I spent Wednesday wedding dress shopping with my niece, Marnie, her mother, Diana, and my sister, Jill, at the new Anthropologie store in Walnut Creek. (Run, don't walk; it's fantastic!)
I have two sports-fanatic boys so it's unlikely that their wedding dreams include shopping for a bridal dress. (In fact, I don't think boys think about weddings at all; it's cars they dream about as far as I can tell). Unless their intended takes pity on me and invites me along with her family, this may have been my one and only shot, and gratefully, it didn't disappoint.
If you've ever watched "Say Yes to the Dress," I must admit the experience was just like it's portrayed on TLC. Our darling bridal consultant, Corine, took Marnie through the dress selections, listened to her wedding-day plans (Maui, the beach, just the two of them), and then pulled several choices for her to try on in the dressing room. Because the process is likely to be overwhelming for any bride - no matter the age - these one-hour appointments are designed to keep the choices manageable, finite and and on track.
The first dress was a short party dress, pretty and intricately beaded, but slightly too fussy. The second was a lace tea-length dress with an open back that felt too matronly, The third had an empire waist and beaded top but was too formal for the beach. The fourth was an elegant lace gown with a key-hole back that came closer to our vision, and the fifth was "it' - a just-right sheer, v-neck with floral embroidery and a tulle skirt that looked absolutely magical on my niece and literally had her twirling in the store. (I'm certain all the men have stopped reading by now.)
At which point that "Cinderella moment" happened. Marnie looked in the mirror and felt . . . well, "bridal" and then quietly began to cry, at which point, we all did too and Corine quickly ran for tissues. It couldn't have been more precious and I couldn't have felt more honored to be included. It was truly lovely. (Fork over the credit card. We're done here.)
Besides it being the holiday season, why am I sharing this tale of love and bliss? Because I've always thought wedding- dress shopping and house hunting are strangely similar in that these particular items hold so much more meaning than just a frock or four walls ever could. For better or for worse, they 'house' our hopes, our desires, our wishes, and our dreams and as such, they can be rather elusive to pin down. Moreover, with budget considerations, timelines, and the judgement of others on the line, it's not so easy finding what "fits" in short order.
"I like the skirt, but not the bodice" is akin to "I like the downstairs, but the upstairs doesn't quite come together for me. . ."
Yeah, I get it.
Like Corine - absent the "true love" tattoos on her feet - I'm hoping to steer you toward the right "one." (If only we could accomplish this task in an hour. Wouldn't that be great?) Unlike a stock wedding dress that ships in 7-10 days or 7-10 weeks, or 7-10 months as the case may be, the Bay Area housing stock is fairly unique (no two homes are exactly alike) and unfortunately, there is LOTS of demand for what is available. Which means that if you come across the property that speaks to you, you need to act quickly and decisively. Seriously, if it's an 8 on a scale of 10, it's worth REAL consideration. (That's true for your mate as well.)
Being decisive in the moment doesn't come easily for most people. Buyers understandably wonder if there's a better house around the corner, if there's a smarter deal to be had, if it's a good long-term decision, if they can fix what needs fixing . . . and so it goes. What's more, if Buyers don't have enough context, they can too easily pass up the house that's "right" for them, not fully understanding that it may be months before the next good "fit" comes along. (No one picks the first dress they try on.) In the meantime, we'll keep hunting.
While I may not be able to promise you a "Cinderella moment," I'm going to do my best to get you as close to it as I can. (Think of me as your own 'fit' consultant with a lot of real estate knowledge and experience.) Because we all deserve a "happily ever after," don't we? (Why yes, we do.) Let's go find it together.
How can I help you?
(To check out my Instagram page, go to: instagram.com/piedmontrealtorgirl)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.