To Say Yes to a Dress

One year ago Sarah called, sounding as happy as I had heard her in a long time, and said she was engaged. This was followed almost immediately by a picture on FB of her on a windswept hillside holding up her ring finger. Beautiful diamond. Big smile.

Within a week a I had a new board on my Pinterest page, “Darling Daughters Wedding.” She was getting married in the information age and boy was there a lot of it! I pinned and pinned and she pinned and pinned and we sent each other pins and called and talked about pins.

First task… Select a date. (I got a secret little thrill when she said did not want to be an “old mom” so the date would be sooner rather than later – that meant, of course – GRANDKIDS!)  Then she had to select a date that worked with her job schedule. Katie was easy, being a teacher, she had summers off.  They narrowed it down to a few possible weekends the following June and the timeline was set.

The very next thing was to choose a venue. I googled and pinned and read “the Knot” – SHE googled and pinned and created an account on the Knot.   Using their list of venues, we would excitedly find the “perfect” venue, only to find out for some reason, that it really was NOT the perfect venue.

One day Scott stumbled onto the website for The Skansonia. From what we could tell, the Skansonia was a decommissioned ferry that ran the Tacoma narrows prior to the bridge.  It sounded unique and cool and right up our alley. It went onto a list of five or six places for Sarah and Katie to check out. They liked several, but kept coming back to the Skansonia, decision made!

Having a rough idea of when, now they need to pick an actual DAY. Fridays were a lot cheaper. BUT harder for guests to attend so…..we paid a little more (paid a little more – boy would we hear that a LOT) and scheduled it for Saturday, June 21.   We paid a little more for them to set up and take down the chairs. We paid a little more for the tealights, a little more for the table runners, a little more for the extra hour… In the end though, those “little mores” were just fine, would not have done it any differently.

After the initial decisions, there was not a lot to do until the wedding date drew closer.  Time passed and soon it was the “Say Yes to the Dress” weekend. Completely planned by Sarah, all I had to do was show up – along with ALL her bridesmaids – not ONE Of whom lives in Seattle.  We camped out at Sarah’s one night, and got a hotel room in downtown Seattle the next.

Part of the “Say Yes” crew in Seattle

The first shop was perhaps the most “David’s Bridal” of the ones we visited.  There were RACKS of dresses ranging from $200.00 to $20,000.  Cheesy romance music was piped in, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight,” Celine Dion and Whitney Huston.  We went a little crazy. Each bridesmaid as well as myself, Katie’s mom and sister Anna, selected a dress for Sarah to try on, some of us selected more than one dress. Sarah was a trooper.  She modeled every one – all styles, every shade of white and one pink (ugh!). Sleek, form-fitting dresses to giant, ballroom, puffy ones. Some COVERED in beads and sequins or little roses others in lace. Every neckline imaginable – sweetheart, square, scalloped, sleeveless, capped sleeves…. And we found out something. Sarah, Queen of Bling, quickly ruled out bling. Put back all those dresses with pearls, with sequins, with beads, with rosettes…

Dress One

When we left that shop, we were sure we had chosen the “perfect dress.” Light and breezy it was perfect for a wedding on the prow of a boat! We considered cancelling the next couple of shops and calling it good, but we were having fun, so off we went to the next shop. This one was a little less “David’s Bridal” and a little more funky with a loft feel, bricks, exposed pipes, open beams and curve-backed Victorian styled sofas. The selection was a little more limited, a little more unique, but we had some luck with a variety of styles. We had eliminated bling, and could now eliminate sleeves of any kind, but we still loved the dress from Puyallup. Then someone. No one is sure who, had her try on a mermaid style ruched dress. I know, I had no idea what these things meant either. No matter who chose it, it was beautiful. We all sat back and sighed. Forget the dress in Puyallup, THIS was the perfect dress.


Dress Two with Props


We posed with cheesy photo props – “She said Yes to the Dress” and big smiles. That was a day’s work! Once again, we debated cancelling the appointment in Seattle the next day.  After all, we had found the “Perfect Dress.” I knew though, that her sister Grace, Grandma Linda and Aunt Sarah would be joining us downtown and how disappointing for them if they didn’t get to have the whole “Say Yes” experience! Besides, we already had hotel rooms booked and were going to be in Downtown Seattle anyway, so we kept the appointment and headed to Seattle.

Our appointment was at Nordstorm. I am not going to say we did not do other shopping, like “Mother of the Bride” shopping, because we did.  Like buying Gracie and Laura Bridesmaids dresses, because we did.  All that shopping done, it was time to meet up with the next Say Yes crew. We met and had a lovely lunch and then off to the bridal studio. Unlike the others, it was pretty small, intimate.  My heart lurched a bit when I picked up a simple pair of gold shoes with a price tag of $600.

In the dressing area, we ate chocolates and Sarah tried on dress after dress, selected by our saleswoman. She tried on a purple dress, “That comes in white,” a sea-foam green bridesmaids dress that, “Could be considered a wedding dress.” And meanwhile, behind the dressing room door I could tell Sarah was having an issue with our saleswoman. She would come out with a smile/grimace, in a dress that the woman insisted she try on. When the sales woman left to look for something in the back, Sarah apologized to those shopping with us only that day, “I am sorry. I just wanted you guys to see what it felt like to have a WOW moment. I don’t want a dress that could substitute for a prom dress or a bridesmaids dress, I want a WEDDING dress…”

Horrible bridesmaids dress that “doubles as a wedding dress” BUT look at those shoes!

The sales clerk emerged with a new dress that was not on the sales floor. It was nothing like what Sarah had tried on yet, at any store. But it fit the bill, it was certainly a wedding dress, complete with a train! It was simple, vintage looking, and we were sad to see that it had lace. Lace = bling. But biggest problem of all was that it was wayyyyy out of our price point. And even though we couldn’t afford it and Sarah had already ruled out lace, the saleswoman convinced her to try it on.





When she came out of the dressing room we sat stunned. Some of us gasped, I know I almost cried. And by Sarah’s face I knew that this was THE dress. Forget the breezy Puyallup dress and the Loft mermaid dress, this was it.  I quickly okayed the price difference and we celebrated, hugged and twirled her around viewing this elegant dress from all angles. The dress shopping crew wandered over to the Café for a celebratory glass of wine while Sarah and I took care of business.   Measurements check. Would it be available in three months? Check. Alaska tax discount? Check. And finally, credit card. Check.


A spectacular venue.  Perfect vintage-look wedding dress. Stunning sunsets and sunny skies.  Love, joy, laughter and family. Everything came together like clock-work on the wedding day.


Seattle Wedding | Katie +Sarah-9370

5 thoughts on “To Say Yes to a Dress

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