Erin’s Engagement: If the Dress Fits . . .

Erin finds a great dress tailor—but due to some serious pre-wedding weight loss, can she make sure her dress will still fit perfectly?

Last week, I had my first wedding-dress fitting. I made the appointment in January, and yes, I realize how crazy it is to make an appointment with a seamstress seven months in advance. But this wasn’t just any seamstress. This was Angie. Washington brides are as devoted to Angie as Lindsay Lohan is to her sunless tanner. When they speak of Angie, it’s in the type of hushed voice usually reserved for the inside of churches. Before last week, I hadn’t even met Angie, but if she had made countless women look amazing in their wedding dresses, I was on board. I was willing to leave work early and drive to Fairfax county—down windy and treacherous back roads—to reach Angie’s house. When she opened the door, she was cute, petite, and very nice. I was only slightly disappointed that she didn’t have a glowing halo over her head.

I was early, so I waited for Angie to finish with another bride before following her downstairs into her sewing studio. The walls were covered with thank-you notes and photos of grateful brides. I changed into my dress and we quickly got to work.

I need to pause here for a minute to discuss pre-wedding weight loss. In the first year that we were dating, Randy and I both put on a little weight. I think there were two reasons for this. First, in the beginning especially, our dates involved going out to dinner and/or grabbing a couple drinks. He never picked me up and took me to the gym to lift weights. I don’t think exercise even came up for the first month or two. Second, we both really like food, and neither of us have great willpower. Our conversations would go something like this:

Randy: “You know what would be great right now?”
Me: “Hmm, what?”
Randy: “A Dairy Queen blizzard.”
Me: “I don’t know, that’s kind of fattening.”
Randy: “Yeah, but it’d be so good!”
Me: “Ok, you wore me down, let’s go.”

It wasn’t always him making the suggestions. We were both guilty of caving into our sweet tooth. When we realized that our wedding was rapidly approaching, we decided to make an effort to slim down.

Now, I’m going to tell you the secret to weight loss, but I’ll warn you that it’s a really, really annoying secret. In order to lose weight, you need to exercise more and eat a lot less. No, I mean a lot less. Yes, it’s that easy, but it’s also the least amount of fun you’ll ever have. Randy and I had to say goodbye to eating out and say hello to egg whites. There were many evenings this spring and summer when we chose going for a jog over going to see a movie, or settled for a protein shake instead of grilling out. We didn’t do anything drastic—we just cut back on the amount of food we ate, especially at night. It wasn’t fun, but it worked. We’ve both lost more than ten pounds and picked up some better habits along the way.

So, as I slipped into my dress last week, I was very excited to see that even though it wasn’t much looser on me, it fit differently and looked better. I did a little internal victory dance as Angie pinned in the waist. Of course, I probably shouldn’t celebrate too much yet. With two months left until the wedding, there are many more salads and bike rides in my future.

Angie had asked me to bring the shoes that I planned to wear with my dress, but I haven’t found a pair I love yet, so I improvised with a pair of average-size heels. I’m 5-foot-4-inches so even with the 2½-inch heels that I wore to my fitting, my dress will need to be hemmed four inches. That’s a lot of dress. Angie will also create a bustle in the back of the dress so I can move around easily at the reception. There are two kinds of bustles that she showed me: American and French. I chose the French, but I couldn’t tell you what the difference is. When I tried to explain it to one of my male co-workers all he said was, “Bustle is a funny word.” I think I’ll leave the technicalities up to Angie and her sewing machine.

After I’d been pinned and bustled and had walked around the room to test things out, it was time to take off the dress and make a series of follow-up appointments for August and September. Angie will make most of the alterations between now and the August appointment, and then she’ll do any necessary tweaks and adjustments in September. I may not need the final appointment, but it’s on the books just in case.

Leaving Angie’s house without my dress was a bit like leaving a child at kindergarten. I know it’s in good hands, but I’ll still miss it. But in a little under a month, I’ll be back, hopefully a little bit thinner and excited to see that Angie has worked her magic on my dress.

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