This past week I was fortunate enough to be able to go with one of my best friends to check out some wedding dresses for her wedding next summer. This was a pretty random idea of ours… she wasn’t having a great week, I was bored—so we got the bright idea that maybe we go check out some gowns. No parents, no other friends—just us in Lulu’s and sweaters ‘checking out’ a fairly new store in Ottawa that was close to where we live.

There was no real thought behind going, we just wanted something to do. Of special note here is this was my first experience being around a selection of gorgeous wedding gowns in real life. As a wedding professional, some of you might be wondering how this is my very first time even perusing these beauties. Well frankly, I’m fairly superstitious, and although there has been many a sample sale or trunk show I have wanted to hit up over the last few years… I needed to be engaged before I actually set foot in one of these stores with even the idea that I might want to try one on. Let’s just say I put high value on this type of experience, so it’s kind of weird we just went on a whim…

…Anyways, I guess I was able to justify it because I went in with the notion that this was a trip solely for my friend. Although yes, I am engaged now, I still didn’t feel right trying on any gowns. I don’t know if part of it was because I still don’t feel worthy (like its pretty crazy I am a bride-to-be..), or if its because my mom and sister weren’t with me (my planned go-to wedding dress shopping attendees), or if its because I am not getting married until 2017 (slow your roll Courtney… you have two years to find something)… regardless, this was my homegirl’s day, and I wanted her to feel that it was special.

That being said, she was one of those dedicated people that stood in the ridiculous line a few weeks ago to see what the McCaffrey Bankruptcy sale had to offer. I mean who doesn’t like the idea of getting a couture gown for much, much, less than its worth… but unfortunately for her, she did not walk out with a snazzy and bankroll-friendly gown… She did however get a gorgeous veil and an even better sunburn! So it wasn’t a complete loss.

I can say with confidence, that she is a girl who knows what she wants. I guess most ladies have some sort of idea of what they picture themselves in on their wedding day. Whether its big and classic, or skin-tight and sexy… we all have a general plan of what we’re looking for. But as any good Say Yes to the Dress junkie knows, you often don’t walk out with what you originally thought you would.

Anyways, she had been creeping this store and one of its collections for a few months now. So as soon as we got in we were greeted by two very sweet sisters who were eager to help. It was a Tuesday afternoon, so it was quiet and we had the store to ourselves—no appointment required (which is pretty unusual, so if you are a bride-to-be call ahead to make sure the store of your choice is open to you).

My friend immediately showed them the dress she for sure wanted and was pretty set on the fact that this would be the dress she would be walking out with. But obviously, we made her try on numerous other ones ‘just in case’… and also, because I wanted to see her struggle to get in and out of tulle on a hot day… haha.

I’ll start this next thought by stating that I suppose you could call me an emotional person… I mean I cry every time I watch The Notebook and I love love… but I didn’t think her trying on dresses on a random Tuesday would get to me like it did.

The first dress she walked out in blew me away (and this wasn’t even the best one). How is it that my friend, who I have known since I was in the 7th grade is now standing in front of me in a wedding gown.. *cue feelings*. A wave of emotions ran over me—“Wow, she looks beautiful” “Jesus… how did we get to be so old…” “Hm… I wonder how good the next one will look” “Nice… she doesn’t even have to lose weight… lucky her…”

As I thought it would be… trying on wedding dresses was a big deal. Dress after dress seemed to look better than the last. She was able to narrow it down quite quickly that mermaid’s and fit and flare’s looked best on her body type. So we stuck with those (even though I was pushing some aggressive tulle on her… she didn’t bite). One of the last dresses she tried on was the one. It fit her like a glove, it was unique, it was sexy but church-worthy, it was her perfect dress. I am obsessed for her.

At that point, the saleswoman suggested we narrow it down—we got it to three possible contenders– but yet again, the last one won hands down in the battle of the bridal gown, time and time again.

Obviously, she wanted her parents to see it in person before she bought it (fair enough… we did just go shopping on a whim), so she went back this past weekend ANDDDD I am so excited to announce that she found her gown and officially purchased it after her parents agreed it was on point and the absolute perfect gown for her!!!

SO EXCITING!!!

All in all, I would like to end this blog post with a few take away tips for any brides planning to go shopping for their dress:

  • Have a price in mind. It is one of the first thing a sales person will ask you. Gowns can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Pick an amount you feel comfortable with and remember alterations, veils, and belts cost more—so if your entire dress budget is $4000 and you want a veil and a belt, look for dresses that are $3000-3500. When in doubt, advise the sales person, the more they know, the better they can assist
  • Go with 6-8 months to spare (or more if you know you’ll be picky!!). You don’t want to limit your selection or only be able to choose off the rack gowns because you waited too long. Give yourself some time to choose and peruse! Enjoy the process and don’t dilly dally. That being said… I am not going yet because I am getting married in two years—I am hopeful there will be trunk shows, sample sales, and new trends, so I don’t want to go too early either!
  • Let the consultant choose some dresses for you. Everything looks different on the rack! Give dresses the chance to wow you and don’t eliminate them based on one thing you dislike. Alterations can fix small problems and consultants are professionals—so they will know what will look best on your body type.
  • Bring any accessories you already have. My friend brought the McCaffrey bankruptcy veil she bought with her. Turns out the lace on the veil and the lace on her dress match perfectly!! But this is not always the case. If you have a veil, belt, shoes, or tiara you know you will for sure want to wear, bring it along to make sure they match well with the gown you choose.
  • Buy a size that fits you now. Obviously many brides plan on losing weight or toning up for their impending nuptials, but lets just play devil’s advocate here and say that you may not kick your cupcake habit before the big day and lose the 15 pounds you are dreaming of… better safe than sorry. It’s easier to take a dress in that to let it out.
  • Wear nice underwear. I chirped my friend pretty hard for her underwear choice the day of. Note: the consultants/your friends/family will likely have to help zip you up and get you in… so be prepared that you may show your skivvies a little. Don’t worry they are VERY professional, they wont judge you, but your best friend might… haha

To all those babe brides hitting the town in the next few weeks and months to find their perfect gown… good luck to you all! Enjoy the process and have fun Saying YES to your dress!