Today's Wedding Wednesday post is a very special one because I (finally) said yes to the dress! As a fashion blogger, I figured wedding dress shopping would be the easiest and most fun part about planning a wedding - but it has been the hardest for me! A couple things I knew from the start was that I didn't want a typical "princess" wedding dress and that I didn't want lace, which basically meant 90% off the dresses on the market were not my taste. I also really didn't like the idea of going to multiple boutiques to try on sample sizes that didn't fit only to order it, wait for 4 months, then hope my actual size looks the same on me because the dress was non-returnable.
I wanted to write this post to talk about my, kind of unusual, wedding dress shopping experience and share some tips for you guys to hopefully make it a little easier.
A few of my favorite Ready-To-Wear Wedding Dresses:
A few weekends ago, my Maid of Honor and two of my bridesmaids made the trek from Dallas to Houston for a girls day of shopping and trying on wedding dresses. I got my dress at the BHLDN in Houston, and if you don't know anything about BHLDN, it's Anthropologie's wedding boutique which means that basically everything in the store is absolutely gorgeous! Also, almost everything is ready-to-wear (and returnable!), which is awesome to be able to essentially have your wedding dress a few days after you order it or try a few on in the comfort of your home in your actual size.
First I looked around online at what kind of styles I liked, I already knew what I didn't like: puffy ballgowns, tons of tulle, all over lace, and "too sexy" silhouettes. I wanted something very simple and modern but elegant and I do tend to like a sheath silhouette on me since I'm petite and a big ballgown can be overwhelming. The Knot's wedding dress finder tool was super helpful for this because I could search by price range and silhouette - plus you can see which boutiques carry the dress you like if you're planning on going the traditional boutique route.
I wasn't actually opposed to getting my dress from a boutique, but I was hoping I could find it online or in a ready-to-wear style so I started there first. I began by ordering a TON of dresses from online wedding boutiques - especially from my favorite stores if they carried a wedding section. If you plan on doing this, be sure to thoroughly read the return policy. It was a bit scary having a couple thousand dollars in dresses on my credit card, but the ability to try on the dresses at home and to scrutinize what I did and did not like about them without a salesperson breathing down my neck was invaluable. In the end, everything worked fine with returns and I wasn't even out the shipping costs so all in all it was a good experience.
Also, I'm not sure if it's wedding dresses in general or just from where I ordered some from but the sizing seems to be way off from normal street sizing. I'm almost universally a size 0 but when I got dresses in the mail almost all of them were way too big and very oddly sized from what I'm used to (I'm 5' 3" and very petite so that may be why).
When I wasn't having any luck finding "the one" through my online shopping efforts, I made an appointment with BHLDN in Houston and invited my wedding party to join. I'm actually really glad I ended up making at least one appointment at a boutique since I got to try on a ton of dresses, many of which I'm not sure I would've picked out on my own, and I got the "bridal experience" everyone talks so much about. If you need a dress quickly or just plan on going a non-traditional route when it comes to wedding dress shopping a big tip I would definitely recommend is making at least one bridal salon appointment to be able to try on a ton of dresses and get a feel for what does and does not look good on you - there were so many styles I loved the idea of but just didn't like them on.
Definitely do your research and know your likes and dislikes well before stepping foot into a bridal salon. EVERYONE in the room will have an opinion, and while it may be well intentioned and useful, the only one that truly matters is yours.
Don't take too many people. Most bridal salons will limit the number of people you can bring. I was able to invite my entire wedding party because my mother was unable to fly in to go dress shopping with me and I only have 5 girls. Fortunately only three of my girls could go, which felt like the perfect number!
Buy the undergarments you think you'll need. I brought a pair of Spanx knowing many of the dresses I'd be trying on would be fitted and a pair of silicone coverups so I could see how it looked without an actual bra on.
P.S. these silicone coverups are my favorite and I wear them ALL the time - plus they're only $12!
Don't settle for a dress you don't love. I actually did this right after I got engaged. I already had an idea of the look and feel of the wedding and ended up ordering a dress that was way on sale and keeping it because it was "close" to what I had in mind. I obviously changed my mind on it, and while it was under $200 it's still a little irritating spending money on a dress I won't wear.
When decided on the dress, keep the whole look and feel of the wedding. There were a lot of super modern dresses that I tried on that I loved, but was unsure of how it would look with the venue and look I'm going for. The dress definitely one of the defining things about a wedding so you don't want to choose something totally distinct from the feel you're trying to achieve!
A FEW OF MY FAVORITE ONLINE & READY-TO-WEAR WEDDING DRESS SHOPS
All of these stores have affordable dress options under $1,000!