wedding dress shopping

Fit Bride, Cherie // Wedding Dress Shopping 101

CHERIE-3Hi guys! Thanks for the warm welcome! Did you have a chance to read my engagement story?

Well, you might be surprised to know I've already found my wedding dress! It might seem like a rush, but it couldn't have been any more perfect - timing wise. Ever since my first trip to beloved Charleston, South Carolina, I have been gawking over a wedding boutique called Modern Trousseau. The dresses in the window were always like brilliant works of white art calling my name. The "appointment only" sign on the door kept me from wandering in too soon. When I realized that all of "my women" (aka my mom, Da, and aunt) would be on vacation together, I hopped on the opportunity to make an appointment!


CheriesDaFun fact: The first time I saw Modern Trousseau was when my Da and I returned from a stroll down King Street. We found my Pa resting on a bench right outset the window! It was basically a sign that it was meant to be, am I right? :)

The two years of daydreaming about this place paid off! After a few moment of irritation at the beginning of the appointment - my appointment was misplaced! - I slipped into six or so beautiful gowns. Number seven was the winner; I even put it back on two more times before giving my yes!

Alright so now it's your turn: you found your man, you named your girls (I'm still working on this one), and you've started the process of marking off the days - now it's time to find your dress! With shows like Say Yes to the Dress and I Found My Gown, it's easy to see that the dress shopping process can either go two ways: 1. complete success with that one special gown or 2. a disaster, tears, and empty hands from indecisiveness or critics. For all of my fellow fiancees out there, here are my top tips for making your dress shopping experience one to remember (in a good way, of course).

Wedding Dress Shopping Keep an open mind!

I've been looking at pictures of wedding dresses for years. Coming down with the typical "wedding fever" symptom of pinning all of the dresses I think would fit me - well bad news y'all, having a set way of thinking only leads to disappointment. I started the dress search with a mindset of cotton lace, a-line fit, with pockets only. I'm not going to give away the details on my find, but I will say that what I chose was nothing like I expected. Go in with an open mind. However, I didn't say go in with a scattered brain. Have an idea of what things you absolutely don't like, but when someone says, "how about this one?" - respond with "why not?" It could be your gown!

Look in the mirror more than once.

At first, it might be overwhelming, so take a second look to really know if you like or dislike something.

Try on the accessories (except the veil)

Play around with sashes, covers, jewelry, etc. Sometimes it helps to visualize a little extra bling on the dress. It could possibly be the only thing missing! I suggest you don't add the veil until you know its the one. :)

Don't even think about sizes.

Most boutiques carry one size and one size only, which can be frustrating. But know this going in and don't get too caught up in the dress looking 'perfect.' It's ok if it's too big or too small! More than likely your consultant knows what she is doing and will do what she can to help you visualize what the dress would truly look like on you when it's your size!

Everyone has a "trouble zone," but there isn't a law that you have to talk/cry about it the whole time! 

Like any other girl, I, too, have a part of my body that I tend to stress over and dress to flatter. My lower tummy has always been a difficult place to tone since I hold a significant amount of skin there from previous weight loss. Rather than spend all of my time fretting about it, I try to pick things that show off other areas. I realize that you want to feel and look your best the day of dress shopping, but remember that once you find that special gown you're probably going to start sticking to good habits. In the mean time, try on a variety of things. If you find something that's unflattering, add a giggle and move on. Constantly criticizing yourself is more than likely to set the mood low and cloud your judgment on the remainder of the dresses.

If you think you've found the one, take a moment to think about it.

One of the most profound (or at least I like to think so) lessons I've learned from one of my besties is the rule: If you can't decide whether or not you should buy it, leave. If you're still thinking about it a few hours from now, go back and get it. I did this with my dress. I put the dress back on again, did a little dance, and walked out! What?! Yep, I told the consultant I needed to take a moment to see if it truly was my dress. We ended up getting lunch, clearing our minds, and even peaking in another boutique nearby. In the other boutique, every dress I saw just couldn't compare to that dress. I stopped my family and said, "What am I doing here? I already found my dress." It was a moment of total and complete confidence and we headed back to Modern Trousseau for me to slip the dress back on, add a veil, and give my "yes."

Well ladies, those are my top tips for your big search! I know it may seem like an overwhelming moment of opinions, decisions, and more. Just remember to stick to these tips and kiss indecisiveness goodbye.

Happy dress shopping!

Already found your gown? Have a tip of your own that isn't listed above?

Share in the comment box to help fellow readers with their big search!




