The short story is this: I bought a dress, and I don't feel good about it.
There is, of course, a longer story. So... The dress journey started innocently enough with me trying on a few dresses at a couple different places, and it was actually going pretty well. In fact, I'd started writing a post about how relatively painless it had been and how I was silly to have avoided it for so long. I'm such a researcher at heart that I was probably never going to be one of those women who goes to one or two stores, tries on a handful of dresses, and falls in love with 'the one.' But I was doing what I assume you're supposed be doing in those appointments, which is finding out what I liked and didn't like. The more dresses I tried on the clearer my sense of what I was looking for. Eventually I had it nailed down to one particular style that I was positive would work for me, and I really loved it. Surprisingly (to me, at least) I was feeling really excited and really close to making a decision. That's the good, hopeful part of the story.
I didn't know this before, but I certainly know it now - the problem with finding a particular style you like and not being a regular sample size is that many places won't have dresses in that specific style that you can actually try on. So even though I'd decided I was looking for a flowy, slim-line, pleated chiffon gown, I'd only been able to actually try on two of them.
both dresses from David's Bridal
And one other dress I'd held in front of me.
dress by Mori Lee
The first dress I really loved was that black-sashed David's Bridal one, and when others saw the pictures of me in it they seemed to love it as well. But the further away I got from having tried it on, the more misgivings I had about the black sash. I was (am) worried it would look too 'matchy-matchy' with the wedding party dresses, and I was beginning to think I wanted something with just a bit more sparkle.
Even writing that out I'm still surprised I'm thinking that. I'm not a 'sparkly' person in my every day life (unless we're talking about my personality, of course!), and I had a very negative reaction to all of the poofy-er, blingy-er dresses I tried on. They were lovely, but they just weren't me. Not that I know who the bridal gown 'me' is since I've never dreamed about what I wanted this dress to look like. All I know is that the more I thought about it, the more I loved the idea of a simple gown with this shape and fabric plus a really sparkly waistline. Looking back over the pictures I'd taken of these dress trips I came to the conclusion that the other David's Bridal gown didn't offer quite enough waist definition for my liking, and the beading on that Mori Lee gown felt a bit too dainty for me.
I put all that info together and then went searching online for a similar dress with some chunkier beading at the waist. For the record, this is most likely where my problems started. I'm fully aware that there are substantial downsides to being an over-researcher, especially when many dresses take at least 4-6 months to be made and I'm less than 5 months out from our wedding. I also know the 'safest' way to make a decision about a dress would've been to just a find a dress I liked, buy it, and stop looking at dresses. But I just couldn't let go of the thought that buying one of these dresses would've been settling. And I wasn't ready to settle, at least not yet.
My online research really only yielded two other viable options. These were similar enough to ones I'd seen in person and/or tried on that I thought they'd probably work.
After scouring every real bride picture I could find of these two dresses and comparing them to things I had learned about what did and didn't work for me in other dresses, I determined that the waistline of the one on the left would probably be more flattering on me. So began my frantic searching for a store carrying a sample. I was thirteen calls deep before I finally found one, so I made an appointment for last Wednesday and I went in feeling genuinely hopeful that this would be the final shopping trip - the trip where I'd have that elusive 'the one' feeling and I'd know my search was over. Needless to say that's not quite how it went down.
My dress search and all of the situations related to it have been, by far, the most challenging and emotionally exhausting parts of my wedding planning experience thus far. The self-doubt and second-guessing have been draining, and now the time crunch adds an additional level of stress that feels completely unbearable at times. Even though I've already postponed writing this post for a few days now, I'm going to take just a little more time before I tell the rest of the story.
In the meantime, tell me about your experience. When it came to shopping for your wedding day attire, were you an over-researcher like me or did you have more of a "one (store) and done" mentality?