friends with benefits

There’s something a bit strange for me about becoming friends with someone who has seen me naked.  It’s one thing if you’re already friends, then you happen to go to the gym together, or have to share a fitting room.  That I get.  But becoming friends with someone after they’ve witnessed my rolls and cellulite, sober.  Well, that takes self-esteem.  I mean she actually wanted to break bread with me even after seeing my pregnant nakedness.  Yes, yes, I’m sure she didn’t notice, that she wasn’t checking me out, that she just wanted to find me a dress.  I know this logically.  Emotionally, all I can think is, she saw me naked and she still wants to be my friend!

Okay, let me back up.  When I was in New York for book tour, I did a little wedding dress shopping.  Finding a dress for a knocked-up bride ain’t easy.  I wanted a real wedding dress, not a chic designer frock with a bubble skirt.  I wanted a gown with a train.  I know it’s my second marriage, but it’s my first wedding.  I scoured Bergdorf’s and whined into the phone at my friend Smelly, "I can’t find anything!  I hate this!  I hate shopping!"  Then I headed toward Saks, without any type of bridal appointment, and wheeled through racks of ready-made.  I tried on twenty-five dresses.  Nothing worked.  My feet now hurt, and I was exhausted from taking my day clothes on and off each time I found something else to try on.  No joke, removing a bra when you’re pregnant HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER.  I was done.  Nearly.

I tucked into the bridal salon with a, "I know I don’t have an appointment, but I need a dress for a 4 and a half month pregnant lady, and I need it in six weeks."  Blinks.  Stares.  Was I the pregnant lady?  "Twins," I said while rubbing my belly.
"Maybe I can help," said the Vera Wang sales rep.
"Maybe I can have your babies, too!"

ReemacraI was ushered to a room.  Measurements were taken. A woman with no eyebrows and hair pulled so taut I feared she couldn’t blink offered up a "Well, I’ll see what I can do, but we’ll need to be quick about it."  She made some phone calls.  I called Smelly and The Suitor.  "Bridal Salon.  Saks.  Phone about to die."  I was shown one dress, a sample Reem Acra that would need to be ordered that afternoon with extra money paid out for a rush.  It was a gorgeous gown (shown here).  At over $5,000, it was also way more money than I wanted to spend, but what were my options?  I was ready to give in.

I have a stunning Vera Wang Luxe Collection gown sitting in our Austin apartment, and once upon a time ago, I spent way too much money for it.  I vowed not to do this again.  I was also hoping I wouldn’t need another wedding dress.  I hoped it would fit.  Since I never wore it the first time around, it’s certainly not bad luck and has nothing to do with my first marriage, considering it’s never been worn.  It is, by far, the most exquisite gown I’ve ever seen.  But at a size six, It does not fit me now, so it will not fit me when I’m four and a half months pregnant, either.  I will have to part with it on Ebay or Craigslist.  This still left me without a dress.

The Suitor and Smelly showed up.  First Smelly with her, "It’s gorgeous, and you can wear it again."  Then The Suitor with, "Yeah, yeah, it’s nice, I guess, but how much does it cost?"
"But I’ll never find anything else!"  I was whining and miserable.
"When we’re back in Austin, I’ll go with you.  We’ll find you something.  I promise."

I know it’s not exactly traditional, wedding gown shopping with your fiancé and all, but neither is getting pregnant first, so fuck it.  I needed help.  Back in Austin, I made my way into Serendipity Bridal, a warm inviting store under new management.  A slender saleswoman ushered me through the store, draping gowns over her arms that might work.  We slipped into a changing room. My tank had one of those build-in bras, so I stripped down to my thong (which I noticed later had a slight tear in it).  It’s like wearing stained underwear on an airplane (for some reason my mother always warned against this, just in case something went down… like my pants).  Anyway, none of the dresses fit. Nothing would work.  I returned to the front of the store, now fully clothed, and gave The Suitor the thumbs down.  “And it’s not my being a pain in the ass either.  Ask her,” I said pointing at the saleswoman.  And the saleswoman just shook her head and recommended another store to us.  St. Thomas, where incidentally we also found nothing aside from the same Reem Acra gown.  Before making our way there though, the saleswoman extended her card with her mobile phone number penned onto the back.  “My husband and I have lived here ten years, and we’re always up for meeting new people.”  This woman wanted to be my friend, despite the fact that she’d just seen me naked, in slightly damaged panties.  MORTIFICATION.  Two days later, we all went out to dinner, and I’m certain that I’ll see her again soon.  Just not all of her, though over dinner, I did get to hear a story about how her dog found one of her vibrators and refused to give it up as she chased him through their house.  The most amusing bit of the story being "one of her vibrators."  Her husband rolled his eyes and said, "why are you telling that story?"  She responded something about the wine, but I knew I was in good honest company.  I like them. 

