Dress shopping is a lot. It's a whoooooole lot. It's a surefire way to drive yourself slowly insane.
As a frequent watcher of Say Yes to the Dress, I thought I would try on a handful of wedding dresses for friends and family, and when I found "it," we would all start to smile and nod and cry in unison while I shouted, "I'm saying 'YES!' to the dress!"
Welp...that moment never, ever came.
I started out with a trip to Kleinfeld's after work with my friends, followed by--what else?--snacks at Outback Steakhouse. (Obvi.) Anyway, I thought the entire thing would be hilarious. People would be all hoity toity, I would try on ridiculous dresses I couldn't afford, and we would all laugh about the day over half-price happy hour drinks.
There were two problems with this scenario:
1. As it turns out, the people at Kleinfeld's are REALLY nice, and I ended up trying on gorgeous dresses that I loved...but couldn't afford.
2. My friends all had different opinions from each other (and sometimes from me).
This outing kicked off my confusing, loooong path to finding my wedding dress. Following that trip, I went to pretty much every store in Manhattan. Sometimes twice. I went to fancy stores, secondhand stores, discount stores. I went to Macy's Bridal, where an elderly saleslady told me about her decades in the business and all her former clients that she still lunches with on occasion. I went to RK Bridal, where a Jamaican saleslady told me about her crazy client who refused to wear underwear while trying on dresses. I went to boutiques, where they made me take my shoes off and yelled at me for even taking my cell phone out of my pocket.
I took pictures from a million angles wherever they'd let me, and I sent them to my sister and parents for critique. My parents made a special six-hour trip to Manhattan to help me look, and we went back to all of those stores together. I thought that they might be able to help, but still no winner. Then I traveled six hours to my hometown, and, with parents in tow, tried on every dress in an hour radius. My time was limited, so my father kindly created an itinerary with travel directions and timing to hit all the highlights in one day.
I still didn’t have a dress.
It's amazing that my parents didn't disown me.
Finally, it was Monday morning of my must-find-a-dress weekend, I was traveling back to Manhattan that very afternoon, I had been wedding dress shopping for a grand total of 24 hours, and I still didn't have a wedding dress.
Don't get me wrong--there are a TON of pretty wedding dresses out there (once you weed through the dresses designed for 23-year-olds who want to be princesses). And there were many that I liked, but I just couldn't find "the one."
That Monday morning, I had seen a Maggie Sottero dress online that I sort of liked, so I filed it away in case I saw something similar on my last ditch trip to the store just ten minutes down the road from my parents' house, the store where my sister found her dress. Totally defeated, I pulled dresses off the rack, sighed, and put them back. Annoyingly, a blonde 25-year-old walked in, tried on two dresses, and picked 'it' in the first 20 minutes. Of course she cried. And laughed. And hugged her bestie who was there with her.
I wanted to cry, myself. I had just run out of energy and time. I started a pile of contenders for the dressing room, but the thought of trying anything on made me want to crawl into bed and never leave.
Then my dad pulled a dress off the rack and asked, "How about this one?" It was the dress I had seen online that morning.
I said, "Oh yeah, that's fine. Add it to the pile." As you can tell, even spotting a dress I had seen online didn't thrill me.
Now, when I tried on the dress (which was literally 20 sizes too big), I didn't start crying. I didn't smile. I didn't sigh with relief. I shrugged and said, "You know, I don't hate this one."
I could tell that my parents were holding their breath, cautiously excited that they might not have to go to another store that makes you remove your shoes when you enter.
Even as we were making the purchase the following day (because of course I didn't have the decisiveness to buy on the spot), I didn't feel elated. I just never had that moment. I didn't really say, "YES!"
I said, "...Okay...okay, I think this might be it. Let's make the call."
And that's totally fine. It's exhausting to chase that YES! moment, which probably does happen for a lot of people...and doesn't happen for a lot of others. The funny thing is that I ended up LOVING my dress. I just didn't know I would love it at the time. Even two weeks after I made the purchase, I still wasn't 100% confident in it. But I deleted all the other dress pictures from my phone, and within another week, I forgot about the zillion others that I tried on.
So if you don't start sobbing the second you put on a dress, don't sweat it.
It's okay to say, "...Okay..."
The advice I wish I had before I started shopping:
* Take some time to look at different styles, shapes, and designers before your first appointment.
* Try on a number of different shapes. You might surprise yourself by liking something you didn't expect.
* Set a budget and #STICKTOIT. Don't let any pushy salespeople show you expensive dresses because you're going to fall in love with them. It's inevitable. I promise that you WILL find a dress in your price range.
* Let salespeople recommend a dress or two. They might have a better sense of what looks good on you than you do.
* Don't get too many opinions.
* Don't worry about a dress being too trendy or too similar to your third cousin's wife's dress from their wedding last month. Pick something you feel beautiful in.
* You're rarely in the changing room alone, so unless you like to be naked in front of a stranger, always wear full-bottom underwear. :)