How Will I Know If I’ve Found “The” Wedding Dress?

What type of wedding dress is best for my body? How will I know if I’ve found the right wedding dress? Will I know when I’ve found my wedding gown?

So what if you’ve gone wedding dress shopping, and didn’t find “the one”? And then subsequently went to another shop, and still didn’t find the dress that brings you to tears?

I’m here to tell you two magic words. It’s oooooookay!

Shows like Say Yes To The Dress alter the way we look at the dress shopping experience. The privilege of having both your parents, your future in-laws AND your childhood, high school, and college best friends attending the appointment is more than likely not a possibility. You aren’t always going to have a dress concierge that’s as sweet and attentive as TLC’s Monte. And more often than not, you won’t be poured a glass of champagne to ease those nerves.

Here’s a couple tips to remember when you go to your appointment:

  1. Try on all the different dress styles. Yes, even the ones you aren’t immediately drawn to. I had no idea what style dress I wanted or what would even look good on me! I tried some crazy absurd styles since I’m not too traditional anyway.

Yes, that’s a black dress. And yes, thanks a red jersey knit gown. And yes, I seriously loved them!

I tried the halter top. I didn’t hate it.

I tried two giant bow backs and channeled my (non-existent) inner Carrie Bradshaw.

I tried on a dress with ruching in alllllll the wrong places.

I even tried on a super full ruffle bottom gown and I thought it was sooooo much fun to twirl in!

I tried on a 2-in-1 style that was immediately christened the “vegas” dress.

I tried on some unique geometric cutouts on an otherwise very simple dress.

I tried on a gown that I really liked, with material called “horsehair”. I’m not making that up. Horsehair. And funnily enough, it doesn’t look like horse’s hair whatsoever. It’s really neat structured “waves”. And I loved the asymmetry of its design.

2. Don’t bring too many people to your appointment because too many people = too many opinions = too much confusion… I’d recommend 3 people as a good number of appointment attendees. Save yourself the sad tears (I had plenty) due to an unfiltered, and senseless opinion from someone.


  1. Don’t be deterred by dress sizing. Some gowns will have European designer sizing, while others are nowhere near the typical size you have in your closet. Wedding gowns are their own category with layers of tulle and lining, and lace and other material that fits much differently than you think.

  2. Be open to a dress that isn’t a true white. More often than not, brides will choose an ivory or champagne undertone, since a pure white isn’t the most flattering color.

  3. Set a REALISTIC budget. By that, I mean, if you are leaning toward Galia Lahav or Inbal Dror, be sure that your max budget can accommodate that.

  4. Don’t be afraid to break tradition! Try on some nontraditional colors! Or maybe you’re not intimidated at the thought of purchasing a used wedding gown. Sites like stillwhite.com and preownedweddingdresses.com feature good-as-new condition gowns for half the price of what the owner paid! There’s some bargaining room here, too. Buying from a designer trunk show or sample sale (purchasing a dress as is- maybe it’s been on the rack for while) can also save you money! You can even find some unique wedding dress finds at non-bridal shops. (I found my elopement dress at Macy’s on sale!)

  5. Determine your venue’s dress code. Will you need to purchase a lace shawl or piece to be church appropriate? Will a long train and cathedral length veil make sense for an outdoor ceremony with lots of natural foliage and terrain?
  6. 2015-11-07-11-23-50Ask the professionals for advice! Ask the salon consultants for their suggestions based on your likes and dislikes. They know their collection and inventory the best, and can pull some options for you!

  7. Try on a veil! It will really pull together the entire look. I promise when you see yourself in the mirror with a veil in your hair…. you’ll get this tiny sigh of satisfaction like, “wow. I actually look like a bride!”2015-11-08 12.39.06.jpg


  8. Give yourself ample time to shop and for fittings! If you’re not purchasing a dress that’s ready to leave with you that day, keep in mind that some designs are sent out of the country and hand made to order! This could take 6-9 months. Make sure you’re scheduling enough time for subsequent fittings and alterations.


  9. Close your eyes and appreciate how the dress feels. Is the tulle itchy? Is the layering too heavy to dance in? Maybe the mesh sleeves don’t provide enough movement for your best “raise the roof” dance moves.

Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.05.36 PM.pngI literally could not move in this dress without fear that I would rip the seams.

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Despite my face, I came close to loving this dress. That mesh near the armpits was a deal breaker since I couldn’t lift my arms over my head!

“Will I know when I’ve found my wedding dress?” Maybe. aaaaand maybe not.

I didn’t have the tears-down-my-cheeks-jumping-up-and-down-while-clapping-my-hands reaction.

Did I secretly hate the other bride’s entourage of girls who were squealing with satisfaction sharing overwhelming “oohs” and “ahhs”, holding up signs like “love it!” or “this is the one”? Yes. Ohhhhh, undoubtedly yes.

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NOT my entourage.

Was I jealous that that bride got to have her entire bridal party share the special experience? Um, duh. With 9 bridesmaids who all live in different states, I went shopping 3 different times by myself, and 4 times when my mom was visiting. #WeddingDressSelfiesAreIncrediblyHardToDo

Was I totally baffled at how the last frumpy dress I tried on looked like a million bucks on the bride next to me? Uh huh.

Did I use the phrase, “I don’t hate it” more times than I can count? You betcha. I think the following facial expressions have proven that my Poker face is terrible.

Was I totally off-put by those darn alligator clips on the back of the dress and completely clueless as to how I was supposed to feel pretty with them on? Yuuuuuup.

(But hey, at least Happy Bride gave me pink clips!)screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-10-19-52-pmI can’t even count how many dresses I tried on. But I knew that if I wasn’t feeling it, I just wasn’t feeling it! And to quote the magic words of wedding dress shopping? IT’S OKAY!

No, I didn’t have the unequivocal feeling that I had found THE dress I would wear for my wedding. But what I did have was a “hmm” moment. And that “hmm” moment for me was when I couldn’t stop thinking about one particular dress. No, I wasn’t dreaming about it every night, but I found myself saying, “well I did feel beautiful. It did have the elements I wanted.” Consciously, I was holding onto hope that I’d find a perfect dress. Why is it okay to not have “that” feeling? Why is it okay to be indecisive and to leave your appointments without a dress in your hands? Because it’s normal. It’s a huge decision, and likely a huge financial decision too! I’m one of those people that can never decide which restaurant to eat at, so naturally, a wedding dress choice wasn’t going to be much easier. If you typically like to wait for “signs” in order to move forward with a huge financial decision, that’s okay! If you want to look at another store before walking away with what you think might be the gown… that’s okay too!

Know what’s also okay? HAVING THAT REACTION!

If you can’t decide on a dress, or haven’t found the perfect one for you, try making a list of elements and styles you gravitate toward.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I knew some elements that I loved in photos, and had pinned a million times on Pinterest. Mention your favorite materials or dress elements to your consultant. Years of competitive soccer blessed (?) me with thunder thighs and a strong booty… so I wanted to show it off. I’ve gravitated toward those “scrunch butt” bikinis with ruching down the middle, and my Ideal Gown Mental Checklist had that as #1. #2 on my checklist was a unique back. Maybe it’s a cool cutout or design, or a beautiful arrangement of bling straps gracing the shoulder blades.Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 10.29.55 PM.png#3 Lace. Lace makes me think “princess” more than a typical ballgown would. But that’s just me! To some women, “princess” means hoop skirt and fullness. Other women want to avoid looking like a “princess” completely! I went to 7 different bridal salons. And not once did I have the moment where I said “THIS IS THE ONE!” I didn’t cry. I didn’t have my bridesmaids there to celebrate with me. I didn’t leave the bridal salons knowing that I had found my wedding gown.

And you know what? IT WAS OKAY! 

 

The dress I kept thinking about was one I had tried on 3 different times on 3 separate days. A dress that had a ruched bottom (my #1), and a really unique back detailing (#2). It also had the most gorgeous lace with a slight shimmer (#3).

2015-11-11-12-01-282015-11-11-12-02-57It wasn’t something I used to close my eyes and picture as my dream wedding gown, but truthfully I didn’t have a particular vision anyway. I was so badly craving that moment I thought I needed to have. When really, I just needed to hear that even though I didn’t have those tears, IT’S OKAY! I decided that this dress was my dress. And my dress became the perfect dress.

