Finding THE dress!

Hello y’all! We’ve rolled right on through another week: I hope it’s found you productive and happy with lots of good vibes. 🙂 We’re gearing up for the holidays in my household: presents are starting to pile up in the “don’t look” room, cute new Christmas decor is finding it’s way into my shopping cart, and we’re taking our first Christmas card photos as a married couple next week! We’ve decided to include all of the dogs this year in the family photo: it should be quite interesting!! I just picture all three of them barking and going crazy in different directions while Ellie and I try to maintain control AND get a cute photo taken…we may just go for the funnies this year! Or at least, half funnies, half not: AKA half with the dogs, half without. Wish us luck y’all! Picture proof to come later!

In this week’s blog post, we’re going to talk about the all important wedding dress.  In this day and age of the good ole internet, there is a plethora of information and inspiration out there for us to get inspired by, or, if you’re me, entirely bogged down by! I’d like to take this post to share with you my top tips for selecting your wedding dress: stuff I wish I had really taken to heart BEFORE I went shopping.  My wedding gown was the stuff my dreams were made of: it really was perfect for me in every way.  It fit the style of our day, and it fit the profile of dress that Ellie envisioned me in.  To say I felt beautiful in that dress would be the biggest understatement ever; I never wanted to take it off, and I swear I’m going to look for another excuse to wear it again until the day I die.  (Lol) And you want to know the funny part?? It wasn’t the first dress I bought for our wedding.  That’s right…I had a WHOLE other dress.  And then a panic attack.  And then buyer’s remorse.  And then I went back and found this dress, and it just felt RIGHT.  Now, strangely enough, the first dress was absolutely gorgeous.  It was also the exact opposite of me: anything I would normally pick out, anything Ellie would envision me in or think I would pick, just opposite of everything.  I loved it, I really did.  But at the end of the day, this wasn’t the time for me to make an out of the box fashion move (for me, specifically) and discovering that second dress really made me realize some key things that I am going to share with you in these tips today!

Let’s dig in, shall we?

