My wedding dress is sitting in a crushed, taped-up cardboard box, in the closet of my husband's home-office. It's been there since the day it arrived, still needing alterations, three days before my wedding day.
That's right: Three days before my wedding.
I did get married in October, and I did wear a wedding dress. But it was not my wedding dress: the simple, strapless, A-line gown that made me feel teeny-tiny. (I'm not.) The dress I got married in was my Back-up, bought off the rack two weeks before the big day, in the kind of frenzy I'd sworn I'd never get sucked into.
Which is why, to this day, I haven't even looked at my original wedding dress. I can't. I'm still mad at it.
"Um, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm closing my shop," said Paula, the owner of the adorable bridal boutique where I'd found The Dress. My first thought was, Poor Paula. I was not yet jaded or wise enough to think, Poor Me.
This was mid-August. The wedding was still two months away. The last thing I wanted to become was the clichéd hysterical bride, so I chose to believe Paula's weekly promises that the dress would "definitely be in by next Friday."
And then one day, Paula stopped returning my calls. The gate to the shop came down. For good.
It was time to become hysterical.
Cut to: Me at Kleinfeld's, frantically trying on off-the-rack gowns with my future mother-in-law. Most were all wrong, but luckily there was one I could live with. My Back-up was born. When my best friend, Julie, saw it, she was kind enough to ooh and ahh, and to tell me that the Back-up was even prettier than the original. I grabbed onto that fantasy and vowed never to look back.
And so, when Paula called days before my wedding, to tell me that The Dress had arrived, I was in no condition to care. The next day, when the banged-up shipping box showed up in my lobby, I took it upstairs, put it in a closet, and shut the door.
I had the best time at my wedding, so I should be able to open the damn box, and finally face The Dress. But I just can't. Come to think of it, I can't even be certain the right dress is in there. But if it is mine, it's exquisite.
A simple, classic, strapless gown, made of soft-white Thai silk. No beads, no lace, not too poofy or clingy. Just a subtle bit of rouching at the waist, and a gentle A-line skirt that minimizes hips and butt. The gown is made by Mariana Hardwick, it's a size 10, and, once again, has not been altered. I know what you're thinking: Where's the photo? Well, since the gown's still in the box, I don't have one. Click here for another similar design by Mariana Hardwick.
After considering all the things I could do with this brand new wedding gown, I realized what I really want: A happy ending.
I want to know that all the time and aggravation and money spent finding a dress in which to get married was not in vain, but rather to ease the path of another bride-to-be, who's trying to hold onto her sanity, savings, and sense of humor against all odds.
No money is needed to enter this contest, just your own personal Tale of Woe. Right about now, you might be wondering why being engaged isn't the happiest time of your life. Maybe it's been incredibly stressful. Maybe, in other words, you're normal. Consider this your invitation to vent, kvetch, whine, complain. I promise not to judge you.
Well, that's not entirely true. I'll be selecting the winner, so technically I will be judging you. It's hard to say what I'll be basing my decision on right now; I'm just looking for Ms. Right.
When I find you, I'll open the box, say my good-byes to The Dress, and send it on its merry way, free of charge. The only thing I ask for in return is a photo of you, in The Dress, at your wedding.
At the end of the contest, the winning entry will be announced on this site and posted here, along with excerpts from some of my other favorites. (If your Tale of Woe implicates a family member or friend and you don't want more woe, feel free to specify that your story be posted anonymously.)
Guidelines: Your Tale of Woe should be no longer than 500 words and must include your full name, date of engagement, projected wedding date, and name of your fiancé(e). Don't worry; I'm not going to post this information. Only the winning essay and parts of other essays will be published. Click here for the official contest rules, otherwise known as legal mumbo-jumbo.
Deadline: Memorial Day, May 28, 2007
Winner: To be announced June 22, 2007
Enter: Click here to send your story.