Lovely Advice {And Reader Insight}: Dress Shopping and Finding “The One”

I remember, looooong before the engagement, coming across a dress that made me stop in my tracks. It was Jamie-Lynn Sigler’s wedding dress (from her first marriage in 2003), and it was a simple, strapless Monique Lhuillier gown with a corset back. I fell in love with that dress; that dress gave me serious wedding fever. Sadly photos are nearly impossible to find, she must have done a great job working to get them all taken away, but here’s what I could find:

Images via LIFE magazine

When it came time to look for my own gown, I couldn’t get this dress out of my head. Something about the simplicity of the design paired with the corset back just had me swooning. But the final product in my dress search? Not really even close to what I thought I wanted:

{Scobey Photography, custom dress by Ally Bridal in Hoboken, NJ}

My final dress was the result of an amazing (and sweet) dressmaker in Hoboken saying “you should try this” and completely changed my mind from what I thought I had wanted to what was the right one for me. Too many episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” had me thinking I was supposed to cry, to get that “feeling”, but I didn’t know what that feeling was going to be! In the end, I knew when I didn’t want to take it off, couldn’t wait for Pat to see me in it, and continued to daydream about it long after I left the dress shop, that it was “the one”.

I asked you on Facebook a while back about whether you got that “feeling”, and here’s what some of you had to say:

I fell in love with two dresses in the store. I was so stressed. I could not decide. My good friend (and a newlywed) told me to go home and sleep on it. So I did. The next morning I could only remember “the one”. I couldn’t even remember the details on the other one. All I could picture was me in the one! I loved everything about it! SO brides…when in doubt sleep on it! :) 

I knew my dress was the one when I did not want to take it off! The consultant also picked it. Not at all what I was looking for but it I looked and felt fantastic in it. They know what they are doing - it’s their job! 

As a plus size bride, I knew it would be tough to find “the one”. I did a lot of internet searching and found Bonny Bridal, I tried on a few dresses at a local shop but they just didn’t have MY dress. So on a recommendation from Bonny Bridal I went an hour away to LOREN’S BRIDAL. My hunny and I (yes, I took him) sat down with Pat at Loren’s and told her what I was looking for… 1 it had to be a Bonny, 2 it had to be chiffon and that I really wanted sleeves. Pat looked at me like I was a little crazy and then you could see that she had a “light bulb” moment. She had a discontinued sample dress in their backroom. I tried on that dress (IT FIT!) and a couple others. Hunny told me that the d/c’d dress was my dress because that was the only one I smiled in. I REALLY knew that it was THE DRESS at my 2nd fitting as I was standing there singing to myself “I love my dress, I love my dress” (here comes the bride melody) :)

I tried on dresses on several occasions. It was the not the first dress I tried on. I kept insisting on choosing dresses myself. When I finally let the consultant to her job - she found MY dress - and it was the last dress I tried on. Everyone that was with me got a tiny bit teary eyed. I became very focused; everything became clear and I could see that there would be nothing else out there for me. I “settled down” and everything was very zen for me.

I know it’s easier said than done, but in the end, if you can go in to your dress shopping with an open mind, and take the pressure off yourself to “get that feeling”, you will open yourself up to so many more possibilities and prevent disappointment if the feeling never comes. Enjoy the experience!

So, did you know your dress was “the one”? Did you get that feeling?

  • Katie Mattaini says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I found my dress at the second shop I went to, first dress I tried on. But I definitely didn’t know in a flash! I was really surprised I liked the very first dress so much, but I wanted to keep trying on others. The first dress couldn’t possibly be THE one, could it?? But at the end of all the other dresses, I put that one back on and didn’t want to take it off. I still went home to think about it for a while. (I am a HUGE second-guesser.) My mom came back with me later to see it, and she said, if this is the one, just BUY it already! I’m glad she did, otherwise I probably would have wasted a lot of time looking at a bunch of other places, when I really can’t imagine anything more perfect for me than my dress! :)

  • Abby {Super Burbs} says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I started to tear up when I put mine on. I just wanted Mr. C to see me in it. That was my “feeling”. I went in there not knowing what I wanted AT ALL - just something timeless yet different, but I definitely knew the minute I put it on…

  • Kirby {Colors of Honey} says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    oh goodness! I let the consultant pick out all the dresses I tried on. all i told her is some details I was thinking I might want (straps, maybe a train) and a few designers that I just wanted to try on to try. she brought in a selection and hung them up. I zoned in on a dress and asked “is that lela rose?” I have a really good eye and I interned for the designer. low and behold, a few dresses in I couldn’t wait anymore and had to try on the lela rose gown and that was it! I tried on another one for good measure and had the put lela’s back on! xo Kirby

  • Aleah + Nick Valley says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    Fab post, my dear! I adore your dress! I actually fell in love with mine the first time I laid eyes on it. It was adorned with an icy blue sash, my favorite color and the same shade of blue as my eyes. It was the ONE!

