With exactly one year before my wedding date, I thought going on my first dress-shopping trip was a little premature. I mean, I know you need to order it well in advance, but a year ahead was a little too in advance, in my mind. But what was important was to have my mother and grandmothers with me to share the experience, and the weekend of May 18th was the only option available that worked for everyone’s schedules until mid-September. So that’s what I had to work with.
I kept telling myself I was only going to try on dresses “to see what style worked on me.” That I wouldn’t be buying a dress in Cincinnati (where I traveled to shop, close to my family). That I’d wait until fall to buy my dress back in Wisconsin. That is wasn’t a smart idea to buy your dress on the first outing.
Apparently, I didn’t listen to myself very well.
Out of the 20 or so dresses I tried on Saturday, I think I really liked about 18 of them. I had one of those lucky/unlucky experience where I just really liked every dress I put on! I know there are far worse issues to come across while shopping for your wedding dress, but it was incredibly tough to narrow it down. I am not got at making decisions.
We started off at Splendid Bridal in Cincinnati’s Reading Bridal District. I’d looked online and saw this shop had a couple designers I liked, so I booked an appointment in the late morning. When I walked in, I showed the shop owner some photos of dresses I liked, and he went to work picking out dresses he thought would work for me, and I also chose some dresses myself. Between the two of us, we chose about nine dresses to try on. Let’s just say it was a little overwhelming. Especially because most of the dresses I tried were so very similar to one another (I’ve had one single vision in mind since thinking about a wedding dress – lace, and maybe with little cap sleeves, if they worked on me). At the end of my appointment, I found two dresses at Splendid that I absolutely loved, but decided to think about them a little more over lunch.
After lunch, we walked down the street to Cincinnati Bridal and Formal, which is one of the largest bridal shops in the nation with more than 3,000 dresses in their store. I was met as we walked in by a very enthusiastic greeter who right away pegged me as a Claire Pettibone bride. While she was right in the fact that I am ga-ga crazy over Claire Pettibone, I’m not crazy about her prices. So, (spoiler alert!) needless to say I just “ooh’ed” and “ahhh’ed” over Claire’s gowns and did not try one on. My super-bubbly bridal consultant also took a look at my pictures and pulled a few dresses for me, while I grabbed a couple, too. We then brought all 9-10 dresses into an open dressing room, where my entire entourage (all seven of them… including four bridesmaids) sat in front of me as I dressed and undressed. It was slightly weird, but thankfully I was covered enough (thank you, Spanx!) so no one got too much of an eyeful of my goods. It was hard to do so, but I slowly whittled my choices down to two at the second shop, too. I went back and forth between the two of them, trying them each on three times. Finally, I asked them to “jack me up” (as Monte of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta” would say…), and they walked me back to another area of the shop where a woman did my hair, placed a veil on me and outfitted me with earrings and a bracelet. I looked in the mirror after being “done up” in the dress and it all hit me: Whoa….. I’m going to be a freaking bride….
I stared at myself in what would be “the dress” for quite some time. My bridal consultant took me over to “Twinkle Town,” an area with large mirrors and natural lighting so I’d get a more realistic look at the dress. Then, they brought me outside to see how the dress would look in actual sunlight. I also got honked at by one of Reading, Ohio’s, finest passing by as I was out there. I’m not sure if it was the honk or the approval of my dress entourage, but I went back inside and, after a little deliberation (you know, just 30 minutes of hemming, hawing and throwing up my hands), decided it was “the one.”
Yes, I teared up a little. No, I didn’t fully cry or squeal or jump up or down or wave my hands in front of my face. At the end of the day, I knew my dress was the perfect storm of everything I was looking for. I knew if I walked away and continued shopping elsewhere I’d never find a different dress that would top the one I chose. I never had that “oh my god this is the most amazing thing to happen to me” moment, but I know I made the right choice because I can’t stop thinking about my dress. I keep looking back at pictures and can’t stifle the big ol’ grin that takes over my face every time I see it. I just want it now… I want to put it on and walk around in it at the grocery store. I want to wear it every day. At the very least, I just want it to be in my possession so I can peek in the bag and look at it every once in a while. But that day will come and I’ll have plenty of time thereafter to take little peeks at it here and there.
So, my friends, what dress did I ultimately decide on? She’s lace, she sparkles, she’s got a keyhole back and a gorgeous, flowered sash. She’s everything I was looking for in a wedding dress. She’s Wtoo, by Watters: “Jemma, ” and here’s my face as I made the decision that she is the dress I’ll be walking down the aisle in:
I absolutely cannot wait to finally put her on! Although, with the keyhole back, it does change the way I planned to wear my hair; I always thought I’d do a half-up, wavy style, but I think if I’ve got an open-back dress, I should probably wear my hair up (my hair is long, and would cover 2/3 of the keyhole). I also always planned on wear a fun flower headpiece on my big day, but with the big flower on my sash, that would just be too much going on… sigh…. But no matter, it’s the dress that counts most!
When did you buy your wedding dress? Or how far out do you plan on buying it? How many did you try on? It seemed like about 20 was the right amount for me – at the end of the day, the idea of trying on any more dresses was just too overwhelming a thought to me!