By Michelle Yoon
The single most iconic image that comes to mind when thinking of a wedding is the quintessential white dress. Ah, the wedding dress and the great search for “the one” as it is affectionately christened so.
While I have never been one of “those girls” who mentally sketch their dream weddings since inception, since becoming engaged, I’ve become privy to the world of Say Yes to the Dress, bridal vernacular (mermaid or trumpet?) and Vera (as in Wang). I’ve consumed a small library of bridal magazines. I’ve googled “affordable wedding dresses.” And yes, I’ve lusted over celebrity wedding gowns on gossip sites. Although I have yet to find “the one,” after multiple pilgrimages to bridal boutiques, I’ve learned a couple of lessons here and there.
Book your venue first: Like many of my fellow overly enthusiastic newbie brides, as soon as I got engaged, I quickly booked an appointment at the local bridal boutique. It was a fun, but completely, futile endeavor. Besides knowing that I would be getting hitched sometime this lifetime, I had no date, venue, or theme. With little to no details, I had no idea what type of dress would be appropriate. For example, a dress with a low neckline may be inappropriate for a church wedding. Ultimately, my fiancé and I decided to get married at a ranch/vineyard, which meant that all the beautiful satin dresses I tried on wouldn’t work.
Go nude and strapless: It’s safe to say that most wedding dresses are white or some variation of white. So, leave the red undies in your drawer and opt for a conservative nude. Likewise, a significant portion of dresses these days are strapless. While some boutiques may have strapless bras you may borrow, it’s best to come armed with your own.
Preen a little: This sounds like odd advice, but trust me, a little preening will put you in the “bride” mood. Now, while I enjoy jazzing my look, on a daily basis, I am a jeans, sweatshirt, and sneakers type of gal. On one of my very first visits to a bridal boutique, I made the mistake of going in my glasses with unwashed hair. Needless to say, there was a disconnect between the beautiful dresses I was trying on and my disheveled hair and nerd glasses. I didn’t feel like a bride. I felt like someone who needed a shower.
Bring a camera: Different boutiques have varying policies on taking photos, but it doesn’t hurt to come prepared. (Be sure to ask if it’s okay to take photos first!) After trying on dozens of dresses, to be honest, all the dresses start to blend in. You vaguely remember which dresses you loved, but you forget the small details. Taking photos will allow you to document and preserve how you looked in each dress. If photography is allowed, be sure to take photos from different angles.
Bring a small entourage: Well-meaning friends, families, future in-laws, are just that, well-meaning. Yet, everybody has an opinion when it comes to wedding dresses, and more opinions mean more confusion. Jane may love the trumpet dress you tried on, while your cousin hates it, but your dad thinks it’s okay. The sea of conflicting opinions will probably eclipse the opinion that matters most: your own.
Pick a dress that’s you: Since getting engaged, I’ve seen a cornucopia of stunning wedding dresses, and it’s easy to fall in love with a dress or style that isn’t representative of who you are. For example, I love the 1920’s, Great Gatsby-esque style, or I swoon over fitted, lacy dresses. Yet, I’ve tried on those dresses, and they’re simply not me.
Try on everything: While you ultimately want to select a dress that reflects you, that doesn’t mean you should pigeonhole yourself. For a couple of reasons, try on everything! 1. I knew that v-neck dresses probably wouldn’t look good on me, but I didn’t really know until I tried on several v-neck wedding gowns. Trying them on solidified that I did NOT want that type of dress. 2. You only (hopefully) get married once, which means you only get to try on dresses once. So why not go crazy? 3. You may surprise yourself. This hasn’t happened to me, but word on the street is that many brides are set on having a certain type of dress only to discover they want to complete opposite.