Holy camoly Batman! I am so excited to be sitting here writing this post. This is the first of many in my anticipated “Wedding Wednesday” series. After almost exactly two months since our special day, I’m finally able to process it along with all of the great memories leading up to it. I have so much that I want to say so let’s start the first week off with one of my favorite parts- my wedding dress.
I’m sure most of you read the caption and thought, “WHAT?! I’ve got to read this one…” First of all, thanks for being here! Second of all, it is indeed true. My wedding dress was used and I’m not ashamed to say that one. single. bit. In fact, I feel the exact opposite about it.
My mom has always been an amazing thrifter. Long before Macklemore came out with “Thrift Shop” my brother and I were rocking goods from the thrift store. When we were old enough to comprehend that we weren’t getting brand spankin’ new things I think it really bothered us but eventually we came to love it. There were many days when our mom would surprise us by coming home with bags full of new clothes that I’m certain she had purchased at a small fraction of the original cost. Eventually we were able to shop for ourselves and we both frequent the thrift stores to this day. With that said, am I surprised my wedding dress was used? Absolutely not. It made it even more special to me.
In the summer of 2015 my best friend, Jess, sent me a picture that she’d found on Pinterest with the message “Omg… This is your dress.” As soon I saw the picture I couldn’t agree more. It had Jordan Jean written all over it- simple and elegant with a precious bow and of course, pockets. I decided to look deeper into it out of curiosity and found that it was a Rosa Clara gown sold at Nordstrom. Weeks later, my grad school roommate, Caroline, and I were attending a conference in Chicago. We arrived a day early and decided to kill time by visiting the Nordstrom that just happened to be right across the street from our hotel. While we were shopping around we decided to go to the Wedding Suite just to see if the dress was there. Surprisingly, it was. I say surprisingly because we later learned that the dress was only at one Nordstrom at a time. This week, it happened to be in the Chicago store. Anyway, the dress was as beautiful as it was in the picture. Caroline jokingly suggested that I try it on so I decided to ask the consultant if that was a possibility. The consultant answered, “No, you have to have an appointment to try on the dresses (which I figured). When is the wedding?” I couldn’t lie fast enough so I nervously laughed while hiding my left hand and said, “Uh… Um… I have no idea.” I shamelessly admitted to her that I wasn’t even engaged (OH YEAH DID I MENTION THAT I WASN’T EVEN ENGAGED AT THIS POINT???!!) and that I just really loved the dress. She smiled and told me that it actually happens all the time (we all know she was just trying to be nice) and that I should keep my eye out for the designer’s trunk show happening in November. With that in mind and the little that I pride I had remaining, we left the store while holding in our rambunctious laughter.
Fast forward to November and Caroline and I were spending our Saturday night watching “Say Yes to the Dress” (SHOCKER……). While we were watching I had the thought, “Crap… I never heard anything about that trunk show!” so I started to look online for the dress and it was not anywhere to be found on Nordstrom’s site or anywhere online for that matter. I started to freak out a little bit so I dug deeper and came across the dress on preownedweddingdresses.com . It was the exact dress that we had looked at in July, in my exact size. I called my mom to tell her and she suggested that I email the owner. What could I lose? The next morning when I anxiously checked my email, I had received a reply. I was on cloud 9 to learn that this wasn’t a scam or a joke. It was the real deal indeed. We started messaging back and forth and she told me the measurements of the dress after alterations. The bust was a couple of inches larger than mine (another shocker… not) and it was 3 inches too long. It seemed too good to be true.
After talking about it with my mom, we decided to visit our local Nordstrom over Thanksgiving break to try on THE dress along with many others to make sure it was “the one”. We basically wanted to make sure that I didn’t love any other styles before deciding to buy this one. Oh and in case you are wondering why I couldn’t find it online any longer… When we visited the store we learned that it was about to be discontinued due to the launch of the new line. Luckily my mini freak out happened or I wouldn’t be telling you all this story!
