Planning a wedding is a big deal. After all, these decisions shape one of the most important days of your life, and it can be really easy to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of what’s really important.
Meet Tiffany (not her real name), a real Milwaukee bride who’s agreed to share her planning experiences, good and bad. She’s here to give a first-hand account of her journey, explaining what she’s learned and offering advice along the way—and she may need yours sometimes, too. Read on for her Wedding Diary.
Finding the perfect wedding gown isn’t always a perfect experience.
As the excitement of my engagement began to turn into a mental to-do list, the first thing everyone told me is I needed to look for my dress. Today, dresses can take four to six months to arrive after ordering, in addition to fittings and last-minute alterations. With a nine-month timeframe to plan my November wedding, I knew I had to act fast. I started making dress appointments and, with my mom at my side, I was well on my way to finding the perfect dress to wear down the aisle.
I’ve heard plenty of stories and watched TV shows such as Say Yes to the Dress, but I really had no idea what to expect. As I walked into the first dress salon for my appointment, my heart was pounding. I had a vision of what I wanted, and brought with me magazine clippings and ideas to better explain it. I kept reminding myself that this is a big decision; it is the outfit I dreamed of when I was a little girl, what future husband will see me wearing while walking down the aisle, and the dress I will be reminded of in all my wedding photos for the rest of time. No pressure or anything, right?
Well, I was definitely feeling the pressure to say the least. As my mom and I walked around the store and selected dresses to try on, I didn’t realize how many different styles, textures and forms there were to a wedding dress.
After all my selections were made, I was led into the dressing room—but not alone. I soon realized that the saleswoman who was with us was following me into the dressing room. As my mom waited outside, I was thinking, No one told me that I had to change in front of this woman!!! I have been a bridesmaid in 10 weddings and all my friends neglected to tell me this! I love shopping. I love trying on a perfect outfit or a super-cute pair of shoes. It makes me feel confident and ready to conquer the world. But now I have to share my wedding day experience with the saleswoman?
So I took a deep breath and started to remove my clothing. And then realized I was not wearing a strapless bra. No worries, the saleswoman had a corset I could borrow. So not only did this woman get to see me practically naked, but I had to wear an undergarment that I didn’t want to know how many other girls had worn. She took the first dress off the hook and helped me step in. Then, she zipped and clasped any necessary latches and we took a look.
As I faced the mirror, my first selection wasn’t too bad. Not great, but not bad. I walked outside to show my mother and she agreed. I tried on another 10 dresses, finally selected my favorite two. I could also tell the saleswoman didn’t want to say anything negative about the bad selections, but her silence was betrayed by the look on her face. As we left, I felt good but not great. I knew my dress was not in that store. But, we survived our first dress experience. Phew.
Our journey for the perfect dress continued, and I went to a total of four stores, although I know a lot of brides who go to many more. I can truly say dress shopping is a unique experience; one that I wouldn’t want to do over. My mom and sister, also my maid of honor, were the only two people that came with me to try on dresses. There were some tears of joy and laughter—some dresses just looked plain ridiculous. The beauty of this experience is you will find your magical dress. And when you do, you will know!
I found my dress at the second store. As I put it on and checked myself out in the mirror, I looked exactly like I wanted to on my wedding day. My childhood dreams were coming true before my eyes. When I turned to show my mom, as I had with so many other dresses before, we both broke out in tears and at that moment we knew—we found the dress!
Although there are many factors that play into finding your perfect dress, my advice is to select the dress that makes you feel something: A spark will ignite throughout your body, and you’ll just know. That feeling of confidence, beauty and true elegance—the feeling that you never want to take it off! I can’t explain it in words, but for those brides before me, you know.
Now that I’ve finished my own dress search, these are my best tips to making yours a good one:
- Make an appointment. Most bridal stores require one.
- Bring only a few people with you. Whether it’s your mom, bridesmaids or sister, I recommend only bringing those closest to you. You don’t want others to affect your decision.
- Wear proper undergarments. You will be changing in front of a salesperson, so be prepared.
- Bring magazine clippings to the stores of what you have in mind. This will really help the salesperson help you as you get closer to finding your dress.
- Have an open mind. Try on dresses that may not look like what you are thinking on the hanger—it might end up being The One!
- Laugh. This experience should be fun. Laugh at the dress that just looks so awful you wouldn’t be caught dead in it.
- Enjoy this time—wedding planning goes too fast. Before you know it, your big day will be here!
Good luck—and I know you will find your perfect dress! What experiences have you had?