My mom lives out in the country now. So driving 20 miles into Columbus during a level two snow emergency at 6am took us about an hour or so. We had already seen the Filene’s sale on the 5 o’clock news--that's a.m. ya'll--but these were the women wearing matching t-shirts who had set up tents on the sidewalk and camped out overnight. There weren’t too many.
When we arrived at 7am, an hour before the door opened, my sister and I jumped out of the car and into the line, which had grown to about 75-100 people. It continued to grow behind us. There was music and dancing, yelling and cheering. People handed out goodie bags filled with paper advertising wedding “stuff,” donuts, and hot chocolate.
At a quarter to eight, our mom joined us in line (she had been sitting in the warm car). Even though she "hates this shit," and we kept telling her to wait in the car until the doors opened and she could just walk in after the line dispersed, she refused. Then she started danced. The people behind us thought she was crazy. I said, "Mom, if you get trampled and we have to go to the hospital I'm going to be really upset." It was all hilarity early in the morning in the freezing ass cold.
The doors opened. A roar rippled through the crowd, the line pushed forward. Mom made it in first, followed about four people back by Sarah and I (how did Mom get so far ahead of us?). I lost them once inside, but we anticipated this. We had a meeting place. I ran toward the already almost stripped bare racks of dresses and managed, by some miracle, to grab two. My mom staked claim to a spot near the purses and minutes later we reconvened. Sarah had one dress. Three measly dresses. Some groups had piles (literally piles of wedding dresses). Immediately though, our measly three grew exponentially as the groups around us threw out the sizes they didn't need. And so it began.
I'm told -- because eventually my brain only processed a sea of white and off white and the occasional weird shade of pink, rather than actual, individual dresses -- that the dress I eventually decided to take home was either the second or third dress I tried on. Immediately, looking into the mirror that we brought with us to Filene's (yes, we brought our own mirror), I allegedly exclaimed, "I love it!"
I remembered none of this. However, I do recall saying something to the effect of, "Well I'm here and I might as well try on everything." So we tried on every single thing, a dozen or so gowns... maybe more? Who knows. I struggled into and out of so many dresses, throwing them over my black strapless slip (yes, that's what I wore, with a black camisole over it and stretch pants, which, if I thought I might really like the dress, I would shimmy out of once the dress was on), I had no clue what I had looked at. But we held on to the dress. Not one other person tried it on. Except for me. Three times total.
And when it finally became clear that we had reached the end of our options, I stood there in the dress, examined myself in the mirror, and went, "I don't know." It was definitely a great dress. Very flattering. It would need minimal alterations. And because we had held on to it since the beginning of the sale, it was still in perfect shape -- no beading missing, no shoe prints on the cathedral train, no rips. And for $250. I mean... come on.
And then my mom said, "Lou, I really think you're going to regret it if you don't get." Sarah agreed.
And that was it.
Mom and Sarah talked me into it. I know that's not what you want to hear. You want to hear that I cried and said, "This is the one," or at the very least someone should have cried, right? I should have known it was the one. But seriously, I barely knew which end of the dress my head was supposed to be poking out of at that point.
I said, "OK." And I bought the dress. Well, Mom bought the dress.
I spent the next several hours hemming and hawing, teetering on the edge of buyer's remorse. We took the dress home and laid it out of the bed, away from all the other shades of white and ripped trains, and women in their sports bras, and tank tops, and full on underwear. There it was, my strapless ivory dress with a sweetheart neckline and an asymmetrical waist and delicate beading (but not too much!), all 40 million feet of it.
That's when I knew I had made the right decision. The pictures don't do the dress justice. It's amazing. It fits. It's incredibly flattering. I mean, I could keep searching for months. I could spend a couple thousand dollars. I could do any number of things trying to find the "one" that makes me break down in tears and wax poetic about what I'm going to wear on my wedding day and makes everyone else puke. But people, I got a wedding gown for $249.99. Please. Try arguing with that. And really, as much as it's all about the dress, it's really not about the dress.
So the moral of the story is, yeah... it was worth it. And I didn't even have to throw a punch, not once.