This weekend, I tried on wedding dresses—not for a photo shoot, but for real life! Squee! This whole being engaged business is getting real, y’all!
The experience was every bit as magical as I imagined it would be—and shockingly informative, too. Here’s a little of what I learned and some humble advice/perspective for brides-to-be.
The bride makes the dress, not the other way around. Which is why there are so many different styles of wedding dresses—to match the personalities of the incredible women who don them. In my opinion, your wedding dress should be a reflection of you and what makes you unique. Are you a little sexy and sassy? There’s a dress for that. Are you all about the glam? There’s a dress for that. Are you embracing your inner country girl? There’s a dress for that, too! So, in the end, there’s no such thing as a “bad wedding dress,” because there is a bride who will find it, love it, and it will look like a slice of heaven on them. Not because it’s a beautiful dress but because they make it a beautiful dress.
There is a big difference between stoning and beading. One of the first thing’s I told my incredible consultant, Ashley, when we began our appointment at White Flower Bridal Boutique was that I was not interested in any sort of “bling” on my gown. I was convinced it wasn’t me; I wanted something simpler and more classic. By the end of the appointment, I realized how wrong I’d been. Sure, I was trying to tell Ashley that I wasn’t into rhinestones or Swarovski crystal-encrusted dresses (for me, they were a little too reminiscent of my past life as a burlesque performer), but man do I have a soft spot for pearls, elegant beading, and touches of shimmer. In fact, I don’t think I’ll be able to get a dress that doesn’t have a little sparkle.
At wedding dress appointments, you get nekkid—a lot. And if you have a great consultant, you won’t feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in the slightest. I wore some barely there nude undies, because, come on, I was trying on white dresses. Also, panty lines are not allowed at my nuptials. I took a strapless bra with me, just in case, but discovered that most dresses have enough built-in support to keep the ladies in line—so, topless time! Additionally, you generally step into wedding dresses, then your consultant pulls them up from behind—meaning their face is probably less than a foot away from your bum on the regular. Despite all of this, not once did I feel uncomfortable, even though I was in my skivvies and nothing else—with a complete stranger. Ashley was a consummate professional, did not seem phased in the slightest, and we laughed and joked and my frequent nudity simply wasn’t a thing (as it shouldn’t be!).
Trying on a wedding dress is not like shopping for jeans—thank God! I was nervous going into my appointment. As a retired professional dancer, my body has changed since I’ve stopped training regularly, and just last week, I was fuming at Target trying to shop for new pants—or hell, anything that looked flattering on me. But here’s the thing: there’s a huge difference between the people who design for regular retail and the gods and goddesses who design bridal couture. Wedding dresses accentuate everything wonderful about your figure. Your waist falls where your waist should be. Designers leave room for your booty and your hips. Straps are long enough to accommodate lengthy torsos. Every stitch, every line, every embellishment is there strategically—to make you look stunning. It’s an incredible experience to try on clothing that is thoughtfully made and of such high quality. In every single dress, I felt like a millions bucks. And I even started loving some of the parts of my body that I generally feel like I need to tighten up or decrease in size. Seriously, my shapely booty had me like, “J Lo, eat your heart out!”
I’m happy I only took two people—my mom and my maid of honor—two friends who know me, know my style, and made the experience FUN! You know that saying about too many cooks? I didn’t want that at my very first appointment. It’s overwhelming enough to try on a bridal gown; I didn’t want to feel like I had to please a big group of people. My first appointment needed to be about fun, celebration, and trying to determine what kind of style and silhouette was going to work for me. My mom and maid of honor were phenomenal! Nikki brought champagne, orange juice, and a meat and cheese plate. My mom chased me around with the clips that hold sample gowns flush to your body to show you how a dress will fit when tailored. They took selfies on my phone while I was in the changing room. They encouraged me to try on anything I wanted, and while they did offer their opinions, I never felt pressured by them. Basically, I played dress-up with two of the most important people in my life cheering me on, and it was a PARTY! Moral of the story: choose who accompanies you carefully. Surround yourself with people who will make it wonderful for you.
During your first appointment, try on every style of wedding dress, even if you know a particular silhouette or style “isn’t you.” Have a Disney princess moment, even if ball gowns aren’t your thing. Try on something conservative, even if you know you want something sexy. Play with different silhouettes. Try on a dress with rhinestone after rhinestone, even if the glitz is not your thing. This is your socially acceptable opportunity to play dress-up as an adult. Take advantage of it! And you never know; something you rule out in your head could wind up looking amazing on your body. Be fearless. Try everything.
For me, going to boutiques that allow me to take pictures is pretty important. I plan to try on a lot of dresses—and my memory will probably fail me. Where did I try on that trumpet style gown with the train? Did it have straps? Wait, was that a dress that would need a lot of alterations? There’s so much to consider, and having pictures helps immensely. Also, taking pictures gives you an idea of how your dress will photograph on your big day. Can you imagine buying a gown that looks like a dream in person and only so-so on camera?
When you try on dresses that might be THE dress, you know. There were tears, you guys. Happy, happy tears. It may not be the same reaction for every bride-to-me, but I’ll hazard a guess and say we all feel something deep in our hearts when we know a gown may be the dress we’ll wear down the aisle.
You should not feel pressured to buy anything during your first appointment at any shop. I’m a decisive person. I found a dress that may be the dress. I almost busted out a credit card. But my consultant said the dress wasn’t going anywhere, and I should try on other dresses at other shops. Ashley also made me aware of upcoming trunk shows and sample sales, which means more options and more discounts. I have another appointment at White Flower in a couple weeks to try on a completely different set of dresses. And over the course of the next few months, I’m going to try on everything I can in San Diego and the Phoenix metro area. Ashley was right to dissuade me from jumping the gun—a wedding dress is not an impulse purchase. There is much research to do, and if I do wind up back at White Flower, my dress will be waiting for me.
If you are a bride-to-be in any zip code, White Flower in Bankers Hill in San Diego, is a top-notch boutique to visit. I promise they didn’t pay me or bribe me with the dress of my dreams to say that. My first appointment was everything I hoped it would be—and more—and that has a lot to do with how I was treated and welcomed to White Flower Bridal Boutique. My consultant, Ashley, was knowledgeable, attentive, friendly, and quite frankly, I wanted to invite her out for cocktails by the end of my appointment. And the dresses the boutique carries are absolutely gorgeous. Immaculately styled and crafted. The stuff of dreams. I can’t say enough about this charming little boutique. If you have the opportunity, go, go, go!
Now excuse me while I scroll through all the pictures from this weekend and plan my next wedding dress adventure!