  • Dancy says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    Mine was the very first one I tried on & was the complete opposite of everything I thought I wanted - plus, it was WAY out of my budget. I flat out refused to buy the 1st dress I tried on, so I searched a bunch of other places, tried different dresses & styles but couldn’t get it out of my head. I finally just gave up & searched the globe to find it cheaper. LOL

  • Laura *You Stir Me* says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    thanks for sharing, pumpkin:) I hear all these stories of brides trying on over 100 dresses (!!!) and still not finding the right one because they never had “that feeling.” I tried on six dresses and bought the last one I tried on, not because it was what I had always pictured, but because all of a sudden I could see the dress having a life of it’s own on the day of the wedding…which is apparently what I had always wanted but never knew it. When I got home, I threw out (recycled) all the dress print outs I had brought to the appointment…it felt good to have found something completely different than what I had dreamed of for so many years just because I had opened myself up to other possibilities:)

  • birdie to be says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    You’re a doll! Great post! I will forward this info on to my bff who is currently on the hunt! ;)

  • ana {lucky in love sf} says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I am currently struggling to narrow down my dress options to “the one”. I am currently in love with about 5 dresses and none of them made me cry (everyone else did though!) or get butterflies. I appreciate your honesty and sharing your experience. Makes me feel so much better and less like a ice cold bride : )

  • Stephanie (@BellissimaBride) says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    Jacin, I will definitely keep this in mind when I go to Kleinfelds in October. Thank you for the great advice and the advice of all the other ladies.

    I’ve tried on a handful of dresses at a local Chicago boutique that were quite stunning, one even had the BFF and Mom in tears. I, too, am in love, but I have this “one” dress that will haunt me if I don’t at least try it.

  • Lena says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I absolutely LOVE hearing everyone’s responses to how they knew they’d found “the one”-I’m tearing up!

  • Koru Kate says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I went to the bridal shop for a specific dress & I didn’t love it in person. I tried on about 10 dresses in the span of two appointments & I fell in love with the last dress that my Mom threw in the pile at the last second. I just knew it was perfect for me. I still find myself wishing I could wear it!

  • Jessica says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    The first time I tried on my dress, I tried on about 11 others that day and when I went home, couldn’t remember a single thing about anything but “the one” — and that’s how I knew. Then, when I went back for a second try, I cried. I couldn’t picture myself in any other dress!

  • Maria says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    We (my bff aka personal stylist and dress selector, mom and sis) made a four hour trek to the first and only bridal store we visited. The second I slipped into THE dress , it felt amazing. The structure was fantastic and I felt like if I ate Chipotle, no one would be the wiser (no spanx required! hallelujah!). While standing in front of a big mirrored wall, I went down the line and asked my sis, mom, bff, and sales girl individually, “you like it?” As they all nodded yes, I said, “Awesome, we have a winner! Pack it up and let’s go to the J.Crew clearance center now!”

  • Little Red Purse says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    After being disappointed with the first shopping experience, I thought I would have to give up on my dream dress and settle for something else. Instead of the big name bridal stores, I decided to stop by a small, independent shop who took such good care of me. I told her what I was looking for and she pulled out ONE dress that she thought I’d like. I knew it was ‘the one’ the second the zipper went up and my mom gave me a look of approval. I can’t wait to wear it and show my man!

    xo L.

  • Nicole says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I was in tears before I found “the one” because I was sick of trying on dresses that didn’t do it for me. But like others, when I put that dress on, I didn’t want to take it off. My mom knew right then and there that was the dress I wanted but I looked at her and asked if I really had to take it off. ha!

  • Kassi says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I went to a couple of places to try on dresses. But when I finally focused and starting looking online, I narrowed down what I wanted to try on at the next store… But there was this one dress… A little more than I had planned on spending. It was different, but lovely. When we got to the store, the consultant pulled all of the dresses from my online profile and then a few extras. That lovely dress… was one of the extras. I tried all of them on, but that one was the one the girls were just like, YES, that’s it. I never really had a tear jerking overwhelmed feeling. I just got it in my head that was it. Talked myself into spending the extra… and bought it. Right there. Took it home with me that day. There were a few times over the next month that I wondered if I’d gotten the right dress. But on the day of and everyday after the wedding, I knew it was the perfect dress for me.

  • Laura says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I didn’t get “the feeling.” But I did have a similar experience as you. After parading around in it for a while, I didn’t want to take it off. I guess that’s a feeling.

    Yesterday while dress shopping with a friend, she got the feeling. Goosebumps, big smile, etc. When we were done with all the dresses I said, don’t you want to try your favorite on again. She said, “No, that’s the dress. We’re good.”

    I guess everyone is different. I do remember feeling like I was going to throw up. Lol. Maybe that’s the feeling.

