Bride-to-be Blogger Stephanie: Dress Shopping, Part Two

Bride-to-be Blogger Stephanie: Dress Shopping, Part Two


I was excited to begin the fun all over again. I may have found my dress on Day 1, but I really felt I needed to see what else was out there.

Our first appointment was at Nicole Bridal, an unassuming shop hidden within a Jenkintown shopping center. When we arrived, a bride was sitting with the owners—mother and daughter—showing them her wedding album and how she looked the day of in her gown. Well, that made quite an impression. They clearly weren’t about merely business; they were also building relationships with their brides. I immediately felt at ease.

We began searching through their collection, which was perhaps the most unique of any shop I had visited—really interesting patterns, fabrics, and shapes. They had a very large dressing room that we all (mom, mom-to-be, grandmother, best friend, and sister) funneled into, and I began trying on what we had selected.

The first gown I put on was beautiful. It was a fitted trumpet-style lace gown with a sweetheart neckline and silk organza bottom with pieces of lace overlay—not unlike my frontrunner from the day before. It was at that moment that the fun diminished a bit, as we all realized that it was going to be really difficult to make a decision. We were beginning our day with confusion: This dress was gorgeous, but was it more gorgeous than the gown from the first day?

We put the dress aside to try on at the end and continued on with the others. There were a couple of pretty ones that didn’t exactly stand out, and then I tried on two 1920s-esque gowns that were so intricate and exquisite, but I knew they just weren’t me. Yet there was a feature in every gown I tried on that I liked and that got me thinking more about what my perfect dress would be, continually refining my vision.

I tried on the first gown once more, and everyone loved it. My mom was in tears. But I wasn’t getting that feeling. I just knew it wasn’t my dress, so we moved on to our next appointment.

The Wedding Shoppe was beautiful, featuring three split-level floors of gowns arranged in a way very conducive to searching. And their selection was outstanding, diverse, and of course, expensive. They had a lot of the gowns I had seen in magazines that I was curious to try on.

My consultant and I got to work, and then I was in the dressing room ready to go. I liked the set-up. It was a smaller fitting room for just my consultant and me, and then I walked out to a platform before mirrors at every angle, where everyone was waiting. Unlike the large dressing rooms where everyone was camped out, this gave me the opportunity to first evaluate the dress entirely on my own before getting everyone else’s opinions.

There was perhaps one dress I didn’t like at the Wedding Shoppe. Every other one was absolutely beautiful. There were two standouts, though: One was a strapless, sweetheart, satin A-line gown with subtle pick-ups and a lace short-sleeve, boatneck overlay at the top. (This is all probably really poorly articulated fabric/dress-speak. I’m definitely no expert!) The gown wasn’t anything like I imagined myself in. I was pretty sure I hated pickups, but these were subtle enough that they gave a really beautiful volume and shape. I felt very elegant and glamorous; Grace Kelly-esque. I really, really liked it. But ultimately, I couldn’t imagine myself walking down the aisle in it.

The other standout was a Monique Lhuillier gown that had pretty much every thing I wanted. It was a strapless, lace, sweetheart neckline, trumpet-style gown that had the most stunning lace of any I’d seen. It was more concentrated at the top and less as you went down the gown to where it fell beautifully down the train. The back featured crystal buttons all the way down, bringing bling into a lace dress in such a distinctive way. The catch? While we were all admiring this gorgeous gown, I leaned over and asked the consultant how much it was, to which she replied, “$8,000.” $8,000!!! No, thank you. It was stunning, but I felt I couldn’t possibly spend that kind of money on a dress.

So it was off to the next appointment. Future brides, I would never recommend three appointments in one day. It’s totally and utterly exhausting. But if you want to give it try (perhaps you’re like me and have a crazy work and travel schedule, so when you have the opportunity to get a lot done in a small time period, you seize it), make sure to leave time for lunch! We had 10 minutes before our next appointment, so we stormed over to the McDonald’s drive-through, shoving our chicken wraps—which we’re surprisingly quite tasty—into our mouths as we hastily made our way to our next appointment. But I think it’s probably best to avoid McDonald’s and wedding dresses in the same day.

It was at Van Cleve’s Wedding Pavilion that I found two more standouts. The first was another totally unlikely favorite. I had seen the Paloma Blanca gown in a magazine and wanted to give it a try. It had a satin, fitted sweetheart top with a bedazzaled belt around the waist and an A-line skirt of cascading, soft ruffles. And when I walked out of the dressing room, I just absolutely loved it. It had the movement I was yearning for. I could imagine myself dancing in it. Despite it being a much fuller skirt, it still had a beautiful shape to it; you could still find me within it! I sat down in it, and the ruffles consumed me. It was just so much fun. I would have never, ever imagined me liking a gown that looked remotely like it.

But this presented a problem that I encountered throughout dress shopping: finding the dress with the right feel for the entire day. This was a party dress. I could imagine myself having a blast in it during the reception. But did it have the beautiful, striking, romantic feel I wanted for walking down the aisle? Is it what I wanted Pat to see and feel?

And, issue number two: Was it a reflection of me? While I think it can be fun to wear something people wouldn’t expect you to for your wedding, I think it’s important to wear a dress that’s sort of a statement of who you are. The answers to those two questions made me realize that it wasn’t my dress, though I sure did love it.

On to standout number two: it was an organza, A-line gown with sheer straps and a lace sweetheart bodice. It was so unique, so different from any other gown I had tried on. Everyone went crazy for it, especially my grandmother. She loved that it had straps—she told me from the very beginning that she didn’t like strapless—and she loved A-line, whereas I quickly discovered that I loved strapless on me, and that I preferred a trumpet-style or mermaid gown that showed off my shape a bit.

As I mentioned in my first post about how bringing the fewer to your bridal appointment, the better, well, this is the perfect example. I liked the gown, but everyone’s reaction made me think, “Well, maybe I do love it.” The longer I spent in it and the more they talked about it, the more I assumed I had to like it. I was so close to saying yes and ordering the gown, but thankfully, I said I’d really feel more comfortable sleeping on it. And when I woke up the next morning and looked at a picture of me in the gown, I realized that it was definitely not my dress. It was not what I wanted. Ironically, everyone else felt the same way. I got a call from my grandmother, and my mom had been up all night worrying about it.

So what was my next step? Did all this fruitless searching prove that the dress from the first day was “the one”? Or did the fact that I still felt like there was something better out there—a dress that incorporated all the elements I wanted—mean exactly the opposite? I had tried on so many gowns. Was I totally crazy to want to try on more?

I think I’ve rambled on enough, so I will do one more “to be continued.” But I can tell you that I have found my dress! I said yes to the dress! And I’ll tell you next week which one.

Did you end up trying on a lot more gowns than you expected before finding the one?

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