Say Yes to the Dress
One of the key elements to a pageant is the dress. I had no idea it would be so hard and time consuming to find one, at least for this rookie. I am sure there are pageant moms out there who could do this in their sleep, but I swear when the dress was finally safe in our house I felt like I delivered a baby.
I waited a few months before we even started looking for a dress. Anna had joined the swim team and I figured she might tone up a bit with that so I thought I would hold off. I also thought I could go to a bridal shop and either buy one off the rack or order one in 5-6 weeks.
To order a dress from a bridal shop it takes a minimum of 6-8 weeks. It has been 15 years since my wedding and probably 10 since I was in one. I guess I just forgot. But we went to Bridal row in search of a dress at least hoping to try on a few styles and see what cuts looked good on her. Anna loves bling but I had concerns she would think the beading, especially any under the arms would be itchy.
Bridal shops do not carry many dresses in her size so there were very few for her to try on and Jr. Bridesmaid dresses and pageant dresses are not the same. You can wear one but it will be much more simple than a traditional pageant gown, at least for kids in her age group.
I knew it wasn't going to be cheap but had guessed we would be looking in the ball park of $100-200 for a dress hoping to keep it closer to the $100 end of the spectrum.
Holy shit, these dresses are expensive. Once we had hit every bridal store in town with very little success (we did find a $100 white dress if all else failed that we could buy off the rack - but every fancy dress she has worn has been white so she really wanted a colored one), I took our search on-line. My mouth literally hit my keyboard with my initial search. $400-1,000 is what I found. The white one wasn't sounding so bad after all, (maybe we could dye it) but I kept digging. Surely there had to be other options.
I did find several consignment shops and pageant resale pages on Facebook. Most of those were asking $150-250 (much better) but options in her size were limited and buying used, on-line felt a little risky.
I kept looking. I found a site that featured the same dresses as the $200-600 ones but for $50-100. You know the saying, "If it looks to good to be true..." so I googled the name of the site and sure enough, it is most likely a sweat-shop that knocks off every dress, charges a boat load for shipping, the thing doesn't look like the original and falls apart assuming you get it on time.
Grateful that didn't become Mistake #4
I found a consignment shop in Georgetown, KY with 3 dresses in her size, two of which were contenders for $150 each. I was about to make what I thought was going to be just over an hour drive when I got the directions and discovered it was not the Georgetown and hour south of me, but the one 4 hours south west of me. That was just too much and it would have cost more on gas than I was going to save, not to mention the time.
Then I was about to make an offer to a women selling a dress on Facebook. Right size, tons of bling. Asking $200, hoping I could get it for $150 with shipping included but Anna didn't love the bottom. It was cut to look like feathers and she was ok with it, but not in love.
I looked one more time and found a site that offered many of the dresses a little cheaper and there was a line called Tiffany Princess that was actually in my price range and still very pretty. I looked at every one and many said in stock with 5-7 business days shipping. We spent one night pouring over each dress. I checked the measurements and hers to ensure we were getting the right size.
Then Anna looked at me and said the magic words. "Mom that's it. I am saying yes to the dress."
Whoo-who! $180 which included rush shipping and we were set. I couldn't be happier.
Well, until the next day when I got an email from the company saying that one wouldn't be available by the time of her pageant and we would have to look at other options.
Luckily they sent me a list of all the dresses they had available in her size with all the color options. So I looked up each number, found the prices and put together a spread sheet with images so we could nail this down once and for all. It actually took Anna 2-3 days to make a decision. She even commented that it wasn't all that fun. I understand what she was going through. I thought buying a new car was going to be fun, but I hated every second of it and I imagine that is how she felt. So many options but really so long as it got me from point A to point B without breaking down and I was getting a fair price, I could have cared less.
Here were some of the contenders. I think there were 25-ish in all that we considered.
I am pleased to announce that after what was probably close to 32 hours of hard labor, the delivery of my fourth child arrived yesterday. And better yet, it fits perfectly. Maybe now I can get her to practice walking and write her intro speech.