  1. Give yourself plenty of time: you should start shopping for your dress about 9-10 months out from your wedding date.  You have to take into account two big things: amount of time to make the dress and amount of alterations to be done.  Typically, when you go in to a bridal salon to select your gown, you will try on sample dresses all in sizes that aren’t yours: things will have to be clipped and held in order for you to see the effect and full style of the gown as close as possible without it being in your size.  Once you select a dress, they will take your measurements, and select the size closest to your measurements.  The dress is then made just for you, and that process can take around 6 months.  The gown is then shipped to your store location and the alterations process can begin.  Whomever is assisting you in selecting your dress and getting your measurements plays a very important role in your alterations: the closer the dress is to fitting you, the less alterations, and the less cost.  Pay attention to the measurements of your hips waist and bust: measure yourself before you go into the store, so you have a baseline in your head.  Not saying be a Karen, let them do their job, but be well informed.  My dress was ordered in a full 2 sizes too big for me, leaving me with a large alteration bill on top of an already pretty impressive price tag.  Ya live and ya learn.  
  2. Don’t get too bogged down in looking before you go shopping! It really just clogs the brain and decision making ability, I promise! It’s best to keep it simple here: look some, get the inspiration flowing.  But if you start to feel overwhelmed with the onslaught of choices, dial back the research a little bit.  We all have styles that we’re drawn to, just get in tune with what you like and what you don’t like.  This is not like any other dress you’ve worn before, and it’s totally ok to make it an incredibly big deal: it IS an incredibly big deal! Go with your heart and go with your gut: trust your instincts, because it’s your dress.  For me, it was also important that I included some of Ellie’s opinions into my selection: to me, I was wearing that dress for her, for us, and I wanted her input.  Having a conversation with your partner about what you both envision the two of you wearing is totally ok: just because you share vision and concept, that’s not going to take anything away from the day of.  Also, it helps narrow down your choices! Remember that even what you wear is a detail, and you want it to match the vision of the day.  Its important to throw this little note in there too: keep an open mind.  Lots of times what we think we like doesn’t quite measure up in reality, and what we think we hate we end up loving.  At least, that’s definitely been some of my experience.  I think this is especially important with wedding dresses: you can’t put too much stock in how they look on a hanger: you need to see how they look on YOU.  Whatever fits your shape and style and flatters all the good parts of YOU.  Don’t be afraid to try something on even if you hesitate initially: sometimes that’s really how you find the perfect gem.  
  3. Ooooohhh, if you’re anything like me, this one is a BIG one.  Don’t take a super huge group shopping with you, and definitely do NOT take people that you cannot effectively voice your opinion around.  I am a major people pleaser: sometimes even though I know what I like and what I want, I can fall into the trap of allowing others opinions to color or make me second guess mine.  This is one MAJOR place to not let that happen.  Your wedding dress is literally a once in a lifetime kind of selection.  Let’s be real: even if you get married more than once, there’s still only a tiny handful of times you get to wear a dress like this.  It’s a big deal, and it’s an even bigger deal that it truly reflect you, and what you want and like.  It’s always good to have opinions, and help if you waffle in making decisions.  Everyone wants someone to back them up and let them know they’re making the right choice.  However, it’s still ultimately YOUR choice.  Make sure your shopping crowd is a group of people who will have your best interests at heart, and will know when to speak and when to pipe down.  Trust me, it makes a huge difference.  I ended up shopping twice for my dress: like I said earlier, I had an impromptu first buy.  A lot of that first buy had to do with exactly this tip.  I went with strong opinions and voices, and mine got lost in the process.  When I walked out the store, I felt solid about my choice.  But then when I had some time to sit with it, and all of MY feelings came back, I realized I had not made the right choice for ME.  I made it for someone else.  (And that was totally on ME, not the other person.  It’s my job to say what I want and take up my space!) The second time around, I still had strong opinions (they run REALLY strong in my family!) But I also had my balance people there: the ones who can read me and help me stand up for myself when I look like I’m waffling a little bit.  I found the perfect dress: it was very ME, it checked all of Ellie’s boxes, and it fit the vision of our day like perfection.  It went so much smoother when I was comfortable and able to open my mouth and voice my opinion!
  4. Another big one that ties in to the one above: go with what makes YOU feel beautiful.  At the end of the day, you’re going to hear lots of opinions.  But YOU are who is going to be wearing it.  Ultimately, if the dress makes you feel amazing, it checks all your boxes and you know your partner is going to love it: then that’s your dress.  It doesn’t matter what any other huge opinions have to say: no matter how “important” the person they come from is.  They aren’t going to be wearing the dress.  Be strong in this: this is your moment and your day to feel absolutely beautiful.  Every bride deserves that on her wedding day, and different styles make all of us feel beautiful.  What works for you might not work for someone else: that’s ok.  Don’t let anyone steal your shine or your joy: pick the dress that speaks to you and that makes you feel like a goddess walking down that aisle to your partner! They’re the most important one that’s going to be looking at you anyway. 
  5. Be prepared for alterations and their cost.  I cannot stress this enough.  Before you even go dress shopping, include this in your budget, and be generous in the estimation.  As I talked about earlier, when you go in for your fitting process, those measurement numbers and getting them right are vital.  It is the responsibility of the dress shop to order the dress in the size CLOSEST to your measurements.  Bear in mind, each designer has bust, waist and hip measurements per size of their dresses.  Your dress will have to be ordered in the size that accommodates your largest measurement, and then altered in the other areas to bring a true fit.  If the sizing is off on order, that can cause a huge impact on your alterations bill.  Sometimes, depending on the designer and your measurements, it simply cannot be helped, but you should be informed about that on ordering.  Alterations will vary, but you can easily anticipate around $400 give or take for your wedding dress.  Also, keep this tip in mind when it comes to your bridesmaids and their dresses too! Going through the dress shop, alterations for bridesmaids dresses can be more than the cost of the actual dress: this was the case for both of my girls! Needless to say, we weren’t prepared, it was a big shock, and I felt badly that they had to have the added financial stress just to be a part of our day.  One of my girls did choose to take her dress elsewhere for alterations, and saved a HUGE amount of money.  I will say do this with caution: I knew the tailor and had used their services many times, the fabric of the dress was simple and did not have a bunch of beadwork or anything to contend with, and the alterations needed were pretty basic.  I don’t recommend this option for your wedding gown.  Those are alterations that you do not want to take a risk on! Go with the store you purchase from unless you have another VERY solid option: just do yourself a favor and factor that cost into your dress budget so you don’t get a nasty surprise right before the finish line.  
  6. If you’re planning bridal portraits, pad your timeline a little extra, and proactively schedule your dates! The process of making your dress can take up to 6 months, and the alterations process, depending, can take another 1-2.  You will want to schedule your portraits for a date after your alterations are complete.  I ended up adding bridal portraits towards the end of my planning, and I had plenty of upsets with the alterations of my dress, dragging my timeline out and adding a lot of additional stress.  My gown was ordered to accommodate my largest measurement, and because of the designer measurements I had a HUGE amount of alterations to be done.  I picked up my gown the day of my bridal portraits, and after getting my portraits back was able to see that I still needed a good bit more taken in.  Not only was I incredibly stressed out, it bummed me out majorly to focus on the imperfections in my bridal portraits.  BUT, because I did them, I was able to fix the situation before the big day.  My dress was absolutely perfect for our wedding day, and I have all of those pictures too! It was also the perfect time to actually get to see everything come together, decide if I liked it and make any tweaks or changes I wanted to make.  I was able to trial my hair, my makeup, everything: that was a game changer for the day of!

Well, there you have it! Some pretty darn good tips if I do say so myself 😉 Let’s do a quick recap here: give yourself plenty of time (9-10 months), don’t get too bogged down in the research, keep those loud opinions on the shopping trip few and far between, go with what makes you feel beautiful, be prepared for alterations cost, and opt for those bridal portraits.  You’re ready to go out and shop and find the dress you say YES too (and in)! Have fun, enjoy yourself, and don’t take things too seriously.  

Happy planning y’all!


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