Say Yes to the Dress {Day 11}

Keep Calm and Say Yes to the Dress. 31 the altar #weddingplanning #shortengagement #write31days #dressshopping #SYTTD

Ok ladies, it’s time to find a dress! I’m not sure I have much advice when it comes to this task; in some ways it feels like it just sort of happened to me. But I can at least share about my experience!


I have always loved the dress that my mom wore 30+ years ago when she married my dad. It was one of those beautiful lace, form-fitting gowns with a queen anne neckline that is exactly what is in style right now. She wore it with a cute little hat when they wed in the 70’s, and I’m pretty sure it would’ve fit me perfectly. As soon as we got engaged I started dreaming about wearing that dress, and hoped hoped hoped that I would be able to try it on and eventually wear it down the aisle. Turns out they couldn’t find it anywhere. Even though my mom had carried it with her through numerous moves and stored it carefully in her closet for 35 years, the cleansing frenzy had struck a few months prior to our engagement and the dress was shipped off to Goodwill.

I. Was. Distraught.

I wept for hours.

Ugly tears.

{I never told them that—so hopefully they don’t read this and feel bad}

I remember Laszlo coming over and me answering the door with mascara dripping down my cheeks and trying to explain to him what had happened through my heavy breaths and inconsolable tears. I was sure he was going to call off the wedding right then and there due to the fact that I had become straight ridiculous over a DRESS. Instead he held me in his arms until I stopped, and reassured me that it was really sweet that I wanted so badly to wear my mom’s dress. It took me awhile to get over that loss. People would ask me what kind of dress I wanted and if I was SO excited to go dress shopping and I just couldn’t give them the response they were looking for. My dream dress was hanging in someone else’s closet and I didn’t think I would ever find ANYTHING that would compare.

But alas, I needed to wear something, so I had my sister book us a few appointments and we went shopping! My mom was able to come to town to share in the experience with us, which was SO great. For those of you who don’t know, my mom’s health went down hill quickly after the wedding, and she is now bed-ridden and on hospice care. Her health kept her from participating in much of the wedding planning, so the fact that she was feeling so great and able to make it through a very exhausting day of shopping is a true blessing that I am very thankful for.

Breakfast with the entourage- fueling up before the shopping begins!

Breakfast with the entourage- fueling up before the shopping begins!

I had a pretty great “entourage” with me, including my mom, sister, and a very decisive friend. Even though they loved EVERY dress, they were willing to listen when I would come out and say things like “it’s pretty…it’s just not very…whimsical.” I was set on making sure I was:

  1.  Comfortable
  2.  Able to dance at my reception, and
  3.  Fitting in with the theme that I had so enthusiastically picked for our big day.


When I watch Say Yes to the Dress and all those other Bride Day shows, it amazes me that they are picking dresses sometimes a year in advance of their wedding. Clearly we didn’t have time for that. I needed something that I could have off the rack, which meant I visited two stores- one local bridal store and the national bridal superstore, David’s Bridal. I really enjoyed the customer service at the local place- I was the only one in there; they let me try on as many dresses as I wanted {14!}, and were very helpful in explaining important things to me like which dresses would be easy to alter. I narrowed it down to two dresses {which were completely different styles, because… I like everything}. Then we went to David’s Bridal, where I was overwhelmed, frustrated with the lack of attention, and starting to get tired and cranky. And yet somehow, before I even walked out of the dressing room to look at dress #3 in the mirror, I knew I had found my dress. I even announced “oh guys…I think I’m gonna like this one!” from the other side of the curtain. It was really the pockets that won me over. I’m such a sucker for pockets and bows; so of course we tied a purple bow on as well. I went into the day adamant about not wanting a strapless A-line gown, because that’s exactly what everyone else gets and I thought it was boring. What did I walk out with? A strapless A-line gown. Turns out the reason everyone gets strapless A-line gowns is because they are beautiful and make you feel like a bride. In the end I am very happy with the dress I chose, especially now that the style everyone seems to get is the queen anne neckline. Maybe my mom had my back on that one after all!

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I walked out with that dress {2 hours later- they never tell you that actually PURCHASING it takes way longer than picking it} along with my purple ribbon, two flowers, under garments, and shoes that they special ordered from Texas because they were the last pair in my size and color that came in the style I wanted with the cute little bow {did I mention I have a thing for bows?}. They will try to trick you into getting EVERY thing they have “jacked you up with,” and tell you that you have to decide today {when you are in a crazy emotional state} because you only get your 15% discount on the day you purchase your dress. Don’t give into them! I am glad I stood my ground and refused the $120 veil (!!!), because I was able to borrow the most perfect one from a friend- for FREE! I also borrowed jewlery from the friend who helped me pick my dress, and it was PERFECT. The dress was already way over budget {since my original plan was to use my mom’s dress, I hadn’t really budgeted a realistic amount for a new dress and all the accessories I would need}, so it was nice to be able to cut costs in other areas, like alterations. I was extremely lucky in that the dress fit me like a glove, straight off the rack {another reason why I chose that dress- it was easy to know what it would actually look like, as opposed to the size 14 dresses I had been trying on that morning, trying to picture what it would look like after alterations}. I have a friend who is an amazing seamstress and wedding dress designer, and she was very generous in agreeing to make some slight modifications to my gown before the wedding.

♥ ♥ ♥

That’s probably WAY more about my wedding dress shopping experience than you wanted to know…and as I sit here watching the Say Yes to the Dress marathon on TLC, {I keep telling myself it’s inspiration for the series…and yet I am 6 days behind. Clearly that’s not working} I have come up with the following tips:

  • Choose your “entourage” carefully.
  • Don’t let anyone else’s opinions outshine your own.
  • Be open-minded.
  • Don’t order a dress smaller than you need thinking that you will lose weight. It’s too risky. Especially considering that it’s generally easier to take dresses in than let them out.
  • Wear sensible shoes on your wedding day.
  • Once you’ve picked your dress, STOP looking. It will torture you and you will second-guess your decision and that will be BAD. You picked a wonderful dress. Trust me.
  • Stick to your budget. Or know how much you can flex your budget AND where that money will come from.

Good luck! And have fun!


Check out the other posts in the 31 days…to the altar series here.

31 Days to the altar

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