I have loved wedding dresses my entire life. When I was younger, I used to pretend to be engaged just so I could try on wedding dresses for fun. I had a hidden Pinterest board full of dresses before I even got engaged. (I know. I know.) So, after I got engaged I practically ran to the first dress store I could get an appointment with. I couldn’t wait to try on tons of beautiful, fancy gowns.
This is a long one, so if you want to read more, click below.
My first experience was overwhelming to say the least. The first place I went was Alfred Angelo. Even though I had told the bridal consultant what I was interested in (strapless, lace, not fluffy) she pulled all different types of gowns for me to try. They were heavy, itchy and not my style. Some of them looked nice, but I didn’t feel like myself in them. And some of them just looked terrible.
One of the most frustrating things about wedding dresses is the sizing. I’m a size 6-8 in regular clothes and that translates into a size 12-14 in wedding dresses. A lot of the sample sizes in wedding dress stores tend to be made for women who wear sizes 4 and below in regular clothes. So, it was always hard to get a real idea of how a dress would fit even if they clipped it in the back. It also seemed like they are made for women who are six feet tall. I’m 5’3, so they didn’t quite look the way they look online or the magazines.
The final realization from that first dress appointment was just how expensive wedding dresses are. I left feeling completely stressed out.
The second dress appointment I had was at David’s Bridal. I had high hopes because they have so.many.dresses. There are some pretty gowns there, but I just felt like nothing was quite what I wanted. I felt like I was just another bride there. The consultants were always helping one or two other brides, so I never had their full attention and I felt kind of rushed.
I went back twice because the first visit I did find a couple dresses that I liked, but ultimately didn’t pick one there.
The final place I made an appointment was Carlisle’s of Pittsburgh, a local dress store. It’s pretty small, but they have a really nice selection of gowns. This is where I found “the one.” I tried on several dresses here that I didn’t like, until the consultant pulled one last dress for me to try on. That was it. As soon as I slipped into it, I loved it. It was everything I wanted: lace, strapless, not fluffy and not heavy. I left that day knowing I was going to buy that dress, but I waited because I wanted my mom to go with me before I decided for sure. I went back with her a few weeks later and bought it. It was just delivered to the store this week and I paid off my balance, so the dress is officially mine. Everyone at Carlisle’s has been so great and helpful.
I don’t want this post to seem like it’s negative toward any specific store. It’s not. There are some really positive aspects of each experience, too. I’m getting my bridesmaid dresses from David’s Bridal. I think it’s a really great option for a one-stop shop for wedding stuff. They offer everything you could ever need online. At Alfred Angelo I really enjoyed that my consultant focused only on me for two hours. I felt really taken care of there. And everyone has a different experience based on their location, their size and their style.
Below are a few things that really helped me when deciding:
• Only taking one person with me to try on. I did not want a ton of different opinions confusing me.
• Asking to try on shoes, a veil and accessories with the dress. Sometimes they seem to be annoyed by this, but just remember that you are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on this dress. You, by all means, should get a complete picture of how it will look when all pulled together before you buy it.
• Going back to try on the dress alone. I did this with the dress I ended up buying. It helped to just have some quiet time with just me and the dress to really decide if it’s what I wanted without other people chiming in.
• And most importantly, trusting myself and my instincts. No matter how much someone likes a certain dress on you, if you don’t feel 100 percent confident and comfortable in it don’t get it. A lot of times people will want you in their perfect dress, not your perfect dress. So, in the end, go with your gut.
What have been your experiences wedding dress shopping?