Looking for the perfect bridal gown is a cherished childhood pastime. When my sister and I were young, we'd ride our bikes to the local library and check out as many bridal magazines as we could carry and then proceed to flip through every page claiming dresses for ourselves left and right. The bigger and poofier the dress, the better. This hobby fell to the wayside as we got older, but when I got engaged it brought me right back to my childhood. Problem was, I was all over the map in terms of my taste. Slim cut allover lace? Love it! Belted goddess dresses? Love it, too! Ruched bodice? Love it even more!
Despite my love of searching the internet for dresses, I was actually very nervous about going into shops and trying them on. I've been in bridal boutiques before and never really liked anything I saw in the stores. Pictures of dresses are one thing, seeing them in person is another. The dresses were all so heavy and embellished to the nth degree. So even though I had about a million dresses bookmarked in my web browser, I knew that once I saw most of them in person the love would fade. I was also afraid that I wouldn't like anything that was within my $1,000 budget and that the samples would be too small, leaving me with no idea how the dresses would really look on me.
ALRIGHTY, MISTER. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. PICTURES OF MY DRESS FOLLOW.
I took a trip to David's Bridal with my Mom fairly early on to assuage my fears and ended up trying on two dresses that I really liked.
This trip helped me realize that I definitely liked dresses that are made of materials that are light and have movement, like lace and chiffon, and that I like beading so long as it is focused in certain areas. I also realized that strapless dresses are not very flattering on me. I tried on a v-neck dress during that visit, and while I didn't like the dress very much because it was made of stiff taffeta, the neckline was very flattering on me. Armed with this information, I started dress hunting online again, this time looking for v-neck dresses made of lace or chiffon, and developed a list of dresses that I must try on.
Now that the fear of trying dresses on was gone, I was ready to venture out into a boutique bridal shop. I made an appointment at Belle Mariee in Murrieta, CA, and went with my Mom once again. This trip was an eye opener. I picked Belle Mariee because they carry many of the designers who had dresses on my list. But when I got there I was still having a hard time finding dresses on the racks that I liked. Like every other bridal boutique I'd been in before, their stock was heavy on gowns made of weighty, stiff material and over the top embellishment. However, they did have one of my favorite dresses on the list in stock.
To my chagrin, the dress was $1500. And the sample looked too small to make it over my hips, so I didn't even want to try it on, lest I rip it. We just held it up in front of me to get an idea of how it would look. Even though it was very pretty, I looked at my Mom and bluntly stated that I wasn't going to pay that much money for a dress I couldn't try on and that I liked just as much as the dresses I saw at David's Bridal that were $700 cheaper. We left the store dressless.
Back to the drawing board. I scratched the list of dresses that I must try on and instead focused on finding dresses on the David's Bridal and Alfred Angelo websites that I liked. I knew that these two stores sold lots of dresses within my budget and that they carried samples in all sizes so I wouldn't have to worry about not having a dress to try on. Armed with my new lists, my Mom and I headed back out dress shopping once again, this time accompanied by my sister. First stop was David's Bridal. In addition to the two dresses above, I wanted to try on these dresses:
Dress #1 was nice. I liked the neckline, but the fabric was too stiff and the dress was overall too plain for my tastes. Dress # 2 I saw in the window of the store as I was walking in and said to myself "what the hell was I thinking!?!" The bottom half of the dress looks like a deflated tutu. Dress #3 I didn't try on and I don't recall why. The neckline on Dress #4 was great, but again the fabric on the bottom half was too stiff and plain. Dress #5 I vaguely recall trying on, but maybe I didn't? Even if I did try it on, it clearly didn't make much of an impression. Dress #6 I didn't try on because I would have had to order it one size smaller than what I needed and hope I lost enough weight to fit in it by the wedding, and I'm not down with that. And Dress #7 . . . THAT'S MY DRESS!
Here's a full length shot of the dress, but to be honest the pictures of it do the dress no justice!
(picture from The Knot)
I'm gonna be real with you right now - I didn't have some all knowing feeling that this was The One when I tried it on. They didn't have this dress in my size, so the one I tried on was one size too small. It fit fine through the upper body, but because of the slimmer fit on the bottom it was bunching up around my hips. But, this dress was by far the one I liked the best out of all the dresses I tried on. Could I have kept looking? Absolutely. But to what end? Quite frankly, I didn't think I was ever going to have a The One moment. It's just not me. But just because I didn't have some sort of transcendent moment when I found this dress doesn't mean I settled for a mediocre dress. In fact, I think I came the closest I was ever going to get to having a The One moment when my dress arrived and I was able to try it on for the first time and it fit me perfectly. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I looked spectacular. And that takes a lot for me.
What about you? Did you have a The One moment? If you didn't have you second-guessed your decision at all?