One of the perks of not having a traditional wedding is not having to shell out a fortune for a big, white dress. In fact, my worst wedding nightmare would be to a) walk down an aisle, any aisle b) walk down said aisle in a big, white dress, or any dress that resembled a wedding dress c) say my vows (which I consider to be extremely personal and private) in front of anyone save for two witnesses as required and a registrar. The thought of doing any of the above makes me shudder.
Thankfully, I didn't have to do any of that since John and I had our dream wedding with just the two of us in Wales and we're celebrating this summer by throwing two huge parties for our friends and families to attend in Seattle (hosted by my parents) and Oxford (hosted by us). Aren't we lucky? I sure feel that way.
But still, that didn't stop me from browsing the BHLDN website (brainchild of Anthropologie) from time to time, checking out their fabulous "alternative" wedding dresses. My best friend was recently married and is having similar transatlantic celebrations around the same time as us, so we've been swapping websites and reception ideas for a while.
As soon as I saw the Divine Downpour dress from BHLDN, however, my heart fluttered. I was in love.
I'm not sure if it was the delicate beading and flowers featured throughout the body of the dress and hem, the way the model was posing, or the exquisite detail to the back that made me swoon, but I sent it to my mom anyway with the subject heading, "My DREAM Dress" and couldn't get it out of my head. "Don't buy it," my mom advised. "It'll be more of a headache than anything else. Look at how long it is! It'll cost a fortune to have altered and I'll doubt you'll find anyone experienced enough to do it correctly! It's beautiful, but not worth it." And she was right. At $2,500, it was completely out of my price range as a reception dress, so I tried my best to put it out of my mind.
But I couldn't. I even took a picture of it with me to Vietnam, in hopes that one of the tailors in Hoi An would be able to make something similar (they couldn't). I searched every ivory, cream, and white dress on every website you could think of, looking for a dress that would speak to me as much as this one did, but after months, I gave up.
A few months after I initially found the dress on the BHLDN website, it was reduced to $1,500. I came very, very close to buying it (i.e. I was about to click "buy" after entering all my credit card information), but decided it wasn't justifiable in the end, especially when there were all the costs of the receptions themselves to consider.
Then, a few months after that, I was on my way home on the bus and read on BHLDN's Twitter feed that there were further reductions in their sale. I quickly visited the website and sure enough, the Divine Downpour gown was reduced to $800. And some sizes had already sold out. I called John in a panic. "What do I do?" I blurted out as soon as he answered. "Buy it!" he said immediately.
So I did. It arrived a few weeks later at work, accompanied by a £200 customs charge to be paid on the spot. Ouch. The UPS guy delivering it (with a serious attitude, I might add!) couldn't take the payment himself for some reason but wouldn't hand over the dress until the duties were paid over the phone! I tried to remain calm, but he said he'd have to take it back to the depot and wouldn't be able to deliver it again. So, I did what any grown-up, rational, confident woman does when faced with a situation like that: I cried. Not whimpering, sobbing tears, but one, sole tear that embarrassingly trailed down my face like a small child being told the bouncy castle was closed for the day. Luckily, the postroom staff at my office are incredibly nice and got the rude UPS guy to leave his mobile number so I could call him back once I had sorted out the payment with UPS over the phone. When that all finally happened, the guy returned with my dress, feeling contrite and apologizing for making me cry.
I took it home and tried it on - my hands were shaking with excitement! It was about a size too big (I wear anything between a size 2-6 in the US and had ordered a 4), but it looked gorgeous. I was so excited. I took it to my co-worker's mother-in-law to have it altered and she did an amazing job, charging me only a fraction of the price of what I would expect to pay on the high street. To thank her, I brought along a bouquet of flowers and a gift from Crabtree & Evelyn to my final fitting.
So that's the story of my dress. I love it. It's beautiful, and I take a little peek at it almost every day. I can't wait to wear it in August. Now I know why women get all worked up over a silly dress.