There are lots of little girls who dream about their perfect wedding and their perfect dress for their whole lives and then when they get engaged they HAVE to try on THAT dress and will search high and low for it.
Let me be straight…I am not that girl.
Sure, I have watched every wedding show on TLC and WE since I was in middle school…but I just really loved all the pretty shiny things…I never thought of them in terms of me. (now, the ring on the other hand…well…I ALWAYS knew what I liked in rings…but I digress)
I have watched Say Yes to the Dress and heard Randy say how girls get stuck on one vision in their head…or how they bring too many opinionated people…or how they try on too many dresses (20-100) and get too confused…So I had learned from reality television what I was NOT supposed to do…but I had not really learned what I WAS supposed to do!
Now, don’t get me wrong…I have watched enough dress shows to have an idea of what I wanted…and I assure you I had saved images of $6,000 dollar designer gowns on my iPad the second I was engaged, but I was very very open minded.
Shai had wonderful timing in planning to propose right before I had a week at home with my family in Florida. I decided that I really wanted my grandparents to be there when I picked my dress and while I could expect my mother to fly out to Vegas to go shopping with me, I couldn’t really expect them to. So, the second I had service on the ship, I sent my mom a text and said “hey, I got engaged, please book bridal dress appointments so that we can go shopping with grandma.” and then I lost service again. hehe.
I grew up in a relatively small town area and there is one store there, Patricias that sells wedding dresses and prom dresses. I didn’t really expect to see anything super great there but I figured it was an easy drive so why not. I couldn’t decide where to go next (again, I hadn’t really been researching dresses) and so I settled on Jon’s Bridal which is self proclaimed “Florida’s Largest Bridal Shop”. Two ends of the wedding dress store spectrum.
So we started at Patricia’s first thing when their doors opened at 10. I showed Becky all the high end couture gowns that I loved, were way over my budget, and oh, were only sold in California and overseas….I told her some of the things I HAD to have (like a train…because Shai asked for one) and that I was open to trying whatever she thought.
It was kind of surreal putting that first dress on. Like real grown-up dress up! Unfortunately I loved it…and every other one I tried on. My mother, grandmother, and the wonderful ladies working there were no help either…they all loved them too! This was NOT how it was supposed to happen per Say Yes to the Dress. I should have disliked a couple, there was supposed to be one that made my sides look lumpy or not make my waist small or whatever. Honestly, if I had been doing normal mall shopping and that happened, it would have been the day where I bought everything I tried on.
So two hours later, we left with three favorites in mind and an appointment for the next morning in case Jon’s was a bust.
And good thing too…because it was.
After my two store experience I am absolutely convinced of one thing. Your consultant and the atmosphere will determine which dress you buy.
Jon’s Bridal was huge, and the first thing we saw was a big sign saying “no photography of the dress unless purchased.” Stupid. When I told Shai about that later, he thought it was such a dumb rule that we should have just left immediately. But we didn’t, so I went through the racks with the consultant…who was far less fun, happy, or interesting than Becky, and picked out the dresses that they had in my size. For being “Florida’s largest”…I was very underwhelmed. I was not allowed to put the dresses on and off myself because unlike Patricia’s where they order them, at Jon’s you buy them there and take them home that day — probably helpful if you are planning a quick wedding or waited last minute to buy a dress…but that was not me, so I was annoyed. The consultant seemed like she was always watching us to make sure we didn’t break the “photography” rule (which, we did try a couple times) then actually trying to help us. I did really like some of the dresses there but I could never have loved one because I just didn’t like even being in that place. I knew we were done.
That night, I rallied the troops. I informed my father that he would be at Patricia’s first thing in the morning and I called my best friend to make sure she would drive the hour from Tampa to be there before she had to go back to work (I swear, it was less demanding than it sounds…she was going to come see me anyways).
With everyone there, I was able to try on the top 4 dresses (yes, earlier I said 3 but I really wanted everyone to see another one too…and hey, it was MY appointment). I still loved all of them so we had to try one against the other and narrow it down in a bridal dress bracket of sorts…it was a hard decision. However, I did put one dress back on and got a bit misty eyed (and dad did too…shhhhh) and decided that must mean “it is the one.” After all, that’s what they do on TV lol. But really, it beat out the others and I felt like myself wearing it, as opposed to just being in it. They were able to make a couple of the changes I wanted and the veils I wanted as well. More than anything though, it was my dress because I was surrounded by the people that mean the most to me, so that dress carries with it the experience and memories I want to have with me on my special day.
So my advice to anyone is to just relax about it and make sure you find a bridal store that is FUN and bring the people you really care about, not everyone you think you have to bring or should bring. Be open minded and listen to your consultant…and don’t over think it. You don’t have to try one 900 dresses to be sure.