The car pulls up to the front of the building. With it's high staircase, and grey facade, I can't help but think funeral home; not the first image one wishes to associate with a bridal store.
Remembering what Colleen had instructed, I attempt to push that image out of my mind as we slowly exit the car.
This is her first time.
A Friday night wedding at the end of August, her wedding planning is in its infantile stage. A checklist of "to- do's" still quite long.
Flowers, D.J., Rings, Invitations can all be done at her leisure.
But not this.
The fear and anticipation of the event lies naked on her face.
She is not the girly type.
Rarely wearing make up, cleavage and heels are not part of her vernacular. Instead, she is sensible shoes and button downs. Weekends, rarely dresses to the nines, instead hoodies and jeans. Her hair, with curls many spend hours recreating, usually pulled securely in a ponytail.
This is not typical Jeanna.
She hates shopping.
We know this.
Prior to picking her up, my mother, sister in law and I had the chance to talk. Anticipating the worst scenarios, laughter filled the confines of the car, at the expense of our bride to be. Her shopping history horrors gave us ammunition for our hesitations. Unfortunately, our expectations are low, very low for success this first trip.
Ascending the steep stairs, she walks first. Opening the large door, the crimson rug overtakes our senses as we enter.
Don't judge the appearance.
Colleen's voice resonant through my head, as my sister introduces herself to the two consultants.
The show room is shaped like the letter L, its perimeter a sea of white and clear plastic. Dresses line the walls, as posters of designers hang above. At the consultants insistence, we search. Holding up dresses a chorus emerges:
Too much glitter.
Managing to find acceptable dresses, the pile grows large. The consultant asks Jeanna to the dressing room.
Jeanna looks to us.
Her eyes widen as her mouth downturns. On her chest, hives have created a red polka dot pattern.
Anxiety rears its ugly head.
"I am so not looking forward to this." she begins.
"You'll be fine," we coax. Our words usher her into the dressing room.
Slowly, with the first dress, a safe, predictable design, her first image as a bride emerges.
"I actually like it!" she says. A smile stretches across her face, as the consultant pulls the dress taught.
In agreement, we nod and offer supportive words, as she looks at her reflection. With each smile, a portion of her hesitation lifts.
Closing the door to try on another, she has changed. It is then, we agree it's a perfectly fine dress.
Fine, not a descriptor one should use for a wedding gown.
As the appointment progresses, the hives and the anxiety become distant memories as we watch, as my sister begins to enjoy herself shopping. Sporting various silhouettes and styles, shapes and fabrics, confidence and laughter overtake the room.
And then, like magic, it happens,
Two dresses that look phenomenal and beautiful. They are very different and will set the stage for the night the moment she hits the aisle. On top of that she actually adores both.
While I would love to disclose the details or even pictures, I will not. Mainly since I prefer to keep all my appendages! I will say, for those that know her in real life, with either design she will leave her audience floored...in a good way because they are so not Jeanna.
While she did not say yes to either dress that appointment, she left with a little spring in her step. The rest of our party was able to breathe a little easier as such low expectations left us all pleasantly surprised.
Today, we try store number two. Moira has asked to come today, and this time, I can safely say, I look forward to dress shopping.