I have a confession to make. I am a fan of the show Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. And I’m willing to guess I’m not the only bride here that watches. As anyone who watches the show knows Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan is not known for having budget-friendly wedding gowns. Most of the women on the show are looking in the price range of $2,500 to $5,000 and you will occasionally see those who get gowns priced at $10,000 and up. Whew! That’s my whole wedding budget right there.
So what does this have to do with anything?
When I was originally setting my wedding budget I allocated $500 to $1,000 on the dress (including alterations). Of course I was hoping to stick closer to $500. Like many brides-to-be I got swept away in the magic and romanticism of “the dress” and went looking about three months in to my 16-month engagement. The first place I decided to look? David’s Bridal. And look I did! I did not find much in their racks that I liked. I didn’t want anything with bling… meaning zero beading. It’s just not my style. I’m also not a fan of extreme shapes like a mermaid or ballgown. Plus on my 5’1 frame I wanted something that would make me look grown-up and womanly and not drowning in fabric.
The first gown I tried on at David’s Bridal (and liked) was a lace fit & flare. It was pretty and I was feeling pretty good about myself in it, and excited to find something I liked. But it wasn’t the most comfortable dress. Even though it wasn’t a mermaid I still felt restricted in it and was worried I wouldn’t be able to dance freely. Then I tried sitting down and again, it was uncomfortable. I realized the dress wasn't going to cut it. The next gown I liked actually had a bit of poof to it, something I originally didn’t want.
I debated this dress but ultimately decided that although it was fun and cute it wasn’t what I envisioned myself wearing on my wedding day. The nice thing is that both of these dresses priced in at $490 and $540 respectively. So they were right on the mark budget wise.
I decided to go for a more traditional bridal salon experience and booked an appointment at a small local boutique. Dresses started at around $750 and went up from there. I tried on about 5 or 6 dresses and found one I liked A LOT. It had everything I wanted! It was lace, A-line, ivory, with no beading, and a sweetheart neckline. I didn’t cry but I didn’t want to take it off. That says something. My mom was with me and she also loved the dress. However I did not buy it right there… I wanted to keep looking. The next month the same boutique was having a trunk sale so I decided to go back with one of my bridesmaids and try on some more dresses. I must have tried on 10 or more. Some were nice but none were as nice as my favorite from the last visit. I asked the consultant if I could try that dress on again. Then I just knew. I loved it just as much as before and felt better knowing none of the other dresses had stood up to it. My friend liked it too! The only downside? It was $899 before alterations. My Mom ended up paying for half and technically I was under my top budget of $1,000. Here it is!
Now, I love my dress. But I have been feeling a bit guilty about purchasing it a year before the wedding and only trying on gowns at two places. I recently went looking at bridesmaid dresses with my girls and saw some great dresses at another salon that were less expensive than mine. I kept thinking I had found “the one” because Say Yes to the Dress and other shows like it always tell you to stop looking and buy once you’ve had that feeling. Did I make the right decision? I don’t know. But I am happy with my dress. I might have been able to find something just as great for less but I know I will feel wonderful on our wedding day. Instead, I’ll just have to be more conscious of our budget in other areas.
How do you feel about wedding dress shopping? Did you get a feeling when you found “the one”? Do you have any dress regrets?