Anyway, lest you think that my life only involves trips to New Jersey and visits to photographers (yeah, still haven't booked that one - I'm having trouble pulling the trigger which leads me to believe I'm not in touch with my subconscious feelings regarding the Kodak moments of my Big Day), this post is intended to disprove that belief. I went to Chicago this weekend. First of all, my first visit ever to Chicago was in January. So pretty much every visit after that is guaranteed to be much better. In fact, every time I get off the plane and it isn't snowing / sleeting / flurrying / icing (yum, icing), I feel pretty confident that things will be good.
I decided to bring Mohammad to the mountain, i.e., one of my co-maids of honor lives there, and I thought it would be fun to do wedding-y stuff together. (This is what happens when not a single bridesmaid lives in the same state as you; planes are involved.) So for the first half of the weekend the poor girl filled in as groom and was forced to look at website after website of photographers' wedding photos while I cooed at every picture of the couple kissing, of their parents kissing, of their parents crying and/or any picture of a baby dancing or eating cake (and no I'm not a hypocrite for thinking these babies are cute; they are at someone else's wedding - not mine).
After the photographer-stravaganza, we decided to spend the day looking for a bridesmaid dress. The day being Sunday. Have I mentioned that my foresight is somewhat lacking? I had been smart enough to look up all the bridal boutiques in Chicago in advance of my trip. I was not smart enough to look at the days that they were open. As we sat having coffee on Sunday morning, we decided to choose which store we would go to. Except that our choices were limited as we soon learned that all the "cute boutiques" in the hip parts of Chicago were closed. And closed and closed. I know, I know, if one of the reasons you're going to visit someone is to look for a bridesmaid dress, doesn't it make sense to check that the store is open on the day you'll be there? Yes, it makes perfect sense. Doesn't mean that's what I did. (And yes, we could have gone on Saturday, but a hangover from Friday night and the proximity of Anthropologie to my friend's house meant that we never strayed more than 10 blocks from home. Well, until dinner and more drinks. [Dialing AA.])
We did find one, yes ONE, store that was open. As we made our way through areas of the city that scared me, I peered out the window at more hot dog restaurants than I had ever seen before in my life. Not just stands - whole restaurants, or at least booths (i.e., stores not on wheels). These people are serious about hot dogs. We pulled up to a run-down storefront that promised oodles of dresses inside. As we stepped inside the stillness of the store was a little disconcerting and I pictured murdered brides (along with her supportive bridesmaids) stacked up in the dressing rooms. A woman looked at us from behind the counter, "Can I help you?"
"Yes, we're here to look at bridesmaids dresses." Not a crinoline rustled, not a satin swished. The store was as empty as could be. She looked down at her scheduling book. "Hmmm. Do you have an appointment?"
We looked around for other patrons. We looked at each other for clues. "No?"
Looking at us with her judging eyes, she let out a sigh and said: "Well ok then, why don't you take a look at some dresses." Had we just passed some sort of potential bride test? Do a lot of people come in off the street to try on brightly colored dual-satin frocks in size 14? We started to browse through some of the most disturbing concoctions of dress I had ever seen; there were more sequins in this room than at a 1950's burlesque show, or at the 2007 Ms. Universe pageant for that matter. Lost in a daydream about putting my bridesmaids in all sequin applique, I jump when I hear a piercing voice behind me. "Do you have anything I can put in a room for you? Do you want help? Do you have something in mind?" I turn around and sweet holy Jesus, it's Magda from "There's Something About Mary." The smallest, tannest, most wrinkled woman wearing the most lipstick I have ever seen on one mouth is descending on us. (Luckily, the woman, not the mouth per se, is descending upon us.)
By this time we had gathered a few dresses by national designers which I could order from my local dress shop in Baltimore. Magda continues to hover over us talking about dresses and weddings and wedding dresses and Cameron Diaz. Ok, she doesn't talk about Cameron Diaz. But she should have. Because I am SURE she was in this movie.
We begin to try on the dresses and are hopping around the dressing room in our skivvies trying to squeeze our size 6 bodies into size 12 dresses (yes, I wrote that correctly) when all of a sudden Magda decides to just pop right in. Now while I'm not shy, I prefer that I get a little bit of notice before I show all my lady parts to someone. I felt like a teenager caught reading magazines instead of doing my homework, scurrying to cover up the evidence with whatever is nearby (in this case, a large purple taffeta evening gown). She wants to know if we're ok. Yes, undressed and embarrassed, but doing ok. (And doing even better once she skedaddles out of our dressing room.) Really, couldn't this information have been obtained without opening the door? I have never had a sales clerk at Bloomingdales or Saks just burst in through the door. Why is this permissible when we are in a bridesmaid gown situation? (And by the way, this also happened to me when trying on wedding dresses...it seems anyone who works in the store has an open invitation to just walk into the dressing room when I am putting dresses on.)
All that being said, I did find what I wanted (which was a certain dress in a certain color) and we knew our mission was accomplished. Only problem - how to leave without filling out a card with the dress information and being contacted and harassed about buying a dress from this store. Co-Maid of Honor and I get dressed and make a beeline from the dressing room to the door, only slowing briefly for MOH to say a meek "thanks" (her upbringing not allowing anything less) before we run to the car and get the hell of of dodge.As we drive to the airport, I sit idly in the passenger seat looking at more hotdog stands along the road, thinking about Magda and the bridesmaid dresses and muttering to myself "franks and beans, franks and beans." I'm pretty certain that this is a jinx (a la 7th grade), but I'm feeling like this wedding planning thing may be turning around.
Is http://www.imoderatelylikeplanningmywedding.blogspot.com/ still available?