This afternoon I had an appointment at a small wedding gown store - Dani's Bridal, essentially just a quick Google search away. It was my first appointment and experience, and I was really all worked up about it, but it turned out to be a really positive experience, much to my (and I suspect Ed's) relief.
Because I am...erm...a size that's not usually carried in stores, I had visions of going to multiple bridal gown stores and being told that if a gown wasn't on the rack in my size, it simply could not be provided. I've never been too keen on wedding gowns to begin with, so this compounded my irritation at finding not only one that would fit, but one that would look halfway decent. I do not want a sleeveless gown, for example, nor one that has spaghetti straps, or those weird shoulder pad-type things, or tiny jackets that only hug your shoulders. I wound up spending about 45 minutes with the owner, however, who was very low-pressure, was able to steer me towards gowns that would suit me more (no one wants to see a heavy person in a clingy gown, not even me; not even Ed if it's me). I was able to describe a bit of what I liked, which helped, and there was, in fact, a quite lovely Alfred Angelo gown that, while it would not be in my size, does seem to be one that could be altered. And indeed, The owner was able to describe exactly what would be done, and altering a gown seems to be very common and not an issue at all. This made me feel immensely better. In a nutshell, if I find a gown I love - and when I choose a gown - even if it's not available in my size, there are things that can be done to alter it such that it can fit.
When we got home, Ed whipped out his Google Fu and found the dress available to purchase online for about a third of what it had cost in the store. Having the gown customized would cost more, of course, but even with the customization, the gown would cost less than half the price. Further alterations are a given even if the gown were to be bought in the store, but if I go with that gown, I'll still wind up paying half or a third of going through a gown shop.
I'll wind up going to a few more bridal shops to get an idea of what's out there - perhaps I'll find something I'll like - but even if I don't, I have a few genuinely pretty gowns bookmarked online that either come in my size or can be altered easily. Gone are the days, I think, in which you could only get your gown altered at the store from which you bought your gown; we found a few independent alteration places that will do wedding gowns.
The irritating part? After our foray into bridal gown shopping, we took care of tuxedo rentals for the groomsmen. This was an amazingly painless process, and took about as much time as my one visit to the bridal gown factorium. At least that's one item we could cross off our list.