This adventure began on a summer day in NYC with a stunning, solitaire ring and a romantic proposal on the Brooklyn Bridge. A short time later I flew into town with a couple of friends in tow to help in the search for the perfect dress. As my daughters’ closet is a collection of contemporary, classic and vintage, it was no surprise that the search would begin at an unconventional wedding shop. “The Bridal Garden” http://www.bridalgarden.org/ is a not for profit organization that resells donated designer samples, vintage and couture gowns.
Promptly at 3:00 we stood at an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a high rise in lower Manhattan, hoping we were in the right place. Tentatively I knocked and a wiry haired woman opened the door. When she didn’t identify herself I inquired if we were at David’s Bridal. She responded with a harsh, New Yorker laugh then simply turned and ushered us into a surprisingly small showroom. Navigating a narrow path that wound through clouds of puffy white satin, lace and toile, she led us to a tiny dressing room in the far corner. “The dresses are organized by size; you have an hour”, then she was gone and we were on our own. No champagne or pampering here, but no high pressure sales ladies with frozen smiles and hollow compliments either.
Lisa, Karen and I spread out, digging through racks of Anna Maier, Ulla – Maija, Angel Sanchez, Vera Wang and others until, with our arms full of potential picks, we raced back to the tiny dressing room. A slinky backless dress – no; mermaid in lace – no; the fur trimmed number LOL – no! Then Lisa handed her one more dress. She slipped it on and stepped out of the dressing room; thin bejeweled straps lay gracefully over her shoulders and a perfectly fitted bodice dropped just below her waist where it smoothly joined a skirt that flowed voluminously over three layers of slips into the very vision of a vintage, classic gown; it was stunning; it was “the dress”.
But it was $2000 and far over budget. Other bride-to-be’s shopping nearby stopped to stare; some seemed to be circling, ready to pounce the second it was returned to the racks. Even the wiry haired lady, who had returned to let us know our time was up, was impressed by how beautifully the dress fit. Putting on the readers that dangled from a chain around her neck, she examined the tag. Then smiling for the first time she announced that the dress was clearanced and was priced at $550. Moments later, in a Hollywood like scene, Lisa, Karen and I stood on the curb of W 21st watching my daughter, engulfed in joy and billows of white satin, climb into the back of a NYC cab, turning to wave at us through the rear window in happily ever after style.