Manifa's Story: My Wedding Dress

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been waiting forever to write this blog. Time for Wedding Dress Shopping!!!  For anyone who is named Emin, you must stop reading here. Everyone else, please continue!

I’m not even going to lie, I went dress shopping very early. Like a week after I was proposed to early. What can I say? I’ve never tried on a wedding dress before and I had been dreaming about my wedding dress since I was like five! Before I made any appointments, I called one of my closest friends, Taleen, and asked her where she got her wedding gown. Of course, it was none other than the famous Karoza Bridal. So, the first appointment I made was there. I asked my mom and mother-in-law to come with me. I knew that they would both be straight forward with their opinions and advice.

When we got to Karoza my whole body was shaking with excitement. I had done my homework ahead of time and went in with a list of dresses I knew I wanted to try on. Karla was my dress expert and she told me I could go into the showroom and pick out some dresses while she pulled the ones I had written down. From here my mom, Emin’s mom, and I split up and just started pulling dresses like crazy. My mom really wanted to see me in a satin gown, while Emin’s mom wanted to see me in a mermaid dress. I just pulled whatever looked romantic and whimsical. 

Once we had pretty much pulled all the dressed off their racks and into my room, it was time to try them on. The first dress I put on was a long sleeve gown with a tulle skirt and a lace top. The second the dress was pulled up and I saw myself in it I thought I was the ugliest bride I had ever seen in my entire life. I didn’t want to just take it off right away and not have my mothers see it, so I decided to go ahead and show them. When Karla opened the door and I turned around there was a collective sign with both the moms and I noticed my mom get a bit teary eyed! I was shocked! I was sure they would say it was ugly too, but they LOVED IT! Even after I insisted it was not the one they said to try on other dresses, but to keep that dress in the room.  I agreed for their sake, but I knew that this was not my dress.

After trying on about 25- 30 dresses we decided on two that we really liked. The first dress I tried on and a dress with short sleeves and a key hole back. My moms encouraged me to try on the first dress again. This time when I wore it my mom pinned up my hair and put a crown on my head. My mother in law added a veil. When I turned around I was shocked to see how beautiful I looked. I looked like royalty. The dress really fit my personality and the theme of my wedding.

Was the first dress I ever tried on MY wedding dress? Nope. I had this nagging feeling inside me telling me to be patient. I left Karoza a little bit confused. Why did the ugliest dress in the world, suddenly look so pretty with a crown and a veil? As we were driving away I made an appointment to go to Panache in Pasadena in a few days. I was on a mission to find my wedding dress, two years before my wedding!

My experience at Panache was COMPLETELY different from Karoza. The associate that helped me asked me what my budget was, what style of dress I liked, and then put me in a dressing room and told me to wait. Unlike Karoza, she didn’t let me go and pull dresses. Luckily for me, my moms did the Armenian thing and not listen to what ANYONE says. They went and grabbed a few dresses that they thought would look nice on me. The first dress I tried on was my mother in law’s pick. A strapless lace ball gown. It looked fantastic. I really liked it. I felt young and very much like a bride. We decided to keep that one in the room. The second dress I tried on was something the associate had brought in. A massive tulle ball gown with a lace top, with sleeves. When I walked out, I was in love! Both my moms loved it! It was my dress! It was simple, but still over the top. I felt like a princess. I couldn’t believe I found my dress. It was perfect! I really didn’t want to take it off. I told the associate I wanted it! As we were walking into the dressing room to change she says, “I’m so happy we found your dress. It’s a little bit above your budget, but I’ll work it out to get you a discount.” Ok. That works I guess. The associate takes the dress and walks away. She comes back and tells me she is so excited because she was able to get me a great deal. A 10% discount! I assumed that discount brought the dress to my budget. NO IT DID NOT! The dress was so over my budget I don’t even understand why she pulled it for me to try on! Even with a discount it wasn’t close to what I could afford! I actually STORMED OUT of the store. I was furious. I wanted to cry! Here I was with the perfect dress and I COULDN’T AFFORD IT! 

I had made an appointment to go to Lovella after Panache, but I was so upset that anything I tried on there I hated. I wanted MY dress!

I went home that day completely destroyed and upset. I didn’t want to think about another wedding dress for the rest of my life! I felt like my whole bridal experience was ruined. Luckily for me Emin and I were going to Palm Springs that weekend so I was able to sort of get my mind off of it. Funny enough, when I woke up early on Saturday morning I decided to look through the pictures I had of myself in the dresses. When I got to the picture of me in my dress I lingered for a while. That’s when I heard Emin’s morning voice behind me, “Wow you look so ugly in that!” This sneaky man had been looking at the pictures without me noticing! I started laughing and turned over to smack him. When I looked at the pictures again, something about what Emin had said lingered. The dress was suddenly very ugly to me! And that is how I got over my “heartbreak” over a dress that was too expensive.