Anyway, I tried on THE dress first (which we had to have shipped to the store in our area) followed by three other dresses that all received Mama Newk’s “No, no, no” comments. Did I cry when I put the dress on for the first time? Nope. But that’s not a huge surprise; I’m not a huge crier to begin with nor was I engaged so… There’s that. Did I feel like a million bucks? You betcha. I still get chills looking at these pictures…
My mom also couldn’t imagine me wearing any other dress when I eventually did get married (did I mention I wasn’t even engaged yet??) and after I told her “I would marry a dog in that dress” she decided to go ahead and purchase it used from our new preownedweddingdresses.com friend. A couple of days after we had agreed to buy the dress from her, we got a long message saying that when she got it dry cleaned and preserved, it had set in a stain that she was completely unaware of. Apparently there was polish on the floor at her reception venue and the dry cleaning process made that evident by yellowing the stain and setting it into the dress. She felt terrible and while she understood if we didn’t want to purchase the dress any longer, she also offered to sell it to us for even less. My mom and I decided that it was too good of a deal to pass up for the dress that I loved so dearly so she went ahead and purchased it anyway.
At the beginning when we decided to go try on dresses in Nordstrom, I went back and forth debating if I should ask Stephen about it. At that point only Caroline, Jess, and my parents knew about it. I felt really weird not telling him but I also felt weird telling him considering we weren’t engaged yet and I was asking if I should get my wedding dress… I decided to tell him and once he heard how much money we were saving he confidently agreed that we should go ahead and get it. By the way, he didn’t see the dress until I walked down the aisle, donut worry!
We received the dress and it stayed under my bed for months and months until Stephen and I got engaged. Eventually my mom and I remembered that we needed to try to tackle the stain. Some of our family members took a look at it but were too nervous to ruin the dress so we assumed that we’d just have to cut it off. Luckily, the previous owner was 5’9 and wore four inch heels and I’m well, not, so we had a little extra wiggle room to work with. We asked Jess’ neighbor, Mrs. P, in Pittsburgh to alter the dress and make some small changes that I knew I wanted- remove the floral belt, add cups, add a special little “something blue” that said “In it for the long run” with our wedding date (we met running in case you didn’t know!), take out a little room in the rib area if possible and of course, take care of the stain. The belt was custom made for the previous owner to combine the floral jewels and bow which I’m sure was not cheap. Despite some people really liking the belt as is, it just wasn’t me so I was certain that I wanted to remove it from the very beginning.
I think my favorite part about this story is the magic Mrs. P performed on my dress. During my first fitting she looked at the stain and we decided how she would cut it off to keep as much of the train as possible. Since making that decision she said, “You know what… Since we’re going to cut it off anyway, let me try something.” She left and came back with a small Tupperware container filled with a mixture of water and bleach. On her hands and knees, she started rubbing the solution into the stain with a rag and in the blink of an eye, it was completely gone. No stain, no water marks, nothing. It was all gone. The beautiful train pictured below- it was never in contact with a scissor. The only thing she cut off was a couple of inches of the lining which would’ve had to go anyway because of my height. It was like a dream come true; Jess and I were in awe. Mrs. P truly is a unicorn (which I reminded her time and time again)!
Not very many people besides my closest friends had seen the dress so it was really interesting to hear what people imagined me walking down the aisle in. My grandma guessed that it would be something form fitting with no tulle but she said she “preferred” that it was something with a fuller skirt. I told her she was a little late to prefer and we both laughed. Come to find out, she got exactly what she “wanted” even though she told me multiple times that I’d be beautiful walking down the aisle in a trash bag. If you couldn’t tell, Mema fulfills her title as grandma quite perfectly.
I’m sure some of you are curious about the price we paid for the stained dress so I’m just going to lay it all out here. The dress originally went for ~$3850.00 with the custom belt and we purchased it for $1350.00. My mom and I were absolutely thrilled (Thank you so much, Mama Bear!). We had purchased the ultimate thrift- my dream wedding dress.
Looking back on my wedding day I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else. I felt like a million bucks and Stephen thought I was the most beautiful thing to walk the planet. Used dress or not, it didn’t matter. Heck, the bottom of my dress was covered in mud by the end of the night and it was still so perfect to me. I felt like I was in a special, beautiful dream wearing that dress on that day. Just the way any person’s wedding day should feel.
Wedding Photos: Megan Luck (we love you!) lucklovephoto.com
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Beautiful dress! Beautiful story! AND…. Beautiful writer!!