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 didn’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 a while—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 one girl how great the lace dress she was trying on 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; it’s 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!). 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 price tag and say, “Oh, I like it more, but not $1,200 more,” and I’d be fine with that. Plus, this dress was so cheap that 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 would 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. It’s 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 into the dress thing?

*Jasmine Galleria was fascinatingly all-in-one. They had wedding dresses, and bridesmaids’ dresses, and mother-of-the-bride dresses, and then hair & makeup, and tuxes, and cake, and body wraps, and centerpieces, and photo booths”¦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 the short end of the stick with our shopping experience. And if you’re reading this, Gatsby girl, my sister and I would love to see your wedding pictures!


Mrs. Clover

Wedding Date:
June 2014
Change of Plans”¦
Making an Offer They Wouldn't Refuse
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  1. Member
    thejucheidea 1355 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:17 am

    I spent like 30 minutes at the Brides Against Breast Cancer event in Nashville and walked away with my dress. That was the only dress shopping I did.

  2. Member
    bribaby119 203 posts, Helper bee @ 6:34 am

    I was also a bride that was not into the whole dress shopping thing. I put it off for quite some time before I finally just did it. So a lot like you I was pretty blase about it.

  3. Member
    LAB 238 posts, Helper bee @ 7:13 am

    This is probably an extraordinarily stupid question, but do you have any idea what dress is pictured in that runway shot? I know it is just from the website, but was hoping you (or maybe someone reading this) would have an idea. I absolutely love it!


  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Becca, Guest @ 7:31 am

    I wouldn’t say I wasn’t into dress shopping, but it wasn’t something I was really into or emotionl about we went to a similar place (the Brides Project in Ann Arbor, MI, very highly recommend!) and couldn’t pass up the price. I have a pretty good idea of what looks good on me so it was just finding something that met that criteria. Happy you found your dress!

  5. Member
    StL.Ashley 1768 posts, Buzzing bee @ 7:59 am

    We had very similar experiences, only I tried on 90+ dresses in 8 different trips before deciding I liked dress number 3 the most and nothing was going to beat it (not for the price, anyway) so I might as well buy it. I guess I was just searching for that tear-filled moment (and yeah, I liked playing dress up), but hey- I like my dress a lot, it’s pretty, and way under budget. What’s wrong with that?

  6. msclover Member
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:02 am

    @thejucheidea: @Bribaby119: Glad I’m not the only once. My Dad’s wife is so concerned about it, but I still like it just fine!
    @LAB: I have no idea, but hopefully someone else does!
    @StL.Ashley: Good to know an early contender can totally be it! I’m definitely glad I’m not still out there trying stuff on!

  7. milkcow Member
    Mrs. Milk Cow 215 posts, Helper bee @ 8:44 am

    I’m so glad I’m not alone – my mom and sister were much more excited about dress shopping. When we found the one I ended up with, I was like hmm yeah this one looks good… let’s go home!

  8. Member
    luluvohn 1194 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:23 am

    I was super excited about the wedding dress shopping day. I booked my appointment at Kleinfelds and another store, got my mom and MOH and we were ready to make a day of it. Then I fell in love with the second dress I tried on and never even went to the second store. I tried on a few others at Kleinfelds and there was another that I liked and maybe if I hadn’t seen mine it would’ve been nice, but it wasn’t the one. It hasn’t come in yet, but any time I see a dress in an ad I think I like I google my dress and I remember how much I love it.

  9. wellies Member
    wellies 1425 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:25 am

    I love that you can check yourself out on the runway! :)

  10. msbicycle Member
    msbicycle 718 posts, Busy bee @ 10:06 am

    I bought my dress on the first try and I am so glad I got to avoid the 8 shopping trips and 100+ dresses.

  11. Member
    oneofthesethings 2395 posts, Buzzing bee @ 10:51 am

    I tried on 3 dresses. The first one was terrible, the second one I loved, the third one I liked. My mom cried at the second one, that made me cry, we bought it :) In, out, paid in full – 45 minutes!!

  12. Member
    aarol 8 posts, Newbee @ 12:14 pm

    My first dress shopping experience was at a Brides against Breast Cancer sale too. I was alone and found a dress I loved, but couldn’t buy it because it was just too soon. Sometimes I still think about that Lazaro dress that got away…

  13. mspalmtree Member
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:24 pm

    Is that picture of you?! HOLY COW I love that dress.

  14. Member
    Miss Mochi 14 posts, Newbee @ 12:31 pm

    Would you say that they had your size there at Brides Against Breast Cancer, or will your dress need a significant amount of alterations due to sizing? I know that they usually advertise 4/6 and up sizing and was wondering if they had anything smaller. Thank you!

  15. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 12:59 pm

    I was so nervous about dress shopping – not really about the dress itself, more like OH LOOK IT’S A FATTY IN A WEDDING DRESS. I was convinced I’d look awful in everything. And then I looked/felt amazing in the first dress I tried on, and I was able to let go and have fun with it.

    I did find my dress on the first trip, and I’m so glad I did – I think multiple shopping trips would have done my head in. Is the dress pictured above what you’re going with?

  16. msclover Member
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:02 pm

    @Miss Milk Cow: @Mrs. Bicycle: @oneofthesethings: Glad I’m not only low key dress shopper!
    @aarol: I was definitely on the fence about it, but my sister really helped!
    @Mrs. Palm Tree: No, thats just the stock photo :)@Miss Filly: Yay for finding a dress you love fast!

  17. msclover Member
    Mrs. Clover 123 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:04 pm

    @Miss Mochi: Yes, they had all the sizes down to at least 2, although there was more variety at sizes about maybe 10 or so (up til…not sure where). There was not a complete selection at any size though, so if you’re looking for something pretty specific in a 4 I wouldn’t count on it. If you’re looking for any number of different options in a 4, you’ll have enough to try on. I’m trying to remember numbers, and I would say the lower sizes had from 3-6 stands, and each stand had maybe 4 dresses?

  18. phonebooth Member
    Mrs. Phone Booth 57 posts, Worker bee @ 4:11 pm

    Boom. Bam. Done. Love your style :)

  19. Member
    LadyJenks 53 posts, Worker bee @ 5:28 am

    I’m jealous! I had to go into about 7 different shops before I finally found a designer whose dresses I liked on. After that it was the first one that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t beat without a lot more effort, so that was it. A bit sad that I didn’t have a ‘moment’, but hey – 80% rule all the way!

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