finding my "yes" dress

Disclaimer - in the post that follows, even though I will be talking about and referencing the dress I have chosen for the wedding, I will not be sharing pictures of the dress until after the wedding. Wildcat Guy has indicated that he does not want to see the dress - even pictures in the catalog - until I am in it, walking down the aisle at our ceremony; and I also would like for the dress to be a pleasant surprise for everyone else, as well. 

When Mom and I went dress shopping back in April, I was hesitant. Mainly because, when it comes to shopping for clothes, I either have very good experiences or very frustrating experiences...and I think it's fair to say that you really want your wedding-dress shopping experience to be the former, right?

Thankfully, it was an absolutely fantastic experience! I ended up trying on nine different dresses - some of which I had picked out beforehand and some which we picked out in the store. And no, we did not browse through all of the racks. Based on the sales consultant's description of what each aisle had, we picked two aisles that felt most compatible with what I was looking for and browsed through those while the consultant pulled the dresses I'd already picked out.

Going into the dressing room, I was pleased with the assortment of dresses I'd picked. Some seemed like obvious choices, but there were also a few that I was curious about and decided to try. In fact, one of the things I was most pleased with that day was my willingness to go with the proverbial advice to try different things on.

Interestingly enough, I was able to rule out more than half of the dresses pretty quickly once I started trying them on. They were way too embellished...or the silhouette didn't look as good on me as it did on the hanger...or I would have needed to wear a slip or crinoline underneath...or it looked less like a bridal gown and more like a bridal nightgown...or the back was entirely sheer, which would have required me to worry about tan lines all summer. There were also dresses that simply suffered by comparison. One of the dresses I ended up liking the most was one of the very first dresses I tried on - which meant that a few others that I liked (such as the one I'm wearing in the photo above) ended up being categorized in the, "I like this...but not as much as the other one." group.

The consultant even commented on how decisive I seemed. I didn't have the heart to tell her that even though it seemed like I was ruling dresses out easily, once the group was narrowed down to the ones I really liked, the decision-making would get more difficult.

Eventually, I narrowed it down to three - including this gorgeous cap-sleeve gown with lace and embellishment and a line of buttons all the way down the back. And this - this was when I was glad I had Mom with me. She was very helpful at keeping me true to my style - and (perhaps more importantly) keeping me focused on the style of our wedding.

Because this was my absolute favorite dress of the day. It fit so nicely in all the right was was beautiful...I felt stunning and comfortable and wonderful in it. And I loved that it wasn't strapless. If you could see the expression on my face or read my thoughts, you would know how excited I was and how real my being a bride felt.

Then I realized as Mom and I were talking about it that it was also way too formal for the wedding that Wildcat Guy and I are planning. It's difficult to tell from this picture, but there is beading and other embellishment all. over. the dress - around the waistband, across the bodice, all over the skirt and encircling the entire hem. (Baker Blonde later pointed out that the train would likely not have flowed smoothly over a grassy lawn, either - an important factor to consider for an outdoor ceremony.) Sigh.

So I enjoyed it for another few moments, took it off and moved on to the final two candidates...

...both of which veered away from the traditional lace or chiffon or other overlay that I thought I would want. One (above) had a fun, modern dotted Swiss that was simultaneously casual and chic; and the other (which will not be pictured for four months more) had a denser, less "frilly" (less feminine?) lace with a thick leaf pattern that I found unique and pretty and very relevant to our vineyard setting.

Cue difficult decision-making.

Both had a similar silhouette (strapless with a fitted bodice and an A-line skirt). Both relied more on pleating and gathers to create details on the bodice (instead of beading, sequins, etc.). Both could have the train cut off to have a straight hemline all the way around (and on a side note, it was neat to realize that, with my heels on, neither of the dresses needed to be hemmed in the front). But the more I examined how I looked in each one, the more I realized there was one I liked more than the other. (It even had pockets!)

Except that, being me, I knew I needed to think it over for a couple of days...just to be sure. (And to have the opportunity to see the pictures Mom was taking of me in each dress on a screen larger than my camera.) And here I had been, worried I wouldn't find anything I liked!

Ultimately, within the day, I knew which dress was "my dress" - and the more I considered it, the more I saw myself in that dress on the day that I marry my love. Which meant that, a few weeks later, I returned to the store to "say yes to the dress" and order my gown. Yay!

Even now, looking back on the experience of shopping for my wedding dress, I consider it such a blessing that the day was so lovely. I'm glad I took the time that morning to fix my hair and put on some wear something to the store that I felt good in (not just something that was comfortable and easy to take on and off)...because I'm convinced that helped me approach the trying-on of so many dresses with a more positive self-image than I might look at each dress and say, "even though my body isn't perfect, do I like how this dress looks on it?"

Because in the end, I think that's the most important factor - to find a dress that you feel good in. And my dress? Felt absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to wear it in October.

Now if only I could find the right pair of shoes...

Where I am: home
What I'm reading: the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly


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