Bride-to-be Blogger Stephanie: I Found My Dress!

Stephanie and her best friend Emily on Stephanie's first dress-shopping trip.

I had visited five bridal shops, tried on nearly 60 gowns, and still wasn’t sure I had found “the one.” I was still thinking about the dress from Day 1 that really made me feel like a bride, but there was something holding me back that I couldn’t entirely pinpoint. And so Dress Shopping Round 3 commenced.

As we entered Bijou Bridal and began browsing through the racks, I got a very good feeling. Their selection was outstanding. We made our way back to the dressing room with many, many dresses in tow.

The first gown I put on was a “wow”: trumpet-style, strapless, and beaded. My mom and grandmother had been yearning for me to fall in love with a dress covered in beading, so when I walked out of the dressing room, my mom’s face lit up. The beading was extraordinary; it actually appeared to be in the shape of lace. The sparkle-factor definitely made an impact. I could imagine how striking it would be shimmering in the evening. But ultimately, it just didn’t feel like me. I think I feel a little uncomfortable with so much shine. I prefer something that’s a little more understated and subtle.

My mom was sad, but she also recognized that the glitz and glamour of the dress wasn’t me. So it was back to the dressing room. I tried on a few more beautiful dresses that fell a tad flat before I put on an Enzoani gown that literally stopped me in my tracks. As soon as the consultant had it buttoned and clipped, I froze, admiring how exceptionally stunning it was. More than anything, I remember feeling instantly comfortable. This dress was me.

I walked out of the dressing room beaming. My best friend Emily and sister Victoria took to it immediately—my mom, not so much. I stood before the mirrors and began the telltale motion: swinging from side to side to test the movement of the dress. It swayed with me!

I turned around and found the train breathtaking. The shape of the dress was just what I was looking for: fitted at the top and through the hips, with volume at the bottom, plus a dramatic train. And the lace on the dress was beyond exquisite—nicer than the $8,000 Monique Lhuillier gown, and at less than a quarter of the price.

But my mom was focusing on the lack of bling. She liked the gown, but felt it was missing something. I tried on a few more dresses before putting it on once more and basking in the glory of this phenomenal piece of art. My mom’s attitude shifted a bit. She was definitely more enthusiastic, but it still wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for. However, I knew I loved it. I resolved to move on to our next appointment but knew very well we would be returning.

Next was Bridals by Danielle downtown. I wasn’t totally crazy about their selection. I tried on a few gowns that made little impression, and then miraculously, beneath the heap of dresses hanging in the “no” pile of the dressing room, we found the gown from Day 1! This was it: the moment to compare my two favorite dresses, my frontrunners.

When I gazed up into the mirror, I was stunned yet again by the beauty of the gown. But as I took a closer look at the embroidered lace on the top (the thing seemed to be holding me back), I realized it didn’t hold a candle to the lace of the Enzoani gown. I loved everything about the Enzoani dress. And that was the difference between the two—a realization I was thrilled to come to.

For this final dress-shopping excursion, I actually limited my entourage to my mom, sister, and best friend in an effort to help me with the decision-making process by reducing the number of opinions. But I really wanted my grandmother and mom-to-be to see the Enzoani gown before I officially said yes. I very much wanted their opinions —hopefully positive opinions—so I made an appointment at Bijou to return.

When the day finally rolled around (due to work travel, I had to wait two weeks!), I could barely contain my excitement to put the gown back on. I hadn’t stopped thinking about since the last appointment, which I took to be a very good sign. I had dreamt of walking down the aisle in the dress! I also created this perfect scenario in my head of me walking out of the dressing room to the universal oohs and ahhs, smiles, and tears of everyone. That’s what was going to take me over the edge. That’s what was going to prove to me that this was my dress.

That didn’t happen—perhaps due to some miscommunication. Fearful of sharing their opinions and clouting my judgment, they (including my grandmother and future mother-in-law) were all silent when I walked out of the dressing room. When I asked them what they thought, they redirected the question to me.

My consultant, who I had liked so much from my previous appointment, was a tad more difficult to work with this time around. While every other shop I had visited said that it would be no problem for their seamstress to alter the neckline of a gown, when I suggested that I wanted to consider a slightly more sweetheart neckline for this gown, my consultant told me only the designer could do it and that I would need to select a neckline from the designer’s website. Randomly selecting a neckline without trying it on made me very wary.

So I left the appointment a bit dejected about the lack of enthusiasm from my family and friends and confused over what to do about the neckline. The consultant suggested I sleep on it and come back when I had reviewed and chosen a neckline. I made the appointment for just a few days later, and ended up canceling it when I realized I simply wasn’t comfortable with randomly selecting a neckline from the website.

I searched where else Enzoani gowns were sold in the area and discovered that La Bella Moda (the first stop on our bridal tour) is an Enzoani retailer. I called and asked if they had any Enzoani gowns with a sweetheart neckline, and when they replied yes, I set up an appointment.

This time, I reduced the group even further: just me, my mom, and my sister. Beyond the Enzoani sweethearts, we selected a few more gowns to try on just in case. Well, I ended up trying on nearly 15 gorgeous gowns—all of them beautiful in their own way. But it really solidified it for me. I didn’t want any other gown. I had already found my wedding dress!

Turns out, La Bella Moda was able to order the original Enzoani gown for me at a better price, and the seamstress assured me, vowing to God that she could alter the neckline herself, with no problem —that we could modify it just slightly first, and if I wanted more, we could do more. I felt so at ease. The pressure of the situation seemed to entirely dissipate. I was comfortable and confident. And so I said yes! I bought my wedding dress! A huge combination of relief and joy overwhelmed me.

To conclude this saga of wedding dress posts, future brides, here are a few important things I learned from my wedding dress journey:

1) The smaller the entourage, the better. You’ve heard it before and for good reason. You’re likely not going to get in an overly dramatic brawl with your mother or sister over ultra-divergent opinions on tulle and rhinestones, but lots of opinions can really clout your own judgment. It’s hard to determine how you feel about the gown when all you’re hearing is what other people think about it, despite their very best intentions.

2) There might be several dresses you fall in love with. Bridal gowns are designed to make brides look stunning. There will very likely be more than one dress that makes you feel fantastic. The key for me was which dress could I envision myself walking down the aisle in, which dress did I want to wow my fiancé with, and which dress was the best reflection of me.

3) Try to avoid scheduling three appointments in one day (easier said then done for the excessively-busy, working bride), and make sure to leave time for lunch! Dress shopping can be exhausting. Some of the gowns, particularly those that are beaded, are incredibly heavy. It’s a workout to take them on and off, and you’re on your feet for hours. You get hot. You even work up a sweat. And then you might end up not leaving yourself enough time to recoup with a deliciously satisfying meal. Make sure not to make that mistake!

4) That Say Yes to the Dress epiphany of tears when you’ve found “the one” may not happen. This was a sad realization for me. I wanted more than anything to have that defining moment. But I ultimately realized that I’m not really an impulsive person. I like and need to think through my decisions. But that feeling still exists. While it might not manifest itself in on-the-sport tears of joy, you know when it’s your dress, and it’s an exhilarating, fulfilling, blissful feeling.

What would you add to list? What did you learn from your dress shopping experience?

RELATED: Bride-to-be Blogger Stephanie: My First Dress-Shopping Adventure

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


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