Wedding Dress Nightmares

Alternative title: How to Get Out of Going Dress Shopping

I’m pretty sure most of you won’t be able to relate to this post, but if you can, I hope it is encouraging to you that not everyone looks forward to the dress shopping experience. And if you’re a bride who loved going to stores and trying on dresses, that’s awesome! It just wasn’t for me.

Because most brides do look forward to dress shopping, right? It’s often one of the most anticipated and biggest events of the wedding planning process. For various reasons, this was not how I felt—from the very beginning. In fact, the idea of going shopping with a group of females and trying on dresses was pretty terrifying. I’m fairly small, so I was afraid that dresses would look huge and unflattering on me…and I’m also working with a pretty small budget, so I was worried about finding a dress in my price range. I’m also just not a shopper. I buy a lot of clothes online and in thrift stores and generally avoid high end stores and fancy dressing rooms.

(Again, this whole post is the way I feel about wedding dress shopping-probably not the experience of most!)

After the newly engaged period was over, I immediately turned to looking at dresses online. One of the first places where I looked was J. CREW, for three reasons.

1. J. CREW has the kind of simple understated elegance I was looking for in a wedding dress.

2. The prices weren’t more than my entire budget combined.

3. I know my size from J. CREW, which meant I could order online and not worry about it fitting.

I had several favorites.


Images via J. CREW Wedding clockwise from top left: Bettina, Sararose, Sophia, Sinclair, Lyden, & Larissa

You probably notice a theme in the dresses above. First of all, they’re straight and simple. I want to wear a dress that reflects my everyday personality. A lot of people say that you don’t know what kind of dress you want until you try it on, but based on dresses I’ve chosen (or vehemently discarded) for other formal events, I am 100% confident a poofy dress is not for me. Second, none of these dresses are strapless, both because of comfort and family reasons. Third, all of these dresses are under $1000 (in some cases under $500).

I think all of these are beautiful! In fact, I probably would wear any of the dresses above. I did have a preference from the beginning. Mr. Lemur vetoed some of them—yes, he’s seen my dress and actually helped me pick it out. Nontraditional, I know!

I started looking around online to see if I could find any of them even cheaper. I highly recommend this, even if you think your dress is a bargain already. There are some great resale and discount sites out there (more on this in the next post).

Which dress do you like the most? Any other brides out there go an nontraditional route and skip the bridal salon experience?


Mrs. Lemur

Greenville, South Carolina
Wedding Date:
May 2013
Gallery of the Day
O Canada!
Add a comment


  1. Member
    BrideLawyer 31 posts, Newbee @ 8:57 am

    I have to admit that I’ve had mixed feelings about the whole wedding dress shopping experience. I recently lost over 80 pounds, so I’ve been enjoying clothes shopping a lot more lately, but the “salon experience” is just a little weird. I don’t like having someone “help” me get dressed and undressed. I feel very critiqued on the podium and I tend to love the dresses but then hate them in the pictures later. It is stressful and I’ll be glad when its over.

  2. Member
    mrsamac 307 posts, Helper bee @ 9:07 am

    I went with the Arabelle dress through J.Crew! I actually still went to a bridal salon to satisfy BM’s, Mom and MIL. I felt like all of the traditional dresses “swallowed” me. When my J.Crew dress arrived, I tried it on and it was PERFECT. I feel like on my wedding day it was more of “wow, the bride!” then it was “wow, the dress!”… and that was what I wanted. I couldn’t fathom spending thousands on a dress I’ll wear once (mine was $500 on sale). Another plus, I’m going to get it cut down and wear it with a jean jacket throughout the summer and on our anniversary!!

  3. bracelet Member
    Mrs. Bracelet 279 posts, Helper bee @ 9:17 am

    I’d pick Larissa. I like the straps and shape of revealed cleavage.

  4. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:18 am

    @BrideLawyer: First of all, congratulations on losing 80 pounds! But yes, the feelings you mention about the salon experience was exactly what I wanted to avoid. I’m more of an introvert, so having the thought of a group of women staring at me was actually a huge stress before I made the decision to buy a dress online.

  5. Member
    kit_kath 1327 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:19 am

    I really wish I could buy online, it’s so much easier and less stressful. But I always fall right between two sizes, so even if it’s a store I shop at frequently picking a size is still a bit f a risk.

  6. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:19 am

    @AMacwayko: I SO want to do this! (Cut my dress down and wear it again.) Have you thought about dyeing it? I’ve heard some people have good luck dyeing it… my dress (and the Arabelle) both look great and totally casual short and/or in different colors.

