I think one of the first questions people asked me when they asked about our wedding plans was whether I knew what kind of dress I wanted.  Of course, I had no idea.  As previously mentioned, I’m not the kind of girl that sat around dreaming about her wedding.  So, I really had no vision for the dress.  I did my homework by looking online and clipping pictures, but I still hadn’t really found a style that I knew was “the one”.  Hence why I set up appointments at a few bridal stores to get a feel for what I liked and find the perfect dress!

Three stores and 30 dresses later, I did find “the one.”  For those people that keep remarking how “quickly” I made my decision, I’ve decided to write a series of posts to help people get inside the mind of bridal gown shopping.  If my decision was quick, I’d hate to see how many dresses other brides try on…

Our story starts in Rockaway, NJ at Bella Sposa Bridal.  I found this store on TheKnot.com after realizing I liked the Mon Cheri line of dresses.  Bella Sposa is small, and honestly not a store I would have picked if I had seen it first.  Rockaway’s main street is not really a happening place anymore, and all of the storefronts looked sad.  So, when we arrived, I had reservations about finding “the dress” here.

My mom tagged along to help me get a feel for what I liked and what I didn’t like.  When we walked in, I was struck by how small the store was, and was once again not confident in their selection.  Renee, one of the store’s associates, was helping us, and we were actually the only people in the store.  She asked me what I liked and didn’t like and pulled several dresses for me to start trying on.  The dressing room was tiny, only big enough to fit me, Renee and the dresses, but that was alright with me.  The less room for anyone to see my body stripped down, the better!!

Renee made some excellent choices in dresses.  The first dress I tried on, I fell in love with.  I know, I know…cardinal rule of wedding dresses:  never buy the first dress you try on. However, this is a testament to Renee’s ability to read me and figure out what I liked and what would look best on me.  I fell in love with the details of the dresses as well as the beautiful backs.  I fell in love with the sparkles, and the big skirts, and of the “princess” vibe I felt when I had them on.  I also fell in love with veils.  I had pointed out a veil to my mom that had crystals around the edge when Renee was getting more dresses.  When I had on another dress later, she grabbed that same veil I liked and put it on me, not knowing I had pointed it out!  I LOVED how the scalloped edging on the veil framed my shoulders and how the crystals matched the details on the dresses. I also loved how all of the dresses I was trying on I hadn’t seen in a magazine, and although I wouldn’t have picked them out myself, they looked great and gave me new ideas.  I definitely think I did it the right way going in without an idea of what I wanted…it kept me open to styles that ended up being very lovely!

One thing I didn’t love about some dresses:  the fabric.  As most of you know, I’m not picky about a lot of things, but the satin-y fabric dresses bothered me.  I just didn’t fall in love with the way they looked on me.  Sure, they were ok and looked beautiful, but in the end, I knew I would not end up with a satin dress, since I really didn’t love it.  From a sizing perspective, I was very worried about trying on dresses in general.  I have curves and a real body. I’ve never tried to hide that. I was worried the sample sizes would have to be yanked onto my body and pulled in all different directions to get an accurate picture. Lucky for me, dress store owners happen to cater to my exact size, so I was able to get an accurate picture of how the dresses looked!  LOVE THAT!

The down-side of Bella Sposa is that you can’t take pictures in the store.  My mom and I had a hard time remembering after the fact what the 7-10 dresses I had tried on looked like, so it would have been very difficult for us to compare them alongside some of the others I tried on.  The rule with this is that some designers do not allow pictures of fittings since they are worried someone will go copy their dress and make it themselves. Sounds strange, but I guess it really does happen.  So, from a comparison and memory perspective, this really didn’t work for me.  But, the rules are the rules!

Renee was great, and I loved working with her. Her intution and ability to find dresses I might not have found myself made this a great experience.  I liked how she brought the dresses to me and I didn’t have to shuffle through racks to find them.  She helped us narrow down our choices and put some dresses into a top 3 list.  Without her honest opinions and gentle feedback, this would have been hard!  While I didn’t end up finding “the” dress on Day One, having such a positive experience at the first store made me very excited to keep looking and narrowing things down.  Thanks to Renee for making my first stop so pleasant!

Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of the wedding dress hunt!