And the Bride wore… a look of sheer terror

Why was I not warned? Why have none of us been warned of the terrifying, and sometimes horrifying, aspects of trying on those first few bridal gowns???

I recently went, with two friends, on a preliminary wedding dress “Scouting” trip. The official Wedding Dress Shopping will occur when both my mother and Maid of Honor are able to come into town. Scouting was intended purely to narrow down the options. I’d been Pinteresting wedding gowns rather indiscriminately – ball gowns, mermaid, trumpet, a-line, blinged-out, hippie chic, uber-modern – it was all there. Since I hope to find The Dress when my mom and MOH are in town, scouting was just to get my feet wet and get a little focus. Scouting was to be fun and carefree.

It was not.

A number of elements led to the downfall of this event – none of which I saw coming. I’d like to warn others of the potential shock, and help them prepare. And so I will reveal two of the most menacing Dress Shopping Monsters out there.

1. Shopping for a Wedding Dress has been built up in your head.

Whether you’ve been dreaming of wedding dresses since you were three, or just began considering them when you got engaged last week, you have thought about it. WARNING: your thoughts were shaped by certain pre-existing ideas that television shows, movies and commercials have been playing throughout your life.  You know the script: Your wedding day is the happiest day of your ENTIRE life! This is the most important dress you will EVER wear!  Shopping for this dress will be fun, exciting and amazing! You will try on, and love, many dresses, and then one dress – JUST ONE – will affect you so emotionally that you will CRY. Even if you aren’t drinking the Kool-Aid, you know what the Kool-Aid is. To think you won’t walk through the doors of a bridal salon without some sort of expectation is fooling yourself. Know this, and be aware that you won’t fully grasp the magnitude of all that built-up pressure until the first dress is on.

2. The Wedding Dresses you’ve been looking at online, and in magazines, are all being worn by models.

scared-womanThis may seem obvious. For the most part, unless you are a model (or model size) you have learned, over time, to translate a visual image of clothing on a model into an idea of how it will look on  your own body. However, for some reason, the brain does not make any translation when looking at wedding gowns. There isn’t the same frame of reference. Example: jeans. We’ve seen jeans on models, we’ve worn jeans before, we see people of all shapes and sizes in jeans every day. But wedding dresses aren’t part of our daily life. The images in our memory banks are extremely limited, and largely filled with promotional materials… which use models. Brutal truth: for the vast majority of us, those dresses will NOT look like they do on the models. If you haven’t really, truly processed that information, and begun pre-translating… you will be disappointed.

To say I was not adequately emotionally prepared is an understatement. My friends informed me that when I walked out in the first dress, I looked like one of their nieces when she sees someone she hates on the playground. Tense all over and wearing an expression of fear and discomfort. I tried on twelve dresses at the first store without a single serious crush, and became increasingly disgusted with my appearance (not that of a model).

In order to assure you that I won’t be wearing sweatpants on my wedding day, please read on.

We headed to a second bridal salon, to try on a particular sample dress by Ivy & Aster. My hopes were down, I was confused… I assumed this dress would be as disappointing as the previous batch. But somehow, whether from sheer stubbornness (I was already emotionally invested in this dress) or by finally becoming realistic, I walked out of the dressing room with a smile. Did I look like the models? Not even close. But did I like the way I looked? Yes. And that feeling made all the difference. I tried on three more dresses (which I had NO intention of buying) and enjoyed myself, even when one of those samples was at least four full sizes too small.

From my experience, I would recommend you be aware of your expectations, and consider those perpetuated by the media. Try to begin visualizing wedding dresses as translated onto your own body before trying anything on. And, if you can, have some fun out there!

(When all else fails, make sure you bring friends who will keep you smiling…)

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Alfred Angelo Snow White 220 and Carrie, Personal Bridal Consultant, and friend, Extraordinaire. Photo Credit: C. Van Aken

See the full Disney Fairy Tale Bridal collection, and all the Alfred Angelo dresses here.

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