The Not So Perfect Moment

As a little girl, I used to imagine that perfect “say yes to the dress” moment.  The room would be full of  the ladies I loved and I would radiate happiness.

Then I grew up.

When I got engaged there were so many aspects of the wedding I couldn’t wait for: securing the perfect venue, menu tastings, dance lessons, etc. The one thing I could do without…dress shopping. Now I realize many people cannot relate to this feeling, but I know there must be a few that do!

This “outing” gives me a headache just to think about. Now, please keep in mind I LOVE shopping. My closet is busting at the seams and I can’t pass up a Saturday at the mall. To me, wedding-dress shopping isn’t really shopping. It is a monumentally public affair with a lot of pressure.

As much as I wanted to go by myself, I didn’t want to selfishly deny my mother this memory. (Though, she does have four other daughters to make memories with.)

I tried to follow Randy’s advice. I kept my entourage small and invited only close relatives (mom and two sisters). We had a glass of wine before we left in order to loosen my nerves. I’m not sure why I was so worked up. I knew what style I wanted and I have a pretty good sense of what looks good on me. I was armed with inspiration pictures. I think it was just such a buildup. My family had flown down to Florida for this specific purpose, and I didn’t want to disappoint. I didn’t want to schmooze with the saleswoman, and I certainly DID NOT want to have to walk out in public where strangers would see my in my dress before I could swing the dang thing around to get a look in the mirror.

As you probably expected, after rocking such a negative attitude, my first dress-shopping experience was a complete mess. I did not find a dress that had any potential and felt really uncomfortable the whole time. By the end I was sweaty, covered in hives, and couldn’t wait to be back in the car.

The ladies forced strongly encouraged me to check out one more store, and to make a long story short…this was even worse.

The week before we went shopping, I looked for any and all tips about how to make this a better experience, but the only things I could really find were overall tips like wear proper undergarments and stay well fed. I thought I would work on a list for brides-to-be like me.

How to make wedding-dress shopping a little less painful:

  1. Do not go on a Saturday. This is when shops are most crowded. I went after work on a Tuesday night, and I had the whole place to myself. This will allow for better privacy and will allow you to focus on yourself, not on all the other people.
  2. Speak up. Be open to your consultant’s recommendations, but articulate your own vision. This is your moment and it is your dress. Don’t fake enthusiasm or try to talk yourself into a dress (almost happened to me).
  3. Schedule a fun activity after the shopping trip (preferably one that involves wine). I can’t imagine having to drive right home after such a frustrating shopping trip. Thankfully, the ladies and I went out for drinks to blow off some stream and relax.
  4. When all else fails, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and remember that stud muffin that made you want to put on a white dress in the first place!!

Ultimately, I found my perfect dress and I am madly in love with it (more on that later)! If I can make it happen, you can too! Was anyone else dreading this experience as much as I was?


Mrs. Squirrel

Tampa, FL
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Hoppily Ever After: We Wine & Dine
The Engagement Photos Are In!
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  1. Member
    riverbride13 678 posts, Busy bee @ 5:14 pm

    GREAT tips and great way to keep things in perspective! Those are all great ideas to make it a little easier for yourself. I had the best experience in the smallest shop I went to. I had it all to myself and felt the most comfortable there. Huge difference!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Dmitri Tsitelauri, Guest @ 5:54 pm

    Good tips! I also would like to share an advice: I was talking to a wedding planner at one of the weddings I was photographing and she had told me that buying a dress too early can be a big mistake. Don’t buy a dress too far in advance of your wedding day, or before you have a confirmed wedding date and location. It’s important to know whether your wedding will be on a beach or in a church, in winter or summer, formal or casual, before you can choose the right gown.

  3. Member
    eam253 32 posts, Newbee @ 6:10 pm

    Um, totally hit the nail on the head. I adore shopping and could blow an entire paycheck in one store on clothes, but something about “THE MOST IMPORTANCE PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU’LL EVER WEAR” scared the bejeesus outta me. I had my mother, FMIL and one of my FSILs with me. When I first got there I was sweaty, nauseous and pretty close to vomiting all over the white fluffy tulle. Luckily, it got gradually easier and after trying on 20 dresses I found the one :) I’m so glad someone else could relate to this! I thought I was all alone.. after all.. I’d been dreaming about it since I was 6!

