How to Buy a Wedding Dress

File this one under “anti-climactic”.

I bought a dress.

I bought it back in June, at a Brides Against Breast Cancer sale that I had to drive all the way to the suburbs for (to be fair, my sister had to drive all the way from Milwaukee).


Image via Brides Against Breast Cancer; Tour of Gowns dates

Like photography, the dress was not something that was a big deal for me. I need one. They’re ridiculously expensive. Let’s just take care of it. I made myself pin ideas for about an hour, and then I didn’t stress. People say to be open to all styles, try on whatever and you just don’t know what you’re going to love. So I figured a couple vague ideas should do it. Oh, and “no lace” (Shamrock) and “no sparkle beads” (me).

So my sister came down, and we met my mom and I drove us all out the sale at Jasmine Galleria* in the suburbs.

Then my sister and I picked out about six dresses and I started trying them on. In my case, they were mostly sample dresses, not donated ones. My mom sat in the corner reading her kindle while my sister helped me get in and out of dresses.

I tried one that was pretty good, although maybe a little fancier than I wanted and sparkle-beaded. Then my sister found another one, in the same style but a larger size, with no sparkle beads. It was a nice dress. It was pretty, and it looked good. There was another one, simpler, with diagonal pleats (that sounds awkward–it doesn’t LOOK awkward) and a green sewn-in sash with a sparkle bead thinger on it (yep, technical term. Medallion maybe?) This one was not as nice of a dress, but I liked it better.

I agonized for awhile–should I buy a dress my first time out? From a charity sale without even a full selection?

Luckily, this didn’t bother anyone as my mom was still reading and my sister was having the time of her life. She LOVES wedding dress shopping. She was telling Asian Girl how great the lace dress looked on her (true, she looked awesome) and that it would totally be formal enough for her downtown wedding, and some other girl that maybe it would look better with a sash. Oh, and Gatsby Girl**.

Anyhow, the nice salesgirl put me on the RUNWAY and seriously, that was cool. There’s a camera, so you see yourself both ways, and in a mirror down the side and its very helpful. You should try on dresses there just for the cool runway.


Photo via Jasmine Galleria

The dress needed a wider sash (“Oh, how about some bling” “Please no!”) and another saleslady picked one with pretty silk flowers, which was just what it needed (but still something even wider), and they clipped it to show what a sweetheart neckline would look like (oooh better!) and so it looked good, and it was a very good price, but did I want to buy on day one?

The consultant told me I totally could but she could understand not wanting to give up the experience. She went seven times before she bought and she hesitated because she wanted to keep trying on dresses and feeling like a princess.

Well, that did it. I had no interest in spending hours trying on dresses and trying to pin more things and determine what I really wanted. This was a good dress. I looked nice in it. I could probably find something I liked AS MUCH, but likely not more–and if I did like it more, I’d probably look at the pricetag and say “Oh, I like it more, but not $1200 more.” and I’d be fine with that. Plus, this dress was so cheap if I did make a mistake I wouldn’t be out much money at all.

My sister asked if I was hoping for a “moment” when I put the dress on and cry and all that, because this clearly was not a moment, but if that wasn’t something I cared about missing, I should just go for it.

So I did. And now I have a dress.

Which, honestly, I’m pretty sure is it. It works, it matches what I thought I wanted, I look good in it and I saved a good bit of money on it. Its the one with the green sash, which will need to be replaced, and is half the price of the other one, which was reasonable too. WIN. (And I still like it six months later.)

How many times did you go shopping before you bought a dress? Anyone else not in to the dress thing?

*Jasmine Galleria is fascinatingly all-in-one. They have wedding dresses, and bridesmaid dresses, and mother of the bride dresses, and then hair & make up, and tuxes, and cake, and body wraps, and centerpieces, and photobooths….it was mesmerizing.

**Gatsby Girl was trying on this very different Gatsby dress and she loved it but her mother thought it was all wrong for her country club wedding. So my sister was talking to them (after they had everyone in the room vote and we all went for Gatsby not the other one), and as we were checking out, the girl and her mom were begging my sister not to leave yet, so then she went with them for 15 minutes. And it all turned out fine, she got the Gatsby dress, everyone cried, and I’m sure it was much more emotionally gratifying than my experience. Also, if you want to go dress shopping with my sister, she would love to. I’m pretty sure she thinks she got gypped. And if you’re reading this Gatsby girl, my sister & I would love to see your wedding pictures!


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