San Diego. Summer 2001. — While vacationing with my family in California, I stopped in at a ritzy bridal boutique in an upscale mall. Almost instantly, I saw IT. I don’t remember exactly what the dress looked like, but I remember it made me feel like I was walking on air. I don’t remember what was on the price tag, but I knew it was too much. Tim & I were both in college, broke and eating noodles. My parents had six kids and had expressed that they intended to keep everything thrifty (In the end, I think the entire wedding cost under $2,000).
When I got home, I looked up the dress in Brides Magazine and cut it out. I found it online and held onto a secret glimmer of hope that perhaps some mysterious benefactor would see how much that dress meant to me. But my fairygodmother never came.
Back home, my mom drove me to a small dive of a bridal shop in southwest Tucson. They were having a sale. I tried on an off-the-shoulder dress with beading and a train for $99. To this day, I’m not totally certain if everyone was oohing and aahing at the price or the dress. We bought it, took it home, and hung it on the back of my sister’s bedroom door. I cried that night. (And, perhaps, a few nights after that). Petty? Yes. I know.
I have to admit I was a little disheartened when money was spent on boutonnieres, bouquets, candle centerpieces, an awful officiant, and little favors (that everyone threw away).
At one point, we actually asked both sets of our parents – quite seriously – if we could elope instead. They weren’t excited about the idea and we were too young to express our wishes with confidence.
In the end, we had a wedding that was theirs (not ours). 275 people (neither of us are fans of huge affairs). Traditions that didn’t strike true in our hearts (the toasts, the cutting of the cake, etc.).
The event wasn’t us. It wasn’t what we wanted.
Don’t miss Part II tomorrow (there is a happy ending)…
How much was your dress (and did you love it)? What was your wedding like?