Dress, Offered XIII

We haven’t been doing very many Sisterhood of The Traveling Dress giveaways of late, because honestly, the logistics have gotten difficult. But somehow we just KNEW that we had to help Megan pass on her quirky and fabulous size eight dress. It isn’t the most expensive wedding dress in the world, but damn if it might not be one of the most beautiful. So, if you want to bask in the afterglow with Megan’s dress, leave a comment.

The rules are the same as always: Leave a comment about why you’d like to receive the dress. Megan will select the recipient (with occasional lobbying from me… as hard as I try not to). The recipient pays for shipping, and promises to send Megan a picture of them wearing it, full of joy. Hopefully the recipient will come back as a wedding graduate too, but that’s encouraged, not required. Beyond that, remember, if you receive a dress from a wedding grad, they automatically become a small part of your bridal brigade. Keep them in the loop, send them a love note or two. Because suddenly, they are now invested in your wedding. With all that, here we go:

When “pre-engaged” I spent a lazy summer afternoon by the riverside fantasizing with a friend about our future weddings. After I had described the imagined location, guest list, ceremony, menu, music, assorted activities, flowers, and general ambiance she asked, “What about your dress?” and I drew a blank.

I was not looking forward to wedding dress shopping. It was difficult to imagine finding a dress I would wear only once and yet love enough to justify spending hundreds of dollars on. It wasn’t my priority and yet I did want to look beautiful. When I thought about wedding day beauty though, I realized that, as trite as it sounds, what really makes people look beautiful on their wedding day is the joy they exude and how comfortable they are with one another and with the whole celebration. Of course an outfit can enhance or detract from your sense of comfort, so comfort became my number one priority. For me comfort meant:

  • Not strapless. I am busty (32DD) and have only once been able to pull off a strapless dress without frequent adjustments
  • Minimal bling
  • No corset (or spanks!)  required
  • Accommodate eating breathing, dancing, and laughing with ease
  • Require no assistance to use the restroom
  • Not make me blush when I had to admit how much I’d paid for it (ie. less, waaaay less, than $1000)

I took these simple priorities to a typical bridal salon and was met with quizzical looks. The sales lady said, “We might have a few things you could try on…” Looking around at the yards of white silk, lace, and tulle I was incredulous that only “a few” of their dresses would meet my criteria. Luckily, I had already purchased my wedding dress that morning, I just didn’t know for sure it was my wedding dress yet.

I wasn’t attached to having a white dress so I figured the Nordstrom’s Special Occasions section was as good a place as any to try on dresses. I didn’t realize that finding an off the rack non-wedding dress for a summer wedding isn’t so easy to do in the fall. As I loaded up on black and navy blue dresses in heavy materials a bit of white on the sale rack caught my eye and I threw it on the pile. It was the Adrianna Papell Beaded Chiffon Gown size 8. It fit and it seemed to meet all my comfort criteria plus it was only $140 and I could return it if I found something I liked better.

But it’s hard to find something you like better when you’re not looking. When the time came to commit and have the dress taken up in length (I’m 5’4 and wore flat sandals from Payless) I hadn’t found anything else so I went with it. Hey, my mom was enthusiastic about it, as was the lady who sold me my wedding bra and the lady who was going to alter it…never mind that I was basing the one memorable fashion decision of my life on the opinions of a few middle aged women!

Despite my initial ambivalence about the dress, I really did love it in the end and I would love to see it bring joy to someone else. The stats:

  • Size 8
  • Hemmed for a 5’4 lady in flats, but the material was conserved, rather than cut, so a talented seamstress might be able to release the hem for more length
  • Accommodating of busty (me) and non-busty (the model in the Nordstrom link) women alike
  • Empire waist so very forgiving of a belly full of appetizers and champagne (but somehow it didn’t look like a maternity dress, honest!)
  • Perfect for a warm weather wedding, and worked well with a cardigan (or shawl) when the evening cooled
  • It swishes in a most delightful way, and it made me feel elegant, and Grecian, and vintage

If there is someone out there who can imagine deriving as much joy (and comfort!) from the dress as I did, then I want you to have it, love it, and send us all the photos of you contra dancing, or waltzing, or gazing adoringly at your honey in it!

Photos by: Matthew Zimmerman

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  • Stephasaurus

    LOVE this dress…but I wear a size 10 and I always hear that it’s much harder to let a dress out than it is to take it in. Just wanted to say that it’s so so pretty. :)

  • Cristina

    Beautiful dress!

  • lor

    Wish I was getting married!! Another 5’4 lady with 32DD chest, I couldn’t believe it!! And the dress is freaking gorgeous, someone out there is going to love your dress!

    • Ha, I’m in that club too & was thinking “whoa!”

      • mimi

        Me too!

        • J

          Ha! I wish… :D Try 5’5″ and a 36DD…

  • Oh, my goodness. I am 5’2″ and busty and I am in love with this dress. C and I are pre-engaged, but I love to daydream about the day we will become a family.

    I’m with you: I can’t see spending all kinds of money on a dress you can wear once, and I think that it’s the joy and the memories and the photos, not the dress itself. That said, I’m a firm believer that sometimes the perfect thing finds *you,* and you look gorgeous in that dress!

