I watched the light reflect off my ring as I typed. It had been exactly one week since Ben proposed, and I found the new bling to be rather hypnotic. It startled me when a helpful coworker popped into my cubicle to declare that the famous Filene’s Basement wedding-dress sale was the next day and I simply had to go. When I asked why, she didn’t pause for breath as she exclaimed, “Because it’s the best wedding dress sale ever and won’t come again until next year, so if you don’t go now you’ll miss out!”
It sounded convincing enough, but I was nervous. I mean, I’d only been engaged a week—wasn’t it a little soon to go wedding-dress shopping? But it might be my only chance to get a really nice dress for a killer price. Maybe I’d just go to get some ideas and only get a dress if it really caught my eye.
I’d heard about the “Running of the Brides” before, but had never imagined myself going. It seemed so brutal, at least on the news. Then again, would I risk being maimed by a hulked-out bride if it meant getting Vera Wang at $799 or less? Yes, I decided, I would.
The next day at lunch, I grabbed my bridesmaid, Shelaney, and took the Metro to Filene’s to meet my parents and dig through dresses left over from the morning’s run. I dubbed my strategy “Scavenger Bride.” As the escalator took me downstairs, I expected to see a room strewn with wedding dresses and partially disfigured brides. Instead, there were racks of neatly packaged white gowns and calm women combing through them. Every now and then, a cheer went around the room as a woman found the dress of her dreams. It was more bridal sorority party than attack of the bridezillas.
Feeling comfortable and more than a little surprised, I found my parents in one of the dress aisles, and the four of us set up camp. After my dad was comfortably ensconced on a folding chair with instructions to guard the dresses we handed him, my mom, Shelaney, and I headed to the racks to scavenge. In minutes, Dad was peeking apprehensively out from under mounds of crinoline, and we knew it was time to start the fashion show.
Filene’s doesn’t have dressing rooms open for the run and though I don’t make a habit of stripping down to my bra in public, I made an exception for my wallet’s sake. Crouching behind a rack of cashmere sweaters to minimize the peep show, I started trying on gowns. When my dress stash ran out, Shelaney and my mom would grab some more or barter with a girl across the aisle.
After what seemed like hours of trying on dress after dress, they all started to blend together. I could’ve been modeling a large gym sock and wouldn’t have noticed. But then something made me snap to attention. The dress I was wearing was beautiful, and it fit well. By “fit well,” I mean that unlike most of the other dresses, it didn’t make me look like a ghost, a cupcake, or a large white beast with a tail. Also, the people around me started oohing and aahing. It was like I was suddenly teleported onto the show “Say Yes to the Dress!” I smiled at my reflection. The dress had a fitted waist and some gorgeous beading at the top of the bodice. Best of all, it was an Amsale! But there were two problems: The dress was tight enough that I couldn’t afford to gain an ounce, and it was torn in five places (I guess there was some mauling earlier in the morning after all).
Unfortunately, Filene’s wouldn’t negotiate the price because the dress was already deeply discounted, and the in-house seamstresses said it’d be difficult to repair. This made me nervous. But the dress was pretty. And if I had just tried on a million and one dresses and this was the best of the bunch, would I ever find one better (especially for this price)? I don’t know if it was the bright fluorescent lights, the intensity of inhaling so much silk dust, or the thrill of being half-naked in a store and not getting arrested, but before I knew it, I was at the cash register handing over my credit card to a woman whose first words to me were, “Do you ever get scared your fiancé will leave you at the altar?”
I got back to work and sat at my desk in a strange haze. Not even my sparkly ring could snap me out of my reverie. Had I really just purchased a damaged wedding dress only seven days after getting engaged? The “Running of the Brides” adrenaline slowly began to wear off and panic set in. I took a deep breath. It was okay, I could fix this.
The helpful coworker who tipped me off about the sale smiled eagerly and immediately made a beeline for me, asking how everything went. I hesitated, then looked up at her hopefully, “Do you know a good seamstress?”
A Dress Eulogy
Dearly beloved, it is with great sorrow that I must inform you of the death of my dress. She was a good dress, but apparently chronically ill. The seamstresses informed me of her weakened condition, but I purchased her anyway. While I don’t regret that decision, I do regret my last moments with her. It was after a week of gluttony. I ate pizza and ice cream . . . with sprinkles. I never knew that would be my dress’s undoing. I tried her on to show my maid of honor, and my poor dress couldn’t take the strain. She tore in the back when my mom tried to zip her and fell onto the floor in a crumpled heap. I tried to save her, but she was already gone. Rest in peace, dear dress. I’m sorry I didn’t get to wear you on my big day, but am forever grateful you didn’t expire during my walk down the aisle.
P.S. I console myself with the thought that my fabulous night with pizza and ice cream didn’t kill her; this was just a sign from some wedding deity that I should get another dress. A dress that would be complete and perfect; not a crazy impulse buy from a cashier with issues. So I’m starting my wedding diet tomorrow.
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