I can’t believe I’m writing this post. I’ve seen these running lists before. And, up until now, I’ve always ignored them. It’s funny how you become a bride-to-be and suddenly a bunch of previously meaningless articles start to really make sense.
Now, I have walked in their shoes.
Over the weekend, I found my wedding dress. It was a huge moment — the kind you always hope to have — where you are standing with your mother, crying, and you know it’s just the one. It was perfect in every sense of the word.
But leading up to this moment wasn’t always easy. It was fraught with indecision, stress and confusion. Everyone kept saying, “When you find the dress, you’ll just know.” I wanted to punch everyone who said that because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what I wanted! Unlike other girls, I was clueless about wedding dresses. I’d never really given thought to my dress before. My only thought was: “I want it to be classic and unique.” While that seems simple, it can be a pretty tall order.
In the course of my wedding dress shopping, I probably tried on close to 50 gowns. And during all of those fittings, I started learning a lot. Below are five ways I could’ve better prepared myself. I hope it helps all the clueless brides out there who are struggling.
1. Know your style. This is the best place to start. Figure out what kind of style you like. Are you more of a classic girl or a sexy bombshell type? What do you want your dress to say about you during your wedding? And how might this style fit in with the larger theme of your wedding? Because we’re getting married in the winter — and we’re having a literary-themed wedding — I decided to go vintage classic. It was down between two very different dresses but, in the end, our theme won out.
2. Know the limits of your body type. It’s great if you like lots of lace or mermaid-styled dresses. But if you are short and curvy, those probably won’t work on you. I learned this the hard way: Every lacy dress I had pinned just didn’t work on my body. So I needed to be able to pivot. I had to adapt and change the vision of my dress based on my body type. At the end of the day, I want to feel confident and beautiful on my wedding day. Unfortunately, for me, that wasn’t going to happen in a strapless gown or a mermaid look.
3. Know your budget. You need to have this number in your mind. It doesn’t need to be concrete, and you don’t need to share it. But you can quickly eliminate a bunch of dresses if they aren’t in your range. At a small boutique, I tried on one dress that was $2,900. Luckily, I didn’t fall in love with it. But what if I had? I might’ve been maxing out some credit cards out of desperation. The good news: we went to another shop with extremely affordable dresses, and that’s where I found mine.
4. Ignore the opinions of others. This one was really hard for me. I wanted everyone to approve. But that’s pretty much impossible. If you take a lot of people shopping with you, get accustomed to tuning out the noise. Listen only to the important questions like: “How does this dress make you feel?” And don’t get caught up in everyone saying “Wow” when they see it. Some people might not like your choice, but that doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s about how you feel.
5. Have fun with it. My mom and I walked into the second bridal boutique, expected to be helped. The woman working said, “It will just be easier if you look at the dresses yourself.” I was initially discouraged. Instead, I tried to laugh it off, saying “Okay, Mom. I’m going to need your help!” My mom pushed through the dresses while I made initial judgements. It worked out perfectly and, in the end, it was the shop where we found the final dress!
What tips would you offer to brides-to-be?