|My "oopsie" dress|
I'll set the scene. My now-husband and I had been dating for 7 months. He'd recently seen me at my worst, through a relatively quick bout of severe depression, but most of our dating life was contented cuddling by the fire and romantic dinners. (And long walks on the beach. We did meet on match.com, and you have to like long walks on the beach to put your profile up.) I'll admit that our cuddling by the fire was actually sitting on a couch backed up to a faux fireplace in his apartment, where we watched 24 for hours. And the romantic dinners were usually pasta cooked at home. But we were madly in love.
We'd just flown out to spend some quality time with his parents, which was the first time I'd really spent any time with them. They apparently approved, and I believe they nudged him to seal the deal. Go, in-laws! :)
I *think* Now-Husband had brought up the topic of engagement rings before I made the fateful shopping trip. He had casually broached the topic, being intentionally vague and noncommittal (ie, "If you were someday going to get an engagement ring, what would you hypothetically like?"). I had immediately started freaking out inside, in a good way, but outwardly I kept my cool and rationally talked about what I might like in a ring. I'm a cool customer.
Soon after that, I saw an amazing wine-colored Vera Wang evening gown (not the wedding dress) at TJ Maxx. I thought I was in the market for evening gowns for some reason, although for the record, it still has the price tag on it 6 years later. It was, like the wedding-dress-to-be, $70, and I didn't buy it at first, but obsessed and even dreamed about it, so decided to go back for it. The Vera Wang was still there and it was mine. Score!
|The gateway dress. It's not photogenic without a wearer, apparently. Trust me, it's gorgeous.|
|The boobs don't actually look weird like they do here.|
|I'm not exactly a label hound, but...Vera Wang! $70!|
But wait. There were now several wedding dresses on the fancy dress rack. My TJ Maxx is quite the store, for sure, and probably better than yours. You can really find some great items. But I had never heard of or seen wedding dresses there, and have not seen or heard of them since. My mind started reeling with the possibilities.
These dresses were gorgeous. There were three in my size, some still in plastic wrapping and had probably never been tried on. They weren't brands I'd heard of, but I wouldn't have known what a good wedding dress brand was, anyway. They appeared to be really high quality. I tried them on.
Nothing quite prepares you for trying on wedding dresses in TJ Maxx before you're even engaged. You picture going to some bridal store with your sister and friends oohing and aahing over you. Or getting your mother's dress out of storage and trying it on for her (for the record, I'd tried my mother's dress and was too busty for it). I don't feel like I missed out on a necessary life experience, though...I've just got a different kind of story. As I tried on the dresses, I was on an adrenaline high and two of the dresses looked quite stunning, if I do say so myself. The one I was leaning toward was pretty low-cut, and I asked some random strangers in the fitting room if I was showing too much boob for a bride. "No way, girl! You gotta flaunt what you got!"
And that was how strangers provided that final nudge for me to buy my $70 wedding dress. I looked it up online afterward, and it was from an Australian designer who was no longer in business. From a few gowns I found for sale online, I estimated my dress to have a retail price of at least $1000-$1500. Yay me!
I got quite a few stares as I lugged the dress around TJ Maxx and rang it up. Even the cashier thought I was a bit crazy; apparently she hadn't seen their wedding collection yet. Or was just of the opinion that one should not purchase a wedding dress at TJ Maxx. We stuffed the dress awkwardly into two large TJ Maxx bags, one on each end of the dress. Of course, I bought the $70 wine Vera Wang, too.
When I got home, my roommate assured me I was out of my mind and told me I'd better not tell Now-Husband. It would freak him out and make him feel pressured. I thought about it for approximately one minute and because I can't keep a secret, called him and told him.
And what did he do? He laughed. He told me what a great deal it was and he couldn't wait to see it, but of course he couldn't yet because it'd be bad luck. We still weren't saying things like "when we get married" or even "when we get engaged," but I felt pretty safe after his reaction. He told me recently that the dress purchase scored major points for me; I wasn't high maintenance and didn't have expensive tastes, I'd stuffed the dress in the back of my old Honda Civic, which itself always had scored points for being such a practical car. (Side note: I'm ready for a fancier car and I'm high maintenance in entirely different ways. :) )
There are several morals to this story.
- My TJ Maxx is life-altering. If you come visit me, I will take you there and you'll come out with something wonderful. It just might not be exactly what you'd been looking for.
- If you don't have a significant other and want one, I have two words for you: internet dating.
- Dating rules are meant to be broken. Live a little. Sometimes you might think you have it all figured out and find the perfect sundress to be proposed to in, only to have the guy not propose (a story for another time; that guy is not my husband). And then one day everything will click and the rules won't matter anymore.
(This post was orginally planned for Manly Monday but ended up more of a Feminine Friday. Also, in the interest of editorial disclosure, I edited the first sentence of this after I posted it because it was bugging me.)