Wedding Wednesday: Dress shopping

As I mentioned last week, my mother came to visit me. Aside from spending time with me, her only child, she wanted to visit the wedding venue and take me dress shopping.
Now y’all may not be able to tell from reading the blog, but I am not ultra-jazzed about the wedding. Of course, I’m excited to marry Johnny. I’m excited to get on Johnny’s health insurance. I’m excited to throw a good party.
And that’s how I see this event: a really big, really fun Kentucky Derby party. I want good food, good drinks, a great race, big hats, and fun time. I don’t care who sits at what table. I don’t particularly care what music is playing. I definitely don’t care about weird traditions like a garter toss.
And I certainly don’t care about having a big, elaborate, expensive dress. My mother, on the other hand…
Saturday afternoon we went to four dress shops. Some highlights:
  • Wearing only my uncomfortable, Spanx-like special occasion undergarment while a total stranger buttoned, zipped, and stuffed me into gowns.
  • Getting into a minor spat with my mother over what kind of dress I should wear. (Her opinion: the longer and frillier the better. Mine: opposite of that.)
  • Reluctantly trying on a birdcage veil just to humor my mother. (Ridic.)
  • Having a dress sales lady assure me that they could just ‘chop off’ the approximately 4 feet of excess length if I wanted it to be short. (Not reassuring.)
  • Feeling completely silly standing on a little platform while sales ladies “oooh”ed and “aaah”ed over me. (I was definitely not looking THAT good.)
  • Going to Macy’s to look at cocktail dresses when my mother had a mini meltdown because I thought spending $900 + alteration fees was dumb.
It was maybe the least fun afternoon of my life. 
Married readers, how did you find your dress? Was it a Big Deal? Did anyone cry? Did you feel completely ridiculous trying on these things? 

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

29 thoughts on “Wedding Wednesday: Dress shopping”

  1. To me the dress was a big deal, but to each their own – no reason that you should feel like you are on an episode of Say Yes to the Dress if you don't want to. You are already focused on the most important part of the wedding – actually being married to the person you love, and sharing that relationship with the people who matter most in your life. I think your practical approach to it is refreshing, and as someone who has seen various aspects of the wedding industry from the inside (jewelry sales and as a wedding photographer) I can say that way too many people focus on the unimportant material things over the more important stuff. Best wishes in your planning, and be sure the enjoy the day when it comes – it will be beautiful 🙂

  2. Hahaha at platform. It must be a schtick right?

    I just got my dress from Dillard's. Simple pretty NOT white. I'm niwt traditional sort so whatev.

    Do what you like. And maybe like with horses, tell mom "I'll take that into consideration." Or "duly noted ".

  3. Not married so nothing to stand on. If I get married and have a wedding I will want to have a pretty dress but the whole wedding isn't going to be about that. I think what's inportant is who you're marrying, the people you choose to celebrate that with, and the memories 🙂

  4. I was freaking pumped about getting a dress…but it was also on super sale. If your mom is too pushy take your best friend, or a couple friends and make it just a fun girls day out, and only try on what you actually like. I think the shorter dresses are way cute, especially with the theme of your wedding. Just focus on the prize (future hubby) and it will all fall into place:)

  5. I found my dress at David's Bridal, on the clearance rack, while under the influence of large doses of painkillers.

    Long story short- My best friend had flown up for the weekend just to go dress shopping with my Mom and I. I end up in the hospital with a kidney stone (worst pain EVER!) begging the doctors to just give me something, ANYTHING, to make it stop. Of course, upon discharge and happily drugged I thought it was the best idea ever to still go shopping. The dress shop was slightly horrified at my bandaged arm from the IV but we ended up having a great time. My friend found my dress that was normally $900 for $300 on a clearance rack. Best purchase ever. Only one panic attack 1 month later when I began to wonder if I really liked the dress or if it was the drug cocktail talking.

  6. I went to one store, tried on three dresses and picked. I was excited to wear a pretty dress because I NEVER dress up, but I was not really into the shopping experience… I just wanted to feel like a prettier version of the everyday me, haha

    1. THIS! That's kind of how I feel: I want to look like nice Stephanie, not grubby barn Stephanie. I enjoy shopping, but the whole wedding-gown-your-special-day vibe is too weird.

  7. I bought my dress off Etsy for about $270. Custom-made to my measurements and with my particulars (like, a peacock-blue sash and peacock-blue ribbon on the tulle underneath). Why ditch money on a dress that you're going to wear one time? I mean, cheaper things can still look good!