I also liked a dress… and finally found it, an Ines Di Santo gown at Ahead of the Curve, where the only one who saw me naked was The Suitor, while he helped me step into each new dress with, "come on, give me a quick feel."



  1. I love that you got picked up, pregnant and wedding-dress shopping. Making new friends is such a rush. Not as easy to do as you get older. I just moved to Chicago from SF, and just started finding my new girls. I just picked up a fellow new mom in the park and she's coming over for drinks this week. It totally feels like a date. (With little 1-year-old chaperones.)

  2. Gown shopping can be stressful. My last two fittings went well however stripping in front of the tailor isn't quite my cup of tea. Squeezing my boobs and rubbing her hand up and down my butt telling me…"i like shape"..isn't what I really have in mind when trying on my dress. It's embarrassing to say the least.
    Anyway, glad to hear you found a dress you like.

  3. Stephanie, congratulations on finding a gown, that's so awesome. I think that is the funnest part of being a bride. Good for you for going all out and just doing it. Although that Reem Acra dress was stunning. Send us pics of the new, final one, if you can!

    Also- i hope you got my email last week, post- your booksigning in nyc. I hadnt heard back, but then again, you are a busy chicadee.

  4. A warning. This is a totally irrational comment that buys into all the disturbed overblown you-are-a-princess hype perpetuated by the wedding industry. Now, go yell at somebody else. The only thing that matters is the dress. Still feeling guilty? Donate the old dress to the Austin equivalent of BridalWorks, take a tax deducation, and forget about it.

  5. Stephanie – congrats on the dress – that is so exciting! Ines Di Santo makes beautiful gowns – can't wait to see pics! BTW have you started writing your wedding speech? What will you say? I'm sure we'd all love to be there to hear you speak – won't you give us a preview?

  6. I somehow fell out of the habit of reading your blog, or it could be because it's banned in China along with blogspot itself (and many other sites). This entry reminds me of the sales lady at a lingerie in Beijing that followed me into the dressing room and provided more assistance than I ever wanted (or needed). Imagine the mortification of a complete stranger helping you pull your shirt over your head and unclasp your bra, occasionally saying things like "your bra is really old", "nice boobs". Haha, I couldn't even form coherent thoughts from the sheer embarrassment. I think the word "nipples" stayed in my head the whole time as I tried not to act too weirded out.

  7. So, do we get to see the dress before the wedding? JK

    Glad you made a new friend out of the gown shopping ordeal! ;)

  8. I love that you're planning the big day – my mom made my wedding dress from her wedding dress – and 19 years ago, it was the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen. Still.

    Do you think that when things end badly the dress carries the stigma? What about the diamonds? Do they carry the curse of the failed marriage?

  9. Before I got down to the bottom to discover you found a dress, I was going to suggest finding a tailor to make you something similar to your dress you have posted. It really is fabulous!

    My mother made my wedding gown for me, and it was fabulous.

  10. There are many charities that would gladly take your old dress for women who can not afford one, much less two. Or for girls who can't afford formal wear and have a prom coming up. It will mean alot more than the highest ebay bidder.

  11. I was wondering who it was who saw you naked. I was thinking OB/GYN, but ahhh yes, bridal store saleswoman! That's cute that the four of you went to dinner.

  12. ahahaha I love it!

    Only you, I swear.

    I, for some reason, can't imagine it being so stressful. On the other hand, Im always the one sitting in the plush chair ooooo-ing and ahhhh-ing the bride to be!


  13. You are asking for trouble wearing a thong while pregnant with twins.

    With the extra pressure on your bladder and possible thong travel, you a creating a lovely environment for a UTI.

  14. Finbar- I was thinking the same thing *almost* MIne was more along the lines of- a thong? While pregnant? So uncomfortable. I'm not preggers just a bit chunky and I can't even deal. Boy shorts and sexy hipsters get me through.

  15. Here's what I wanna know:

    1. Did the saleslady already know who you were; that you're considered to be a famous person? (I consider you that way, anyway).