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Charly, Guest @ 9:20 am

    Yep, I bought mine off a local facebook wedding items for sale site. New with tags for $60, lol. I love it, it isn’t my dream dress, but I wasn’t shelling out $8,000 for a dress!

  8. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:21 am

    @Kit_Kath: Even with knowing my size I ran a bit of a risk. Fortunately the return policy on the dress was within thirty days a full refund — although I would have to pay return shipping. I’m not sure I would have bought it online without knowing I wasn’t totally out what I paid for it if it didn’t fit.

  9. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:23 am

    @Charly: I’ve been thinking about this too. My dress (which we’ll get to eventually after we catch up on some posts) ended up being $160 new with tags. I love it, but you’re right it’s not my dream dress either! I made the decision and decided to commit to it 100% though and I haven’t looked back or regretted it at all!

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    futuremrshockey, Guest @ 9:27 am

    I felt the same way about going dress shopping. I had everyone else whos involved in the wedding outfits picked out before I went shopping. The only reason I did was because my family made me. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention anf felt everyone was watching anf judging.

  11. msdragon Member
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 9:29 am

    I bought the Sophia in silk chiffon online, on sale (though I could have got it cheaper, I think). I think I spent $40-ish on alterations. I kind of feel a twinge of envy still when I think about what I may have missed out on, but I did love my dress!

  12. Member
    jilleeann 409 posts, Helper bee @ 9:32 am

    I’m with you all the way on this post! I’m also glad someone else feels this way. I was engaged 10 years ago (I’m 37) and it didn’t work out. During that time I found a dress at a sample sale buy a designer that I loved. Its been traveling around with me these years. I’d stick it in an unused closet and forget about it. When Mr. C and I got engaged I tentatively started looking at dresses online, felt unsure about all of them, then remembered i had one that I could have altered to fit me in the closet. Its a pretty straight forward a frame silk dress, minimal on the bead work. I might find some other way to make it more me along the next 18 months also, but I’m happy with avoiding having to go into those shops.

  13. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:34 am

    @futuremrshockey: Writing this post may have been a little selfish of me because I am really encouraged by people who understand! The one thing I do regret is not going dress shopping with my mom—I think she would have liked to.

  14. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:34 am

    @Mrs. Dragon: Can I ask approximately how much you spent? If you don’t want to share that’s ok!

  15. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 9:36 am

    @jilleeann: The thing that’s really awesome about having a simple silk dress is that you can make it yours. I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with mine, but the possibilities are endless! Jewelry, fancy veil, bright shoes, sash, flowers, etc.

    Congratulations on your engagement by the way :) I’m glad things finally worked out for you!

  16. Member
    xbrittfacee 227 posts, Helper bee @ 9:53 am

    I like the bottom left.

  17. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 10:00 am

    I love JCrew dresses, the quality and prices can’t be beat! I knew what I wanted in a dress too, and it was exactly what I bought, sometimes you don’t need to try on hundreds of dresses to find the right one :) can’t wait to see your choice!

  18. Member
    mrsamac 307 posts, Helper bee @ 10:08 am

    @Miss Lemur: I have thought about dying it! I want to keep it white until my anniversary in August. Then, my sister is having a destination wedding in January 2014 which I am a BM so I will l dye it to her colour and wear it to her wedding (we are picking our own dresses).

    @Kit_Kath: I fell between 4 and 6 with the J.Crew dresses. I ordered the 4, then returned it and got a 6. I am a 5. My mom stitched in the inner corset a bit and Voila. It fit, and no $300 alternation bill.

    @BrideLawyer: I also like Larissa gown!!

  19. Member
    lovelyduckie 756 posts, Busy bee @ 10:13 am

    I skipped it too, bought my dress online from another bride. It was the first and only dress I had to try on.

  20. Member
    mrshollinger 1109 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:26 am

    Love Sophia, Sinclair and Lynden

  21. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 10:33 am

    @AMacwayko: The wedding is in May and then we’re probably having a second couples session in June where I want to wear my wedding dress—and after that I’m going to try to dye it! Maybe I’ll do a post on it to let you all see how it works? Is the Arabelle in silk chiffon?

  22. Member
    cosmo_gmr 488 posts, Helper bee @ 11:05 am

    I love all your choices! But my favorite is Sinclair :)
    Can’t wait to see what you picked and how you’ll accesorize it!

  23. Member
    mrsamac 307 posts, Helper bee @ 11:35 am

    @Miss Lemur: Yes! Please do! Yeah, it’s silk chiffon.