I ordered it from a store in North Carolina that was priced the lowest. I pretended like my wedding date was in September so the order (hand made in Israel) would be rush made and shipped. (Does this white lie make me a bad person, or strategically paranoid? I plead for the latter.)

After missing the original delivery at my doorstep, I drove around for an hour trying to locate the UPS building that my wedding dress was being held at. Excuse me for not thinking the Quick-E Mart with bars on the windows and taped up bullet holes was where my beautiful (expensive) dress would be held at.

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the ACTUAL store!

After notifying the authorities of my location (okay not really, I just texted my police officer fiancé), I parked my car (and “beep”-locked it about a thousand time for all the potential criminals to hear). The store clerk reached behind a glass case with visible drug paraphernalia (“for tobacco use only”) and handed me a Zappos shoe box with the name Dylan on it. I cry-chuckled, and had a look behind the counter myself to see that each of the boxes left could not possibly fit a giant wedding gown. Fighting back tears, I realized my gown was MIA. I proceed to have some… “heartfelt” words with UPS customer service, only to be informed that they’d been calling a 705 number to get a hold of me and let me know the package was redirected. Didn’t bother to update the online tracking or email and text notifications… just wanted to call someone random person in Ontario. Makes sense, right? So I start my journey 30 minutes in the opposite direction and finalllllllly meet my dress. After a full day of WEDventures, I FOUND THE GOWN.

 

I had 4 dress fittings with an amazing seamstress in Pompano Beach. Shameless shout out to Alterations by Reina. img_3609This sweet, sweet lady spent so much time making me feel and look beautiful. That’s her photo bombing my alteration selfies. I trusted her so much that even those pair of scissors didn’t scare me. (Okay, yes they did, but I was confident that she knew what she was doing)IMG_3636.jpgSo I’m not sure if “seamstress” is a synonym for “miracle worker” but Reina sure was. If you find yourself a professional and reputable alterations shop, the possibilities in creating your dream dress are endless. That’s exactly how my Macy’s one shoulder elopement dress turned into a beautiful lace sleeved custom gown.

Now that long train has to go somewhere. IMG_3082.jpgThat “somewhere” is into a bustle. A standard bustle has 1-5 buttons in which loops of thread (or snaps) are pinned under your bottom to “shorten” the length of your dress for ease in dancing after the ceremony. My bustle? img_3649Oh, my bustle had 21 buttons. That’s not a typo. I had TWENTY-ONE buttons for my bustle. 12 on the under layer, and 9 on the outside lace.

So don’t get discouraged if you do not have “the moment” you think you’re supposed to have. Not everyone cries. Not everyone “knows”. I didn’t. But my dress was perfect for me. And in Blackjack standards, I won with 21 (buttons that is).

Now go have that “hmm” moment you deserve. Happy Planning!

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Check out the Thin Blue Line Wedding blog post for more photos of my dress on wedding day!

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Thin Blue Line Wedding

What happens when the wedding planner weds?

 

As many of you know, I was officially married at the end of October to the love of my life. Our unique elopement style ceremony meant that a month later we would have “The Party”, complete with wedding guests, a bridal party, and a proper reception.

A month of being legally married, allowed me the time to officially change my name, and get my new legal documents. I woke up around 5am on November 26, too excited to sleep anymore. After all, it was Christmas morning  (okay, it was really wedding day, but it felt like Christmas!) The entire morning, my bridesmaids and I watched the Bridesmaids movie on repeat. I’m not kidding. As soon as the Wilson Phillips song faded out, we just pressed “restart”. We had a blast reciting the movie quotes and even our makeup artists were laughing with us.  I was working with vendors I knew and loved, so it was more like seeing old friends, than feeling anxious about how they’d do.

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My 9 bridesmaids had 5 different hair options to choose from: all updos to show off the keyhole back in their mermaid dresses. Visions by Daili was able to give each girl their own version of a top bun with braids.

