As you may or may not know – I got engaged on New Year’s Eve.
It’s been a tradition in our home that the boyfriend gives me a small gift on the morning of December 31st. New Year’s Gift he calls it and it doesn’t have to be anything big but it’s always very thoughtful. The first year he did this he gave me a beautiful red lipstick from a nice brand I would never have bought for myself and another year it was a woolen blanket because I’m always cold.
This last new year I didn’t get a gift from him. I remember thinking that he must have forgotten about it but then forgot myself because I was busy getting ready for our first holiday dinner with the whole family in our home. We used to live in a small run down apartment that I never felt very comfortable in but in March last year we bought and moved into our dream home that I’ve been in love with ever since. The first time I walked into our new apartment, before we made an offer and while the real estate agent rambled on about all the things we would need to do to it, I just knew I was home. It was such a profound feeling that I almost couldn’t hold off the tears. I didn’t share it with anyone, not even the boyfriend until later, because I was terrified that by admitting how badly I wanted it would somehow jinx it. So having my family there gathered in our new dining room, eating turkey we had just cooked for the very first time, meant more to me than I can explain in words.
Just before midnight, we ran to Hallgrímskirkja church to ring in the new year. And there, a few seconds after midnight, in the midst of the crazy fireworks and people cheering (seriously, crazy fireworks!) the boyfriend whispered in my ear: “I didn’t get you a gift this year but I was hoping you’d have me instead”.
It may sound like a cliché, to propose by Hallgrímskirkja church on New Years Eve but it was the perfect place and moment for us. I grew up in this neighborhood, I went to Sunday school in that church and I even started my business there three years ago when I met my very first guest for a walking tour. And now it will always be the place where I agreed to marry the love of my life.
Now, saying yes and then planning a wedding are two very different things.
I have never imagined myself as a bride. I proclaimed when I was 17 that I would get married barefoot in a sunflower field but that was just because I was going through a phase where I really loved sunflowers. When I imagined that scene I was alone in the picture and I was really tanned. So not really a realistic idea since you can’t legally get married to yourself and my fair skin never gets past the red phase in the tanning process. I didn’t have a secret Pinterest board and I didn’t even know what kind of ceremony I would want. So when the dust settled I realized: shit, I have to get married.
My first thoughts were to elope. I hate being the center of attention and a hall full of people making us participate in embarrassing games or the idea of us stuffing each other’s face with cake while others watch sounded more like torture to me than a good time. I totally respect those who are very traditional when it comes to weddings but it’s just not me. However, it was very important to the finacé (see how effortlessly I switched there) to have his family and close friends involved so we agreed to a small wedding.
To make a long story short – we’re getting married on June 16th. We decided on this just over 2 weeks ago which gave us about 8 weeks to plan this wedding. Just over 6 weeks and counting now. We thought that this tight timeframe was a great idea to force us to keep things small and simple, but I don’t think I fully realized what we were getting ourselves into. It’s one thing if you’ve already planned everything in your head and you just have to scale those ideas down but it’s quite another to start from zero.
So I decided to start with the dress since that seemed somewhat manageable. Which (finally) brings me to the point of this post.
Say Yes to the Dress
I needed to go dress shopping. I knew I didn’t want a white meringue-type dress and I knew finding something that would fit my aesthetic and body would probably not be easy. A lot of people recommend Kjólar and Konfekt to me and although I’ve admired a lot of women wearing their dresses I had never actually been there. So I decided to pay them a visit.
Kjólar og Konfekt (dresses and assorted chocolates) is on top of Laugavegur and unless you are staying at a hotel further from the downtown area, or you are going to visit the penis museum or something, you probably wouldn’t find it. They are best known for their retro-inspired dresses (think multicolored petticoats and embroidered cardigans) but they have a great selection of both all kinds of dresses and more importantly, for those who don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold, sizes.
What they are also known for, something I got to experience first-hand when I went there, is the great service their staff offers. I went there with my mom and the moment we stepped in we were greeted by a smiling girl who offered us help and everyone in the store was super attentive without being intrusive. We found a number of dresses that I decided to try on and while I was in the changing room they were always around, offering their assistance.
One of the girls was particularly helpful and gave us all the time in the world. She took the time to ask me about what I was really looking for and came up with suggestions. She also informed me that they make their own dresses and if you can’t find what you are looking for in the store they can custom make those dresses. She showed me fabric swatches and gave me good ideas about how I could customize it to fit my special day. Impressively, and somewhat surprisingly, they don’t charge you anything extra for those custom-made frocks.
I tried on a dress that my mom was convinced was the dress for our day. She didn’t threaten to disown me if I wouldn’t get married in it but she made her thoughts well known. Much to her dismay (I’m sure – I haven’t actually told her this) I ended up buying a dress elsewhere that I’m super excited about. It’s exactly what I wanted but feared I would not find. And the best part? It cost me less than a 100 USD. I hope my mom is still coming to the wedding.
Even though I didn’t end up buying my wedding dress there I went back to Kjólar og Konfekt yesterday and bought one of the other dresses I tried on for a wedding I will be attending in Sweden this summer (my best friend totally stole our thunder and got engaged on the very same day we did and is marrying his partner in August) . It was just so cute that I didn’t want to miss out on it.
Now that I’ve finally been to Kjólar og Konfekt I don’t understand why I’ve never been there before. Maybe it’s a good thing though since I’ve had a lot of house-related expenses this last year and my wallet probably wouldn’t have survived seven new dresses in the wardrobe. I know you can’t see it below the 1000 layers of fleece and wool I normally wear but my body actually has a shape that is much better suited for retro bombshell dresses than the tartan mumus most plus size shops want to put me in.
So whether you’re size 0 or 20 and you want a nice new dress to take home (or to get married in here in Iceland) – I would definitely recommend you check out Kjólar og Konfekt.
As for our wedding – I’m not panicking… yet. We’ve found someone to officiate the wedding (something we should maybe have started with) and are slowly moving along. I’m going to try my best not to turn into bridezilla and just go with the flow. While breathing into a brown paper bag.