Behind the Scenes of my Dress Shopping

3 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Dress

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.

choosing your wedding dress
(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!)

choosing your wedding dress

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.

choosing your wedding dress

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.

choosing your wedding dress

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.

choosing your wedding dress

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.

choosing your wedding dress

That’s a successful shopping trip.

Pt 2. Brandon and Jen: September 6, 2014

Roundhouse Community Centre Wedding

Welcome back to Brandon & Jen’s wedding! If you’ve missed Part One, be sure to check out yesterday’s post before continuing. We’ll start right where we left off – on our way to the ceremony. From the initial stages of their wedding planning, Brandon and Jen’s number one venue choice was Roundhouse Community Centre. Miraculously enough, only three months before their wedding day, a Saturday in September was available! And the only Saturday and/or weekend I wasn’t booked between August and October. What are the chances? God had his hand over all of their wedding plans. We were so happy!

Brandon and Jen’s vision for their wedding was a warm, candlelit evening – with a gold and creme and neutral colour scheme – and of course, lots of greenery and white flowers to complete the look! Classy and romantic at it’s finest. The beautiful cement floors and wood beams and “blank space” feel of the Roundhouse Community Centre was the perfect backdrop. To minimize tear-down and set-up time in between the ceremony and reception (which was all held in the same room) Brandon and Jen chose a unique format. They had four long tables for guests to dine at during the dinner… but guests also sat in these chairs during the ceremony.

Our friend Jason Ballard did a great job officiating the wedding ceremony. It’s special when an officiant really knows the couple and is then able to incorporate their friendship into the ceremony. My favourite line was definitely Jason’s precursor to 1 Corinthians 13. “You may know this chapter, made famous in the 2002 adaptation of the 1999 Nicholas Sparks book: A Walk to Remember.” I laughed. Brandon and Jen wrote their own vows and to hear a little snippet of them, you’re gonna have to check out the wedding video at the bottom of this post. Jen requested to go first in rehearsal… for a better chance of controlling her emotions. ;)

After Brandon and Jen were pronounced husband and wife, shared their “First Kiss” and signed the register, all of the wedding party and parents of the bride and groom gathered around them. In the background, our friend Shelby sang “Broken Vessels” as we prayed. I loved the symbolism of this moment and the words being sung over top of our voices.

“Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see”

“Oh I can see it now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life”

“You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart Lord
I’ll be your vessel
The world to see
Your life in me”


This picture cracks me up – once again thank you to Wendy Lees for all of the ceremony images! (And any image with me in it!!)

A quick turnover on the stage – and after a half hour for family photos – we were ready for the reception!

The greenery and florals were amazing!

This detail amazed me – and so many of the guests in attendance that day! Brandon and Jen had customized programs for every guest on their plate. Their name was at the top (serving as a place card) but also a note personally thanking them for attending. It was written individually to every guest! On the reverse – an outline of the reception program.

Roundhouse Community Centre is a big, big space and one of the “problems” while planning was – what do we do with all this? Thankfully, they had the idea to use floating walls angled in towards the tables to close off the room. They printed out huge prints to decorate as a kind of “photo gallery.” This was in addition to the slideshow of childhood/teenagehood/current photos that cycled through on the back wall during the dinner hour.

Jen’s family is German… and this table was FULL of German sweets. The line for guests to get their hands on some of these was lengthy! And it stayed lengthy until they were all gone. Apparently the cheesecake was “to die for?” ;)


(Above photos are mine, below are Wendy’s.)

When I sit down to write a blog post, I try my darnedest to capture the day as best as I can through formatting photographs and adding my own words. However, I know I’ll never be able to make it seem like “it was that day.” I can’t remember every word, I can’t remember every touching moment and I certainly can’t adequately express how amazing my cousin Michael’s best man speech was. One of Jen’s bridesmaids Lindsay leaned over to me at the head table after Michael finished and said, “That was a roller coaster.” And it was – in a good way. Michael poked fun at Brandon until everyone was in laughter and then would transition into a heartfelt comment about Brandon’s character in the next sentence. And back again. Tears to laughter to tears to laughter. I know I’ll remember that speech for years to come. (…And I’ve heard 170 of them. So good on you, Best Man.)

Michelle, Jen’s older sister, also pleased the crowd. Haha! She gave a hilarious but equally heartwarming speech about growing up with Jen and how different the two daughters were. Just when we thought she was finished, the music was cued and she rapped the last half of her speech! It was adorable and unexpected and courageous. She got a standing ovation.

(All photos following are mine.)

Brandon and Jen, hope you enjoyed reading these posts! I love you guys. See you next week when you’re home from Hawaiiiiii. And to everyone else, be sure to watch the video below by Us to You Wedding Films. You’ll love it.

Lead Photographer: Jamie Delaine
Second Photographer: Wendy Lees
Bride’s Dress: Provinas from Ivory Bridal
Bride’s Shoes: French Connection
Bride’s EarringsThe Bay
Bride’s Bracelet: Bowring
Bridesmaid DressesLe ChateauThe BayASOS
Makeup Artist: Brittany Newton
Hair Stylist: Kristel Poppema
Florist: Granville Island Florist
Co-Ordinator: Pam Russell
RingsAnzigems
Event RentalsSalmons
CakeFresh Street Farms
Catering: Catering Visions
Grooms/Groomsmen AttireBanana Republic & The Bay
Custom Engraved Tie Clips: Etsy
Videography: Us to You
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Roundhouse Community Centre

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