I’ve lived in Seattle for three years now. I enjoy every moment of the bustling city. Around the holidays, I leave the traffic for Eastern Washington to visit my family. This year, I went down to the Tri-Cities to visit my sister and brother-in law. We thought that it would be a fabulous and fun idea to try on dresses with my sister, who happens to be my Maid of Honor, and my mother. The only thoughts that occurred through my mind were the following, “Well, this is going to be fun!”, “It’s going to be just like dress up!” and “I won’t buy a dress on the first day of shopping!”
Yikes. Dress shopping for myself was not what I expected. I have gone dress shopping as a bridesmaid and consultant. It’s fun picking out bridal gowns for others. Deciding between mermaids, fit and flare, ball gowns, lace, tulle, ivory, or white seemed pretty simple on the other side. As we walked into the first store, my sister gleamed in excitement. All I could think about was, “There are so many dresses here. How do I know what I want?” I’ve been to sixty some weddings and I am absolutely CLUELESS. I’m pretty positive I looked like a deer in the headlights. I was silent, looking through the racks, and wanted out. Sara grabbed dresses off the rack and exclaimed that I needed to try all of them on. I went to the dressing room with the saleswoman and honestly, I only tried on one of the 3. I didn’t feel like trying on anything else. I was overwhelmed.
We went to the next store and I felt like I had a moment to catch my breath. We met my mom at the second store and she greeted me with a big hug! Dress shopping with my mom is so important to me. About a year ago, I tried on my mother’s 1970’s silk, custom made, bridal gown. I remember the glimmer in her eyes as she saw me in her wedding gown. She had offered to let me wear her dress, but I decided to create a new moment for us buy shopping for a new one. This is a special moment for my mother and in the end she would be buying my wedding gown.
We walked into the next store and a friendly woman greeted me. This shop was so much easier. They asked me what I was looking for. I quickly spurted out a list of all the things I didn’t like. Little did I know, what I thought I had wanted from my pins, looking at client’s gowns, I realized that my “dream” dress wasn’t what I wanted after all. I tried on a MAGNIFICENT bridal gown. They did me up, with the veil, flowers in my hair and all. Mom and Sara loved it. I loved it too. Then, as soon as I saw myself in the mirror, I was overwhelmed. Is this the dress for me? Should I buy it? Is it too soon?
I ended up leaving the store without the dress. That was the best decision I made. I wanted to go home and think on it, and I’m glad I did. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my dress experience on the other side:
1. Don’t get discouraged if what you think you originally wanted isn’t what you want after all; sometimes the dress you least expect is for you.
2. Don’t let the saleswoman wrap you into bridal gown fever. Yes, you like this dress, but is it YOU? Can you see yourself walking down the isle, dancing the night way, and feeling just like you?
3. Is it in your budget? I recommend trying on dresses that are in your budget. On a whim, the saleswoman had me try on a beautiful blush bridal gown that was WAY out of budget. That was a mistake.
4. Limit your audience. Yes, it’s fun to bring all of your bridesmaids and friends. Before, think about what their opinions are like. Do you have different styles? Will you be shopping for your friend and not you? This is your moment. Find something you can cherish, find something that you desire.
5. Finally, Don’t be overwhelmed. Enjoy the process. I forget that this time, and when I look again I want to be ready to enjoy and take in every moment.
I’m planning on going dress shopping this summer for my perfect dress. In the meantime, I have decided not to look at any more bridal gowns. I want to enjoy my experience, not create headache to find the perfect one.