I bought my wedding dress about two months before my Paul asked me to marry him. I told him about it about a month after I bought it. I guess he was in one of his analytical moods, during which I think he used to get a little nervous about how well things were going between us despite our divergent . . . well, let’s just call them quirks. “Well that,” he said when I confessed, “is a step of faith!”
Personally, I thought the fact that my confession didn’t completely freak him out and make him run off into the woods we were hiking, never to be seen again, was a pretty good sign. And an indication that if the purchase really were a step of faith, it wasn’t blind faith at any rate.
The early-onset-wedding-dress was maybe partly a function of my new eBaying activities. You know when you open a new profile on a new website, or start a new game on facebook and it becomes kind of an obsession for a few months, or at least a few weeks? (You don’t? Well, shucks . . . ) That’s kind of what happened to me on eBay I guess. I posted a whole bunch of stuff on there (still doing that, by the way. You should buy some) and then, while I was waiting for people to bid on it, I would hop around and see what everyone else was selling.
But I did kind of think I was going to be in the market for a wedding dress soon. I knew I didn’t want to do the traditional “wedding dress shopping” thing; my mom offered to come back from Ireland to help me, which was really nice of her, but I’ve had enough of David’s Bridal in my life (and I’ve only ever been there twice and one of the times was with Sister-in-Lu who found her dress-at-first-sight, too, so it wasn’t that traumatic). Although I love shopping with my mom, I didn’t really think this would be worth the cost of a trip. Plus, I was pretty sure I didn’t want “everybody else’s” wedding dress. I had an American friend in Austria who mail-ordered a white Chadwick’s of Boston dress for her wedding–it fit her perfectly and cost under $40. It wasn’t particularly fancy, but she still looked very pretty and hadn’t broken the bank to do so. Ever since then, I have had this kind of sub-goal to my desire to get married, and that was to have an affordable wedding dress. As a new eBay salesgirl, it occurred to me that that might be just the place to find such a thing.
So I searched . . . well, I searched hippie wedding dresses, if you must know. There were a lot of horrors in that search, and a lot of beauties, but nothing with both a price and a look that wowed me. Along with the inexpensive wedding dress idea I’ve had for years, I’d also had this idea of taking the medieval dress diagram I had used to make myself a costume for the medieval society I’d been in, in college, and making a white version of it, and as I searched the internet for a dress, I started thinking that maybe that was the way to go, actually.
And then one day I ran across two completely different dresses, both of which made me go WOW, with almost equal intensity. One was a vintage 60’s item billed as a “Mad Men bombshell dress” which grew on me the more I looked at it, and one was a vintage 70’s item which looked both hippie and reminiscently medieval. I saw the hippie one first and thought, That’s it!, but then got distracted by the bombshell one and opened an AuctionSniper account in order to bid on it. It was only after that that I found out that one had a fairly significant pink stain on the back (?!) and was probably the wrong length for someone as tall as I am, unless I shortened it to be an intentionally short wedding dress. Still, the lines were gorgeous and, well, maybe a drycleaner could get the stain out? I left the snipe bid in place, partly because both my mother and TheBro really liked that dress. In the meantime (potentially foolishly, if I had really thought about it, but somehow having money in my PayPal account was making me reckless at the time), I put a bid on the hippie dress. I was instantly outbid. I bid slightly higher and was outbid again.Wow at first sight or not, I was not going to get that dress.
The next day I found out my snipe on the Mad Men dress, even though placed three seconds before the item closed, was still not the highest. I was both disappointed and relieved. Well, I thought, obviously that one was not meant to be. And now I don’t have to worry about that problematic stain . . . I looked back at the hippie dress. I did like that dress. But what to do with this person who was constantly outbidding me? I wasn’t going to win. Therefore, I decided, I could place an auction-snipe on that dress, too. I wasn’t going to get it, that was certain, but I was even less likely to if I didn’t try. I put my highest bid at $30 and walked away.
And I won it. For $24, actually. After the fact, I felt the rightness of it–how I had seen that dress first and it had wowed me first and how fitting it was for my personality. I showed my girlfriends pictures. “It’s pretty simple,” I said. “It’s only cotton. But I like it.”
“Oh!” they all said, to a woman, “It’s so you!”
And so it is. Later I found out that the vintage styles my Paul likes are “flapper” styles and that the regular-clothing-style he likes is LL Bean (please no!), but, when he learned that the prematurely-bought wedding dress was 70’s hippie, he looked a little taken aback and then said gamely, “I’m sure it’s lovely. You will look beautiful no matter what you’re wearing.” Unlike my response to my father when he told me I looked nice in junior high, I actually believed him. And so I still think it’s the right dress, that I was supposed to wear, as I walk down the aisle toward the man I’m supposed to marry. And want to.