  8. I went to David's bridal and felt ridiculous in the all the fluff. My friend set up an appointment at a *fancy* bridal shop in San fran, just for fun. I tried on a tea length dress with 3 kinds of french lace (the sales girl pointed it out several times) and fell in love with it. It was $1600, but custom made, so no further alterations fees. That was about $1k more than I had planned to spend. Of course my mom said if I really wanted it, she'd buy it for me. I had 3 weeks to decide since they needed enough time to make the dress. So I went to as many other bridal shops as I could to see if I found anything I liked as much or almost as much. I was no where close, but I still hesitated to ask my mom for that much money for a dress (I would be wearing it 2-3 times due to our ceremony/party set up). Finally, I was in town for my sister's bach party and was going to ask my mom for the money, but while we were up in a little town near tahoe I went into a boutique and found an off-white summer dress that was very similar in style to the one I loved. It was not as fancy and I didn't look AS good in it, but it was what I was looking for, had the same cut and was $75. I bought it and had a few alterations to the hem and neck line (which cost more than the dress). I was happy with it, and glad we could spend more money on food/drink/photos. Sometimes I wish I did get the really nice dress, just because it was sooooo pretty and extra special for my extra special day. But in the end, I am happy with the other dress.

  9. I think dress shopping was the culmination of permanently putting our wedding plans on hold. Everyone that was already on the crazy train about "offering" their opinions on everything else, and then it came time to look at dresses and I was just like "NOPE. YOU ARE ALL FIRED, AND SO IS MARRIAGE, YOU LUNATICS."

  10. Before dress shopping, I watched a bridal runway show that included plus size models and was able to pick out the type of dress I thought looked good, and flattering on full figures. I had a length, neckline, and "type" all picked out. Knowing what I wanted made dress shopping easy and straightforward. It took us 3x longer to get the bridesmaid dresses picked out!

    1. That's such a good idea! The one wedding show I braved had a lot of gaunt looking models in dresses sort of wandering the crowd, which was both weird and unhelpful.

  11. Fun question! I typically just shop for real clothes (not riding clothes) at JCrew and they make wedding dresses so I knew where I would be finding my dress! So I flew to one of their bridal boutiques in Chicago, where coincidentally my best friends lives, and we went and tried some on, picked one we liked, and rolled out.
    I did spend money on alterations because it's likely the only time in my life I ever would and wanted the dress to fit perfectly.

  12. I brought a best friend/bridesmaid to help run interference if I got upset with my mom or the annoying shop lady. I tried on a LOT to be honest, and I'm fine with that. I only plan on being married once, and dang it I was going to be happy. I also learned pretty quick to stand up to the shop ladies-they can get pushy. Do what feels right. The dress I choose was the one I didn't want to take off! My mom cried. I only cried when I paid for it. 🙂

    1. I was pretty honest with both my mother and the shop ladies, because I figured it wasn't doing anyone any good to lie about how much I liked/disliked something. I just felt so bad for being kind of blunt with my mom because this was obviously a Big Deal to her. :/ I think I AM going to cry when I pay for something.

  13. Heh. I was walking through the mall with hubs (we were engaged) and saw a dress. I told him it was the one. Dragged my sister, mom, and friend back a few weeks later and bought it. Whole thing took under an hour and cost less than $200. I'm not really a wedding person, so my wedding cost under 3k (including buying bridesmaids dresses for them and providing food at shower and reception and paying photog). It was just a big party of people I liked and I happened to be wearing a pretty dress. I'm glad it's over. I do like being married though.

  14. Oh man. My mom was a nightmare when I got married. She never had a wedding herself, and was totally living vicariously through me. It was awful. I wanted a tiny ceremony with a big party, and didn't have the money for much more. She wanted the whole big Catholic shebang. We did it her way, but it was a painful process and didn't feel like it was actually my event. I still feel pretty resentful towards her for that (but, she's like that for a lot of things). My advice? Don't let your mother steer you around. Find something she can do to feel involved, and don't feel bad cutting her out of things that she'll try to take control of. You don't need to deal with her guilting or pressuring you.

  15. I wanted to buy every dress I tried on. I love fancy dresses. I would wear a ball gown to work every single day if people didn't look at me funny. Especially considering I work for a farm. In fact I ended up with 3 wedding dresses. Now before anyone's eyes bug out of their heads… I bought the first one because it was $99 and gorgeous and simple and a dress I could see myself getting married in if nothing else came along. I bought 'the dress' after going to try on an other dress that I thought was 'the dress'. I was with my bestie and we both agreed that it was the one. And as for the third dress… I wanted a short reception dress, so I wouldn't have to haul a big dress around all night…
    Oh and while we are talking about wedding dress shopping. One day when I went to try on dresses I walked into a fancy schmancy dress store, and I was wearing my breeches. It was almost like the music stopped, and everyone stared at me jaws dropped. I was going to the barn afterwards! I didn't want to have to change when I got there…

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