who speaks truthfully and lovingly and asks the right questions. And I saw their faces. I could tell this dress was different than other.
Cathy placed a veil comb in my hair and handed me a bouquet of flowers. I rested my forearms on my hips as I carried the bouquet and the lace-trimmed veil trailed behind me. I saw how the fabric caught the light and moved with my body as the veil added softness to such as structured dress. I knew this was the one, but I had to let myself allow me to accept it. This sounds absolutely insane, but it’s so true!
I nodded my head as I stared into the full length mirror with the light streaming in behind me from the floor to ceiling windows. Cathy disappeared and then reappeared with bubbly champagne glasses, and we toasted to the dress! I kept walking around the room, in awe, and then I would sit…I would stand…I would twirl….I didn’t want to take this dress off! IN fact, I couldn’t wait to put it back on.
As we hopped into the Tahoe headed back to Montgomery, glasses clinked (in the backseat) and subtle sighs of relief were breathed as we checked THE MAMA off the list. Not for one second did I wonder if the dress would be in on time, would it be pressed and ready to go, with the alterations be done right…all of that I had left behind with the gals at the White Room. It was totally in their hands and I couldn’t feel more confident in them!