What To Do if You Don’t Fit in Sample Size Wedding Dresses

First, join the club! Sample sizes are SMALL! A regular size 14 is a sample size 8! Gah!

Second, don't freak out. You're not alone. The average American girl is a size 16, which means, yep, most women don't fit sample sizes! Nevertheless, it's easy to get frustrated.


If there's one thing I remember from my wedding dress shopping experience, it was the frustration I felt walking into a bridal salon and only having a handful of gowns (if that!) to try on because all of them were too small. Then, when I did muster up the confidence to try on those handful, I couldn't tell what the dress would look like in my actual size.

This photo is a reminder of that-- I was at the bridal shop where my stepmom bought her wedding gown. We went together, made a day of it, and it was supposed to be a happy time... After all, wedding dress shopping should be fun, right?

But then there was the realization that this store didn't have a large selection, and there were only 2 (maybe 3) gowns that would fit my size 10/12 frame. I was embarrassed, but I pressed on, mostly for my stepmom, she had fond memories of the place.

But then there I was- in a tiny dressing room... with a tiny dress... alone. I tried to pull the expensive gown over my head, step into it, something, but it didn't feel right; it didn't fit. There's no mirrors in the room... you have to come out. It was a real WTF moment.

I got over it, tried to make the most of the situation, and stepped out. My stepmom was teary eyed immediately! She loved the dress. The bridal associate quickly pulled out all the bells and whistles- the fake bouquet and the veil. Ta da! Nobody said anything about the fact that it wasn't zipped. Really?

In the end, I didn't get this gown, and in fact, I tried on a dozen or more others, but the experience stuck with me; it's part of the reason I was inspired to start this blog.

If this is something you’re worried about, fear not! Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Tips for Shopping Sample Sizes:

  • Go with an open mind: Know that sample sizes are small. It's not you, it's the dress.
  • If it doesn't fit, don't fret: There's all sorts of contraptions to pull and tuck a gown that's too small to give you a vision for what you're dress will look like. Not only that, but, before it's all said and done, alterations will ensure your dress fits perfectly on your wedding day.
  • Listen your sales associate: The sales associates are used to this sort of thing (read: you're not alone! They've seen it before)! Listen if they suggest certain gowns or, if on the contrary, they discourage trying on a dress that they know is too small.
  • However, don't be bullied: Sales associates are trying to make a sale and in my experience, the pressure to buy is intense. Let your sales associate know if you're just looking and don't plan to buy anything that day. Also let them know if you're not comfortable coming out of the dressing room (for all the world to see!) or trying on a certain dress they've suggested.
  • Along those same lines, don't be easily offended:The thing about those sales associates/shop owners is that can sometimes be brutally honest!  You'll read more about this in a post later today, but head's up: if you don't have a thick skin for, say, suggestions for your body type, etc., let the associate know you'd prefer to pick out your own styles.
  • Bring someone who knows you well and who puts you at ease: It's not always a good idea to bring your entire posse. If a dress doesn't fit (or none of them do), you may be really uncomfortable if there's a large audience. Bring your closest girl pals or your mom; people who know you and who you're comfortable around. People that build you up!
  • Do your research and call around first: Bridal shops can be intimidating places. It's never a bad idea to call ahead first and describe yourself and your vision, and ask questions. I went to a million bridal shops in this area, and trust me: not everyone is nice. Not all the shops were nice, either; some were run-down and old. Search the Weddingbee boards and Google places before you go to them. I guarantee it will make for a happier experience!
  • Remember, this is about YOU!For a lot of us, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Try to enjoy yourself! Make a day of it and have fun! Let your hair down and try not to worry too much! If a dress doesn't fit, it wasn't meant to be! There's others!
  • Speaking of others, the last and most important thing you have to do if you're worried about sample sizes is ditch the above suggestions and head to Curvy Girls Bridal!You'll have to come back later today for this one, but, I promise it will be a big sigh of relief for area brides. There's a shop right here in DC going against the grain, carrying sample sizes 12-32!
Curvy Girls Bridal Fairfax
Curvy Girls Bridal Fairfax

Curvy Girl Bridal is a unique bridal shop offering gowns from top designers in sizes 12-32! They've won numerous awards from The Knot to Wedding Wire to Washingtonian’s Bride & Groom Magazine, and it’s no wonder. I had the privilege of interviewing the owner, Ruth. Check back later today for that post :-) You won't want to miss this!

Are you worried about sample sizes?

For the newlyweds, do you have any experiences with this?