When my husband proposed to me on Easter 2017, a million things went through my mind. “About time,” “I hope he knows what he’s in for,” and “oh crap, I’m going to have to make a wedding dress now,” were in my top three. We aren’t traditional in many senses, so we didn’t know where to start “wedding planning.” We both love fall, so we knew immediately the wedding would be during that season. We wanted people we love to be able to make it, so we figured next year would be a great time. Besides, we needed to save up for it. We sat down with a calendar and picked Saturdays. Narrowed it down quite quickly to September 2018.
Fast-forward to July, we had a conversation that basically resulted in “what are we waiting for? Why waste all this money on this party we don’t truly care about? We’re in love with each other with kids and a life together. Let’s get married now.” “Now” became October (fall, and whatnot) and my brain immediately went into planning mode. Find a venue, make a quick guest list, MAKE A DRESS! Cue hyperventilation. That simmered down real quick as I was reminded, this ceremony was simply a step above the court house, and not meant to be anything extravagant. Phew. But wait… I had 3 months to design/make a dress and I could barely use a sewing machine?!
I always knew I wanted to design my own wedding gown whenever I got married. As a young girl, I never would have imagined that as an adult, I’d actually get to be the one to make it! I’m so very thankful that a $50 Kmart clearance sewing machine purchase in 2011 (upgraded since) and the help of YouTube led me to having the ability to be able to pull this off. I knew I wanted a vintage style lace dress. Since we were having a very small fall outdoor ceremony, I could only envision myself in a tea length, 3/4 sleeve gown. I sifted through patterns and googled from July to the end of August and kept ending up lost and feeling defeated. I wasn’t finding anything that was what I wanted and I wasn’t in the mood to hack through patterns and waste precious fabric (money) and time (also money) trying to make something work. I doubted my abilities. I found cheap China dresses to order as a compromise between saving money and saving myself from the frustration of having to design and create my own wedding gown without having a decent starting point.
I scolded myself for being lazy and being a quitter. I needed to stop doing that. Stop doubting myself so much. I WAS GOING TO MAKE THE DAMN DRESS! Then it hit me. Why not find an already made wedding gown that’s close to what I want and make it what I want? I started searching Facebook Marketplace daily. I browsed through yard sale pages, Craigslist. I hit up Savers three times a week, not finding a single wedding gown in that time. I Googled thrift stores and was reminded of Salvation Army (we have a love-hate relationship/story for another day). I decided to stop by and see if I’d have any luck.
Upon arrival, I made a beeline for the dresses, and started sliding the dresses on the racks. Nothing, nothing…nothing. No wedding gowns and no other formal gowns of any sort with potential. Then, I spotted this big, silk & lace gown with a ginormous train. Nah. Too puffy. I trailed the wall in it’s entirety and realized that was the only wedding gown I saw. It called me. It told me to come back and give it a chance. Look at it at least. Take it off the rack. So I did…and it was BEAUTIFUL! I stuffed it in my cart and raced to the dressing room. I checked out the tag and it was a Ted Lapidus size 12 gown (which I later discovered was a US 8, so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to bring in to a US 2).
Y’all. When I say after trying this dress on, I couldn’t leave without it, I’m not lying. So much potential was on my body. So many yards of silk and lace in pristine condition, aside from a few dangling beads and sequins and a small red and green stain on the back that would be removed anyway when all was said and done. I knew this was what I wanted. I knew this was the dress. I headed to checkout and after the cashier rang me up, the total was $12.49. The tag read $24.99, but apparently clothing was 50% off that day!
If that wasn’t confirmation that I needed that dress, I don’t know what was. What I do know is that I strolled out of the Salvation Army store on September 6, 2017 with a bag full of silk and lace in one arm, my son in the other, and the biggest of smiles on my face.
To follow the story of my de/re-construction process, stay tuned for Part II next week!
Originally published 11/4/2017