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I gave the girls custom shirts and socks with personalized tumblers.

mr2_5706mr2_5666IMG_3499.jpgmr2_5687Once my hair and makeup were finished, I slipped on my “Bride” tank, and fuzzy slippers to see Warren. In our North Carolina wedding we opted not to do a first look. This time, we were having 2 special moments before the ceremony. When I first started in this industry, I was requested on the 9th floor of a hotel to help the groomsman tie bow ties… so I quickly Googled a “how to” video and became a pro before the elevator doors opened up. Since then, I would practice on paper towel rolls and an unwilling (then) boyfriend, to perfect my method. Since he used to be my practice model, we decided that on our wedding day, this was an intimate moment we could share.

Weeks before the wedding, I went on Amazon to find a simple blind fold, and wouldn’t you know it… a bunch of S&M accessories popped up. Silk blind fold? Throw it in the cart! So like something straight out of 50 Shades of Grey, I walked into a quiet room with my husband sitting blindfolded in a chair.

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mr3_8960I burst out laughing! These photos, without explanation, are probably currently on some 50 shades fan site with incorrect context.

It was a sweet moment between us, as I knotted his bow tie in one shot.

 

mr2_5639On our first date, Warren took me to a gun range. I had saved one of the shell casings of a bullet from that day. I had the casing made into cuff links thanks to Matthews Custom Jewelers and gifted them to Warren. mr3_9111

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My girls went to change into their dresses. Truthfully, throughout the entire wedding planning process, I was anxiously awaiting the day when I’d see my best friends all dolled up in these gowns that I fell in love with at first sight. I LOVE the color of cobalt blue against black. Since my husband is a police officer, we thought the blue would work dually as a “thin blue line” theme. I was shopping in Macy’s one day in December and my eyes immediately were drawn to these shiny royal blue dresses. I impulsively decided in that instant that I wasn’t going to wait for them to go out of stock. I bought all 9 dresses for my girls, and didn’t regret it one bit when they did indeed go completely out of stock the next month! I loved how they weren’t your typical “bridesmaid” dress, and I knew it would compliment everyone’s figures beautifully. (I know everyone says that they think their bridesmaid dresses will be worn again, but I’ll bet money that at least one of my girls repurposes it!)mr2_5560

My mom was there when I picked out my wedding gown (a story in itself), and patiently attended so many dress fittings with me. Naturally, she was the one to help zip me up into my gown.

MR2_5880.jpgMR2_5877.jpgmr2_5868It fit like a glove, and I felt so unbelievably beautiful. There were rare times that I allowed myself to actually feel like a bride throughout the engagement, and it was such a surreal experience going through the motions and picture poses that I’ve seen all my brides do before my eyes. I knew exactly how slow to “put on” my garter for photos. I knew just what angle to show myself placing my earrings and I knew how to coach my mom into “pretending” to zip up my dress about 4 different times so video could get their shot.

mr2_5887 mr2_6011I wore the same veil that was edged with the lace from my mom’s wedding gown. I had Nina wedding shoes. They were soooooooo comfy! The low heel and ribbon ankle tie provided the maximum comfortable support I needed to be able to take unlimited photos and dance my first dance sans blisters.

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I opted to have a first look with my dad, and I’m so glad we had that private moment together. I gifted him a picture frame engraved with the words “of all the walks we’ve ever taken, this one means the most” with a temporary picture of baby me in his giant gym shoes to be replaced with a photo of him walking me down the aisle.

mr2_5944mr2_5947MR2_5985.jpgI gave my mom a couple of “mom” Alex and Ani bracelets, and a frame engraved with “forever your little girl”. Of course, tears were shed. Now, it was time for my first look with Warren. Countless times throughout the planning process, I asked him what he thought my dress looked like, or what he hoped it didn’t look like. The standard, “you’ll look great in anything” response was heavily received. We had a long hallway to ourselves, he had his back to me. I had butterflies the entire walk up to him before tapping his shoulder. I felt like a little school girl! I was so excited to see him, and more excited for him to see me!

