Yesterday we picked up the dress. Now, not just any dress but THE DRESS and yes, that’s in all caps. My 21 year old princess is only 4 months and 13 days from her wedding and we have THE DRESS in our possession.

The quest for this dress was not a simple one. She tried on tons of dresses – most were beautiful, some were just . . .well, different and some were downright bizarre. These were the ones that made you wonder if the designers were heavily medicated during the designing process. Or maybe the design was just some Project Runway challenge gone bad – either way, some of the dresses were just odd. But my princess bride to be loved the process of selecting the dress. She tried them on with glee. The big, poufy ones, the glittery ones, the simple and the ornate – she ran the gamut. Some she loved and some she liked, but she kept saying “I’ll know it when I try it on.”

There was the garden party beauty – simple and understated with a beautiful train. In the words of the princess “it’s just simple and elegant, cute but not cutesy, it’s a little Cinderella at the garden party …. it’s just so . … Me.” The dress held top place for several weeks. And then there was the old Hollywood gown, reminiscent of silent movie stars on red carpets, long, slinky and just a bit provocative. This one was a little low cut for my conservative glamour girl. And then there was the lovely Scarlett gown, a bit of Old South charm in a dress that weighed as much as the bride to be. When she tried it on I was afraid she would topple over under the weight. She was worried about holding up — literally.

As I watched my princess try on dress after dress the reality that she is leaving home began to sink in. I realized that with each dress she was getting closer to finding her dress and closer to beginning her new, independent life as a married lady. The dress is just a step in the process, just like her first toddling steps on Christmas Eve 1988, her first day at school, and her high school graduation. The quest for the dress was another step she would make – a step out of childhood and into adulthood.

And then she found it – the dress. Actually her little sister, the anti-princess, found it. Charity (that’s the princess bride-to-be) walked out in THE DRESS and Paige announces “that’s your dress” and she was right. (The anti-princess knows her fashion stuff.)Charity looks like – well, she looks like a bride. I love the dress, it’s beautiful and she’s stunning in it. It’s the dress that my daughter will put on as my little girl and take off as a married lady – it’s her next step in this life — it’s THE DRESS.