From Leah: My Wedding Dress Search | The Budget Savvy Bride
The Budget Savvy Bride

Hello, My name is Leah and I am a sell out. At least, I feel a little like one. I had planned on wearing my mother’s dress for my wedding. We were going to do a “re-make” of sorts, she was married in the 1970′s in February. It had long sleeves. But, I thought – and still think – that it would have been totally salvageable and looked good, actually it would have looked great.

But then, my grandmother stepped in. My grandmother is, shall we say, opinionated – as pretty much all grandmothers are and I feel have a right to be for the most part. Anyway, she suggested that I at least go look for my own dress. (Did I mention she is also quite convincing?) We all know what happens when you “look” for a wedding dress, you FIND a wedding dress. And I’m even worse. I love to shop, but if I am going to find something specific for a specific occasion I typically need to only go to one store and I will find SOMETHING suitable there. I like to shop, I do not like to shop around.

I had one rule: I would not purchase a dress that “looked gorgeous/beautiful/amazing.” Instead, I had to purchase THE dress that looked gorgeous/beautiful/amazing ON ME. I hate when I am watching Say Yes To the Dress and the girl sees a dress on the hanger that she loves, puts it on and looks terrible in it, but insists she must have it because “this dress is so beautiful.” Who cares if the dress is beautiful if you look like a linebacker in it? So, my goal was to find the dress that made ME look good. (note: this is also why I insisted on trying on dresses of every style – even ones with attributes I hated, like the evil strapless. My mom’s words of wisdom, “you owe yourself a try-on.”)

But off we went, me and my brigade. Sell out point number two: I always said I was going to go wedding dress shopping with my mom and maybe one other person. Instead, I took my mom, my future mother in law, my future sister in law, and two of my bridesmaids. You can see now why I lovingly dubbed them, “the brigade.”

First stop, one very infamous bridal chain that you probably all have somewhere nearby you that will remain nameless. It was terrible. Seriously, awful. The “consultant” told me as soon as I walked in that she was only working there two more days and where was I getting married because maybe she would call and see about getting a job there. No, I am not making this up.

She carried 5 dresses into the dressing room, and told me she was going to help someone else so one of my girls could help me, since I brought so many. Yes, she said this. I am not making it up.

Ok, so grumpy associate aside, I found some not so bad ones.

I loved the lace on this one, but I DETEST pick-ups. I know a lot of y’all like them, and on some they look wonderful. But I just do not like them at all. Plus, the lace on top was itchy and I felt like it closed me off to much..

I liked this one a lot. I love the Grecian look, in theory, and it looked REALLY good on me because it made my waist look tiny.

But, it did not feel like a WEDDING dress. It was a HOTT dress, do not get me wrong. But, I felt like I should be walking the red carpet, not the aisle.

I also liked the “destination” type style – even though we are not having a destination wedding. It will be plenty hot in Ohio in July, and it can’t hurt to use lighter and flowy fabrics.

But again, there was just something missing. PLUS it was strapless. I detest strapless. First of all, I’m from the land of the Double D so – yeaaahhh…. Second, I have a flashback to this wedding I attended where the bride, and I am not making this up, boob-checked herself as she was standing at the head table RIGHT AFTER THEY WALKED INTO THE RECEPTION. Literally, walked across the reception hall, up onto the platform, stopped behind her chair and total full handed boob check. Ew, tacky, and everyone was watching! I do not want to be even tempted to pull up a dress, let alone make such an inappropriate action.

And that was pretty much it. The grumpy consultant would not let me try anything on that was not exactly my size so I didn’t have a lot of variety because a sample size I am most definitely not. The bridgade was about to advance against the grumpster “consultant,” so we high-tailed it out of there. (Note: I have had other GOOD experiences with said bridal chain and I am sure that my bad experience was mostly because of the consultant who was not really interested, because the other consultants who were not working with me were quite friendly and nice.).

I texted my best friend in Texas throughout, and told her I though that the brigade was a little upset I wasn’t crying. (You know, like the always do on those shows, boo hoo, “THIS IS IT!” – not really me.)

Her reply: “I am proud of you for not crying.” THAT is what best friends are for. I love her!

So, dejected, disappointed, and exhausted from hauling those huge dresses on and off of myself, we drove across the street to a boutique store that we thought would have some of the bridesmaids dresses I had been considering. Even though I didn’t have an appointment, they fit me in and said they would be happy to let me try on some bridal gowns first. I tried on a lot of gowns. A lot, a lot. In total for the day, I think the count was somewhere above 40. But what a turn around. It was miraculously enjoyable, even trying the ones I did not like!

And I did it allll baby. I started with this:

Big, poofy, and it totally shocked the brigade because they were not expecting that at ALL. (Especially since I had loved the more svelte Grecian style over at… you know…)

I went for more traditional:

(Yes, I know – it’s strapless. BUT it was a strapless that laid against the skin, it wasn’t cleavage-tacular and so I thought I might be able to stand it.)

(Ryan, if you are reading this, hunny, it is time to STOP NOW!! – he wants to be completely surprised, I have not told him a SINGLE THING about my dress!)

Ultimately though,  it was the lace. I wish I could show you a picture but I have been totally unable to find it online. Plus, I like the idea of making y’all wait too! (and, the boutique I went too actually does not have the brands/style numbers on the dress. They are smart and don’t want people like me to find the style number and order it somewhere cheaper like I did with prom dresses… I mean… like some people would DO with prom dresses….Anyway, all I know is that its a Casablanca!)

But it’s ALL lace, sheer lace straps, slight A-line but still pretty fitted, sweetheart neckline on the lining, small train, low in the back and GORGEOUS in every way. I got it in white, because everyone that I was with felt like I looked best in the pure white instead of the ivory or champagnes (there is just too much pink in my Irish skin for those muted colors).

I think all the lace goes well with our very Southern-esque Derby theme too. It’s very modern but at the same time vintage looking.

PLUS when I went back to order they were having a 20% off sale and I got my accessories (bra/slip/veil) for 10% off too! WOOHOO!

One last word, I cannot reiterate enough to find a dress that looks good ON you. I had a friend who was having a terrible time finding a dress. She could not find any dresses that she liked on her because they didn’t fit right. Be realistic about yourself, your body type, and what looks good. Just because something looks plain or unflattering on the hanger does not necessarily mean it will look that way on (and vice versa). If you need some help, use the Nordstrom’s dress finder, which searches for dresses by body type for you, to get a feel for the shapes that might best suit your body.

My mother has drilled this into my head my whole life and I wish I could deny that she has been right about this, because she has made me try on so many things that looked hideous hanging on a rack and then looked amazing once they were on my body. Please, do this with your wedding dress too and look at how it looks ON YOU and not how it looks on a hanger!!

Oh and one last confession/sell-out: I did cry. Not at the salon with all the brigade watching, that would have been too cliche for me. But the next morning, when I woke up and was talking to my groom to be, and he asked me if I’d had a good experience and if I was truly happy with the one I picked. Suddenly, I could just see myself walking down the aisle in THAT dress. Before, I was still a little unsure. But at that moment, I could see it. And I bawled like a baby.

It’s a good thing that wedding dresses take 4-6 months to come in, because otherwise I would put the thing on every day!

Happy Dress Shopping Ladies!!

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    • savvybride
    • October 31st, 2010

    great advice Leah! Can't wait to see you in your beautiful dress! :)

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