Everyone makes a big deal of the wedding dress. It's supposedly the most important dress I'll ever wear and finding the perfect dress should be one of the pivotal moments of my life. There's quite a bit of pressure to find the dress that brings tears to my eyes, gets my heart racing, and leaves butterflies in my stomach...all while sticking to a budget. The goal is to look jaw-dropping, to look like a vision in white. That's not quite how my dress hunt played out.
We walked into David's Bridal half an hour earlier than our scheduled appointment which gave us time to walk around and browse. Against everyone's protestations, I brought my fiance along to my bridal appointment and yes, he was the only male in the shop. I happily spent that half hour trying to give Joe a crash course on wedding gowns from the difference between ivory and champagne to the the different kinds of dress silhouettes. He, of course, nodded along and let me ramble.
When our consultant was ready, we jumped right in and I gave her my criteria and budget: simple, classic, under $500, and midi-length. She wasted no time taking showing us some options. Since I had time to browse and had a good idea of what I wanted, within 10 minutes, we narrowed it down to four final dresses to try on. It was very straightforward.
As you can imagine, Joe wasn't quite as excited as I was but he was incredibly helpful. He actually picked out the first dress I tried! He was also very practical. While the look and silhouette mattered to him, his biggest concern was if I was comfortable, if I could walk and sit, and if the dress made me feel beautiful.
I suppose I expected the whole experience to be like an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' with tears and a consultant who is like a fairy godmother, determined to find your perfect fairy tale dress. Don't get me wrong - it was a great shopping experience but it wasn't quite what movies and shows make it out to be. My consultant was juggling my appointment with another bride so she was running around the shop, spending a few minutes at a time with each of us. When she was with me, she would look me up and down, ask me how I felt, and recommend some shoes, a veil, or a belt then run off. There was no time for gushing or retelling the story of how I met my fiance. We had 1.5 hours to try on dresses and there was no time
- No makeup - You're going to be spending an hour and a half trying on beautiful, WHITE dresses and even with the most careful maneuvering, it's quite easy to accidentally get makeup somewhere. Try to avoid wearing makeup that can rub off onto the fabric like foundation and lipstick.
- Strapless bra - I made the mistake of wearing a regular strapped bra to my appointment and I ended up trying on mostly strapless gowns. Thankfully, my consultant was nice enough to let me use a bra they had on hand but I do wish I had worn my own.
- Shoes - When I tried on my first dress, I was wearing black flats. The dress seemed just okay. When I slipped on a pair of white peep toe heels, it immediately pulled everything together! Shoes make a world of a difference especially for dresses that don't cover the feet.
- Shapewear - Shapewear can do some great things for your body and how a dress looks on you. It also smooths out your silhouette and makes it easier to slip dresses on and off. It's best to wear the shapewear you plan on wearing on your big day.
Do your research - There are a surprising number of things to consider when shopping for a wedding dress. Color, silhouette, neckline, sleeves, fabric, etc. I didn't realize there were that many shades of white or so many variations of tulle! Of course, you don't have to know all the terminology but having a pretty good general idea helps especially when communicating with your consultant.
Be upfront about your budget - When I walked into David's Bridal, I already had a set budget that I was determined to stick with. I made that very clear to my consultant, who was very accommodating. We didn't waste any time trying dresses that were out of my budget and within that hour and a half, I had found my dress and a beautiful veil to go with it! Also keep in mind that your budget should also include other accessories or add-ons like a veil, shoes, alterations, and shipping fees.
- Focus on how the dress makes you feel - I knew I had found my dress when I walked out of the dressing room, saw my reflection, and couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a goddamn queen! I used to shop with the goal being to find items that slimmed me down or flattened my tummy instead of items that made me feel good. That mentality has changed in the past few years and it shined through when looking for my wedding dress.
- Be honest - The consultants can't help you find the perfect dress if you keep trying to be polite instead of giving them honest feedback. If it doesn't fit, say something. If you don't like the silhouette or the color, say something. They didn't design the dress so don't worry about hurting their feelings.
- Buy for the body you have now - I've read so many stories and articles about brides who try crash diets and questionable detoxes in order to look 'perfect' on their big day. Someone even told me to enjoy the burger I was having because as my wedding day approached, I would be eating nothing but lettuce. My response? The dress should adjust to me, not the other way around. And I already look perfect!
- Don't try too many dresses - The last thing you want to be when shopping for your dress is frustrated and overwhelmed, something that can easily happen when you try on one too many dresses. Take your time to go through the racks, let your consultant pick a few out for you, and try on around 4-5 dresses.