The Wedding Dress: Preliminary Findings



Despite not being the type of woman to gush over clothes, I love me some Say Yes to the Dress. Yesterday I did some preliminary wedding dress shopping with my mother, grandmother and Colby’s mom.

It was… not what I expected. And I mean that in a good way.

A wise friend on Twitter (*waves frantically at the fantastic Lady E*) warned me about wedding dress shopping, comparing wedding dresses to cocaine.

“Those dresses were like cocaine… beautifully white and fluffy no matter the cut; I wanted to snort them all!”

She was not wrong. It was pretty great.

I brought photos of tea-length dresses with a poofy bottom and showed them to the consultant at The Wedding Place. We went through the shop and picked a few that looked nice, even though I still had a vision of my poofy short dress in my head. Something like this:


The first dress I tried on was a big, poofy mass of layers and white fabric. Because they didn’t have any tea-length dresses, the fabulous consultant clipped and pinned to mimic what a poofy/short style dress would look like on my short, curvy frame.

I kept laughing because I looked like an onion. Then I left the change room and laughed when my companions looked horrified. It was AWFUL. Heavy, cumbersome and unflattering as hell. I immediately felt a twinge of disappointment. My ideal dress was not going to be the one after all! I was warned of such things but I thought for sure that style would be the way to go for me. But no, no, NO. It was not.

The next dress I tried on was more of a beach style dress with ruching around the bust and just a hint of sparkle. It looked pretty on the rack but I just assumed it would be unflattering on me and my round hips and large bust.

And it looked really, really, really good. It was beautiful. I looked like a bride- a comfortable bride that could move without restriction. And it was within budget. I immediately pictured myself at my wedding, wearing that dress, the white chiffon catching the breeze at our outdoor wedding in the country.

And then I cried. And Mom and Grandma did too. Even Colby’s mom got tears in her eyes. And then the consultant plucked a veil from the back room and tucked it into my hair. More crying. It was an astonishing moment I didn’t expect to have. I always thought that part on Say Yes to the Dress was exaggerated. It was just so overwhelming!

But then that was only the second wedding dress I’d ever put on my body. That is basically the only thing that stopped my credit card from flying out of my purse.

I tried on a few more and didn’t get nearly the same reaction. One of the other dresses was covered in lace and was gorgeous. Really very nice. But it was someone else’s dress. It certainly didn’t make me cry.

I’ve been thinking about that beach-style dress ever since. I took a photo of myself wearing it at the bridal shop and I keep going back to it. I’m planning to check out one more store (maybe two stores??) and see if I get that same emotional response from any other dress. But I’m not sure if I see that happening.

So, what did I learn from this experience? Go into the store with photos of what you have in mind, try a dress on, realize the image you have in your mind is fine but not great. Then find a different dress that blows all of your expectations out of the water.

[edit] On August 16, I went back to the same store and bought the exact same dress. A slightly different veil but the dress. THE dress, in fact. It’s perfect. [/edit]



Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a freelance blogger, a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.


  1. Lady E
    July 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Yes!! I was absolutely sure that I was going to get married in an Arthurian medieval gown… until I tried one on. Blargh! LOL
    Thanks for quoting my “wise” thoughts ;D

    • Jilly
      July 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

      I’ve heard so many stories about people going in with pictures and then getting something completely different. I guess I should have expected it! haha

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