One of the earliest things most brides do after getting engaged, is to start shopping for a wedding dress. This is one of the most exciting, girliest moments for a bride who will eventually get stuck chosing between a million choices of paper for invitations, flavors for cake, flowers, finding all the important vendors. Wedding dresses are one of the rare wedding tasks where you have a tactile experience, an extremely personalized experience (your very unique body on different dresses), and you ultimately have full control. Most other things you lose some control to “packages”, or rules about number of invitations you have to buy (often in groups of 25), etc.
There are many elements that go into wedding dress shopping and sometimes they only strike a bride in the moment. Here are some common experiences!
- Chosing the WRONG people to shop with you. Whether it’s friends who show impatience and want to leave, or no-show for the shopping day, or friends whose style is very different from you. It could also be your mom who wants a very conservative look and you want a more strapless, sensual look.
- Chosing the wrong wedding dress shop. Hopefully you have different options in your area and if you do, it’s very likely you’ll feel more comfortable in some over others. Some dress shops are very high end, where a purse would be the same cost as your entire wedding dress budget. You may also enter some stores and the sales staff is too young, or old, stuffy, or pushy. The dresses may be too busy, too simple, the lighting and dressing rooms may not be very well designed, or the store may be so busy you feel rushed and stressed out.
- Your vision vs reality. Most of us have no real idea what style dress would look best on us. I remember trying on a very nice dress in a 1930’s style. Apparently everyone in the store gasped and told my mom how the dress was meant for my body. Meanwhile another bride was trying on the same dress and her friends were trying to not gasp, in a “that is NOT for you” way.
- Your body shape is not likely the model body shape. Whether you are so annoyed at your large, or small breasts, big hips, or no hips (if you want the curvy look), wedding dresses can be an infuriating experience! You want to look like A BRIDE, however you imagine that “look.”
- Indecision, insecurity, exhaustion. If you aren’t confident after trying on a lot of dresses, you may start questioning if you’re too picky, if you need to look at higher-end dresses, if you want to lose a lot of weight, or maybe you realize you need to bring other people to help you out. Some brides completely exhaust their friends. I know of a bridesmaid who was yelled at by the bride for not going on a THIRD weekend long out of town trip to dress shop. The bridesmaid didn’t have the money and did not think it necessary to leave, for a third time, because the bride was indecisive.
Don’t forget with all of the stuff that happens, you also want to make sure you’re clear with the dress style and location of your ceremony and reception. You also want to make sure you and your fiance have agreed on the general look so if he is like my brother, who WANTED to wear a tux (that was part of his vision of being a groom), that your dress is not so casual you look imbalanced. Similarly a very glittery, fancy wedding dress should probably not be paired with kahki pants and a casual shirt.
Good luck! And for more help on all the interpersonal dynamics that happen at EVERY SINGLE turn in wedding planning, our book has increased confidence of countless engaged couples. It’s called Take Back Your Wedding and is available on Amazon or our website.