I was psyched to start wedding dress shopping because I knew exactly what I was looking for. My mom and dad came with me, and we started with local shops in neighboring towns. I figured that if I found a dress, it would be super convenient having to drive only a short distance for fittings. However, I quickly learned that a negative aspect of this plan is that smaller shops have fewer dresses. Since I had one very specific style in mind, there were really only a handful of dresses that matched my criteria in each store.
Yet, the most stressful aspect of dress shopping, even when I did find styles I liked, was trying on the dresses themselves. I am super petite. I’m short, and I’m very thin. While most people think that this automatically means shopping is a breeze for me, it’s quite the opposite. I’m actually too small for many brands, and shopping was a nightmare for years until I found a few stores that had petite lines that work for me. Wedding dresses are not stocked in multiple sizes. It’s usually one size per dress, and the sample size was almost always 4-5 sizes too big for me.
The women who work at these shops are trained to cleverly pin or clip the dresses so that they look like they fit, even if they don’t. This was a difficult task for the attendants who helped me because of how small I am. I literally had attendants at two different stores laugh when they saw me in the first dress I tried on. Laugh. To some degree I don’t blame them, because it was ridiculous. This is essentially what they saw when they walked into the dressing room:
The entire experience was beyond frustrating. This was a huge deal, for obvious reasons. My wedding dress will probably be the most important item of clothing I will ever own. It’s possibly the most expensive dress that I (well, my mom) will ever buy. Everyone will be focused on THE DRESS as I walk down the aisle. Not to mention that the dress will be immortalized in the countless photos of my wedding day. I wanted to feel good trying these things on. And the attendants did try…they’d pin and tuck and clip, but the dresses just didn’t look good no matter what.
The problem was not only due to my size, but also because of the style dress that I wanted. I was looking for a form fitting dress with thicker straps but a low back. That combination was a disaster to try on. In order to make it tight enough to look form fitting, the straps had to be folded over and the back had to be completely scrunched up. Even if they tried to flatten everything out so I could see it, there was just too much fabric for my body. I couldn’t tell how low cut something would be on me, where the straps would actually lay on my shoulders, or how the low back would actually look. And every attendant told me the same thing: “You’ll just have to try and visualize it.” Some even showed me the picture of a model in the dress, so I could see how it was supposed to look. But then all I could think while standing there drowning in fabric was:
“If I just have to ‘visualize it,’ then…
So, I ended up empty handed after the first few shops. We did some research to see which stores had some smaller sample sizes, which led us to venturing to some other shops further east. Two dresses became top contenders. Funnily enough, it turns out that I had tried them both on in bigger sizes at other stores and didn’t like them. But because I was finally able to see how I would actually look in the gown — without needing to visualize! — it was like I was trying them on for the first time.
So the hunt is over….The Bridal Suite of Bay Shore came through, and I found my dream dress.
I was so relieved to get the dress that I haven’t even bothered to think about any other part of my look. Veil? Jewelry? Shoes? I guess I’ll figure all that out later…