I expected to like wedding dress shopping. I’m not sure why, since I don’t consider myself much of a shopper in everyday life. Occasionally I’ll get in the mood to shop, but it’s typically when I’m eating lunch at my desk and I get an email discount from the Gap. Somehow, though, I expected wedding dress shopping to be different. I was a bride! I was going to find a pretty dress! I would would be as luminescent as the sun!
That’s not at all what happened.
Like many brides, I started my search online. I perused Pinterest and repinned a few dresses, keeping in mind my body shape (curvy) and what I like to wear (no bling, lacy and simple). I fully expected to eventually purchase a dress with something covering my shoulders — I don’t have arms like Jennifer Anniston, so why would a strapless dress look good on me?
My first dress shopping experience was to one of the wedding mega stores. I went just to browse. I ended up trying on a few dresses on, along the same styles that I had pinned. The first dress I came out of the dressing room in got the reaction I was hoping for — the ooooh, you look so beautiful! But when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see me. I saw a girl in a wedding dress, sure, but not me. I tried on a few others, and while there were a few I liked, I quickly got overwhelmed. I left the store feeling fragile, but also with a few ideas of what looked best on me in reality (strapless, who knew?).
My second shopping experience was a charity sample sale for Brides Against Breast Cancer. It’s a fantastic organization, and I was eager to walk out of the sale with a steal of a dress, and having helped to support their efforts. My maid of honor and soon-to-be aunts-in-law were my support for the sale, and despite their no pressure attitudes, I became overwhelmed even more quickly than last time. I may have cried quietly in the corner.
It should have been a great experience — the volunteers were knowledgeable and kind, and I had three women that I adore cheering me on — but I only lasted about an hour. I tried on more dresses, several of which felt like Cinderella’s sparkly fairy godmother dressed me, and all I was able to focus on was holding myself together. Despite the support I had in my corner of the penthouse, I wanted to sit on the floor and sob. I refrained.
For me, and I suspect for a lot of other women, wedding dress shopping magnified every insecurity I’ve ever had. Body image issues, emotional issues, ev-er-y-thing. Each experience left me feeling overwhelmed at best, and on the verge of a breakdown at worst. I wanted to like it. But not only was it not fun, it was the antitheses of fun. It was decidedly un-fun. I didn’t want to panic — one of the things I promised myself when Matt and I decided to have a “real wedding” was not to allow all of the planning and the details to overtake me — but after two shopping experiences I felt like I would never find something. I would never look into the mirror and see myself as a bride. I was destined to walk down the aisle in jeans.
So, as you can tell by the title of this post, I did find something. I found THE DRESS. How? Well, I did what worked for me. I removed myself from the stressful situations — from the women I didn’t know telling me I looked oh so pretty and the Disney princess style dresses — and found the one. I followed one of my very favorite pins to Dessy.com, ordered myself a sample dress, and tried it on in my best friend’s living room. And when I looked in the mirror I finally saw it. I felt how I was supposed to feel. I let go of the other experiences and my many insecurities and finally saw what I wanted to see. ME! I said yes to the dress!
How was your dress shopping experience? Anyone else feel overwhelmed like me?
Favorite Wedding Dresses from BHLDN
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.