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I couldn’t have faked that smile if you paid me.mr3_9441mr3_9444I twirled around to show him the entire dress, and his expression and reaction were so perfect. After witnessing countless first looks between my clients, it was a different level of special doing it myself. We took some photos together before our wedding party joined us.mr3_9452mr3_9453Now, our ceremony was going to be extra unique. We’ve all sat through the hour long ceremonies where people are hungry and antsy and uncomfortable. We wanted our guests to have fun! With the sun set, and the cool waves of the ocean splashing below the pool deck, all of the sudden, the speakers blare “BAD BOYS BAD BOYS! WATCHA GONNA DO? WATCHA GONNA DO WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU?” Yup. The COPS theme song that we all know and love. That’s what the groomsman walked down the aisle to! I heard laughs and clapping from our guests, and the laidback, fun vibe had already begun. Warren decided to walk coolly down the aisle to that whiny “oooo waooo wowwwwww” theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, his favorite movie. Cue even more laughs.

MR3_9555.jpgmr2_6734I passed off my bouquet to my maid of honor, which smelled so heavily of glue, that I was happy to get rid of it. (note: composite bouquets are a man-made arrangement by gluing individual petals around a single rose to give the illusion of an exaggeratedly full bouquet. Looked pretty, smelled terrible.) Again, Warren’s grandfather was our officiant. I had spent weeks perfecting the most symbolic, touching ceremony script for him to read.

mr2_6739MR3_9667.jpgWith the uplights illuminating the darkness around us that evening, I knew something was wrong after his first sentence: “I can’t see my bible, so, I’m just gonna paraphrase this!” With the thud of the book shutting, “Dedaddy” gave the best possible rendition of my structured script. Haha! Through smiling teeth, Warren looked me in the eyes and said, “just go with it.” We wrote our own vows this time. Mine were laminated, his scribbled on Ritz Carlton notepad paper.

mr3_9702mr2_6742mr2_6773SD-6344.JPGWe actually said a lot of the same things in our vows, including the beliefs that we are solely funnier than the other. Deddady called for our kiss, and sentenced us “to a lifetime of happiness”. With that, Warren pulled out his handcuffs, and slapped those suckers on my wrist.

mr2_6794mr2_6797mr2_6812We walked our recessional to Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” and bobbed our heads with the music while laughing the whole walk down. True “Night at the Roxbury itz Carlton” style!

Amongst other standard cocktail hour hors d’eouvres, our guests had tomato shooters and grilled cheese bites. Nothing like good Midwest comfort food! On the late November breezy night, it was perfect. SD-6424.JPGWarren and I were swooped away to privacy where I declined the champagne, and ordered myself a tequila sunrise. We practiced our first dance and discussed the hilarity of the ceremony. We entered the ballroom with friends and family surrounding the dance floor. We flawlessly executed our first dance to “A Thousand Years” and the party began!

 

mr2_7074sd-6690mr2_7134mr2_7078We had the Ritz chef create a copycat recipe of the salad we ate the night we got engaged in Savannah, GA. Candied bacon, fried green tomato, and black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing. Yum. We had tattoo stations (the sponge and water kind) with sayings like, “I came for the open bar!” and “#LoveYouToBitzAtTheRitz”.

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We thought out of the (cake) box, and omitted a traditional wedding cake. We served assorted cake pops (my favorite!!!!) , donuts (insert the police joke here), and munchkins with dipping sauces!

 

My bouquet toss catcher is currently engaged, and although still single, the garter catcher made a truly valiant effort in his catch.

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We surprised our guests with continuous blasts of confetti and foam glow sticks. My father in law even led the electric slide, directing everyone like an air traffic controller! Our DJ, Sarz Entertainment, had every single person on their feet the entire night. So much so, that I missed our late night bites (sliders and quesadillas! double yum). Don’t worry, I ordered room service the next night and got myself a giant non-wedding-diet quesadilla. So worth it.mr3_0447

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We sang “Happy Birthday” to my Irish Twin brother, and had a wonderful night.

I didn’t have an ounce of caffeine that night, but it’s true what they (and by they, I mean I, as your wedding planner) tell you on your wedding day… you have so much adrenaline and excitement that you could party until the sun comes up. So that’s quite literally what we did. I wore my Berta dress along the sidewalks of A1A, bar hopped, and took photos with sand snowmen (only in Florida!).

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Blue Steel.

We sleepily made our way back to the hotel around 5am and immediately, I wanted to do it all over again. It’s totally acceptable to have a vow renewal, after one year, right?

 

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all professional photos by (c) Unique Design Studios

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