eekkk…. I know I’m late on sharing this post. I have a huge backlog on wedding posts I’m working on right now. I will have more soon. Pinky promise
First of all, thank you for all of the wonderful advice you shared for dress shopping. You guys brought up a lot of good points that really has helped in the process.
Here’s what you had to say:
- Bring photos of the style of dresses you have in mind, but be open to any ‘surprise’ dresses that the bridal consultant brings to the room – if they’re good, that means they’ve been doing this for a while and may know what works better on your body than you do.
- Wear beige undergarments
- Wear your hair similar to the style you have in mind for your wedding day
- Wear make-up
- Keep the amount of people you bring with you to a minimum (3 people – tops)
- Bring heels to try on dresses with
- Don’t eat a big meal before the appointment
- Bring a camera
I had researched several bridal salons in the Tampa Bay area before making an appointment at Jon’s Bridal. They had hundreds of great reviews online that all raved about the shop. I liked that all of dresses are ordered in bulk and available in-house, so that (from what I had read) the quality is on the high end and the prices are on the low end. However, be warned, the salon is by appointment only and they make you give a credit card number to reserve the appointment (there’s a $30 no-show fee).
Mistake #1 – I met my family and some friends at Burger 21 before the appointment and ordered a chicken burger with sweet potato fries and split a peanut butter milkshake with a friend. I was starving from running around all day and ate it all. It was all amazing, of course. Not so amazing was my full and bloated stomach for trying on dresses. Oops. They’re not kidding when they tell you not to eat a big meal before hand, every dress felt uncomfortable and all I wanted to do was take a nap. Lesson learned on that one.
Jon’s Bridal isn’t much on the outside. It’s a run down building in a not-so-great area town that I probably would have driven right by if Mr. GPS wasn’t yelling at me to ‘TURN HERE.’
It’s not much on the inside, either. It’s dark and has a late 70s, early 80s vibe to it. There aren’t any windows and it just feels old and dusty. Still, as I kept telling my mom, we can’t judge a book by it’s cover.
The first thing that really caught our attention was the ‘No Photography’ sign you see when you first walk in. What?! No photography?!?! We had walked in with two DSLRs, three camera phones, an iPad, and a point and shoot – all ready to take photos. A little much? Probably. But we like photos! How do you know it’s the right dress if you can’t see what it looks like in a photo?
The consultant who approached us was very sweet. She asked what I wanted and didn’t want in a dress, then examined some of the photos I had brought. I gave her my budget and told her we were pretty firm on the amount.
The consultant listened, took everything in, then gave a polite smile before gently informing me my budget was too low for any of the styles I had selected. Apparently lace is $$ and I definitely did not have $$. Boo. She just wanted me to keep that in mind as we sifted through dresses. Got it. I know she was being nice, but being told everything I liked would instantly be out of my budget was kind of a downer.
The store was set up a bit differently than any other bridal salons I’d been too. All of their dresses were out on the floor and separated by size. The consultant brought my mother, sister, and I over to the rack that only had dresses that were my size on it and one-by-one we flipped through all of them. If I liked the dress I would say ‘yay’ and if I didn’t, it would be ‘nay’.
There were a lot of nays. I could tell within the first few dresses that they probably wouldn’t have anything I liked here. They were all bright white, very poofy, and not anywhere near the style I had envisioned for my dress. I ended up with four yays, but when the consultant told me to select my favorite of the group to try on first, I knew I was in trouble. None of them stood out to me.
See, this is where photos would come in handy! For the life of me, I can’t remember what the first couple of dresses I tried on looked like, but I do remember not liking any of them. Either the cut wasn’t right, it didn’t work on my body type, or there wasn’t any lace. I did try on a fun ball gown dress that had pockets and was fun to twirl in, but the dress would not have worked in a barn setting – too fancy!
With each dress I tried on, the consultant and I began to zone in on what I liked about each dress and what I didn’t. This was actually very helpful. We learned that A) I wanted a dress that emphasized my waist, B) I LOVED ribbon belts (they just make every dress a little better), and c) sweetheart necklines all the way.
After we narrowed all of those down, the consultant brought in a dress that I had originally skipped over on the rack. It wasn’t anything special on the hanger – kinda boring actually – but I agreed to try it on because I told myself going into this that I would be open to new things.
The dress fit like a glove. It hugged my body in all of the right spots, it had some of the lace I was after and there was even a ribbon belt already built into the dress (we were adding the ribbon belt as an additional accessory to the other dresses I tried on). The dress even had a few details I didn’t even know I wanted (like buttons that went all the way down the back of the dress). It was truly a beautiful dress, but as much funs as it was to try on, it still wasn’t ‘the one.’ As my mom kept saying, there was no ‘Harry and the wand’ moment when I had it on.
The fit was great, but I couldn’t look past the funny lines that went down the corset on the front. And, yes, there was lace, but it was a different lace than I had in mind. Not to mention the fact that the dress was over my firm budget. I just couldn’t spend that much money on a dress I wasn’t 100% behind.
So I took the dress off and left the store empty handed, feeling defeated. I began to doubt I could find a dress that I LOVED in my budget and immediately began searching recycled dress sites for something in my budget. Still, no luck. Recycled wedding dress sites are just like any other sale sites or discounted stores – you have to know what you want and you have to be quick. It’s usually here today, gone tomorrow (or as soon as you refresh the page). You also need a good amount of luck on your side.
And so the search continued…