I bought my wedding dress 8 days after getting engaged and it was the 6th dress I tried on. My husband and I got engaged in the last week of November and planned a March wedding. Yes, 4 months later. I loved my wedding dress shopping experience and secretly, wish the shopping day had lasted longer. But I walked out having paid for my dream dress and don’t regret a thing.
But where and how do you start looking for a wedding dress? I was evaluating my shopping experience and came up with 3 tips.
(Credit: Lydia Jane)
1. Decide on the “theme” of your wedding day.
Think about your wedding venue. What does the venue feel like? Is it a hotel ballroom? An outdoor wedding? A rustic lodge? A modern restaurant? Evaluating the decor and ambience of your venue will guide you towards the style of your dress.
2. Decide what YOU want to feel like on your wedding day.
Some girls grow up dreaming about being the fairytale-princess on their wedding day. They want “poof!” and lots of it. Do you want a dress that swishes and sways as you walk? A light dress? A dramatic dress? What’s important to you?
3. Decide what you don’t like.
I may not have completely known what I did like in a wedding dress (I had never tried one on before!) but I was sure of what I didn’t like. For my dress, poofy-tulle wasn’t my style. Big dresses weren’t my style. Stark white wasn’t something I was attracted to. And I didn’t like anything overly girly, crystals or bling!
I’ve heard it can be a negative thing to bring too many people shopping with you but it comes down to the bride’s personality. Having people with you adds or takes away from the experience! My mom, my Aunt Lyla and cousin Kristy came along with me. I knew I was strong enough to tell the truth. If all of them loved a dress I hated – I was comfortable saying “No.” If they suggested a dress I didn’t want to try on, I’d tell them. Because of this, it was SO fun to have them! I loved trying on dresses and hearing their opinions. And ultimately, your friends and family should want you to love your dress. They could see on my face when I loved mine.
The bridal store we chose allowed us to browse their stock of about one hundred dresses and pick five to start. I picked 4 I thought could be potentials (I didn’t love any of them off the rack right away) and 1 for fun, knowing I’d probably hate it. All 5 of the dresses were pretty! Wedding dresses are pretty! But none of them felt like “me.” (Those elusive feelings!)
I looked into the mirror and felt like a… classic bride. For some, that may have been a great feeling! But it wasn’t my goal. I spent quite a bit of time in each dress, analzying what I liked, what I hated and why, and talking about it with my support group. The fifth dress was my favourite of the bunch – but I didn’t love the crystals or the shade of white. Our consultant said we could alter it to remove the crystals and I hummed and hawed. Until she had an idea.
She carried over a red dress, a bridesmaid dress. “I know it’s red but it comes in a really beautiful shade of ivory. This could be what you’re describing.” I was already back in my jeans and boots and cardigan, ready to break for lunch but it was worth a shot. She zipped up the back of the red gown. It was two sizes too big… but the consultant clipped the back of the red dress and I walked out to the mirror.
I loved it.
It wasn’t even white and it was the prettiest I had felt all day. This was it. We would need to rush order it in ivory (the wedding was only 3.5 months away!) and without having seen it in person. But I was confident this was the dress. I was smiling, happy, excited! We went for lunch and talked about how we’d call the next day to order it. But before we leave Bellingham, we’d try one more store. Because why not? After coffee and salads, we walked into the second bridal salon and I bypassed all of the big, poofy, lace dresses. I headed for the simple side of the store. I was flipping through dresses when my Mom called out, “Jamie! Isn’t this your dress?”
There it was! My red-dress-in-ivory but actually in ivory! “And it’s a size 8!” She said. My size. My dress, my colour, my size. One look in the mirror with the ivory version of the dress on and I knew my gut reaction while wearing the red dress had been right. This was it.
We bought it off the rack that day and after a bit of hemming, it was finished. I loved my dress. On our wedding day, I sat cross-legged on the way to my ceremony (it’s the most comfortable way to sit!) and my dress never felt tight. I didn’t need bridesmaids to help me in the bathroom (too independent for a fancy dress?) and I didn’t need two people to carry my train. And best of all, I felt beautiful.
That’s a successful shopping trip.