  24. Guest Icon Guest
    Claire, Guest @ 12:10 pm

    I got my wedding dress at JCrew! LOVE their dresses! I got the Miranda :)

  25. Guest Icon Guest
    Newmrsp, Guest @ 1:49 pm

    This is my first ever Wedding bee post although I have been on this site just about every day since getting engaged in April ’12. My hubby and I just got married under 2weeks ago and had the best time. I too had not liked the trying on process although I did do it, I ended up going with a J crew dress as well, the Cecilia. J crew can still get you one (as they did for me) although the sizes arent on the website and they are on ebay too. It was gorgeous :-)) I love all those other ones you picked out as well. I pretty much had all the same criteria as you. Cant wait to see the dress. (Cant believe I am still on here after getting married lol).

  26. otter Member
    otter 1321 posts, Bumble bee @ 2:53 pm

    I love the Larissa! I totally couldn’t pull it off though, it would drive me crazy all night thinking about how my arms/upper body looked!

  27. msarmadillo Member
    msarmadillo 497 posts, Helper bee @ 2:59 pm

    I was totally dead set on ordering my dress online at first, but went ahead and tried on some dresses at a few local shops just to be sure of what I wanted. As luck would have it, I found my dress in the second store we went to! I think it was like the fourth or fifth dress I tried on overall. While it definitely isn’t my “dream dress,” it was a good bargain and looks beautiful on. I think there’s way to much pressure out there for brides to find the “perfect dress” when in the end, any ol’ dress will get you married. 😉 Can’t wait to see what dress you ended up with!

  28. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:41 pm

    I love, love, love shopping and I seriously *hated* wedding dress shopping. There is something about it that just tired me out, stressed me out, and made me feel fat. I love the JCrew dresses, but unfortunately, I wanted a more poofy dress, which meant I had to go dress shopping… *sigh*
    I can’t wait to see which dress you end up with!

  29. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 4:07 pm

    @Newmrsp: I feel so honored you chose to comment on my post for your first ever!! :) I looked at the Cecilia too — actually I almost picked them for bridesmaid dresses.

  30. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 4:09 pm

    @Miss Otter: Yeah, I kinda need to work on that… haha :)

  31. mstoadstool Member
    mstoadstool 2485 posts, Buzzing bee @ 4:39 pm

    I really like that sillouette, I just don’t have the body for it, bummer.
    I love the neckline of the bottom left one.

  32. mstreasure Member
    mstreasure 1655 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:21 pm

    I love J.Crew’s dresses. The bottom left one is my favorite.

  33. Member
    lazy 212 posts, Helper bee @ 9:17 pm

    Before I started shopping I was convinced I’d end up with something J.Crew or Ann Taylor. Last summer when I had the prospect of potentially needing to have a quick wedding (for a family member to be able to be there) I ordered an on sale chiffon Sophia – it was pretty, but did not flatter me the way I expected it to.

    I always wanted a leaner, more casual or slinky silhouette. I decided to go to stores because I’m in a location with tons all around, just to see what I like. I think I’m going to end up getting a Vera Wang white that is a similar silhouette to those you posted. I also may pop into the Jcrew shop once they open the Bridal Salon again (though I’m usually more apt to order online – they are right down the street), but I’m concerned about the filmyness showing off lumps and bumps a little too much.

    For dress shopping – I dragged my finance around rather than anyone else. It was just easier that way. I sent photos to my mom and some friends to get their opinions / let them be included in that way.

    I’m not a fan of the dress shopping experience, but I jumped in head first when I realized some items I liked were selling out, and my window to get my dress is closing. So I hit up all the stores in the last couple weeks when I could squeeze it in. Hope I’m about done!

  34. Member
    xjamit 42 posts, Newbee @ 9:52 pm

    I like the bottom left 1.

  35. Guest Icon Guest
    Ella, Guest @ 10:06 pm

    I like Bettina and Sophia.

  36. Member
    raisethejollyroger 10 posts, Newbee @ 5:58 am

    I purchased a JCrew gown and couldn’t be happier. My bridesmaids even purchased seasonal dresses right off the rack! JCrew made the whole experience painless and I highly recommend them to any bride who isn’t crazy

  37. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 8:09 am

    @lazy: It definitely depends on the person. I’m really small umm… everywhere, so I didn’t need much (any?) support up top. I guess that can be a positive and a negative! The chiffon is pretty forgiving because the flowy top layer kind of skims over my body, but like I said I’m pretty small.

    I almost went shopping with Mr. Lemur!! I would have except I was too nervous of what other people would think. I wish I had—props to you!

  38. mslemur Member
    mslemur 616 posts, Busy bee @ 8:10 am

    @raisethejollyroger: My bridesmaids bought dresses on super sale! Oops, gave away a post coming in the future. Buuuut it was a great deal and I don’t feel like a bridezilla 😉

  39. graywolf Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 1:50 pm

    i love the j crew stuff. so classic.

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