Oh wedding dress shopping... how you confuses us, make us question everything about ourselves, & ultimately leading us into a battle of having to pick one dress out of hundreds! But what if it didn't have to be this way. What if we changed the outlook of shopping for a wedding dress to be more about celebrating who we are as women & the love we share with the one we are marrying.
Throughout my time as a bridal consultant I have met hundreds of women who are beginning, in the process of, or nearing the end of their wedding dress shopping experience. (Let me just give a shoutout to each bride I have been able to work with! You are all beautifully and wonderfully made & have each taught me something about myself and others). During each appointment there is always one common denominator; The bride in the pink robe standing there stressed as heck looking as though we are about to conduct some painful procedure. But why? Why does wedding dress shopping seem to stress women out to no end? I have my theories that I am going to share with you, but I know each bride also has her own reasons as to why it might be difficult to find her wedding dress. These are my 5 reasons I believe brides make shopping for a wedding dress more defeating than it needs to be:
1. The crowd in the room
3. Body Image
Before I dive a little deeper into these I want to preface that if you struggled with one or all of the categories listed above during your wedding dress shopping experience, you are not alone. Majority of the brides I have worked with seem to let AT LEAST one these five categories tamper with their wedding dress shopping experience. I am excited to share with you my understanding of these, as well as how to combat them. I want each bride to be excited about the experience of finding her dress, thrilled to get the opportunity to try on different styles, and ultimately confident in her decision of HER dress.
1. The crowd in the room. "Pull more chairs, for this room. Oh wait we need one more. Just kidding another please". Okay gals listen up because this is HUGE! Somewhere along the way it became appropriate to bring to the appointment your mom, his mom, your dad, your sisters, your best friends, your aunt, your grandma, your neighbor from five years ago, oh the barista at Starbucks who made your coffee before your appointment seems logical lets bring her too. Now I am not here to downplay the importance of having a group there with you when finding your dress. Trust me those opinions do matter, but sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves because of who is in the room. Think about it...how can you decide what is best for YOU and best on YOU, when you have 10 other opinions shouting at you "you're going to need to get rid of that back fat" or "sweetie you look like a stuffed marshmallow". I would like to thank Say Yes to the Dress for most of these outrageous overly confident guests who seem to think their opinion is more valuable than the brides. Brides please please please think about who you bring to your appointment, before you invite them. I know aunt Sally might "mean well", but ultimately her hateful words are going to crush you when finding YOUR dream dress. I tell most of my brides when booking appointments to bring the opinions that matter most to her. If you know that aunt Sally is going to be harsh and try to take over your appointment.... don't bring her!!!!! Sure she might be upset, sure we might not be able to post your photo with the "I said Yes" sign, but thats okay. What is most important is that you have a clear confident mind when finding YOUR dream dress.
2. Expectations. We all have them... for pretty much everything. That coffee place down the street is way cuter on the inside than I was expecting. WOW the bachelor ending like that, I would never have expected Peter to be so idiotic. I expected wedding dress shopping to be super stressful. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have heard this statement. The expectation that you have to try on as many dresses as you can fit into that hour and a half appointment. The the expectation that as soon as you have fallen in love with one, you have to cry over it, everyone must cry in the room, then and only then can you say yes. Girlies this is so far from what you should expect. Don't feel dumb if this is what you envisioned, because honestly I thought it would be this way for myself too. First of all lets clarify something right off the bat. YOU DO NOT NEED TO TRY ON EVERY DRESS TO SUCCEED. Setting THIS expectation will honestly get you a lot further than thinking you have to try every dress you pinned on Pinterest. Please trust your consultant when she tells you she doesn't believe you need to try on a certain dress. She is doing this to save you from any more confusion. Also, please don't think you MUST cry or have a quote on quote "feeling" to say yes to a dress. Some of us are more emotional than others. For example, I cry at dog videos, while Mary Margaret, my sister in law, can watch The Notebook without crying (I know heart of steal). We all have our own way of reacting to moments in our lives. Some brides will cry and I love those brides. But I also love the brides who say "okay this is it" and walk back into the dressing room. We are all made to be different and that is why it is okay to have a different reaction compared to the bride down the hall. And that "feeling" everyone keeps talking about. Yeah some brides will get butterflies or gitty about a dress, but also some brides will just feel their best self in one. This "feeling" looks different for every bride out there. Don't overthink the wedding dress shopping experience, because of your expectations. Simply try to come in with an open mind, ready to have fun, and hopefully find a dress you fall in love with.
