My vision of what wedding dress shopping would look like was 90% based on what I’ve seen on Say Yes to the Dress. The unlimited budget, tulle everywhere, and that big moment where everyone cries because layers of ivory satin magically turned you into a bride. And oh boy I was ready for that moment! But I quickly found that the fairytale portrayed on TLC is far from reality. My reality was that I had a budget (a small one at that) and I was dreaming of a dress that couldn’t even be found of the racks at Kleinfelds.
I knew I wanted something that was unique, flowy, and had color (yes, color!). Many people told me to go for a “timeless” look, but I would rather embrace what I like now and have some fun with it! I took some time at the beginning of our engagement to look at dresses online. I kept finding myself on the Instagram page for Lovely Bride so they went to the top of my list of bridal boutiques.
My first dress appointment finally arrived and it was a very different than I expected. Most girls are excited to try on dresses for the first time, while I found myself extremely nervous. I’m not into shopping or being the center of attention so I had a lot of anxiety before even walking through the doors. But once I did, I was greeted with a sea of beautiful dresses. I found myself checking the price tag before allowing myself to imagine wearing it… Wedding dresses are EXPENSIVE. Another thing I quickly found was that sample sizes are too small for this booty! It can become disappointing to have to squeeze into dresses and then clipped in… lucky I had an amazing entourage could honestly tell me how each dress looked on me! I decided to bring my mom, grandma, mother in law, and maid of honor, all of whom were very encouraging.
The first thing I told the consultant was that I wanted a dress with color which she was all about. Unfortunately only a few of their sample gowns could meet that request. These were the examples I came in with:
During that appointment a few things happened: (1) I tried on the most unique dresses in the shop (sorry no photos, thats one tradition I’m sticking to!) (2) I also fell in love with a girly white dress (which was so unexpected!) that was double my budget. (3) I realized I wasn’t going to find a gray dress anywhere… boo & (4) It was finally verified that the style of dress I envisioned actually looks good on me and others looked terrible — I’ll talk more about that later!
I told our sweet consultant that I needed time to think about it and we walked out the door.
A full month passed before I dove back into the world of wedding dress shopping. The second time I decided to book two shops in the same morning and brought the same entourage + a bridesmaid. The two shops, Love and Lace and The White Dress, were similar to Lovely Bride with many shared designers. I can honestly say that I loved my experience at both shops BUT I hate spending large amounts of money so it was very difficult for me to move past the “just trying on” stage. At the second store there was a trunk sale for a designer I liked (aka discounted prices- hoolllaaa!). By that point I had tried on about 15 dresses and loved maybe 4 of them. I put on a dress I had never seen before from their 2015 line, twirled in the mirror once, and said “This will do.” There was no “moment” or overwhelming feeling of rightness. My mom did cry, but she also cried for a girl we watched find her dream gown 20 minutes earlier. And all of that was okay. I looked good, I felt comfortable, and I knew Sam would love it. Since then I have had moments of “dress-regret” (I’m not sure if this is an actual thing- anyone else experiencing it?!) but I know when I finally get MY dress in hand I will love it to pieces.
Here are some iPhone photos from our two different days of shopping and a “sneak peek” at my dress lol!
Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping:
- Choose a shop that reflects your style and vision. You don’t have to go to David’s Bridal just because everyone else does 😉
- Its okay to know what you like. In fact, it will help you make decisions during a timed appointment! There are hundreds of styles of dresses and even more colors so having even the slightest idea of what you like is beneficial to everyone.
- Dresses look different on the hanger and they look different on every girl that tries them on. I knew in my heart I wanted a strapless natural waist dress, but I tried on a few different styled just to be sure. Keep an open mind and you might be surprised!
- Determine your budget ahead of time. Discuss it with whomever is paying before you arrive to the store and tell your consultant right away what you want to pay. If you’re on a major budget, look for trunk shows and sample sales that happen at least once a year!
- Start your shopping at least 7 months in advance. Dresses take at least 5-6 months to ship and rush fees suck.
- Don’t shop on an empty stomach. I read an article talking about how you should not eat or drink before trying on wedding dresses… wrong wrong wrong! Trying on dresses can be a lot of work and it is more important to take care of yourself over being a pound lighter. Plus champagne on an empty stomach is never a good idea! Eat & hydrate.
- Only bring positive and supportive people to your appointment. If you know your aunt is going to throw a fit about a strapless dress, don’t bring her! This is one day that is all about the bride.
- Prepare for your appointment by doing your hair and makeup and bringing the appropriate undergarments.
- Make the final decision for you and you alone. Your mom might fall in love with a dress, or your consultant might tell you how perfect one is for your venue, but in the end the dress you choose should be whatever you felt was right.
- Not every girl has a moment and that is okay 🙂