I did it! I picked a wedding dress this weekend! Thank you all for your feedback, ideas and support. Without a further ado...
It's dress #3, the one I felt so pretty in and couldn't eliminate no matter how much I tried to psych myself up for a reasonable and prudent $99 David's Bridal gown.
The dress is really wonderful. I didn't want to let myself admit how much I loved it because getting a dress at an upscale New Jersey bridal salon didn't jive with the vision of the kind of bride I fancied myself to be. But by God, I love this dress. It was the only one I giddly jumped up and down in, and the only one I didn't want to take off.
My mom came up from Lancaster, and my sister came down from Boston with more varieties of strapless bras, corsets, body suits and lingerie in general than I thought existed. I had on the sample- in its completely unzippable size 10- but with Amanda's help holding it in place and hiding completely behind me in the three way mirror and the right undergarments, it looked kind of... amazing.
Does that sound arrogant? I don't mean to. The bodice is kind of sculpted? I guess? So there isn't any boning or metal underwire, but it wasn't slipping down, either. I didn't notice before that the beading around the edge of the bodice isn't continuous, so it won't rub under my arms. It's made of raw silk, so it's lighter, weight wise, than any of the dresses I tried on at David's or Alfred Angelo, with the exception of the high-low hemline one. (My main issue with that one was that I felt very exposed on top, and I just didn't feel confident enough that added straps with applique lace from a craft store would look right.) I think I'll be able to dance, hug everyone and sit comfortably, etc without too many problems.
The dress comes directly from the designer's studio in Canada, and she doesn't charge for customizations. It's not made by sweatshop labor, which makes me feel that I'm not sacrificing my principles even though I am so much less Indiebride than I originally thought I'd be. The salon measured me three times. I had the bodice start 3.5 inches from the hollow of my throat so that it's definitely high enough to cover my armpit chub (which, by the way, was caused mostly by 3 out of 4 strapless bras), and it's extended a little bit lower than my natural waist. I requested that it be made without a train and with one less layer of crinoline, so it will be a ball skirt only, which makes it distinctly less A-line and triangular. The sculpted ruching kind of cinches me around the waist in a flattering way. The look is more hourglass and less Giant Triangle.
Anyway, Grace asked me in the comments what had been helpful so far, and I want to tell you, because I am so grateful. Becky and Michelle, thank you so much for being generous and reassuring and always among the first to chime in with ideas and support. Michelle, thanks for emailing me dresses from eBay in incredibly overly optimistic sizes. You think I'm much more svelte than I am, but hot damn that was a much needed slef-esteem boost. :)
Jillian and Nikki, the most beautiful and elegant brides who ever married each other, thank you for sharing your experiences and commiserations and thinking of me on Newbury Street. Coincidentally, Becky had suggested the same Jessica McClintock that caught Jillian's eye on Newbury Street. I went right to the Jessica McClintock store near my job and tried it on that very same day. It was lovely, but the top was totally inadequate for the girls. My boobs oozed out in every direction. Run! Run away!
Cindy, thanks for sharing that this element of your wedding was the most stressful for you. While I don't love that you cried, I felt so much better hearing that, especially since you only had four months to plan your wedding and it involved green cards and mothers-in-law from other countries and international immigration attorneys and STILL the dress was the most stressful bit. :)
Lauren, thanks for affirming the evils of strapless, even though I'm going strapless after all (but with a custom bodice and thoughtful foundation undergarments). Grace, thanks for your good humor and thoughtful follow up. Julia, thanks for reminding me about what's most important. Tanii, thanks for offering to sit around and bedazzle my gown, if needed, and for reminding me that if all else fails, I could always wear jeans. You ROCKED your bridal jeans. ;)
For Gwen and Steff and HDL and Kelbaby and everyone who's heard my rambling book proposal "Planning Guide for the Fat Bride: If you've never seen 200 pounds on the scale, this book is not for you;" thanks for listening. Liss, thanks for having my back and offering to terrify shopowners with me and always, always being there. Melissa (Ladies, this is the wedding videographer. Videographer, these are my ladies ;) , thanks for reading and getting to know me and telling me you never regretted splurging. Because I just did exactly that. (Oh, well!)
Best of all, Amanda and Mom. Thanks for driving down here with little notice and running into a mall for underwear off the Mass Pike four minutes before it closed and for politely asking the loud ladies to be quiet when the Bond Villian Seamstress was shouting over them directly into my face as she measured my boobs. Mom, there are simply no words. Thank you is insufficient, but I'll say it again. Thank you!
Alright! This officially ends Gooey Girly LoveFest 2008. For now, anyway. I have my dress! I HAVE my dress! Woot!
Coming soon... Why I plan to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Think You Should, Too.