    2. How much did the new dress cost?

    3. How in the hell can there be a tear in a thong and it not fall apart or down?!?!?!!

  16. I figured it was someone from the OBGYN too……..missed that one by a mile! So glad you found a great dress that we are all going to wait anxiously for pictures of you in it! The Suitor – what a guy! Two posts without any throwing up references – are you feeling better?

  17. Well, you mentioned that gown in your work as a writer. Can you claim it as business expense then?

  18. I think there was a Seinfeld routine in which he said men's stores should admit only men so that they could all walk around in their boxers trying on pants (rather than having to take off their pants off every time they wanted to try on a pair and then put them back on). Seems like the same might apply for wedding gowns. Perhaps even more so.

  19. The Suitor sounds just like mine. I was trying on t-shirts at Target this weekend (they actually have a cool new line of cheaper version of Anthropologie-like clothes, for real sizes, by "Paul and Joe" that you should check out!) and as I was getting ready to put on my old shirt, he knocked on the fitting room door and said, "Show me some cleave." :) Ahhh…the boys and their fetishes. :) Congrats on finding a dress. That's one of the hardest parts.


    Hey Stephanie–meant to ask you… WHO WAS STEPHEN and whatever happened to him, or was he a fictionalized character to just bring everything home in SUADirty?

    I wish it ended with you falling in love with The Suitor–can you tell me where I can start reading in the archives to find that good stuff??

  21. Oh Manic Mom… I changed almost all the names in the book… and I'll give you a hint. Philip's middle name ain't exactly Joe.

  22. Glad you found a dress – it's an exhausting task even when you're not pg!

    By the way, I'm knee deep into your book, and loving it so far. I've been laughing and even snorting out loud A LOT, which is making my husband come over with a "what book is that?" I've had to hold myself back from reading the last page, which is something I'm prone to do (like When Harry met Sally).

  23. Ok, I must be the only perv here thinking the "Friends with Benefits" was someone you slept with now you're breaking bread with them. Sorry…I totally didn't see the bridal store lady coming! Thank you for catching me off guard and giving me a good laugh for the day ;)

  24. My dream dress is an Ines Di Santo. Care to share exactly which one and which collection it's from?

  25. Don't you dare post any photos of the dress until you're in it on The Day.

    As for the Vera Wang. Hang onto it. You haven't worn it and you'll see, it'll come in handy one day (obviously not as a wedding dress).

  26. Here's to dogs running with vibrators! *cheers*
    God…what a story! LOL Love it! I want a friend like that.

  27. Also, congrats on everything, the babies, the wedding, finding a dress… you sound so happy! Have a great day!

  28. My first post didn't make it on… just wanted to say that I started reading your book this morning and already can't wait to get home from work to read more! And I'll for sure be reading it on the plane to San Antonio tomorrow!! Thanks!

  29. I'm in the same situation, shopping for a last minute wedding dress for a pregnant bride. Engaged in Feb, pregnant by April 1, baby due in December in time for our second anniversary. We were going to wait til after the baby to get married, but have recently decided to do it in the fall, so the wedding extravaganza has begun.

    Shopping for a dress (I'll be 7 months at wedding) has been quite an experience. My favorite was the shop owner who sneered – "a pregnant bride huh"…Like I'm the only person who's had sex before marriage? Maybe the only one who got caught! ;) Needless to say, she didn't get my business.

    Sounds like you've picked out a beautiful dress. Good luck to you on your wedding day, and the rest of your pregnancy!

  30. Stephanie, what is the model name of the Reem Acra dress? It's beautiful and I have a friend getting married in a year who would love it!

  31. There was a picture in USA Today of a mass wedding in Israel which made me think of you. Just think how lucky you are….at least you don't have to worry about seeing another bride in the same dress as yours….that would make shopping for a gown beyond stressful.

  32. "thehoneymoonisover" took the words right out of my mouth.
    swingers was the first thought that popped into my head.
    but hey congrats on finding a dress!!

  33. Stephanie,

    Somehow, I have "never been the bridesmaid, always the bride." On the importance of always wearing a new gown, it's a must! I purchased a beautiful Carolina Herrara wedding gown that had been formerly purchased, but never worn, by a debutante from Dallas. Her wedding was called off, the dress returned and I was the fortunate purchaser the second time around. Or so I thought. Nine years later, I was divorced. Oh, well, I had a good run. Strangely enough, I am meeting friends at 'Cesca tonight. Does The Suitor have a brother?!

  34. Try Giada Rocco. I just got my wedding dress there and the designer makes the most comfortable, gorgeous, and reasonably priced gowns.

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