The only wedding dress shopping experience I had was an awful trip I took with one of my friends when she got married a few years ago. We innocently walked into a big box wedding dress retailer without an appointment and were so thoroughly yelled at that we both swore we would never go back.
So when Lynn and I got engaged, I was nervous about where we would get the dresses. Luckily my sister and bridesperson of honor is a fashion designer. She even did some school projects about lesbian wedding dresses (our mom married her fabulous wife in 2002, during Caroline’s sophomore year of college). When I told her about the engagement she offered to design and make our dresses for us as long as we bought the materials. Which is amazing but also a total leap of faith in some ways, since we probably won’t even see the dresses until the day before the wedding—only versions made in cheaper fabric to get the fit right.
I knew what I wanted for mine—sort of a 1950s off the shoulder dress, with a detachable underskirt that can be taken off for the reception so it doesn’t spend all night getting stepped on. I found a picture of a dress I loved (which I can’t find now, unfortunately) that had lots of different layers, so that was Caroline’s starting point for my design. Lynn didn’t really have any firm opinions on hers, as long is it was floor length and comfortable for dancing, although she did mention liking Victorian dresses.
This weekend we went to New York and finally saw the sketches—they’re perfect! Mine will be very simple with a detail at the waist and the underskirt I wanted. Lynn’s has the fabric gathered into a sort of knot at her waist with another fabric underneath, which does look a little like the Victorian vest dress, only much more modern (and with no sleeves).
Once we chose the designs, we got to go fabric shopping! This involved my sister and me running all over the store talking in a sort of staccato fabric shorthand while Lynn bravely dragged roll after roll of ivory fabric around behind us and tried not to fall asleep.
We looked at lots of lace, some was amazing (and amazingly expensive), some that looked like it had been sitting there since the early 70s, and I had to steer my sister away from the white and ivory camouflage print that she got a little too excited about. Finally we settled on a white satin that has a starburst pattern of little white and charcoal colored beads. That will be the belt on my dress and the underlayer on Lynn’s. The rest of hers is a shiny, satiny silk charmeuse. Mine is mostly silk crepe, with some of the charmeuse in the lower layers and at the neckline.
She’ll be in Chicago in 2 weeks to start the fitting, and then again at Christmas for more, and after that we’ll just have to hope that it all comes together in the end. It helps that I trust her, and that I’m not too hung up on having the ‘perfect’ dress. As long as we have something to wear that we can dance in everything will be fine. I hope.