She Said Yes to the Dress

Things didn’t bode well for the bridal-gown-shopping excursion. The weather forecasters weren’t sure how much snow the storm would dump on New York City, and the bride had to travel down from Albany. One bridesmaid would be coming in from New Jersey. Another bridesmaid (my niece) and a flower girl (her five-year-old, my great-niece) live in Boston, which everyone knew was going to be hit hard.

Taking a good guess that school would be cancelled for Friday, my niece and her family made a getaway Thursday night to her brother’s home in CT, and were safely ensconced in a midtown NYC hotel by Friday afternoon. When my daughter got on the 4:15 train on Friday to the city, I was feeling better — even though the legendary Kleinfeld’s had already emailed her that they might have to cancel her appointment because they might not be able to open the store. There are, after all, many bridal stores in New York City.

And thank goodness for that. Manhattan was largely spared the snow — on the Upper West Side we had about 11-inches, although Brooklyn Heights came in at 2-inches. The subways were running. We all own boots. Only my daughter’s mother-in-law-to-be hadn’t made it in. And, yes, Kleinfeld’s had cancelled.

But RK Bridal was open.

This store bills itself as “no-frills,” and certainly is. The dressing rooms are not fancy. They don’t offer the bride bottled water. Over a thousand dresses hang on racks (in plastic), grouped by designer. It could be overwhelming.

From the moment we walked in, however, we were made to feel at home. Because of the slush, we all had to remove our boots, For those of us who forgot shoes (um, moi), the store provided slippers. They did not fuss that my daughter had an entourage of eight. They did not mind that we all dumped our coats in the dressing room. The staff was cheerful and relaxed.

Kudos to my daughter who came prepared with pictures of gowns she liked (which I had printed out for her).

I am also in awe of our saleswoman who grabbed the gowns my daughter liked off the floor, found similar ones for her to try, and then, in an act of brilliance, produced a gown of a type my daughter had totally nixed, but which fit in with my daughter’s sense of style and also emphasized her best features.

That was the dress. What they say is true. When she  tried it on, she knew it, and we knew We applauded, and so did everyone else in the store.

I have little experience in the bridal gown department. At my own wedding 32 1/2 years ago, I wore flowers in my hair. It never occurred to me to look at a traditional gown. I was teeny tiny in those days, and I couldn’t find anything to fit me. My mother wasn’t particularly interested, I think. I ended up having a three piece silk outfit made, which my daughter derogatorily refers to as a “suit.”

I cannot post a picture of this wonderful bridal gown my daughter will don in September because if I put it on the Internet, somehow her fiance may see it — and we can’t have that, right?

I continue to be amazed at what a wonderfully easy bride-to-be my daughter is, so different from the bridezillas we watch on television shows or read about in magazines.

For me this mother-of-the bride experience is exhilarating and exhausting. I’d love to hear from others, both brides and mothers, about the special moments in their wedding planning. If there were disasters, well I guess I better hear about those too. Thanks.

  • Jane Gassner

    This brought to mind my own shopping for a wedding gown with my mother. I really just wanted to be able to go through the racks because I knew I would know the dress even if I couldn’t really describe it. But that wasn’t allowed in Pittsburgh in the late ’60s. I had to wait for the saleswoman to bring me each dress and say yay or nay before the next dress could be presented. I remember one saleswoman taking me to task. “You’re not a real bride,” she said, “if you don’t like any of these dresses I’ve shown you.” Then I was insulted; now I can only imagine how annoyed she must have been with the whole process. Maybe it was the end of the day and her feet hurt…….

    • Linda Bernstein

      I told this story to my daughter, and she looked at me like I was from outer space. I think that kind of service was considered “elegant” back then. But how awful of her to say that!

  • Bruce Sallan

    Boy, do you weave a sweet story Linda. Granted, as a guy, I don’t get this stuff AT ALL, but I read it with a smile on my face. Nice times, I’m sure!

    • Linda Bernstein

      Oh, you might want to make sure your sons elope, Bruce. Our future in-laws are pretty involved with all this too!

  • susan borst

    Great story, and love the photo of the flower girl with the gowns!

    • Linda Bernstein

      Thanks Susan. She really was in heaven.

  • Lee Bernstein

    It may be a blessing that you did not get to Kleinfeld, although possibly denying you of another blog topic. Admittedly, I am/was a fan of “Say Yes to the Dress” and was jealous when I found out my NYC niece and her CA mom were going there.

    They had a miserable experience. The bride-to-be described what she was looking for and the consultant, who was brusk, almost to the point of being discourteous, came back with two dresses. Neither was quite right. This is the point were Randy comes in and ensures the bride that with over 1800 dresses, they will find the right one. Not today. The consultant informed my niece that if these two were not right then they did not have what she was looking for. Huh? Two measly dresses. Even if they did not have a dress similar to what she described (simple sweetheart fit and flare) where was the moment when they bring out a totally different style that looks awesome on her and becomes “the dress.”

    From what I have read, the Kleinfeld experience is nothing like what you see on TV. Next thing you know, they’ll be telling me that the Real Housewives of NY really get along and play canasta once a week.

  • Katie Fallon

    Linda. Linda. Linda. I’m sobbing my eyes out! What a truly wonderful bridal gown story. Thank you SO much for sharing! I, too, adore your gorgeous daughter. September can’t come soon enough. Until then… xoxoxo Gretchen

    • Linda Bernstein

      Thank you Gretchen. We’re all looking forward to it.

  • Bstar0306

    I will probably be the same type of bride. I hear too many bridezilla stories to be one.

    • Linda Bernstein


  • Dayngr

    Hoping we’ll get to see the pics after the wedding now that you’ve got us all weeping and on the edge of our seats! ;)

    My wedding dress experience wasn’t the average either so I’m not sure how I’ll be as a mother of the bride, time will tell (I hope)! I do have my wedding dress and have often considered donating it for someone else to enjoy but maybe I will hold on to it, just in case my daughter wants it one day.

  • Downtown Pearl

    did you write what to say to aging parents? if so you need a cognitive reset. it’s unfortunate enough that americans have such a patronizing, dismissive attitude towards older people. we have a wealth of knowledge expertise and understanding about the human condition that judging by the article you wrote, are unlikely to ever possess.

    If you are addressing people with senility then state so, otherwise get a grip and know your subject before you start blathering about it.