After this horrible experience, I decided it was probably smart to wait until closer to the wedding to buy a wedding dress. I followed a bunch of stores and bridal designers on Instagram. There was one designer in particular that I was obsessed with, but I wanted to wait until a year before the wedding and go to a trunk show to check them out. I didn’t want to have my heart broken, yet again.

Flash forward to the week of Thanksgiving. Because my mom, sister, and I all work at schools we get that week off. My sister and I were super bored so I decided to make an appointment at Karoza, on Black Friday, to try on dresses just for the fun of it. My sister hadn’t been able to go dress shopping with me and I wanted her to have that experience. As we were walking out, my mom decides she’s bored and wants to come too. So, we went to Karoza just to waste our time. Again, Karla was the sales associate who helped me, and like the first time she let us all go crazy and pull as many dresses as we want. I probably tried on about 30 dresses again. I even tried on a few of the dresses I had already tried on the first time. I tried on one dress that was very different from what I had imaged myself in. It wasn’t something anyone would expect me to wear. It looked beautiful, but I didn’t think my mom, let alone my sister, would like it. My sister and I are complete opposites in our personalities and especially in our style. Funny enough my mom actually liked the dress. My sister loved it too! I was a little confused. Yeah, the dress was great, but I wasn’t expecting them to like it. Again, my mom pinned up my hair, put on a crown and a veil, and I got to see everything all put together. I looked amazing! My sister literally looked at me and said, “Ok. That looks great. Get it. Let’s go!” I looked at her and my mom and I just said, “Ok.” Karla called in Arsineh, Karoza’s owner, and they took down my dress size, the style, and name of the designer. Funny enough it was that same designer I was obsessed with on Instagram! Then Arsineh told me the price of the dress. It was like I was living my nightmare all over again, but this time an angel came to my rescue. Karla mentioned that the dress was on sale because it was Black Friday and that with the discount it would be just a little over my budget. After doing all the paperwork I saw the price and I felt a weight off my shoulders. The dress was only slightly above my budget, but it was something Emin and I could work with! I called Emin and made sure the price was okay and he told me if I loved it then it was fine, but I couldn’t complain that I bought my dress too early. And that was it. I paid for my dress and walked out of Karoza with the biggest smile on my face!

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the story of how I purchased my wedding dress a little less than two years before my wedding! Honestly, I have to thank my sister for that because without her impulsive push I probably wouldn’t have committed to anything. Also, finding something that me, my mom, AND my sister liked was very impressive. Can you imagine? We went to Karoza because we were bored and we didn’t have anything to do, and we walked out with a wedding dress. Well sort of. My dress is a couture gown so it is going to take 7 to 8 months to have it made and shipped, but still I got my dress! As we were driving home I realized we never took a picture of me wearing it! I told my mom we should go back, but decided it was probably best if I didn’t have a picture of it. This way I couldn’t over analyze anything and it erased the risk of anyone ever seeing it. I really want my dress to be a secret. I haven’t told ANYONE what it looks like, who the designer is, or even what the silhouette is. It’s different and it really is not something anyone will expect me to wear and that’s what I love about it. 

A lot of people have been asking me if I knew my dress was THE dress when I wore it, or if I got emotional after they put a veil on me and I tell them, this isn’t the television show “Say Yes to the Dress.” Buying a wedding dress is just like buying any other dress. The only difference is you know you are only going to be having that dress buying experience once, hopefully. At the end of the day the dress is just a dress and all that matters is my love for Emin and the life we create for ourselves. I could get married in a trash bag and it wouldn’t change a thing. I never truly got emotional. I never had my OH MY GOSH moment. I didn’t even get asked if I’m saying, “Yes” to my dress. I made a decision and then I paid and walked out. No fireworks or magical fairy dust in the air and to be very honest with you, I don’t even really remember what the dress truly looks like. I just remember some of the main details.

I think as brides we all want that magical moment, but it would be so much easier to go into dress shopping knowing that it probably won’t happen. What you see on TV is scripted and acted out so viewers enjoy the show and make a connection with it, but you are more likely to end up just liking one dress over the others. So, for any brides who are struggling with dress shopping, please don't be discouraged if you only end up liking something but not quite falling in love with it. It doesn’t matter anyway. On your wedding day you are going to be the MOST beautiful, MOST stunning, and MOST phenomenal person in that room. And anyway, you are the bride, the center of attention regardless if you are wearing a thousand-dollar dress or ten-dollar pajamas!

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