3. Body Image. I am not going to lie, this one is hard. As women we are told that we must be a size 00 to be beautiful. But wait I am a size 6 why are we pulling dresses that are a 10-12? OMG why is a 10 fitting, I must have gained weight. Ladies let me start this one off by sharing one of my favorite bible verses. Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful". You are beautiful just the way you are whether you are a size 0 or 20. It is just a number. Let me repeat that again it is just a number. Wedding dresses tend to run about 2 sizes smaller than your normal size (I know it is cruel and unusual). But this is the truth. So no you do not need to lose weight to fit into that size 6. Please listen to your consultant when she informs you of what size you need to go with. Some brides let the size and their body image rule their appointment. Well I am here to tell you DON'T. Don't let yourself get caught up in a number or that you want to look like Carrie Underwood did on her wedding day. Frankly I think this is a impossible stretch and will lead you to be miserable during your bridal appointment. Instead I want you to embrace YOU. YOU are made wonderful. YOU are who your fiancé proposed to. YOU are YOU and perfect just the way you are. Embrace yourself and love yourself. This will give you so much more confidence when shopping for a wedding dress.
4. Choices- Tulle, lace, satin, silk, dove satin, chiffon, strapless, high neck, ballgown, sheath, fit and flare, the list goes on and don't even get me started on color choices. Sometimes I believe brides let the amount of choices they have stress them out. "There's too many choices, how am I ever going to pick". -words out of 1/3 of my brides. I have to say they're right. There are a lot of choices. But also why is that such a bad thing? Why do we put this negative cognition on the fact that there are too many choices, so you can't pick a dress? When you say it out loud or read it, it sounds silly honestly. There are so many choices... so my dress must be in here! There are so many choices... I can't wait to see which one is my dress! I feel like these are more realistic approaches to a variety of selection to chose from. Sure there are a lot. Sure lets try on some different silhouettes. Taking it one step at a time and again trusting your consultant will help you tremendously!
5. Commitment -This is the last, but certainly not least of my five distractions of wedding dress shopping. When you found the man of your dreams did you keep shopping around? When you knew he was the one, did you go out with your friends and meet other guys? Okay no that would just be morally wrong and if you did you probably shouldn't be getting married. Well, it is the same for when you find the dress of your dreams. This might seem cheesy, but hear me out. You try on all these dresses, much like you dated around. Then you find out things you really enjoy about this one particular dress, similar to your fiancés smile, charisma, and way he makes you laugh. And you can't stop comparing all the other dresses to this one. This one dress. But when your consultant asks if this is the one, much like your fiancé getting down on one knee.... Suddenly the last hour and a half is a blur and the thought of picking a dress is crazy. I mean "this is my first time trying on dresses" and "I didn't think I would find one this soon/easy/fast". Why does this scare brides? Why is it that the thought of making a decision seems so earth shattering? Listen I get it those suckers are a lot of money and non-refundable, but isn't your fiancé priceless and I hope you won't return him. It didn't seem so hard saying "YES" to him? I feel like brides put so much pressure on themselves to find "the dress", that when they actually find it they can't believe they did. They struggle with the fact that it wasn't hard, or they didn't go to some big city to get it. It shouldn't be hard and why go somewhere else when the dress is staring at you in the face. Gals, don't be afraid to commit. If you feel confident, beautiful, and your best self in a dress get it. Shopping around after finding your dress is only going to confuse you more, and make your wedding dress shopping experience more stressful. When you love someone you don't say "Yeah I love him, but I am going to keep look", so why say it when you love a dress? Don't let the fear of commitment distort your decision making capabilities of your dream dress.
It's time to change the way wedding dress shopping is perceived. It's time to celebrate ourselves, our beauty, and our love through shopping for a wedding dress. It is time to make a change as women and build up one another. Don't stress about this season of wedding planning; Instead smile, have fun, and find a dress you feel your best self in. No one but you can decide what that dress looks like!