Monday, April 27, 2009

This is why I'm Haute: Wedding Gown Shopping

Ok what is the first thing EVERY bride does right after she gets engaged? Cry? Well I am a Barnes—and what do we do? Go buy a book (my mom’s a former librarian-- it was her answer to everything). So I got a bunch of books and started researching what this craziness people call wedding planning is all about. I don’t stress out easily and I am fairly organized so I thought everything would be fine (which it is). So one of the chapters in one of my books (Bridal Bargains By Denise and Alan Fields) talks about dress shopping. They made it seem like it takes forever and people try to con you out of thousands of dollars for the most basic dress. Well there is a section that talks about designers and their price range, and an overall rating. So I found a few designers that fit my budget and that had A ratings. Then I started looking through magazines.

Not ONE. SINGLE. DRESS. Caught my eye. And I inherited about thirty magazines, seven planning books, and four catalogs from co-workers, friends (and my sister). I thought to myself-- this will be harder than I thought. So I check online. I Googled the three designers and found out that one was having a trunk show the very next day about 30 minutes away at a place called The Dresser (and this was the only one in California all year). Wow just my luck that its tomorrow I thought. So I called to make an appointment and asked my friend Farah to accompany me to my very first dress shopping experience.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the sweetest (had to be 19 year old) girl named Brittany who looked enough into fashion that I trusted her gut instincts. So she asked what I was looking for in which I replied “I have no Idea. I am not the girl who has been planning her wedding since she was 10 and wants to be a princess. BUT, I will know what I don’t like when I see it—and I can tell you about my style—simple, modern, chic.” Her eyes widened and she says with a huge smile “I have JUST the dress. Follow me.” So she takes me back through this gorgeous foyer lined with every kind of wedding dress God ever made. The store was gorgeous with vaulted ceilings and drapes for the dressing rooms that stretch from the roof to the floor. I turned to Farah and said “wow this place is nice huh?” She smiled and nodded. So we get all the way to the back where all of the trunk show dresses are and she pulls this one out and says “this is it.” I looked a little skeptical so she said “its okay go pick out 4 or 5 others and bring them back to try on as well.” Cool. So Farah and I go through of course singling out some ridiculously hideous ones turning to each other to say “I KNOW THIS IS THE ONE I JUST KNOW IT!!” Laughing out loud.

Time to try them on. So I try Brittany’s choice first. Looked in the mirror and thought WOW!.....WOW!!!!!! This?? OOOOO!!!!! (But of course I am in the fitting room by myself so nobody else has seen it) So I open the curtain all cool calm collected and (fortunately the sample size fit me perfect so there was no clipping or tucking) when I walk out, the room breaks out it “AAAAHHHs”. Now I know the people who are trying to sell me a dress would do that even if it was horrible, but there were 2 other brides’ entire families (like 4 people per bride) AND 2 brides AND Farah with their mouths wide open. Ok ok Farah’s mouth wasn’t open but she was smiling. One of the brides says “I’m jealous. That dress looks like it was made for you. You’re done girl.” And I reply “well I thought it was gorgeous but now I see the reaction and now I really BELIEVE its gorgeous!” but then I turn to Farah my very “realist” friend who I knew would give me the true sentiment objectively….her response was “well, first of all it is VERY you. And also VERY VERY nice. I like.” That was all I needed. Confirmation that this was not a mirage of perfection. First dress on--and I knew it was the one. Brittany (sales person) asked “did you want to try those other 4 on as well?” I said sure why not—I expected to be here longer than 20 minutes anyway. But of course they were all nothing compared to that first one. WOW! I have never seen anything like it—but it is indeed perfect.

Ring The Alarm: Ring Shopping

Ring shopping my thoughts – So Jemiel sent me this text one day randomly that said “I think we should go ring shopping the next time I come out to visit” My heart skipped a beat. I replied “what?” he replied “you know you been itching to go so I might as well scratch” HUGE smile. WOW. I mean you say to yourself (well women say to themselves) I am ready to get married…but when it comes down to it…you get a little taken aback when he is ready—or at least I did. I mean its always one of those things you look forward to doing at some point and until I was actually 23 I realized there was NO WAY that I would have kids by 25. HAH. Maybe that was back in the day, but I feel like you need some time to grow as a person and while being independent (i.e. paying for yourself and taking care of yourself) because you learn a lot about yourself flaws and all. Things you may have blamed on someone else ands its really just YOU. Anyways, this is where my mind spiraled off too when he said this. I mean, I say that I’m ready…but am I REALLY ready for this? Do I even really know what “this” is all about? All this time and I’m sure Jemiel’s brain just said “I think we should go ring shopping” and that was it.

So the next month Jemiel comes to visit and I planned to not mention it to see if he was really serious. Because if he was—then HE would bring it up. So when I got home from work early that Friday, and he was like “so…” I replied “so…” then he says “do you remember what I said about the next time I came to visit?” and in my head I’m like OF COURSE I REMEMBER--WHAT GIRL WOULDN’T REMEMBER-- YOU KNOW I REMEMBER—AREYOUTRYINGTOTORTUREME???…and I reply coolly ”umm yeah…I think so” and he says “and what was that” so I get this nervous look on my face and reply “umm…ring shopping?” (hoping he wouldn’t respond with something like ohh…no the other thing—remember the Falcons are playing and I wanted to see it at that one bar…”) but he REALLY responded “Yeah. So why don’t we go today. Does that sound okay?” O-M-G. Fireworks. He was really serious. WHOA this is happening! WHOA…this is REALLY happening.