  • kyley

    omg, love love love this dress! I’m 5’10” and, more importantly, not getting married, but damn, this dress makes me want to lose a few inches (only for a day) and elope to city hall. xo!

  • Manya

    Let me be clear: Not trying to win the dress. Too tall, too committed to my actual dress, etc.

    However: LOVE THE DRESS! I remember seeing your original post and hearing a slightly different version of the Norstrom story, and being really blown away with how lovely it is. I hope it finds just the right home!

  • Karyn

    Oh wow! What a gorgeous dress! It is so exciting that you were able to find a beautiful wedding dress that matches your needs! I too, had a similar list of demands when I went dress shopping (and I am also 5′ 4″, size 8, and busty) but ended up being disappointed. I am currently having cold feet about my dress (wedding in August) and I just wish that I had been able to find something that beautiful and comfortable. Thanks for sharing your photos and story!

  • Michelle

    This dress is AWESOME. I had ordered it and tried it on a few years back for my wedding; didn’t end up going with it, but I really did love it. It is very comfortable and the beading is really pretty. Really great that you are passing along such a great dress…hope whoever ends up with it loves it!

  • j9

    I wish i was even THINKING about getting married because not only do I love this dress, but I am 5’3″ 32DD gal with no nonsense fashion sense. I hope this dress finds a wonderful home.

  • Ginna

    Your dress is beautiful! And the measurements are perfect for me! I really want the experience of dress shopping, otherwise I would be entering this in a heartbeat. Thank you for giving me an idea of what to shoot for. We’re getting married on a ranch in Texas, and something like this would be light, unique, simple and beautiful!

  • Meg

    Just here to say that this is a beautiful gown. And you look stunning in it! Whoever wears this next will be a gorgeous bride!

  • cjm

    I am in love with this dress… and all the reasons you bought it and loved it. I am a 5’4″, 34DD dirt-poor medical student. Along with my amazing fiancee, I am trying to plan and finance a wedding that is as casual and laid-back as we are, but will still be a rockin’ good time for the many, many loved ones we are blessed to have in our lives. It’s totally stressful! Like you, I love imagining all the little details of just about everything… everything BUT my dress. I don’t have a vision in mind, I have never had a “dream dress” to go after… but yours. is. absolutely. gorgeous. And I would be over the moon not to have to shop for one myself. :)

    • Sounds perfect for you!

  • Rymenhild

    It’s far too soon for me to put my name in… but I did put a link to this dress in my eventual-future-I-hope wedding-planning folder, because it’s exactly the style and shape of gown I’d like to wear someday.

  • Cassandra

    Not putting myself in the running since we’re too lazy to begin our planning but seriously – who knew there were THAT many other APW readers who were 5’4 and 32DD? I’ve never met another woman exactly my size in real life…

    • meg

      That’s basically my size, so there you go.

  • Emily Rae

    Just agreeing with everyone else… the classic fit, the lacey details, the hint of color… I love it! I can’t wait to dress shop for myself (once a wedding is in the works… heh). Thanks also for the encouraging word about non-bridal clothing resources.

  • My daughter wore this same dress for her wedding (5’3″, size 0) and got raves…it was so affordable, so comfortable and looked fabulous for her outdoor wedding.

  • Whoahwhoahwhoah. WHAT is a wedding bra.

    • Megan

      Just a normal bra, but almost as expensive as the dress! I’ve just found that the right “foundation garmets” as my mom calls them, make all the difference.

    • OR it’s a $29 bra from aerie that you bought to fit under your dress, but you’ve been able to put into your normal bra rotation ever since. ;)

  • Jessica

    Can’t join the running for the dress since I’m not *quite* engaged yet, but otherwise I would. I LOVE this dress. I love that it’s gorgeous at your wedding, yet simple enough that I could picture wearing it out to a nice dinner on our anniversary. (That will be one of the highest selling points of a wedding dress for me. I want to wear it more than once!!!)

  • Tracy

    When I saw your wedding graduate post I loved the dress and I still love it. Unfortunately, it’s not my size, but I love the detail of non-white on a wedding dress and it looks comfortable and beautiful both. So, just wanted to share.

  • Mihaela

    Ack! I want this dress so much! My fiancé and I discussed it for a long, long time (both of us really liked it), but we eventually decided I shouldn’t put my name in the hat because I’m too tall (5’7″), and empire waists can be a little hit or miss with my shape. But let me tell you…I’m having a tough time letting this one go.

  • Am I too late to add my name to the hat?? I LOVE this dress! I’m actually about to head to Texas for some wedding planning, including dress shopping, but it would be nice to not have to worry about that. I’m not opposed to shopping (actually I love it), but I’ve been wanting a dress that isn’t entirely white, and they’re a bit hard to find. I’m only 5’1″ so the length isn’t a problem for me, and I’m pretty sure it’s my size! My wedding is set for early September 2012 in Austin (read: HOT!), and this seems just about perfect. Also, the bit of grey on it won’t conflict with my fiance’s dress uniform (Marine Corps), like the orange sash I was thinking about would. It’s absolutely gorgeous on Megan, and I know that it will be just as beautiful on whichever bride wears it next!