Wedding Date: April 2016
First off, I have to start by saying that unlike many other brides I know, I’ve been dreading wedding dress shopping since I got engaged. In fact, my wedding is in April and I already have everything in place EXCEPT the dress because I have been putting it off! One of my best friends warned me, “It’s nearly impossible for a big white gown to actually flatter a woman, so just make the best of it.” And this was my mindset when I made my first wedding dress store appointments in South Florida, where I’m getting married.
One of the reasons I had been putting off this experience is because, like a lot of women, I have body image issues. I am a size 12 (street size), which makes me a “curvy bride” under most standards, so I was looking for a wedding dress store that would cater to my size. I made my first appointment at David’s Bridal. I felt some relief knowing they would have wedding dresses in my size there, but I was reluctant because some girls I know look at David’s as generic. However, David’s was recommended to me by several brides as a good starting point because they have thousands of gowns to choose from. I took their advice!
I can’t speak for David’s Bridal in general, but the store in Coral Gables is FANTASTIC. The customer service was excellent and the consultants were super nice—they made me feel like I was the only girl in the shop! If you go to David’s, I highly recommend you download their app and use it to make your appointment because they print your favorites and have all of your info ready when you arrive. Just so you have an idea of the process, here’s how it worked for me:
- Your consultant gives you a book with photos of gowns. Even if you went through them online it’s good to flip through because you may see some new dresses you like.
- They ask you about your wedding and what type of gown you envision.
- They bring you to the dressing room and put a strapless corset bra on you. I loved the corset because it provided so much support and felt amazing!
- You get a pair of shoes in your size so you can strut your stuff.
- They start bringing you dresses and the fun begins!
- Oh, and I’m so glad I wore Spanx because otherwise it would have been super awkward in the dressing area.
Ok, so now to the important part—the dresses! I’m sure my consultant was confused when she looked through the images of my favorites because they were all over the map. I told her I was having a small wedding, simple, no bridal party, and in a tropical garden. I wanted fit and flare because that would be the best for my shape….or so I thought!
She started bringing me super ornate fit and flare wedding dresses. I was horrified! They were not at all my style and I just did not feel comfortable. I’m sure you can tell from the pics! So I said, “let’s bring it down a notch”, and she listened. I showed her some Pinterest pictures and ta-da! She brought me a lovely chiffon number that was more my style, but it wasn’t quite for me.
I wanted to see more…so I asked for more glamour and was brought what looked like an enormous gown. I was terrified. I slipped into the dress and immediately felt like a princess! It was a beautiful illusion neckline ball gown with a tulle skirt…nothing I would have ever imagined myself wearing! A friend had said to me, “you’re short, so the last thing you need is a ball gown to make you look shorter”—wrong! This dress really marked my waist and the tulle was flowy without being too poofy. The tulle felt so feminine and was such a tribute to my love for ballet….amazing! And, it was way below budget at $700. How was this possible?! Still, I felt I couldn’t commit to the dress…I mean, who buys a dress at the first store? Plus, I didn’t cry. Did this mean it wasn’t the one? I decided to keep looking.
I made an appointment at a quaint bridal shop further north. I was weary because it seemed a little high-end and I immediately thought they might not accommodate my size, or my budget, but I called to ask and they assured me they definitely had gowns within my $1,000 budget and in my size. This turned out to be false.
Truth be told, I was uncomfortable the moment I walked in. The consultant was very nice, but I just had a bad feeling this would not end well. After giving me a tour of the store I was told their dresses start at $1,200 and that most brides spend at least $1,500. The consultant asked if I was comfortable going above budget…I said not really. Still, she had a few dresses she thought I should try. Two dresses, to be exact. Two horrific, drop waist dresses, which I specifically told her I didn’t like. I kindly let her know this was not what I was looking for, and that my heart was still set on the style of the dress at David’s.
She then suggested I go back to David’s and buy that dress….wow! On to the next shop…
I was dying to go back to David’s and end my search, but I still felt I had to try on other dresses. So I called Alegria’s Brides on Miracle Mile—and I am so glad I did! Unlike the other shop that shall remain unnamed, I felt right at home. The consultant was so motherly and knew exactly what I needed to see. I also loved that she complimented me on my curves. I cannot emphasize how important it is to have consultants that make you feel beautiful—it really makes for a positive experience.
She put me in a gorgeous lace gown that was fitted and really hugged my curves perfectly. It was super sexy! I brought my aunt, grandmother and friend with me and they all gasped. It was lovely, but above my budget at $1,200. That wasn’t really the biggest problem for me, though. The gown was worth the price, but it didn’t make me feel like the bride I wanted to be. I looked like I belonged at the Biltmore (an upscale hotel in Coral Gable), not the Bamboo Gallery where I’m getting married. Also, the store did not allow pictures, which was a bummer because I feel like pictures are a lot more reliable than store mirrors. I needed to try on my favorite gown again!
Back to Store #1 Again!
Once at David’s, the same consultant helped me slip into the dress one last time…it was perfect! Everyone around me said I looked beautiful, and I knew it was true. Right away I started picturing the accessories, the venue, the lipstick, the hair…everything. I can honestly say that I could not wait for my fiancée to see me walking down the aisle in this dress (which is why I’m not sharing the photo…yet!). This was the one, without a doubt. I bought the dress on the spot and felt happier about this decision than I could have ever imagined. It was the perfect end to my dress shopping saga, which turned out to be much better than I expected!