I mentioned in my last wedding update post that I’ve said yes to The Dress. I wanted to talk about my experience with wedding dress shopping but I’m going to spoil the ending right now – I won’t be posting any photos of me wearing wedding dresses. Sorry! I tried on so few that there’s not a whole lot of photographic proof anyway… and I really just want to keep you in suspense until March.
When Adam and I got home from our trip to Helen, I made plans right away to meet with Nana for lunch and wedding planning. I’ve had most of the details planned out in my head for a long time but I wanted to talk with her about my ideas. We got on the topics of dresses and I started rattling off my thoughts. I knew I wanted something casual to go with the theme of our wedding. I’d thought about getting a cocktail length dress but I wasn’t opposed to a floor length gown. The only detail I was adamant on was not having a strapless dress. (I feel like I’m going against the norm – surprise surprise – but strapless anything makes me look and feel uncomfortable.) The more we talked, the more we realized we wanted to start looking right away and before I knew it, I was having a wedding dress fashion show for an audience of one.
I obviously hadn’t planned to try on dresses that day so my hair was
kind of a hot mess and I had on a purple polka dot bra. We also hadn’t made any appointments but thankfully Monday isn’t a very popular day to shop for dresses so the bridal shops were dead. We stopped into Michael’s Formalwear to browse the bridesmaids dresses and options for groomsmen. The sales assistants were so nice and encouraged me to head into the fitting room if I found anything I liked. I instantly fell in love with a dress and pulled it from the rack. I tried on a few other options but I was sold on the first look. (This whole wedding dress shopping thing can’t be that easy, right?) We took a few notes, made an appointment to bring the bridesmaids back the following week, and thanked the women for their time.
Our next stop on this spontaneous dress search was David’s Bridal. After browsing the racks for at least 15 minutes and never having a sales associate greet us, much less offer to help, we left. Just as well. I didn’t see anything I liked anyway.
There’s a small bridal boutique – Debra’s Bridal Shop – on our route home so we decided to give it a look. We were greeted right away (thank goodness) and the associate asked if we needed help. Nana replied that we were looking for something under $50 (not true, but hilarious) and without skipping a beat, the woman pointed to a sale rack of dresses for $25. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything on that rack that struck my fancy (would have made for a great story though) so we browsed some of the other racks. I pulled a couple of dresses and we headed into the fitting room. I loved the second dress I tried on. The style was similar to the dress I liked at Michael’s but it was more… bridal-y. We made an appointment to come back and left feeling accomplished. So far we’d found two dresses that I loved.
Our last stop was Alfred Angelo. After having such a terrible experience at David’s Bridal, I was hoping Alfred Angelo would help win back some favor for the big bridal chain stores. We were greeted as soon as we walked in, so that was a plus. But despite the store being totally empty and having multiple associates, we were told we could only look at dresses with an appointment. She was so adamant about this, that she physically blocked us from even browsing the dresses much less trying them on. She did allow us to browse the bridesmaid’s dresses, though I didn’t seen anything I liked.
The following Sunday we returned to both Michael’s and Debra’s with two of my bridesmaids in tow. The girls tried on dresses at Michael’s and I tried on a few new dresses as well as the one I’d fell in love with the week before. Thankfully the girls loved the dress as much as I did but I also wanted their opinion on the second dress before I made my final decision.
We walked into Debra’s Bridal and felt like we’d just entered a circus tent. There were TONS of women in the store and the atmosphere was very chaotic. Despite having an appointment, the associates were busy tending to other customers and I was thankful Nana and I had already scoped the dresses out. I grabbed the dress I loved as well as a couple of picks from the bridesmaids and headed back to the fitting rooms. And waited. And waited. Until finally there was an available room. As soon as I walked out in the dress, I could see the girls’ faces light up. (I’m pretty sure I saw one of them mouth, “Wow!”) I knew I had found The Dress.
Next came the ordering process. The sample dress I tried on fit very well so I knew that was the size I needed. We finally tracked down an associate who measured me and took my information for the dress. According to their sizing chart, I was between sizes. My chest measurement was slightly larger than the sample size, therefore the associate recommended I go up a size so the dress could be tailored to fit, which meant more time and money for alterations. I knew I would have to get the dress hemmed (story of my life), but I typically don’t need other alterations. My sizing is pretty standard. Plus, she did a terrible job measuring me and I’m pretty sure she wasn’t even accurate. I argued with the woman over the size but ultimately went with the smaller dress. Let’s hope I didn’t let my arrogance get in the way.
She then told me since the dress was a bridesmaid’s dress, it would be ready much quicker than a wedding dress – four to five months. MONTHS? Thank goodness we looked early! The wedding was only seven months away at that point. Two months doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for error or alterations. (And yes, I realize it takes a long time for wedding dresses, especially if there are custom elements, but the dresses my bridesmaids will be wearing only take two months or so to arrive so I was a little shocked when she told me my bridesmaid wedding dress would take four to five.)
I left the shop confident in my choice but a little stressed out over the sizing and timing. I’ve contemplated ordering the first dress I loved as a second/reception dress because I loved them both so much. I was also thankful that wedding dress shopping was mostly quick and painless. I’m a pretty decisive person and went in with a basic idea of what I wanted so that helped a lot.
I only tried on one actual wedding dress, mainly just for the experience. Every other dress I tried on was from a bridesmaid line, which meant they also had a much smaller price tag. My dress was only $220. There was a bridal version of my dress (basically it was the same dress with a bit of a train) and it was double the price. Funny how you tack on the word “wedding” and the price increases.
Both of the dresses I loved were only available in black as samples, though my dress will be ivory. This was especially humorous when I walked out onto the platform to look at myself in the mirror amongst the hoards of women at Debra’s Bridal. You could see their faces like, she’s wearing a BLACK wedding dress?! I got a kick out of their startled expressions.
I’m really excited and nervous to receive my dress, though according to the timeline, I still have months of waiting left. I really feel like I picked a beautiful perfect dress and can’t wait to wear it on my wedding day.