Thursday, June 12, 2008

Been there

A story from CNN today about a wedding gown maker who went out of business leaving its customers stranded and not happy. I watched it and thought to myself; been there.

Back in the mid-1990s, 4 months before our wedding, we opened the Sydney Morning Herald to read about a bride who could not get access to her dress the day before her wedding because the shop she had bought from had not paid its rent and had been locked up. And then I read closer and asked: "hey, didn't you get your dress around this place?" I didn't know because I had not been a party to that transaction. And you know where this leads: "holy crap!"

Now you would think that 4 months before the wedding shouldn't be an issue. We hadn't actually got the dress. There had been only one measurement session. But there was a catch. The store had offered us 20 percent off if we pre-payed. And alas, given the cost of the damn thing, pre-pay we did.

Suffice it to say, that lead to problem after problem. You see, it is not like brides trot down to the shops and pick up the first frock they see. No, that transaction was the end result of a search of every dress in the whole of Sydney. It was the best. So if that option was closed, we would have to go to what had been revealed to be second best. Let me tell you, at least to one of us, that was more distressing than the idea of double paying.

Well, there is a silver or at least sequenced lining to our story. We tracked the store owner down and managed to transact directly with the actual dress-maker who had got paid our money (or most of it). However, we were worried about liquidity.

So rather than doing the sensible thing and having the dress made within the last month so it can be tailored to the bride's body as it exists in that month, instead the whole exercise had to be done right now, 3 months early.

Now how was this achieved? Well, and you can see why I was marrying her, my bride-to-be discreetly suggested (well, I am thinking lied) that the wedding had been brought forward two months and the dress was needed pretty much right now. And why? Well, she intimated that if it wasn't at that time, the wedding pictures might not look too good on account of the fact that she was, you know ...

... which of course she wasn't. Of course, that led to fitting sessions that involved lots of discussions of the kind: "you don't seem to be showing at all!" and "are you sure you might like us to leave a little room around the waist, just to cover the next week or so." Awkward but let's face it, we were not in the most honest of transacting environments by that stage.

Of course, I must admit, a little room would not have gone astray. We had the dress in hand 2 months before the actual wedding and 2 and a half years before any actual baby and so it was a constant regimen of exercise and dieting to make sure that dress still fit. Given the rest of the stress around that time, that was the last thing we needed. Fortunately for me, my outfit was a rental and could happily be adjusted right up to the day before the wedding (which, in fact, it was).

So the moral of this story: ruthlessness pays and even the nicest of person can rise to that occasion when facing a wedding.