The first time you try on wedding dresses will be a very memorable experience. Personally, seeing myself in a white gown made all the wedding planning up until that point much more real. Chances are you have looked online at dresses, but nothing beats the excitement you feel walking into a bridal shop to try on and hopefully find your “perfect” dress.
Your wedding dress may be the most significant item of clothing you will ever wear. No pressure, right? Finding “the one” can be stressful for both the decisive and indecisive bride. I plan to share my experience, but first, I wanted to hear from other brides regarding their own. I took to Facebook and posed the following questions:
1. How did you know your wedding dress was “the one”?
2. Did you have a strong emotional response? Or did you just like the dress?
3. Did the dress you wore match what you were looking for when you first started shopping?
4. Did you have any regrets?
I am happy to report that not one of the former brides expressed regretting their choice. However, I have spoken with women who were married in the 1980s who very much regret their puffy sleeves and elaborate headpieces – so be mindful of current trends and if possible find a dress that can stand the test of time.
Most of the women said they ended up with a dress that was entirely different from what they initially had in mind. One woman took a photo of the dress she liked and ended up purchasing it.
All of the former brides said they or someone they brought with them had an emotional response when they were wearing the dress.
The answers I received for the first question were by far my favorite. Collectively, I gathered that the former brides knew the dress was it because of how the dress made them feel. They used words like “beautiful“, “confident“, “perfect“, and “complete“, just to name a few. One woman stated she knew because “she didn’t want to try on anything else“. The answers they provided all confirmed my theory: it all comes down to trusting your gut.
I waited until I was a year out from our wedding day before I made appointments to try on gowns. I scheduled appointments at two separate bridal boutiques on the same day and felt pretty certain I wouldn’t need to visit any other stores. I have always been a decisive person; I like what I like, and I felt wedding dresses wouldn’t be any different. I took my mom, grandmother, aunt, and my two maids of honor with me. It is worth noting that my style is vastly different from the ladies who went with me so I was interested to see how this would go.
I went to the bridal boutiques with certain criteria. I wanted lace, some kind of sleeve, no bedazzling, no puffy ball gown, and nothing too form fitting. Though I had an idea in mind, I did remain open to other options. The ladies I brought with me also chose their favorites, so I tried a wide range of styles.
In the first store, I found a very elegant and vintage dress I liked; however, I didn’t feel “in love” with it, and when I walked out to show everyone they thought it was pretty, but they weren’t huge fans either.
I had heard from other brides that they had an emotional response when they put on their perfect dress, and I began to worry while traveling to the second boutique whether I would too. I tried on six or seven dresses at the second store that fit my criteria, but nothing blew me away, and I was starting to lose hope. I took a break to walk around, and when I did I spotted a stunning gown that was tremendously different from my usual style and taste; however, I felt like I needed to try it on.
I didn’t cry, but a huge grin immediately filled my face. When I walked out to show the other ladies no one said a word. I usually can tell when my mom likes or dislikes something because she is always expressive with her emotions, but she was not giving anything away. I waited and then finally asked, “Do you like it?” Since the dress was so different from what I typically go for her quick response was, “Do YOU like it?” When I said, I loved it one of my maids of honor responded that it was gorgeous and the other’s followed suit, but none of them gave me the big reaction that I wanted.
We left the boutique without purchasing a dress. When I got home that evening, I couldn’t get that last dress out of my mind. It wasn’t until the next day when I spoke to my mom that the emotional response and tears came. My mom has always been a girly girl, and I have always been more of a tomboy so when she asked me, “How did the dress make you feel?” My response through tears was, “For the first time in my life, I felt like a Princess” that was all she needed to hear, she began to cry and said, “Then that’s your dress!”
Helpful Tips for Current Brides
I acquired a lot of great advice before going dress shopping plus some I picked up from my experience that I thought I would share:
- Focus on the top half more than the bottom half. Many brides focus on the train and the back of the dress. But the part of the dress that will be photographed the most will be the bodice.
- Overall comfort MUST be taken into consideration. Can you sit comfortably? Can you dance freely? Can you walk without tripping?
- Come prepared. Bring the style of shoes you plan to wear so you can get an idea of how it feels to walk in the dress. Bring or wear the correct color undergarments – i.e., don’t wear neon pink or black underwear because it will show through the dress.
- Stay open-minded. Just because you like a particular style doesn’t mean that it will be the one you end up with – limiting yourself to just one may cause you to miss your perfect dress.
- Take someone with you. It doesn’t have to be a large group, but many of the former brides who answered my post said the people they brought with them had a strong reaction that confirmed their feelings about the dress.
- Have Fun. It may seem obvious, but some brides put so much pressure on finding the perfect dress that they forget it is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Try on the huge ball gown, try on the tight- fitting super sexy dress – this may be your one and only opportunity to do it.
My last bit of advice is for after you purchase your dress. One of the former brides who responded suggested that “Once you buy your dress to stop shopping or looking around” – this is a great tip particularly if you find yourself easily swayed by other options. I opted not to keep any pictures of my dress in my possession to avoid second-guessing my decision. The only people who did keep pictures were my mom and one of my maids of honor. I did this purposefully so that I couldn’t keep pulling it up to scrutinize the dress. Finally, once you get your dress, if you have the ability to keep it at someone else’s house, do so. Again, it prevents you from over-analyzing your selection and allows you to maintain that feeling you had when you first tried it on.