Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: MY WEDDING GOWN
By Debbie Roome
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I whirl in slow motion before the mirror, a chocolate haired princess wrapped in icy tulle, frothy lace and delicate pearls which stream over snowy billows of satin. Behind me, I see Gran’s look of approval and know, like me, she is thinking back to the day Jack proposed.
I’d been over the moon and couldn’t wait to get started. “Gran. I’m going shopping tomorrow for my wedding dress. Will you come with me?”
Gran shook her head in bewilderment. “You youngsters have no patience. How’re you going to pay for it, Michelle?”
“Oh. I’ll put it on my credit card and pay it off before the wedding.” I could see she didn’t approve and waited for the lecture.
“When I was a little girl on the cotton farms, we’d shop from a catalogue. I still remember the joy of choosing a bolt of shiny fabric and waiting for it to be delivered to the General Store. Once it arrived, our mums would sew it into Sunday clothes for us. None of this instant shopping that you’re so fond of.”
I tried to be patient. “Gran. They have bridal boutiques these days. Specialist shops where you can buy dresses off the rack and not have to wait months for them to be made.”
Gran shook her head. “Your wedding dress must be your own. A creation from your soul. A garment you love and one that loves you. One that unfolds from your heart and expresses who you are.”
It was fun at first, visiting all the bridal shops. Rails of creamy satins, shimmery chiffons and embroidered brocades mixed with veils trimmed in pearls, sequins and lace. I tried on armloads of gowns but somehow, I couldn’t find my dream dress. There was something wrong with all of them. Too heavy, too shiny, not enough lace. Too short, too wide, too long. I liked the neck on some and the sleeves on others.
By lunchtime, I’d begun to wilt and Gran was worn out. Over bagels and coffee she talked some sense into me. “My friend’s daughter, Elaine, sews wedding gowns. Would you at least talk with her?”
Gran sat with me as I described my dress. Elaine sketched and made adjustments as I talked. Sweetheart neck line, sleeves slightly puffed, full skirt with no train, Seed pearls on the bodice. Layers of frothy lace. It was beautiful. Just what I had imagined. Elaine showed me fabric samples and together we worked out what would suit my budget.
The store she recommended was a complete contrast to the marble and brass malls with their fountains and piped music. Gran approved. I could see the joy in her face as she absorbed the polished strip floors and breathed the fragrance of a thousand rustling fabrics. It was a fantasy land and the wedding boutiques paled into a modernistic blur. With Elaine’s sketch in my hand, I scoured the wooden shelves and crystal jars until I found exactly what I was looking for. The store didn’t accept credit cards so we worked out a plan. I had enough cash to pay for the satin and they put aside the tulle, lace, pearls and veil. Over the next few months, I made regular payments and collected brown paper and string parcels which I took straight to Elaine.
As the weeks rolled by, I began to enjoy my fittings. Elaine would crouch on the floor, pins hanging from her mouth, and tuck, adjust, tweak and pull. Each time I went, the dress was more complete, more beautiful. I began to understand what Gran had tried to tell me. About the dress being mine. Something tailored specifically for my shape and personality. Not a mass produced garment that would never be 100% me.
Gran touches me on the arm, and I float back to reality. “Are you ready?” she whispers. “Jack’s waiting and the car’s out front.”
I clasp her hands in mine. “I understand Gran. I understand what you said about the dress being mine. Thank you.” I leave her with a soft kiss as I go to meet my bridegroom.
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