The fella and I got engaged on a Friday evening. The following Friday morning my mom, the lovely Little, and I ventured to J. Major's Bridal Salon to try on dresses. Yes, I was anxious and excited to slip on my first bridal frocks, but I also knew that with a short engagement, we would need time to find the dress, order it, get it in and fit in. In fact, we were fitting my gown all the way until 2 days before I wore it down the aisle. Before I started shopping I knew a few things. I knew that my dress would have to have lace on it, and I knew that I absolutely did not want a strapless gown, and I absolutely did not, under any circumstances want a satin dress.
As soon as we walked into J. Major's we were completely pampered and taken care of. We were given a quick tour of the salon and given instructions to mark the hanger of every dress I wanted to try on with a simple paper circle, and my truly, incredibly, wonderful consultant Kate would follow behind and whisk them to a fitting room.
As we were ooh'ing and aah'ing and gushing over all the gowns on our way around the shop (or "shoppe," because it just looks prettier, am I right, Shabby Princess?), Kate and Little were asking what I envisioned for myself. I hadn't torn out any pictures of dresses (although I'd pinned several) and other than the 3 criteria listed above didn't have a specific look in mind. What I did tell them, however, was that several years ago there was a TV Program called "Girl Meets Gown," featuring a Dallas bridal salon, that was on for about 8 episodes, and I remembered one girl named Liesl (of course I latched on to her because of her Sound of Music namesake. And crud, now I just want to start belting "Edelweiss") chose a drop dead gorgeously stunning gown, and I loved it. That was it. I remembered nothing about what it looked like or who designed. Liesl + Girl Meets Gown were the only things I recalled. As Kate showed us each designer that J. Major's carried, she waved toward the Alvina Valenta rack. I mentioned to my mom that perhaps Liesl's gown had been an Alvina, but really, who knew?
In all, I had about 12 dresses awaiting me after my pass through the racks. I grabbed nearly every dress that was adorned with lace and planned to have samples of straps put on the strapless gowns and have them added after we purchased it. I couldn't believe how beautiful each and every dress was (note: I was also completely floored by what a difference a beaded belt could make). By dress 4 I had no idea how I would decide. Slowly I plodded my way through eliminating gowns one by one compared to two that I really loved (some didn't feel enough like me, some didn't feel bridal enough, some just weren't quite as pretty as the others, others not quite as flattering).
The ninth dress I tried on was absolutely gorgeous but nothing that I wanted. It was satin and strapless, and not the kind of strapless that would work to have straps added to. It was a full, heavy satin, beautifully hued Alvina Valenta ballgown with a deeply sweetheart neckline, drop waist, an intricately lace-embroidered bodice with a ribbon and broach around the waist, lace around the bottom and chapel train with buttons all the way up and down the back. Little, sweet Kate and I all loved it. She was sold, but I wasn't. After trying on several more I had narrowed it down to the ballgown and a white lace mermaid style outfitted with a beaded belt (I sincerely couldn't believe how flattering the mermaid was. I'm a curvy girl and never thought that was a cut my body could, um, sustain, so maybe that was the appeal of it, although it was beautiful). We decided to try veils with both, and as soon as I slipped into the ballgown the second time, with the veil, I knew that was the one. I knew that I'd be wearing my mom's veil with my gown, and everything about the look of it with this oddly-colored dress was perfect. Even satin. Even strapless.
We left the store that Friday without buying it, although we both knew we were finished shopping. That night I looked up the style number and learned that Alvina Valenta masterpiece was a shade the designer deemed "Rum Pink," which odd since it didn't seem pink, just a lush champagne). I went to sleep dreaming about that perfect frock and woke up with the words "rum pink" echoing around and around my head. I suddenly (and quite literally) sat straight up in bed early on Saturday morning wide awake and thought to myself, "I think that's Liesl's dress. I am nearly positive that Liesl's dress was rum pink."
I rushed downstairs and tried to Google the old episodes of Girl Meets Gown and finally found the archived episode on iTunes. I fast forwarded to Liesl's segment and nearly went numb in my extremities while I watched and saw her sashaying in the exact same Alvina that I knew I would wear down the aisle. I called Little and frantically told her that the only dress I really had in my mind as I dress shopped, that I actually didn't have any recollection of at all, was the dress we had decided on the day before. Not more than an hour later we had placed our deposit on the gown, and never once did I doubt my decision. I have never felt prettier than I did in that dress. I even felt prettier than Liesl.