Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Princess Pam and "The Dress"

My best friend, Pam, is planning a wedding. She and Liam haven't set a date, but plan for a fall wedding this year. They have been dating for almost 3 years and are a great match.

Pam came to visit this past weekend and we had a wonderful time. In order to help ensure her wedding planning experience had all the "bells and whistles", I booked appointments with Neiman Marcus Bridal Salon and Stanley Korshak in downtown Dallas. To be honest, these appointments were as much for the memory as for the possibility of finding "The Dress".

So, dressed for shopping at Neimans (please understand that means "better than our normal jeans on Saturday"), we grabbed the DART rail from Garland to downtown Dallas. I must admit, I am not familiar with downtown. On every occasion that I have driven myself, there has been at least two U-turns and many curses in the experience. I live and work in the 'burbs, so downtown is not familiar. I believed that the train would be a good option to keep me from cursing and while minimizing the U-turns. Upon arrival downtown, we had missed a few of Liam's calls. He is in Holland on business and Pam hadn't spoken to him recently. We high-tailed it to Neimans (about 2 blocks) and tried to call Liam back. Luckily, she reached him after a few tries. The bride was beginning to relax. We grabbed coffee and a cookie at the espresso bar and headed to the bridal salon.

For those who have never experienced Neiman's, you should know it's nick name is "Needless Markup". The typical shopper has Texas sized diamond rings and earrings and frequently will look down their nose at you if you're not dressed for shopping.

I checked Pam in while she finished her call with Liam and Bev came to assist us in finding "the dress". Bev's husband is an attorney in Dallas, so she and Pam found an immediate bond. Bev was clearly focused on Pam, as the bride, so she wanted to ensure Pam found "the dress" at Neimans. Of course, price was not discussed, it wouldn't matter at Neiman's. Instead, we went straight for the rows of dresses to consider.

Pam told Bev that she wasn't really interested in a strapless gown, because she didn't feel they fit her well. For the first few minutes, Bev tried hard to change Pam's mind. Bev did catch on, however, when Pam's shoulders turned red. She was clearly uncomfortable in strapless gowns. This limited the choices that Neiman's could offer, but Bev was still confident she could find "the dress". After a number of dresses that were definitely no's, Pam found a beautiful gown. It was pricey and would take 7 months to get delivered, plus 3 fittings (in Dallas), but there was a bonus! She could have the dress fed-exed to Houston. The reality of the Dallas purchase of a wedding dress for a Houston bride had obviously not hit Bev. She seemed confident that even though there is a Neiman's in Houston, we would obviously order from her. Reality and Neiman Marcus, aren't necessarily in the same universe.

With that dress in mind, we left the Bridal Salon and headed for the shoe department. Pam and I can not resist a shoe department. We looked at Manolo Blahnik's, Anne Klein and Stuart Weitzman. We found a cute Anne Klein for the wedding shoe, but it definitely wasn't "the perfect shoe". It was a little tall, so we left shoes without a purchase. For Pam and I, that is rare indeed.

We had lunch in the Neiman's cafe. They had a great clam chowder and half sandwich. It was good and refreshed us for Stanley Korshak.

Out of Neiman's we headed towards "The Adolphus" hotel. We would need a cab to get to The Crescent. It was over a mile, and I am not willing to walk that in heels unless absolutely necessary. The cabby was from Ghana and was very nice, indeed.

We made it the Korshak salon right on time. Wendy was our bridal consultant and I can't possible express the difference in the experience from Neiman's. Wendy was great. First, she was a normal person. She wasn't a size 2 with a Texas sized rock on her finger. Second, she clearly was a bridal consultant because she loves it. She had pictures in her salon of other brides she had helped on their day. Finally, she was excellent at building relationships and Pam and I were immediately at ease with her.

Wendy took us back to her salon and asked about what Pam wanted. Pam, tired from the day so far, was at a loss, so I guided Wendy through Pam's likes and dislikes. Wendy immediately picked up on the "no strapless" parameter and ran off to find some gowns.

Pam began trying on gown after gown. She tried on a pink one that was really interesting. There was one that appeared to have wings and a great one that had a meringue pie look to it. We all laughed when Pam tried to imitate Liam's accent, "Pom, you look rather like a pie".

Wendy and I bonded while teasing Pam about here concerns with each dress. We explained that Pam had found a great dress in Houston, but hadn't confirmed her decision yet. Wendy offered to check if she had the same dress. She did!

Pam was able to directly compare her newest favorite from Stanley to the dress she had found in Houston. The Houston dress won, and Wendy did realize that Pam would buy the dress in Houston for the ease of fittings, etc. HOWEVER, she was not done. She looked for tiara's, purses and shoes to tempt Pam with.

All in all, Wendy did a great job. Pam found "the shoe" with Wendy. Pam fell in love with a tiara, that was pricey but beautiful and found a great bag that she may order. Most importantly, Pam felt like a princess for a few hours, and all women should experience that feeling.

When it comes time to order my bridesmaid gown, I'll definitely go back to Wendy. She was wonderful and I can't imagine giving my business to another person.

Our day ended with one last bit of decadence. After a little shopping in "The Shops at the Crescent", we went to "The Adolphus" hotel for tea. We enjoyed finger sandwiches, decadent desserts and three different teas. It was a wonderful day and I couldn't have had more fun.

There is not doubt in my mind that Pam's wedding will be a great event. I can only hope she will feel that the planning for it was fun too.

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