Shopped. Dropped. But still no dress.

The search for a wedding dress continues.

A previous post discussed my first attempt at trying on dresses (read it here). The results were not pretty. At the end of that day I hadn’t found any dresses I adored, let alone THE Dress, and my self-esteem was in the gutter (which led to the new diet – read it here).  Two weeks after the initial dress shopping debacle, and one week after starting the diet, I dove back in – with my head in a better place and having lost 3 lbs (and a total of 2.5 inches overall).

A brief recap of the two stores visited on that initial, awful trip:

Round One, Store One: Mainstream, moderately priced designer’s eponymous dress line and store; unenthusiastic and uninspired consultant.

Round One, Store Two: Miniscule private boutique; owner and consultant were friendly; dresses were in poor condition; minimal sample stock.

For Round Two, I headed to Jon’s Bridal, in Tampa, with three friends (including Personal Bridal Fashion Consultant, Carrie). After filling out a questionnaire with wedding day details and style preferences, the Jon’s consultant sat down with my friends and I to discuss the questionnaire answers. My friends and I were all allowed into the “stacks” to peruse the gowns and pull whatever we thought might be an option. We began trying on those dresses, with the consultant using my likes and dislikes from each gown to determine the direction I was heading (which was good, since I wasn’t certain). At the end of the day I was torn between two dresses that were similar in silhouette, only. However, after taking the evening to consider the dresses, one became my obvious favorite. Success!

Or so I thought.

The dress was fabulous – but my mother, Maid of Honor and fiance’s mother were all coming into town in another two weeks… to go dress shopping. Also, while feeling very strongly about the dress, the price was more than my intended budget max (even if only by $99) and I wasn’t certain it was The One. (Since no photos are allowed at Jon’s Bridal, and the dress was an older Allure style, the photo below is an outdated promo shot, sourced from Google).

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Four weeks after Round One, my entourage (mother, future mother-in-law, Maid of Honor, and Personal Bridal Fashion Consultant Carrie) and I headed out for Round Three, Store Four – The Dressing Room in St. Petersburg, Florida. To say that The Dressing Room was the ultimate bridal shopping experience is a massive understatement. It was above and beyond any of my expectations. The store closes for each appointment, so that the bride and her family/friends are the only persons in the shop during that time. The owner, Judy, is fabulous. She is personable, open-minded and honest, and her knowledge of fashion, bridal fashion and brides is immeasurable. We all agreed that Judy was the real reason our visit was so enjoyable. Not once did she push me to make a decision or rush the process. I left debating two dresses, both within budget. (Bonus: you can take as many photos as you like! The two favorites are shown below)

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We refueled on tasty brunch and headed to Store Five, another local boutique. After a less-than-stellar beginning (the reception area was empty – it took over 5 minutes for someone to come out and “greet” us; despite our early arrival the appointment still began significantly late; the consultant wasn’t connecting with anyone in my group, least of all me) I found a new favorite dress. But it was nothing like what I’d originally pictured in my head. Taking that into account, and knowing that my personal decision-making process requires time and rumination, we left empty-handed to ponder the top three of the day. (No photos allowed at store five – so this photo is from Essence of Australia’s website)

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But I began thinking about the dress from Round Two, Store Three (Jon’s Bridal), again. Dragging along the mothers, the next day was Round Three, Store Three (Second Visit) to Jon’s Bridal. And the end of that night? I was favoring four dresses, with no clear winner. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I began doubting myself and was back to square one. And in each of square one’s corners was a different dress.

Also not helping? My entourage. They were all being terribly vague and no-one was really willing to name one dress as their favorite. While I understand that this was their way of being supportive and making certain that the decision would truly be mine, it was also frustrating not to get any clear preferences. (Note: while I am complaining now, I’m certain that I will be thanking them for this, later)

A couple stressful days later I had eliminated two of the dresses. One was too simple. the other too overdone. The mothers and best friend had all flown back to their respective wintery weathers and I headed back, alone, for Round Four, Store Five (Second Visit). Since the favorite dress at this store was such a departure from my original vision, but also the dress to which I’d reacted most strongly, I figured trying it on again would provide some additional clarity. Also, this consultant was much more knowledgeable and had infinitely better listening skills. Tried on the favorite, loved it. Then tried on about five more dresses and suddenly… found a dress that was essentially the dress I would have created in the beginning – if I’d known then what I was looking for. It required some alterations that the designer was willing to make. And it looked nothing like the other top dress. Different silhouettes, different fabric, different look.

Time for more stressing. I mean ruminating.

Current status: appointment to revisit the two favorites, with Personal Bridal Fashion Consultant, Carrie. (Let’s all go ahead and send some good thoughts out into the Universe for the right choice to suddenly become abundantly clear.)

As an aside – I intend to go back to Judy, and The Dressing Room, for my veil, possible sash, and any other accessories I may fancy. The fact that she (ever so unfortunately) doesn’t carry the two dresses I’ve ended up favoring is a tragedy of epic proportions.

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The Dressing Room in St. Petersburg, Florida

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