A blogger friend I’ve followed for a while (hi, Catherine!) recently got married, and I’ve been having fun following along with her wedding-themed posts. She shared her wedding dress story last week and it inspired me to get the story up here about wedding dress shopping and how I chose my dress. Truthfully, I have to give the credit to my mom for leading me to the dress since she found a great bridal store thanks to Yelp. But after a few wedding dress shopping trips and dealing with different types of stores, I’m happy to share my wedding dress shopping experience (and the original photos my dress that helped me fall in love). By the way, I tried on a lot more dresses than the one in these pictures. Check out my Instagram Stories to see them. I almost wish I had a second chance to wear other top contenders!
Luckily I’d been wedding dress shopping with a few other friends, and I’d highly recommend doing so if you can because you learn a lot! For instance, one of my friends thought she wanted one style of dress, but after the salesperson talked her into trying another, we saw that it was really flattering. That’s why I went into wedding dress shopping with an open mind and wanting to try everything on. It was also important for me to help friends take a lot of photos so they could see the dress from all angles, and my mom did the same at my dress try on. In fact, that’s probably what helped seal the deal!
When it came time for me to look for my own wedding dress, I went on two different occasions to try on options. The first was with a friend at work who loves weddings. I went to a place near my apartment that I thought had a good reputation. I fell in love with a dress there, but waited another month before my mom could see it until I did anything. I’m glad I did, and that I was open to visiting another shop, because otherwise I wouldn’t have settled on my final dress.
My mom kept pushing me ahead of her visit to find dress designers I liked or choose styles I wanted so we could narrow our search. I can see why that would make sense for such a time-intensive process, but I really didn’t want to do much research. I had a price range in mind and other than that wanted to keep an open mind about what to get. I just knew one major thing, I didn’t want a dress like everyone else. That meant my dress could even be a color. Since I was little I dreamed of a pink wedding dress. Well, when the time came last year I wasn’t married (ha) to the idea, but it still interested me to try on something other than traditional white or eggshell. So I had that on my list, too. In fact, the dress I tried on at the first store had a pink underlay and I loved that about it.
Through research on Yelp (my mom’s pastime for my wedding), she found a store in the suburbs with really good reviews. Spoiler alert, that was where I finally got my dress. The store had such a better layout, more room and more natural light than the shop in the city. The store also doesn’t just carry sample sizes, so I actually had a clear vision of how I would look in dresses. All those things combined are probably what helped sell me on my dress. The sales woman we worked with also helped me fulfill my pink dress fantasy by finding one with a pink satin layer, beneath two beautiful lace layers. While trying on the dress, I was walking through the store and heard a mom of another bride whisper (about me), “Oh look, her dress isn’t white, it’s kind of pink.” Not too princess pink, but pink enough. I was quite happy.
We left the store in the suburbs to come back to the one in the city, where the first dress I tried on was waiting. I still liked that dress but in that fluorescent light, in a crowded room, without getting to button it all of the way up, I wasn’t sold. Plus, it was a beautiful dress, but didn’t feel as fresh as the other I’d tried on. The strapless dress in these photos just screamed “spring wedding” to me. I knew I could create a whole look and bridesmaid dresses around it. I took some time to think about it, still, and went back to Reddington Bridal one last time with a friend. After trying on the strapless dress one more time, I made the purchase. Then, I just had to wait several months for it to come in!
So, what did I learn from my wedding dress shopping experiences?
- Know your budget. I mean, duh.
- Have an idea of your wedding’s theme and feel. I knew that my wedding was in the spring and wanted to reflect things in bloom and light, airy pastel colors. I also had an idea of how formal I wanted my bridesmaids’ dresses to be. Keeping this in mind, I was able to weed out some other dresses that wouldn’t fit in, even though I loved them on.
- Research the store before taking your entourage there. That cramped dress store I went to in the city? I only took one other person each time, but I’ve heard of other brides-to-be who took up to nine friends. There was no room for their party to sit! Had they looked it up on Yelp beforehand, they would have seen other women had the same issue.
- Listen to other women’s horror stories. Before I went dress shopping, I’d already ruled out anything with sequins or heavy beading because I heard those dresses can be really uncomfortable (even scratching!) and heavy. I wanted to be able to dance the night away, so no thank you to a hard-to-move-in dress.
- Don’t feel pressure to buy right away. Unless you’re not going to get the dress delivered in time, take a few days, weeks, to think about your dress. Look back at photos, and even revisit it. When I realized I was still thinking about the dress I went with in the end, I knew it was a good sign.
Professional photos by Tonya Espy
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