Some women have been dreaming about their weddings and wedding gowns almost since the day they were born. I played wedding paper dolls for years and spent hours designing the perfect dress. Which might have been perfect if I had chosen to get married when I was 21 and a size 4. When I got married at 55, those dreams were a distant (but still fun) memory!
But other women really haven't made weddings a focal part of their lives. They may not have grown up with a mom who went to art/fashion school who spent a lot of time telling us what we looked good in and what we were really better off not wearing! You may be the perfect candidate for one of those huge old stores with lots of options.
Here are some things to think about before you run off to go shopping. (If you don't have a plan before you go in, you might want to think things through a bit.
- Sit down and figure out what is important to you in a dress. (Comfort, support, a halter, sleeves, a fabric, color.) Write that down and take it wherever you shop.
- Do that self review thing. And if it's too hard to do it yourself, do it with friends who love you enough to see your good points and want to help you look your best. What are your best features? What would you like to emphasize? What are you self conscious about and not going to feel comfortable if it's exposed. The greatest cleavage in the world isn't worth anything in a wedding dress if you don't want to show it off -- and you don't have to!
- Sit down and figure out what you have to spend before you go out your door. If you're in the $500 price range you do NOT want to be looking at $5,000 dresses. Some of them will be quite stunning, but they are not your wedding dress. (If you find one that is, you might begin to look on the resale racks and websites, you never know whether or not you'll find THE dress in your size!)
- What kind of wedding do you and your partner want to have? A casual wedding demands one type of look, a formal, another one.
- What is your favorite piece of clothing? What is the clothing in which you think you look the best? Feel the most comfortable? What is the clothing in which your beloved thinks you look beautiful? (If you're looking at a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt here, you probably have some work to do. Did you have a favorite dress? What was it like?)
- What colors do you look best in.
- Make sure you have good undergarments to shop in. Some of these places have common dressing rooms!
- Determine that on your first trip, you're simply going to look. You don't even have to try things on. But it's pretty seductive.
- Call and find out if they have people who can help you shop. (If you walk in the door and they say, "Oh, everyone's wearing this, this year, you're in the wrong shop. Leave immediately. You want the staff who looks at you and wants to ask you a bunch of questions about who you are and the kind of wedding you're having.)
- If they don't have staff, don't immediately assume that your best friend or your mom is going to be your best option for the first (or any) shopping expedition. You want someone who can help you whittle down your options. You want someone who's going to stay focused on you. "Wow, don't you think I'd look nice in this is not helpful to you, the bride! (Do you know someone who may or may not be built like you, but who is really stylish and always looks nice? Do you know them well enough to ask them to make an initial trip with you? If yes, have them sit with you and show them your lists. If you haven't made your lists, do it with them. Have them help you determine what might be great for you.)
- Wander through the store for a set amount of time and see what catches your eye. What colors, fabrics, styles are you drawn to? Make some notes.
- Find a place and have a staff person or a friend bring you some options. You don't need to try them on first time out, unless you want to. And you want to try out a lot of dresses. You don't know what's going to look good on you. You don't know what's going to make your heart turn over.
- When you find a couple possibilities, start the try on process. Get staff involved. If you're serious about shopping, they're going to want to help you find what makes you look great! (Remember, their business is dependent upon glowing brides. You may only marry once, but the story you tell about buying your wedding dress will circulate! They want to help you look fabulous and feel terrific about yourself.
Then when you find the dress, go for it! And enjoy your day. Remember, your marriage will flourish if you start dressing to look fabulous for yourself. Make your wedding day the first day of a lifetime of looking your best!