I got the call: My dress is ready.
I have to hand it to the ladies at Kleinfeld — yes, Kleinfeld of "Say Yes to the Dress" fame — they have an uncanny ability to channel your girlhood dreams. Within minutes of entering those hallowed halls, my sales associate understood what it was that I wanted, and she delivered.
I can't wait to try in on again!!!
Sure, I had been to other stores first. I knew I was on the verge of getting engaged, and I had a little bit of fun. I went to the now-defunct Priscilla of Boston in suburban Philadelphia and tried on Vera Wang. (My mother took one look at the $8,000 confection and nixed it — but, still. How fun!) I went to David's Bridal in Mays Landing with one of my bridesmaids and tried on various cuts, only to fall in love with the A-line silhouette that I find oh-so flattering.
I love David's Bridal. I love that they sell dresses for $100 during their mega-sales, I love that their veils are affordable and their bridesmaid dresses are adorable — but I held out.
I knew I was going to New York — and even though I had never watched a single episode yet, I was starting to realize that "Say Yes to the Dress" was kind of a big deal.
My sisters, mother, aunt, sister-in-law and her best friend accompanied me on my pilgrimage. The building is gorgeous, it's got that 1960s department store feel: Giant ceilings, marble and soft lighting. It was magical.
Barbara greeted us at the front of the store. I've never seen her on the show, but she was great. She ushered us into a dressing room that was slightly more cramped than on TV. I handed her the printout of my top picks; she glanced at it and tossed it on a dresser.
"So, tell me," she said. "What do you want?"
"I was thinking strapless because whatever dress I get will have to have sleeves. I was thinking I could wear a shrug on top," and then she cut me off.
"Orthodox?" She meant Jewish, and she had me pegged. I figure she just sized us up fast — me and my sisters Hannah, Zoe, Aviva and Rachel. Maybe it wasn't so hard to figure out.
Barbara lead me and my mom back into the storeroom — THE storeroom with the famous 1,700 gowns — and showed us which dresses she could "build up," a term used to describe adding sleeves and a neckline. In my case, it will be constructed out of the same lace of the bodice for a seamless effect.
"Why not just buy a wedding dress with sleeves on it?" you might ask. Because they don't make them. Correction: Unless you want to look like a Kate Middleton copycat, you can't find one. Alas, there are no Grace Kelly collections.
Barbara showed us a bunch of dresses that were about $1,500 out of our price range — this is of course how they get you. And I am endlessly proud that my mother and I stood there with our hands in our pocket, refusing to take the bait. So Barbara called in an expert: Rachel Leah, an Orthodox Jewish woman who works as Kleinfeld's buyer.
She joined us in the storeroom and I said I was looking for Augusta Jones. I had done my research and Augusta Jones makes dresses that are whimsical and sophisticated, A-Line and affordable. So she led us over and examined the rack: "This will work, this will work, this will never work, this would be perfect for you," she said pulling out a dress I can't describe because my fiancé will flip. I tell him it has green feathers and scales. That it's cut like an ice skater's costume, with rhinestones down the back.
I hesitated. "It's not really my style," I said. "Just try it on," she said, and I had this thought that my fiancé was just a little outside my comfort zone — he had holes in his shirts and a habit of stooping over — but he turned out great, so why not?
The moment that dress was zipped up, I knew. It screamed garden party. It was delicate. It was the bridal version of my favorite prom dress. And, most importantly, my mom was on board. Shockingly, she rushed to put down a payment. It wasn't long before every one of my measurements was taken — the circumference of my wrist, its distance to my elbow — and I was back in the showroom.
There, my sisters were having a ball. They were trying on every accessory not nailed down, and the salesgirls were having fits. "Are you with a buyer?" they would ask all nervously as my 18-year-old sister tried on a $2,300 tiara.
Randy was there, and he just laughed. I like to think he appreciated our girlish enthusiasm. That's what it's all about. We live out our girlish dreams, ushering in adulthood . . .
I can't wait to try on my dress again. To live that fairy tale again, if only for a minute. But for now I have to wait. I can't schedule my first fitting until July 9
So, South Jersey brides: Do you have your dresses yet? How did you know it was the one?