  4. Member
    jbarker09 382 posts, Helper bee @ 7:26 pm

    great tips!

  5. Member
    infinity092813 201 posts, Helper bee @ 9:52 pm

    Thanks for this. Dress shopping is the last “big ticket” item for the wedding and I’ve put it off for similar reasons.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    starcatcher09, Guest @ 9:03 am

    Thank you so much for this! I’m glad to know that someone else dreaded going shopping as much as I do!

  7. Member
    AshevilleArboretumBride 13 posts, Newbee @ 4:02 pm

    Yes, yes and yes. It seemed this was the one thing that i just could not get excited over. Did find a dress and i LOVE it, but wish there was a better understanding public out there who could feel for the minority of us who just dreaded it. it gave me great relief to know there are a few out there who feel this way!

  8. Member
    stephaniewatts 5 posts, Newbee @ 6:13 pm

    Totally relate. I thought It’d be really fun and I’d just looooove it. Quickly realized it was awful and I just wanted to be done. Felt ridiculous in 98% of the things I put on and was super happy just to be through with it! I didn’t WANT to bring any friends along to be miserable with me.

    Glad it’s a once in a lifetime experience…. also glad to know I’m not the only one out there that wasn’t super thrilled!

  9. Member
    reynaweddingbee 194 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:02 pm

    I felt the exact same way! I love shopping, but I was not excited to take everyone with me. I definitely would’ve went alone if I had a choice, but my mom would’ve never let me go without her in case I found “the one.” Somehow it all works out in the end, and I’m glad you found your dress!

  10. Member
    hpete777 60 posts, Worker bee @ 9:15 pm

    I had a horrible time dress shopping, I thought it would be easier to find a dress, but I had no idea what I had in mind to get, and I felt everything just looked bad, until the last one. I am not one to make quick decisions so I had to wait a while until I bought it and I checked another store and had a worse time!

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Belle, Guest @ 3:24 pm

    OMG I completely understand!
    All this pressure, being the center of attention, crowds of strangers oogling your dress choices…
    I had this plan to get my posse together (My Mom, his Mom, and the four Bridesmaids) and I was freaking out about it, trying to straighten out the transportation, not knowing anything about the bridal shop, having to drive 50 miles one way to go see dresses I didn’t even know if I would like!
    Then, I heard about a $99 dress sale they were having that very weekend… I just had to go see! Of coarse, there were like 10 ugly dresses for that price… but, it was too short notice to get everyone together, which I do not regret. I went with my best friend, the one person I can look to and say, “do I look rediculous?” and she will be honest.
    Almost everyone was ok with it, except the MIL. I know how she is and knew she would only make this experience TERRIBLE. I ended up with “the dress” that very day, for only $300 or so, and no hives from trying to please everyone.

  12. Member
    miste2blue 17 posts, Newbee @ 12:21 am

    Absolutely understand! I just bought my dress 3 days ago… myself. LOL! I went dress shopping out of state with my mother & then once again with a friend….both experiences were OK….but no lightning bolt moment of “Ah-Ha – this must be the dress….” It’s funny when people tell you that you’ll just “know” when it’s the dress…..I guess that’s true to a point….I’m pretty logical, so my “Ah Ha” moment was went I put on a dress that made me look 2 sizes smaller………that was it. Love at first sight. Thanks for the post!

  13. Member
    futuremrsdino 73 posts, Worker bee @ 7:10 am

    I am trying on dresses for the first time this weekend.
    I am not a shopper. I hate clothes shopping! I love clothes, but not the buying of them! Most of my stuff is bought online!
    It’s just under 8 months until my wedding, and I’ve realised I have to do this. I, like you, am feeling the pressure of the Wedding Dress.
    My mother lives a long way from me so cannot come (which is probably a blessing in some ways – our tastes are not the same when it comes to the white frock) so I’m taking an old uni friend who used to work in a bridal store with me. She’s more excited than me! I know she will look after me.
    Still – I’m terrified!
    Glad you eventually got the ‘One’ and I hope I do too…

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