Expectations are a funny thing, aren’t they? We see things, we experience them and then when the time comes, where we find ourselves in the same life situation all the stored memories come flooding to the forefront of the mind, which is when all the “shoulds” become the expectation.
This happened most recently with the purchase of Brianna’s wedding gown. Our girls have spent a decade watching this show on TLC; Say Yes to the Dress. It focuses on one bridal store in Manhattan, Kleinfeld Bridal, where since 1999 brides along with their mothers, mother in laws and bridal parties have made pilgrimages to the upscale boutique to find their dream wedding dress. Two of my three have always wanted to go there to shop, hopefully, with Randy, and find their dress. In 2014 Kleinfeld Canada opened in the Hudson Bay store downtown Toronto, and our need to fly to New York to find a dress was eliminated. As you can imagine this mother of the bride was elated when this happened, since the thought of paying duty and taxes on importing a wedding gown, potentially worth thousands of dollars made me physically ill.
When the time came for Brianna to begin her wedding dress hunt we started at Kleinfeld, because, well if you’ve never watched an episode of the show, I suggest you do, they make buying a wedding dress seem like the most important thing in the world. Now, granted it is only ONE day of your life, and the bride will be wearing it for less than twenty-four hours, and sadly with more than half of today’s marriages ending in divorce, it does seem a touch ridiculous to put so much emphasis on the dress. But we do, and based on the show it seems like they do too. Since there is so much importance on this one dress it really “should” be an experience you will never forget.
Let me tell you, Brianna found her dress, unexpectedly on the first day out, at the first store we went to: Kleinfeld; and let me also tell you, it will definitely be an experience we will NEVER FORGET. Sadly, not for any good reasons.
Oh Lord where do I even begin??
I suppose at the beginning. When we arrived, the “studio” fitting area only had two brides trying gowns on it it. This area of the store is wide open, luxurious couches, lots of space, tall ceilings, large windows, it’s lovely. Behind this area are the dressing rooms where the bride tries on gowns and then comes out to show family, and wait to be asked; “are you saying yes to this dress?” In the dressing room area there are also couches, much smaller, could possibly fit three people comfortably, we were four, with fewer mirrors, lower ceilings and no windows. It’s not a very exciting area, more like a private shopping fitting area at a high end luxury department store, than a bridal gown one, certainly one worthy of Kleinfeld’s reputation, as seen on TV. They sat us here. With winter coats, it was December, four women with handbags, and one father of the bride, it was anything but spacious or comfortable. Just as I’m known to do when seated at a table at a restaurant that I don’t like, I asked to be moved to one of the many available, expansive areas in the main fitting space. They begrudgingly agreed, so we moved.
Finally the fun began, we had our shopper, who’s name escapes me, since we only saw her once, on this day, for like one hour, and then never, ever saw her again. Four fittings, and picking up the dress included, never saw her again. Which, I don’t know how it goes these days at any other bridal shop, but I recall very specifically seeing my sales woman every single time I went for a fitting, and definitely when I picked up my dress she was there. Excited to play a part in my day. This was almost 30 years ago, at a little hole in the wall bridal boutique in the west end of the city, it was no Kleinfeld, my dress cost $2200, which translates to $6500 today with inflation, and yet somehow they cared more. Which is what I found interesting. Was it perhaps the cost of the dress that made our experience at Kleinfeld so not important to them? I mean we didn’t spend $40,000 but we also spent more than $10,000; and even if we had purchased one of the even less expensive gowns they offer, should we have to ask for a glass of cheap champagne while shopping, only to be told; “you only get a glass if you say yes???”
Oh really. Okay wow, because when I go to Neimans, Gucci, LV in Beverly Hills to simply look, my shopper offers me champagne, for FREE, even if I don’t buy a thing. But not at Kleinfeld where you’re buying arguably, whether right or wrong the most important dress of your life? Apparently they don’t.
Okay, fine, who needs to drink early in the day anyway. We carried on shopping. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, Brianna found her dress that day, and so the rest of the adventure began. The first fitting arrived, the dress is of course far too big, as it should be, it gives them a ton of room to make it perfect. Which the alteration woman didn’t do, not by the second fitting, not by the third where she got blood on the dress when she nicked her finger with her scissors, also tore the dress at the breast area, and then told my daughter it was her fault because her breasts are so big.
I had no idea why Brianna was crying, but looking at her I knew they weren’t happy tears. I know my daughter. She wouldn’t tell me in the room what happened so I had to wait until we left the building while we were at lunch, and that’s when she told me why had cried.
Are you fucking kidding me??? Can you imagine any woman telling you at any point during a fitting that the reason something doesn’t look good on you is because of YOU??? You would give that person a tongue lashing like they’ve never had, and leave that store never to return. But sadly we didn’t have this option. The wedding was a month out, the money had been spent, plenty of money, and we had to go back. So I pulled in reinforcements, my girlfriend’s personal shopper from another department of the store took over. He brought in the manager of Kleinfeld, who took that alteration woman off the dress, and put the alterations manager, and her number one seamstress on the dress. From there everything happened quickly, and perfectly. The dress now fits like a dream, and Brianna is beautiful in it. Absolutely stunning in the gown.
When we picked it up the other day the weirdness of the experience continued, we were lead to an office, not a fitting area, not even a presentation area where the dress was hanging on a door in plastic wrap. Not a fabric wardrobe bag with the Kleinfeld logo on it, where a woman we had never, ever seen in our lives, who honestly could have cared less to be presenting Brianna her gown, asked her; “is this the right dress? Is this your dress?” She had no emotion on her face while talking to us, I mean honestly the vet assistants at my dogs veterinarian clinic are more excited to see my dogs when they come in for an appointment than this girl, who was handing a bride her wedding dress was!!
Brianna and I looked at one another and said; “ahhhh yes, yes it is.”
She then pulled the plastic back over the gown, took it off the door and proceeded to walk Brianna’s dress out of the store. I had had enough. I stopped her and said; “excuse me. But this is her gown, are you really going to give it to her in the appliance department of this store? Cuz we’d much rather take it from you inside the bridal boutique if that’s okay with you.”
She shrugged her shoulders and said; “sure if that’s how you want to do it.”
Yeah. Yeah that is how we’d like to do it, thanks girl with less emotion than a wet paper bag.
The entire experience is a thing that makes me not even go “hmmm” it’s an absolute WTAF is going on over there. As a first time mother of the bride I couldn’t be more disappointed for my first bride to have had such a lackluster, terrible experience in finding her gown. Thank God Brianna is so easy going and cares mostly about the end result, and the end result here is that she has the most gorgeous dress, and she looks absolutely beautiful in it. We will hold onto this element of the experience, and know that without a doubt neither of my other two brides will be stepping foot into Kleinfeld when their time comes to; “say yes to the dress.”