2. Hi, I’m Kristin. Despite my best efforts at being an anxious weirdo, I am getting married.
3. And since I am also a person who has procrastinated at least once, I’ve seen my share of TLC’s iconic bridal gown shopping show Say Yes to the Dress.
Because a wedding dress is the most high-stakes gym class parachute you will ever purchase.
4. And since I’m now shopping for a bridal gown, I decided to kick off my search by going to the home of Say Yes to the Dress, the Disneyland of bridal salons… KLEINFELD.
5. For those of you who don’t know: Say Yes to the Dress is a show in which brides shop for wedding dresses, and bring along loved ones to say rude things about their bodies.
So when the brides DO find a dress in spite of their snotty relatives, it honestly feels like we ALL have.
6. Would I find a dress I loved in my size? Would I leave feeling terrible about myself? Would they need to bring Pnina Tornai out from whatever room they keep her in so she can save the day with a $10,000 see-through corset dress?
LET’S FIND OUT!
7. First, you fill out a detailed appointment form:
With every appointment slot, they have reminders that if you don’t have $2,500 to drop on a dress, you’d best keep walking. You also give them details about your wedding, the theme, your price point, your general taste in dresses, and a link your Pinterest board (yes, really).
8. When I got to my appointment with my entourage, we were taken by the bridal consultant and an intern to a little fitting room. I was given a robe, like I was in a very fancy gynecologist’s office.
Seriously, the walls were even adorned with letters and cards from past happy clients, like an OB-GYN’s victory wall of baby photos.
And just like at the doctor’s office, they re-ask all the same questions you answered when you make the appointment regarding the who, what, when, and why of your wedding, my budget, what I like in dresses, etc.
9. I tell the consultants that I like ball gowns and lace, and they go off to pull some dresses for me from the mythical ~sample closet~.
11. This Jim Hjelm ball gown was the most overwhelming thing I have ever put on my body.
Seriously, it felt like I was putting on every dress ever made on earth at the same time.
12. Also, I was not prepared for how GRAVEYARD QUIET the room was while people waited for me to give my opinions on this dress.
This actually happened with almost every dress I tried on. Once I was in each dress, my bridal consultant and the intern assisting her were laser-focused and sphinx-like. They asked questions (“How do you feel about the size of the skirt?”) and they absorbed my nervous assessments (“hahahaha SO THIS SKIRT IS A LOT OF VOLUME I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING”) and they offered information about things that could be changed about the dress if it came up.
In retrospect, this strategy makes total sense: They need to get as much information about my feelings as fast as they can, and they can’t do that if they don’t give me space to talk. But I am someone who worries about being a bother, and so — for me — not being able to figure out if I was making someone frustrated or not was terrifying.
14. This Anne Barge dress was the most awkward. I felt a bit too much like a clumsy girl at the prom, and it pretty much sealed it for me that ball gowns may just not be my thing.
Seriously, I don’t know what I thought ball gown skirts were stuffed with before this (air? IOUs?) but I didn’t get this far in life only to get taken out on my wedding day by a $3,000 cloud.
15. After realizing that I actually maybe don’t like ball gowns, my consultants went to go fetch some alternative silhouettes.
17. This Maggie Sottero was the dress that I was the most surprised (and scared) by.
I usually avoid clingy silhouettes because I don’t want to give people more ammunition to be cruel than I need to, and I was prepared to shut this dress down. My consultants patiently listened to my million excuses for why I couldn’t possibly like this dress. But even I couldn’t help but admit after five minutes of grumbling that my anxiety was blinding me to how nice this was.
18. Then — because it seemed like I was developing feelings for the dress — the consultants left me wearing it for a few minutes while they stepped out (I’m guessing because that way I’d get attached to it).
I tried to sit in it, and I look great, except that my boobs have decided to vacation under my chin. So I decide to see some other options.
19. They also brought me some A-line dresses, which I belatedly realized were what I originally thought I’d meant by ball gowns (I am so in over my head).
21. I was the most frustrated by this Michelle Roth dress because it was SO CLOSE to what I thought I wanted, but wasn’t quite there.
My consultants were sort of like dress detectives who were doggedly determined to solve the mystery of just what the crap I want to wear my wedding day, and they were getting closer and closer. This was also the first dress that either consultant offered a direct opinion on, which was that it was their favorite so far.
23. The Michelle Roth dress was the most exciting dress I had ever put on. It was like a wheelbarrow full of puppies who never leave you voicemails.
For the second time, the consultants left me alone wearing the dress, because duh, it was so beautiful that I was literally just twirling in circles while cursing. Then, in one of the more intimidating moments of my life, one of the owners popped her head in to my fitting room and let me know that she thought the dress was very beautiful and “slenderizing.”
It was a real hard sell. There’s something about being told that you look thin that makes your credit card just pelvic thrust its way right out of your wallet.
24. When the consultants came back to ask how my one-on-one date with dress #5 went, I asked to try on belts with it. There was a noticeable uptick in their excitement.
The more I talked about how I liked the dress, the more the consultants talked about how they liked the dress. So while before it was just me giving my opinions into a noiseless vacuum, the room suddenly became a warm, happy positivity echo chamber about how this dress was obviously the best dress to ever say yes to.
25. And no one actually asked if I wanted to get “jacked up,” but after I tried on the belts, they asked if I wanted to try a veil.
I know it seems like such a small detail. But CRAP CRAP CRAP it really made such a difference. I realized that this dress was going to be a real contender and that I was probably going to have to come back with my mom. SORRY, MOM, KLEINFELD IS CALLING.
I said I needed some time to think about dress #5 and I thought the appointment was over…
26. But then there was a BONUS ROUND: The consultants asked if I wanted to pick out any dresses from the stock closet to try on. We were going INTO THE STOCK CLOSET!
27. And HOLY CRAP the stock closet was an ocean and I basically drowned bye forever.
I was a little nervous at first because I assumed many of these were not available in my size, but then the intern told me that ALL OF THEM WERE. “ALL OF THESE?!?!” I squealed. ALL. OF. THEM. So yeah, if you are a size 18, get ready to go swimming in a whirlpool of tulle at Kleiny-d’s.
28. However, the dresses I picked out from the closet only served to prove how much the consultants really knew what they were doing:
32. This Anne Barge dress was my boobs’ least favorite because it flattened in the most lovely and vengeful way, like an evil stepmother.
Seriously, having the consultants pick my dresses for me was much more effective, because for a lot of people, trying to find your dress in the closet is like looking for a needle in a tulle stack. After this dress, I was all done for the day.
33. And while I didn’t walk away with a dress, I do have a ~major contender~ and I got some insight on some of the Kleinfeld process (though I’m sure every experience is different):
1. It is very stressful to stand on a little pedestal while a bunch of people give opinions about your body.
2. Pnina Tornai never even came up during my appointment, so if her dresses aren’t your thing, you’re not going to strong-armed into one or anything.
3. You give them a budget, but they don’t definitely discuss the exact prices or the designers until you ask.
4. You can definitely try on as many dresses as you’d like during your 90-minute appointment — it’s like the Nickelodeon toy run, except for grown-ass ladies, and you have to pay for everything.
5. No one ever told me that a dress was nice just to make a sale — they let me come to the conclusion on my own (but then they definitely validated my feelings).
6. Ball gowns are not the same as A-line skirts, which seems obvious, but HEY I AM STILL LEARNING!