I wasn’t on the TLC show, but I did have my very own moment of saying “yes” to a garment that I’ll wear over a year from now. Not just any garment, though – a very, very special one.
Finding a wedding dress ended up being a breeze, which I’m thankful for. I’ve heard horror stories about countless dresses, scary fitting rooms, loaner bras, and a constant feeling of overwhelm. I’ve also heard about all of the craziness that comes with being a bride, bringing anyone to an appointment, and having to make a decision. Wedding dress shopping sounded like it was going to be like a reality show, for real.
Thankfully, nothing like that happened to me. Sure, I had the loaner bra, tried on a bunch of dresses, and felt defeated when I left my first appointment feeling like nothing looked good on me. Those three-way mirrors, man. They get ya!
My first appointment, back in December, was at a been-there-forever bridal shop in Dunmore called Head to Toe Bridal. I made an appointment with them after going to my first wedding expo and wasn’t sure what to expect. My prep work for the appointment consisted of watching Say Yes to the Dress and reading up on “X Things to Know Before You Try on a Dress” or “Know Your Body Type: Choosing the Perfect Dress” and whatnot. What can I say? I’m a nerd who likes to research everything.
I walked in with a larger than average entourage in tow: my mother, my grandmother, two of my aunts, my maid of honor, and a gaggle of cousins. It was delightful for me (because they’re all important to me) but I’m not sure how the shop staff felt.
We got a brief tour of the stock, I got to walk through and flip any dresses I wanted to try on, and then the attendant assigned to me got them all spiffed up. She was super nice and very encouraging. I was petrified that I was going to get someone who was going to make fun of my purple tights (don’t worry – my family did) or express disapproval at my style preferences. Sorry, no P’nina Tournai sheer stomach panels or spilling cleavage for me. My kingdom for a neckline that doesn’t plunge!
I pulled a handful of dresses on my own – a couple tea length, one or two long ones that were non-traditional, and one that the salesperson recommended. My family browsed alongside me, pulling dresses they liked for me, which was an adventure to say the least (but in a good way). I tried on satins, ruffles, and some things that made me look preggers. See some photos below for your viewing pleasure. Don’t mind my awful faces. These were candid and taken on a cellphone.
A lot of losers, and only one left me feeling slightly pleased (the one with the tan belt). The worst part of trying on wedding dresses, for me, was finding out which cuts were unflattering. Heavy dresses made me feel heavy. If there wasn’t enough structure, I felt like an aimless blob draped in some manner of polyester or chiffon. If there wasn’t enough support, I felt…just gross.
Worst of all, I had my heart set on finding a tea length dress. It was what I pinned most frequently to my Pinterest board. When I thought about the dress I wanted to wear in my head, it was tea length. It was playful and elegant all at once. I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelley all in one (a slight departure from my normal Liz Lemon-dom). I wanted to be a real lady, dammit! And so, with every failed tea length, I felt my dream of pretty shoes and showing ankle slip away.
It’s an emotional roller coaster ride. On one hand, you’re feeling excited and hopeful about finding that magical dress that you slip on and don’t want to take off. On the other, you’re forced to get to know your body and see what looks good on you and what doesn’t. You also encounter some really shitty dresses that you fell in love with in the photo but try on and just want to cry. It’s a lot of emotional extremes – no wonder brides are shown going bonkers during this experience!
And there isn’t an article or an episode of a style-focused TV show that can prepare you for that. It’s an interesting dynamic for sure. There’s a lot of pressure and focus put on the dress, but it’s just that: it’s just a dress. Sure, it’s a dress you wear on a special day and it makes you look and “feel” bridal, but man, people laser in on it.
I decided to wrap things up and try again later. After all, I was buying a house – I had a lot going on and my mental energies needed to be put there. I promised to make an appointment again in the spring, once things had settled and I was in a better frame of mind.
And I’ll admit, I was feeling discouraged. Trying on 15 or so dresses in my first appointment was a bit of a daunting task. Nothing was fitting right. I didn’t feel comfortable in anything. In my sane frame of mind, I knew that it was just the first appointment. I reminded myself to not lose hope and to remember that I would eventually find the right dress.
But doesn’t it suck sometimes? All the pressure? The build-up and expectations over finding a single garment that is supposed to reflect you on one day? I’ll be honest, it does.
I took a few months off. I focused in on paint colors and unpacking boxes as we settled in to our first home together. I didn’t think about the dress at all until a few weeks before, when I remembered that I should probably make an appointment so that my family and friends could plan around it.
I picked a date – May 3 – and started planning. It was going to be a busy weekend. A yard sale, the Dirty Girl Mud Run, and family visiting all in a few days. After the mud and grit was rinsed out of my hair, I headed down to David’s Bridal for an appointment with my mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and maid of honor.
We walked in and instantly I was pleased at the selection – it felt like there were more options within my budget already. We started pulling dresses, some of which I had found on the website when I was browsing a few nights before. The attendant, who was a firecracker personality, coached me through the picks.
We started off with a beautiful dress that was way too heavy. Then through a few unfamiliar silhouettes, some picks from the website, and a dress my family chose for me to try on.
I tried on 8 in total before it came down to the final three.
The first one was empire waisted with little cap sleeves, a bit of bling at the bust, lots of lace, and a flowing a-line silhouette. Very pretty. Then, there was a lace and tulle confection that I liked and was similar to the one I had liked best at my first appointment. They became maybes. I figured I would end up trying them on another time before deciding if I wanted to take the plunge.
But then, oh, then there was THE DRESS. It was the last one I tried on. It was tea length (SWEET MARY MOTHER OF GOD, THANK YOU!) with lace and an illusion neckline. It was a find from the website and I was in L-O-V-E. Game over. This was it.
I pranced out of the dressing room with a smile on my face. To seal the deal, they added a belt, shoes, and headpiece. Every time I looked in the mirror, I just blushed and glowed like a Christmas tree.
Everyone wanted to hate it, but they couldn’t. They signed, shrugged, and said, “It’s you, alright!” I got a little teary, but it wasn’t the earth-shattering emotional breakdown they make it out to be. I felt light and happy. I didn’t doubt my choice. This was it. This was exactly how I wanted to look as a bride.
And so I said, “yes”. It’s now hanging in my upstairs closet, waiting for next October to arrive. (not pictured anywhere above, for the sake of tradition, superstition, and the fact that Brent said he wants to be surprised)
Let’s hope finding shoes and headpiece is less monumental!
DISCLAIMER: Don’t worry, my Mister knows some details about the dress and has seen all of the photos above before, but he won’t see THE DRESS till the big day. I have to admit – we had a lot of fun looking at the dresses that were absolutely hideous together!