The Wedding Dress That Made Me Cry

I was engaged, wedding planning was underway way but this bride still had no dress. 56 wedding dress trials and I was done! I’d only succeeded in pulling off great impressions of an over dressed hippo, a plain mermaid, a surprised amoeba wearing lipstick and each time, the wedding studio assistants insisted I looked divine! I clenched my teeth; and smiled. It was thankless work and my poor girlfriends had to sit through all of it (I awe you Z, S and M). The few dresses I looked a little presentable in were strapless – a neckline fashion I don’t particularly care for. I wanted spectacular.

In a moment of desperation, I turned to the Internet. I spent days looking up top designer wedding dresses I couldn’t afford, effectively setting myself up for a heart break. Then, I fancied myself a free spirit bride and what better dress to encapsulate that than the T- length style? I looked at millions of them before it hit me. No! It wouldn’t do for a church wedding! The princess dresses were out of question (I’d be swallowed whole) and so were the A-line style dresses (no boobs). The mermaid or trumpet then?! My husband-to-be watched all this worriedly, “What will happen if you can’t find THE dress?” He almost lost a foot. I trawled through wedding sites, online magazines, nothing! I even came across tips on how to be a kinky and sexy mermaid. Sigh! I was just about ready to give up when I stumbled upon an exquisite trumpet wedding dress by Maggie Sottero – The Elya. A further search for REAL brides wearing the dress turned up amazing photos (just can’t put all your eggs in with the models, ay?).  I was in love.

The very next morning, my tireless girlfriend Z and I made for the Maggi studio in Prague.  More bad news waited. No, they didn’t have the Elya. No, they wouldn’t be getting it any time soon. I slumped. So close! I was then thrown a lifeline. Yes, I could order it through them and it’d take just 6 months to arrive. Oh yes, it’ll COST YOU €€€€!! The lifeline snapped. Gasp!  Sad, disheartened and grasping at straws, I made a decision that was downright careless. I was going to order the dress from the USA. That’d save me $$$. The fact that I’d neither seen nor tried the dress on didn’t deter me. I was on a mission.

Back home, I called up a friend in the US and asked if he could help place my order at a Maggie Studio near him. He agreed (thanks LS) and I went to work. I got measured for the dress real quick, converted those measurements to inches as Americans have a thing against centimeters, sent him all the information he needed, prayed and crossed my fingers. He placed my order with exquisite smoothness.

4 months in and customs called. My dress had arrived and I had to go pick it up in person. Customs clearance served the usual – nightmare. I couldn’t find my way through the maze of corridors. Sullen, disinterested ladies in two offices said they had no idea where the clearance office was and sent me to the wrong places. Fortunately, a grandfatherly figure pointed me in the right direction. A queue early morning…? Agggh! Resignedly, I settled into a synchronized weight shifting routine as the line crawled along. After what seemed like eternity, it was my turn and a gentle Teddy Bear hefted a large box and declared it mine. I was also due €€€ in taxes!! What?! Unbeknown to my US friend and I, VAT is imposed on goods purchased outside the European trade zone and calculated as 25% item value + 25% shipping cost! Unbelievable! Ah, no savings then. I didn’t have that much money  on me. Teddy didn’t take plastic but said the ATM machine was right outside the building entrance. It was 450 meters away, it’d started drizzling and I was in heels. Payment was a bureaucratic processes meant to infinitely piss one off – queue up to pay at an office 2 floors down from Teddy, join a queue to have the receipt stamped by another important person, then finally, queue up again to present it to Teddy.

An evening dress unveiling was quickly put together. My two bridesmaids (Z and S) and I would convene at Z’s place after work. I was nervous. Would the size be right? Would it's cut suit me? We set the huge box in the middle of the sitting area, stared at it apprehensively, and poured XL glasses of wine. Clink, several sips and I made a small opening into the box. I gently slipped my hand through, seeing with my fingers and feeling for the soft material. I stopped. Something was not right. My touch turned frantic. I yanked my hand out and stood away from the box. The material had felt too slippery, too light. I gently pulled a section of the dress through and it was the wrong color too! I’d ordered Ivory white, not champagne!  Disbelievingly and close to tears,  I said, “This is not my dress! This feels like a nightdress!”

"Are you sure?" "Let’s take the whole dress out first…mmm?" Once out, “ It looks a bit cream but it must be the lighting.” "Maybe we can go take another look at the Elya." "Maybe this is the Elya." "Try it on; you might even like it." My girlfriends were desperately trying to keep me from crumbling. Our calls to the studio went unanswered until we realized, it must be early morning in Maryland! First thing I did when I got home was sending an email to my friend and another to the salon owner.  Turns out,  the studio owner, lovely Ms. B had mistaken a dress called Ela for the Elya. As soon as the Ela had came in, she’d immediately thought of me and without checking the order records, called my friend to come pick the dress up. An honest mistake. She was immensely contrite over the whole mess and sorted everything out. I waited 3 weeks before I got an update on my dress.  

The Elya finally arrived – in a tinny box. Wiser now, we’d agreed to use the smallest box possible  and declare it’s value as $$$. Dress unboxing took place in my living room, without an audience. My hands trembled as I opened the box and pulled the dress out. It was as wrinkled as an elephant’s skin but oh yes, it was definitely my dress. I inspected minute details of this and that in a ploy to put off trying it on. When I finally did, it fit like a glove! It hugged all the right places. I finally looked divine. I quickly skyped Z and gave her an impromptu fashion show. My gamble had paid off. I could now look forward to showing it off in two months…

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