A few weeks ago, I found my wedding dress! We went shopping the weekend of my bridal shower – which was in mid-September – and I could not have asked for a better experience.
It was super important for me to have my best friend Gabby there, and since she was traveling in for the weekend it just made sense to do it now! Plus, most bridal shops recommend shopping between 6-9 months before your big day since getting the dress made can take a hot minute, especially right now with COVID. Needless to say, everything worked out perfectly!
Now I won’t be sharing any pictures of my dress in this post unfortunately, even though I really really want to. But I will be sharing some aspects of it, my experience shopping, and some tips I have before going shopping!
I decided to shop at One Enchanted Evening – which is a dress shop in Zelienople, PA. I chose OEE for a few reasons…
1) I had shopped there before for prom and formal dresses
2) They let me have more than 2 people in my group despite COVID
3) The location was convenient for us
Like I said, I had shopped at OEE before in high school and always have had a good experience, so I figured why not get my wedding dress there? They were the first place I contacted to dress shop and they told me that due to COVID I could only bring two people. That just was not something that I was willing to give up in my book, but they did have the option for a private dress fitting. This means we got the whole store to ourselves and I could bring up to 5 guests. This was perfect for us because I could have the people there that mattered – plus my nephew could run around like the 2 year old he is and he wasn’t bothering anyone.
I also mentioned that the location was convenient for us, since it is only 15 minutes or so away from my place and about 20 minutes away from my parents’ house. A lot of dress stores in the Pittsburgh area are either in the city, on the other side of the city, or up toward Erie, and I just wasn’t wanting to drive 1+ hours or deal with city traffic. Thankfully, I was not set on any specific designer so that had no role in where I was going to shop. OEE was perfect for us and my sales rep Amanda was/is amazing! I really could not be happier.
So now let’s get into the fun part… My dress! I picked a Justin Alexander dress in natural silk, which is a beautiful fabric that is lightweight and will be perfect for the Florida heat. Without giving too much away (maybe I am, i don’t know), as soon as I put it on, I said, “This is the parent trap dress.” The Parent Trap (with Lindsay Lohan, of course) is one of my all-time favorite movies and has been since I was a kid. So honestly, I love that the dress reminds me of that film, and everyone agrees that it is very similar!
My dress was the second one I tried on, and I kept going back to it. I am so in love with it and I can’t wait to wear it again. And did I mention it has pockets?! In total, I probably tried on around 15 dresses and the whole trip only took us an hour and a half. I was so relieved that I found something I loved so quickly! I am definitely an indecisive person so I was scared finding the dress would be a challenge. But I think I helped myself by being prepared, knowing what I wanted, and only making one store appointment. I know if I would have had somewhere else booked as well, my decision would not have been so easy.
Here are some tips I have for when you or someone you know goes wedding dress shopping:
* Know what you want and communicate that. Pinterest was my best friend – I showed my wedding dress board to my sales rep so she could get a feel of what I wanted and she lead me in the right direction. I knew I wanted something satin or satin-like. I knew I wanted a bow. I knew I wanted straps, etc. Remember, these sales reps know the store better than you – help them help you!
* Be assertive and honest. I loved that my rep had clearly seen some bridezillas or mom/bridesmaid-zillas in the past. My party only picked two dresses for me to try on; she brought them in and told me they picked them and said I didn’t have to try them on. Every time I put a new dress on, she asked me if I wanted to show them – and I loved that! And if you would rather go shopping alone or just with one person – DO IT! It is your day!
* Be a little adventurous. There were a few things I picked out and tried on that strayed from my Pinterest board – like dresses with bling, dresses with lace, form-fitting dresses, and strapless dresses. And honestly, trying them on helped me validate that was not what I wanted. But if I had not tried them on, I could have bought my dress but still wondered “what if…”
* It’s okay to change your mind. I thought I would possibly like a deep-V or spaghetti straps, but when I tried them on I hated them. While I may have liked that on previous prom or pageant dresses, it’s not the image I had for myself as a bride. And that is okay!
* Set a realistic budget. At the end of the day, you can find dresses for every price point depending on the store. But that being said, realize that your dress will be altered – whether it is a routine fitting, adding something you wanted, lengthening the train, etc. So be aware of your budget and be realistic! I’ll be honest, I had a generous budget of $5K and I had zero problems finding a dress (the dress I got was $2.5K before alterations, but others I tried on were well under $2K). But I also added length to the train, I am probably adding a bow, plus I’ll have other alterations. Not to mention a veil, jewelry, etc. Many dresses also come in various fabrics or colors, which may also effect pricing; since mine is a natural silk, it is more expensive than satin. Needless to say, there are many factors that go into the pricing of a dress. Just keep alterations and other factors in mind when picking a dress and a budget so you aren’t disappointed later.
* Be smart. Don’t let retailers up-sell you if you don’t want something. You are not required to buy an overpriced veil or piece of jewelry. Let yourself explore your options outside of the walls of the store! Also, do not sign any contract that requires you to get alterations from that store. I recommend finding a good and trusted tailor outside of a bridal shop since they often over charge.
* Have fun! I am so happy it was a stress-free day for me. And since I am a high stress person I was shocked it went so well! It’s a day about you – remember that.
I hope you enjoyed this little journey inside my dress shopping experience! As always, thanks for reading.