  • Kristina says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    I thought there was something wrong with me when I tried on dresses. I never got “that” feeling. I never cried! Well maybe a few times but not because of the dress. It was more because I tried on over 100 dresses. It was stressful and not really the best experience. When I finally found it I didn’t cry or get emotional. I saw the expressions on my mom, friend and consultant (even a bystander in the store) and I felt like this had to be it. I sometimes get nervous that the dress I bought wasn’t the right choice. I sure hope so b/c its sitting in my closet…

  • Naomi says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    All of my friends blocked off their entire afternoon one Saturday to help me dress shop. Being the consummate shopper and quite picky {no way!} they were SO SURE it was going to take a lifetime, they forgot I make decisions pretty fast…most times. The first dress I tried on did not do it for me…but the minute I put on the second dress…I knew it. I have always dreamed of a Monique Llhuillier dress so when I walked out and my sister and friends did not say a word…I knew I had to wear this amazing dress. All I saw was their hands over their mouths and then I locked eyes with my sister and I knew she was thinking what I was thinking. My dad passed away a few months before our wedding, right after our engagement and he should have been there with us and for a moment he was. So that day meant so many things to me. I might have been the only girl who would have given the world to have her dad help pick her wedding dress.
    If I had to pick one person to be there to see me in my dress first, it would have been dad. After the bittersweet emotions passed, I finally looked at myself in the mirror and it hit me…I would not be able to eat a damn thing for six months! You know what? It didn’t matter. It was my dress…the one and that is all that mattered.

  • erin * sparkle & hay says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    awwwww yay!!! i love to hear your story (& know your inspiration!)

  • Stephanie/ TheVintageModernBride says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    i seriously have always loved your dress. every time i see pictures of it, i just love it! i definitely fell in love with my dress. it’s funny too because my dress wasn’t my first pick when it was on the hanger. it was my 2nd. the first dress looked gorgeous on me and had everything i thought i wanted (strapless, sweetheart, lace, trumpet) but then when i tried on MY dress, it was gorgeous even though it wasn’t what i wanted (it’s not straight cut but has a tiny dip in the top, lace, but slim a-line). i love it and never ever want to take it off. i’m so excited to show mathew in 101 days!

  • Tiffany says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    Your dress was absolutely stunning. I found mine in the first store I went in to, it was the second dress I tried on and I have not looked back!

  • Wrapped Couture says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    This was a great post! I’ve never been married before but I was in a wedding fashion show today and tried on wedding dresses prior to the show, so I have a glimpse of how the day may go. Although I’ve heard that you’re supposed to get “that feeling”, I just know what I like and what looks good on me and I just feel that I will be the same way when I have to look for a wedding gown. Only time will tell but great post!

  • Kismet says on August 24, 2011 Reply

    You look gorgeous in your dress!

  • Bri {BeeBeeBisous} says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    Yes - I got that feeling!

    My dress was the first one I tried on the second time I went shopping (that made sense, right?) - I put it on and immediately my mom, mother in law and maid of honour got teary (which made me teary) and I felt super excited - however it was totally not what I had set out to find! I was fairly certain I wanted a trumpet gown and while excited about the a-line confection I found thought I’d try on more… However EVERYTHING I tried on was compared to the first one. When I put it back on at the end, the tears came aflowin’… When I put on the veil, I felt like a bride. Haven’t looked back!!!

  • Julie Jones says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    I knew I wanted a Romona Keveza gown. I was looking for a dress that was clean with a modern take on classic styles. Romona Keveza was new designer at the time and I loved nearly every one of her dresses. I fell in love with her Grace Kelley dress - a strapless ball gown with a heavily draped skirt. It felt special - but my mom didn’t like it in the photos. I ended up going to visit my mom and went dress shopping with her. I purchased an RK fit and flare design with a very simple front and gorgeous pleated rear skirt and train. I LOVED it (and still do), but a part of me still feels like the Grace dress was “the one that got away”.

  • Ashley Scobey says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    I loved your dress so so much. I saw mine on a dress form and HATED it. I never saw myself in full lace, but my Mom asked me to try it on, and I just fell in love with it as soon as I slipped into it. Way to go, mom!! :)

  • Sandra Downie @ The White Library says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    I always tell my Brides, to try on anything that strikes there fancy, because you never know what you are gonna really fall in love with until you try it on. This is wonderful Jacin.

  • Miriam Corona says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    I never put that much thought into the dress! I wish I would have kept trying dresses until I found THE ONE. I never got the feeling, never brought my mom to see me try on dresses, there wasn’t any champagne. I wish I would have done all of those things! What stood out was the color (it was champagne) and the beautiful Swarovski crystals. It had removable sleeves for an evening look. It did eventually grow on me and I even had it preserved. I could have done without the long train. It was so heavy! It would have been fine for church, but I wish I had bought a 2nd dress for the reception. Regretfully - Miriam
    PS. Your dress is gorgeous on you!

  • Diana says on August 25, 2011 Reply

    What a gorgeous photo of you in your dress! I am still obsessed with watching Say Yes to the Dress!! I had a picture in my mind of something totally different but I also had a picture of a dress I really wanted but no store near me had it and I didnt feel like driving too far to try dresses on. I ended up going to only one store and when I put it on I knew and my stepdaughters and MOH knew too! It was so nice to have the best people there who helped me and made me feel the way I wanted to feel. This is a great post! :)

  • Faith says on August 27, 2011 Reply

    the first dress i tried on was the one .. knew it the moment i put it on!

    i loved your dress … absolutely perfect on you!

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