When I started shopping for my wedding dress, I thought the endless array of ball gowns, lacy veils, and colorful bridesmaids’ dresses would be electrifying. Instead, I found myself perplexed by the oversized three-way mirrors, the princess step stool, and the callous salesladies pricking new bride-to-bes with pins.
“What kind of dress are you looking for?” they would ask me.
This response would usually be followed by a sarcastic laugh, and a mind-numbing list of choices. “A-line? Trumpet skirt? Halter? Strapless? Allure? Vintage?”
“I don’t want to look like a fairy princess or a ghost,” I would say.
After choosing a selection of dresses, I would be subjected to the dressing room—usually more like a communal showroom. I never knew wedding dress shopping meant complete strangers would get to see me naked. “Maybe if we tape up your bosom real tight we can fit you into this one,” suggested one store owner, who had a whole toolkit full of pins, needles, tape measures, and something that looked like a power drill.
Alas, despite all of the styles, cuts, and designs, I came to realize that all boutique wedding dresses fall into two distinct categories: “Little Mermaid” and “Marshmallow.” On the positive side, neither style requires a pre-wedding diet. The Little Mermaid dress will make even the skinniest of girls look like she’s got a shelf for an ass; with the Marshmallow, the twenty-five pounds of satin, lace, and other bird’s nest-type material covers any unappealing flab.
Before making a final decision between Little Mermaid and Marshmallow, I pondered the pros and cons of each. If I picked the Little Mermaid, my lower legs would be so tightly bound that I would barely be able to move. I imagined my poor father nearly passing out from heat exhaustion while walking me down the aisle at a snail’s pace at my outdoor July wedding.
On the other hand, if my legs were able to move only a few inches at a time, nobody would expect some extravagant, Dirty Dancing-style first dance. A slight sway back and forth to “Unchained Melody” would more than suffice.
The tight fit in the derriere on the Little Mermaid also presented some serious problems. While I’m not completely averse to the “shelf-ass” look, I’m not so keen on the “this dress could burst open and reveal my thong at any minute” look. A wrong turn or bend could end up subjecting the minister, my family, and small innocent children to my pale ass cheeks. Still, if the damn thing did rip open, I would have an excuse to take it off and put on something more comfortable.
If I went with a Marshmallow dress, however, I would be unable to pee without the assistance of two bridesmaids lifting up my dress to keep it from falling in the toilet. But I would be able to hide a bottle of Jack Daniels under the endless layers of satin and lace. I could also go completely commando with anyone ever knowing; I could even get wild and roll around on the floor, because the humongous dress would more than cover my dirty little secret.
The ability to go commando almost led me to go with Marshmallow, but I started thinking: do I want to spend $2,000 only to end up looking like the Michelin Man? The answer was no—and that’s when I decided to try Walmart.
While Walmart didn’t have a “wedding dress” section per se, there were plenty of dress choices. There was the “1980s schoolgirl” style, complete with shoulder pads and fringe. There was the short, form-fitting style, which begged the question: walking or working? Finally, there was Walmart’s own take on “vintage,” which looked like a housedress my grandmother would wear while cooking dinner. At a cost of $15.99 apiece, all of these choices beat the hell out of Little Mermaid and Marshmallow.
The best thing about Walmart was the private dressing room. There wasn’t a two-hour time limit like with all those fancy bridal salons. I got to try on the dresses at my own pace, without any pesky salesladies trying to touch my coconuts. After careful consideration, I decided on a vintage look with a rhinestone trim.
Afterwards? I was able to get my cake, flowers, shoes, invitations, makeup, hair supplies, and honeymoon lingerie. All this was rolled into a highly convenient, one-stop shopping experience. To all of you newly-engaged ladies, I highly recommend you check out Walmart.
This original piece by Jackie Miller was written exclusively for In the Powder Room, a division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Wedding image credit: Jackie Miller.