I am going to let you in on a little secret. Before I was actually engaged and looking for one, I was a wedding dress snob. Years of watching Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta and Pinning couture wedding dresses had me feeling like I’d never be able to afford my dream dress. (Fun fact: I once stood behind Monte in a Starbucks line at Hartsfield-Jackson airport and couldn’t get up the courage to tell him how much I loved his show. I still regret this Cowardly Lion moment.)
Luckily for me, Spencer and I went to a wedding last December, and when I asked the bride where she’d gotten her dress, she smiled and said, “David’s Bridal!”
David’s Bridal?! But I like your dress. How can it possibly be from David’s Bridal?
See? I told you I was a snob. Although I did have the good sense to not say any of that out loud. I had such a distinct idea of what “finding the dress” meant, and and that is why my first tip to anyone looking for a wedding dress would be…
Keep an open mind.
I ended up going to David’s Bridal with my mom and sister/maid of honor that next month, and even though I “just wanted to look,” I ended up buying my dream dress. If I’d gone to a bridal boutique or even the actual store where they film Say Yes to the Dress (it was a tempting hour and seven minutes from my parents’ house), I probably would’ve found gorgeous dresses with monstrous price tags, which could’ve led to me leaving empty handed or suffering the most case of buyer’s remorse imaginable.
By being open to what I assumed was a lesser bridal store due to its chain status, I found the perfect dress, had a great experience, and kept it in my very small budget.
The dress that you always wanted may not actually be the dress for you.
Going into the store, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I mean exactly. Lacy, white, vintage feeling… I could’ve shown you a dozen dresses in that style from my Pinterest board. Then I started actually trying them on, and they just weren’t what I wanted. They were pretty dresses, but they didn’t capture how I wanted to feel and look on the big day.
Thank God that my mother and sister have never been shy about picking things for me to try on. While scrolling through David’s Bridals’ book o’ wedding dresses, they found it. A-line, ivory with a champagne underlay, a top layer of floaty tulle; I tried it on, and suddenly everything came into perspective. I was getting married.
It might not be like the movies, but you’ll have some kind of “moment.”
That was mine. I saw myself in the dress with my hair twisted up and veiled, and I just knew it. And this is coming from someone who did not believe in “the moment” and didn’t expect to have one. I expected to find a dress, like it more than all the others, and say, “Yeah, alright. This one’s good.”
Hah. Was I naive or what? First I cried. Then my mom cried. Then my sister laughed at us both for crying. It was a beautiful moment.
Plus, at David’s Bridal, once you find “your dress,” you get to ring a big bell, so everyone else in the store got to share in my moment. (Can you tell that I absolutely love David’s Bridal now?)
Be sure to factor alterations costs into your budget.
Since I got my dress for such a good price (like, seriously, I feel like I practically stole it off the rack), I was a bit flabbergasted at how much the alterations were going to cost me. I guess in hindsight I really shouldn’t have been.
I’m a tad bit on the short side, so they had to take a chunk off the bottom. Then I really wanted cap sleeves, so I chose from David’s Bridals’ assortment of sleeves and had them lined with the extra fabric from the bottom and added to my dress. (My mom’s idea, of course. She always has the best ideas.) Basically, my dress now looks like it was custom made for me, giving me the look and feel of a boutique style dress without the shock-inducing price tag.
Enjoy the experience. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing!
I had such a great time with my mom and sister that I also decided to use David’s Bridal for my bridesmaids’ dresses! We made an evening of taking the trip to the store and having everyone try on the dress. Then, when my bridesmaid who studied at Oxford last year finally got back to the states, I met her at a different David’s Bridal, so she could have a similar experience. That’s the great thing that I never thought I would say about chain dress stores: they have the same dresses, so you don’t have to worry about your bridesmaids having to find one in their area!
And since we’re past the wedding day now, I’ll go ahead and give you a peek at the wonderful, budget-friendly dress that I found!