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Wedding Wednesday: Dress Shopping


This week for wedding wednesday I thought I would walk you through my experience shopping for a wedding dress. One of my first experiences dress shopping was for my sister about 6 years ago. We went over the Thanksgiving holiday with the women in our family, and everyone cried the moment she tried on "the dress." It was just like that magical experience you see in the movies. I had also been with two of my girlfriends when they were searching for their wedding dress. It was so fun to participate and fawn over how beautiful she looked while sipping champagne. But because of the memorable experience we had with my sister, I had this fantasy in my head of what shopping for my dress would be like. But things went a bit differently for me...

To start, you should know about me that I over-think everything. I analyze details and always want things to be just so. Sometimes this works in my favor, but when it came to choosing a wedding dress on a budget, it made things really stressful.

Before I stepped foot into a bridal salon, I spent many hours on Pinterest looking at dresses to determine the type of dress I wanted to wear. I knew exactly what I wanted. I absolutely didn't want a strapless dress, I knew I wanted a mermaid silhouette and lace details. My friend Erica had gotten married the year before, and gave me lots of tips. She suggested to go in with an open mind, and try on different styles and be open to anything. I wish I had listened more carefully to her advice.

It was really important for my Mom to be with my when I first tried on dresses, so we picked a weekend that worked for us and I booked a few appointments over in Walnut Creek so she could be there. It happened that Andrew's mom was visiting that weekend so she came along, as well as my friend and bridesmaid, Erica. It was such a fun day, we went to lunch and I tried on dresses at three different boutiques. It was a great first day of shopping and gave me an idea of what I liked and what I didn't. Apparently, I have very particular taste. I loved a lot of dresses, but wasn't ready to choose one just yet. I learned that I loved the mermaid style for my body type, that I really liked lace "eyelashes" and solid lace dresses (as opposed to lace flowers or pattern details) and that I did not like belts or seams at the waist. I also discovered that although I never wanted a strapless, I was finding that the straps made me feel short where as the strapless styles made me feel long and lean.

The following day, Erica and I went down to the South Bay for another day of shopping. We met Shannon and Laura (also bridesmaids) since they live in the area. We had appointments at two salons and lunch in Campbell. Our first stop was at Trudy's, this was fun because Erica and I have watched to Bachelor together for years, and Desiree Hartsock was there promoting the wedding dress collection she helped design. After lunch, or next stop was at Haute Bride. Here I tried on one of my favorite dresses, and I almost purchased it that day, but for some reason I wasn't ready to pull the trigger.

I had a great weekend shopping, but didn't find "the one" just yet. I was getting a little concerned because none of the locations had the dress I really wanted to try on (Lioncarlo 4861) but everyone kept telling me that I needed to place my order soon to ensure my dress arrived in time for alterations before our September 12th wedding (lies!!)

I was feeling overwhelmed about ordering in time, finding a dress I loved, and the budget. So I decided to go dress shopping alone on my way home from a bachelorette party. Not sure why I EVER thought that was a good idea. I ended up finding a dress in Santa Rosa that I liked, and it was really cheap. So I bought the dress without really thinking too much about it. But within a few days, I started having buyers remorse. I went back and forth for weeks about what to do. I couldn't stop thinking about a couple of the dresses I had tried on those first two days, and I was still dreaming of the Lioncarlo 4861.

My mom came to the rescue (as they do) and met me in Walnut Creek again so we could spend another day trying on dresses and comparing them to the one I had purchased. I was also able to try on the Lioncarlo dress. Unfortunately, it was really small so I had a hard time deciding if it actually looked good on me. And since it was out of my budget, I didn't allow myself to fall in love with it. After trying on dresses again, it was pretty clear I regretted my initial decision. Thankfully, the store I purchased from was kind enough to let me cancel my order and I only lost a couple hundred dollars. I realize that is a lot of money, but I was relieved. Finally, I decided to go ahead and purchase a dress I had tried on that first day in Walnut Creek. It was the most gorgeous thick, vintage lace with pearls all the way down the back of the dress. I felt like it flattered my body type and the lace was beautiful and unique.

I wish I could say my story ended here, but it doesn't. You would think after buying this beautiful dress, I would be ecstatic. But my anxiety about the dress didn't dissipate. Originally, I was adamant about not having a strapless dress. And here I was, with a strapless dress. I started searching for bolero tops or solutions to make my dress have sleeves or provide a little coverage for the ceremony. Then I started wondering if I should have gotten a big, princess dress. I didn't even try one on, how could I know that wasn't "the one" I would have fallen in love with? This is when I should have backed away from Pinterest. I would spend hours obsessing over it, thinking I had the wrong dress again. Thankfully a good friend offered me the best advice. She said, once your wedding has come and gone, it won't matter. It will be your dress, and you won't think about the other ones you considered. This really resonated with me and allowed me to feel better about my decision.

Looking back, I do love the dress I wore on our wedding day, my dress. I felt beautiful, it was comfortable and even though it was strapless I think it looked classic and elegant. I don't think it's something I will be embarrassed to show my grandchildren someday. As I write this post, it seems so silly that I was so consumed with stress about something so trivial. But I guess that's just me, over-thinking everything.

I thought, with my wedding dress shopping experience, I definitely have advice to offer any brides out there looking for their perfect dress. I hope that my story can help make someone else dealing with similar stress and anxiety feel better, or hopefully prevent any other brides from going through something like I did. I hope most of you have had, or will have a similar experience to my sister and just know you've found the right one!

Next week on Wedding Wednesday, I'll be sharing my top 10 tips to make wedding dress shopping as stress free as possible!

This is the Lioncarlo 4861 that I was (am) obsessed with!
The dress I finally decided on! 
The dress I almost purchased at Haute Bride on shopping day #2
The first dress I purchased and ended up returning
Finally tried on the Lioncarlo 4861 - sadly it was out of my price range
Back at Kinsley James with my Mom to try this dress on again and decide for sure if it was THE dress, it was!
My Dress


  1. Awww and it was so beautiful on you!

    The first dress you purchased looks like it was from Starlett. That's where I bought mine. When I went dress shopping I totally had in my head that I wanted a slim fitting lacy dress but all the ones I tried on looked terrible on me! I do not have a lean enough body for that kind of dress. I ended up buying the one that a girlfriend of mine picked out for me to try on that was in the pile of "I'd never pick this...but I'll try it on". :) I always tell people now to have an open mind and try on things that wouldn't initially grab your attention. Dresses always look better on than on the hanger, I think.

    I love going dress shopping with friends. It's so fun to see all the beautiful dresses and now it always makes me nostalgic.

  2. You looked stunning in your dress! I loved the thick lace.

    I found my dream dress at a Silicon Valley bridal salon and it was more than $2K over my budget. My mom called some bridal salons in Sacramento and we were able to get my dress and a veil within my budget ($3k). The mark up of bridal dresses is outrageous and they charge more in expensive areas. Supposedly you can negotiate the price of dresses especially if they bundle it with other bridal accessories.

  3. I love the dress you choose! I agree about Pinterest sometimes being a hindrance showing us so many options! I did not cry with my dress - I actually cried with another dress! But I think that is just because I had the veil placed on my head and was so in the moment. Sometimes I look at my dress and wish I chose differently (I tried nothing on with sleeves, or cap sleeves!) but ultimately the one I choose was the right one for me! I too was stuck on a style, ball gown and I really wanted organza. In the end that is what I wound up with!


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