So we go to the place and start looking around the store both probably looking a little bewildered as we have no experience whatsoever. The entire time I didn’t want to be too opinionated because I thought it was such a kind gesture for him to let me have a hand in it in the first place. So every time they showed us something we would look at each other and say “what do you think?” and neither of us wanted to speak first out of fear of thinking the other person may think its “the one” when you felt quite the opposite! Luckily, I would break the ice with a facial expression (if you know me-- I show everything on my face) and he would gladly reply “me too I think there is too much going on” or “yeah that’s just not your style”. So finally Cori** showed us this ring and when we saw it we looked at each other and said “that one is REALLY NICE”. It was modern, timeless, and simple yet elegant. We found the right one, and the rest is history.

** side note we ended up befriending the young woman working with us. Cori Alegria—the finest there is!! She was so helpful and read us well and was just so down to earth that I invited her over to our BBQ the next day (and she came)! We have been friends ever since. The funny thing was, as we were walking out of the store, I asked Jemiel “Do you think she is that nice to everybody and just trying to get a sale? Or does she really like us back?!” and he replied “no I think she really likes us” (which she later confirmed with a laugh that she indeed was sincere).

LD: Long Distance

Long distance for 4 years?? HOW!! We hear this ALL the time. And of course the next thing is “I couldn’t do it!!” Well I always respond with “of course it is difficult and is definitely not for everyone, but it requires a lot of trust in the person you are with”. One of the things that helped us, is our strong foundation of friendship. Jemiel and I have been friends since the week before school started our first year at Florida A&M University. Freshman year we really got to know each other as friends and got to witness each other’s characters. From that experience I knew that he was (is) a good person and he knows that I mean well ;). Now what’s funny is how we talk to each other like we are on the phone even when we are in person! Sometimes we will say “hello?” or “hold on a sec” like we are putting the phone down. It’s funny because Jemiel will catch himself in the middle of a phrase and stop and shake his head like “why did I just say that-- we aren’t on the phone.”

5 Memorable Stories With My Fiancé

1. Date Night- I flew to Groton, Connecticut to visit Jemiel sometime in 2005 and Jemiel asked me to bring a dressy outfit for dinner because he wanted to take me to a nice restaurant—so we got all dressed up and as he was getting ready, he accidentally shaved of half of his goatee. Oops. So I hear him fussing, and I rush in and ask him what happened. He turned around and I cracked a smile and said “oh. Well, just shave the other side off too!” So he says “you think so? Okay.” Then 5 seconds later “#%$#*! This looks stupid!!!” I actually thought it looked good, but what do I know? Anyway, we finish getting ready and the rest of the night went just as smooth as possible. We went to Mediterraneo’s in Providence (45 minutes away). It had a nice atmosphere, great food and we were treated like royalty. I felt like the staff was there only to wait on us when the place was buzzing and packed to capacity. Only J. Rose could pull something like this off...oh and the goatee grew back 

2. Seeing Jemiel for the first time without an afro. 2002. WOW. All I could do was smile. But let me go back to Fall 2000. This is when we met—and when I met Jemiel, he had either an afro or cornrows (done really neatly). I had never seen him with a Cesar (haircut). Plus he was a young buck when I met him and barely had peach fuzz on his chin. So all I remember is this transformation from Jemiel the boy to Jemiel the MAN. I saw him all dressed up at a Coronation Ball for our school’s royal court (he was an escort for one of the queens) so not only did he have a haircut, but he had a SUIT on AND a full goatee. Whaaaaaat? Is that Jemiel from Atlanta? In something other than a jersey and matching hat and kicks? “I had to be taken seriously at my (NASA) internship” he later told me. But I remember saying to myself WOW. Jemiel looks GOOD!

3. Surprising him when he went back to school Fall 2004. So the fall rolls around and it was time for Jemiel to go back to school. I had already decided that I was going to move to Los Angeles, and had said my goodbyes to Jemiel the day that he left to go back to Tallahassee (which he took as our last visit before I move to Cali). What I didn’t realize, was that 2 of my friends were driving down to Tallahassee for the weekend and coming back to Atlanta just in time for me to make my flight. So I called my friend Traci to see if she could help me coordinate a surprise for Jemiel. I really wanted him to have no clue, so when he called me, I played along like I was in Atlanta packing and preparing for my trip, when in actuality I was about 30 minutes away from his front door. So I get to Tallahassee, Traci picks me up to take me to where he is, and we walk up and knock on the door. At this point I am giddy, and Traci has a big grin on her face too. What happens? Jemiel opens the door…makes a face that looks like he has seen a ghost…and then slams it in my face! Traci and I paused with a confused look and then we just busted out laughing! Then he opens it back up with a half confused half curious look. He then says “what are you DOING here??” All in all, he was really excited to see me and happy that we could spend a bit more time together before my big move. I love surprises but at that point I didn’t realize that Jemiel? Not so much. LOL.

4. This is just to state all the places Jemiel and I have been to together: New York NY, Las Vegas NV, Valladolid MEX, San Diego CA, Los Angeles CA, Catalina Island, Turks & Caicos, Atlanta GA, Tallahassee FL, Chicago IL, Fayetteville NC, Kansas City MO/KS, Olathe KS, Ensenada MEX, Providence RI, New Haven CT, Manhattan Beach CA, Groton CT, Newport RI, Santa Monica CA, Playa Del Rey CA,