the wedding diaries: elusive dress search.

When I was a wee one, I always imagined the dress search to be the most exciting part of getting married. Luxurious fabrics! Princess silhouettes! Rooms of gowns just for me! I flipped through a fair share of bridal magazines and couldn't wait for my time to come. Oh, silly little Bethany. I've now spent two months searching and I'm done tiptoeing:  

I. Dislike. Dress. Shopping. Of all the wedding planning, the things that could possibly make you want to elope...I rank dress shopping as Enemy Numero Uno.***

This loathing is a two part issue:

Issue 1: There is nothing more panic inducing than a room full of potentially too-small and whacked-sized dresses...just waiting to unflatter you. And even worse, there's usually a brood of women looking at you in all your awkward, ill-fitted glory. Grand.

Issue 2: I'm a specific gal. I need a trumpet shape...something that hugs my curves, lest I look like The Blob (I'm lookin' at you A-line dresses!!). But my biggest problem is finding the curvy shape in a fabric like organza or swiss dot, because I'm after some whimsy! Also, bonus points will be awarded for a dress already bearing a sweatheart neckline.

Last week, I bumped into a beautiful silk mikado Jenny Yoo gown. It was a sample size being cleared out, marked down to $385. It was simple, and beyond elegant. The original price was $1200, but since the designer stopped producing this pricier fabric option, they couldn't have the dress on the floor.

(Nothing flatters like being shot from below. Eek. On left: The dress as purchased. On right: Just the start of the changes I'd make...)

My bod looked bangin' in that thing...and I've never, ever said that before. Although a sweetheart neckline would have to be added, I truly felt rather hot! It was a Dangerous Curves Ahead situation and for seven minutes, I was a confident bride. In those moments, I loved me and my bod...I said yes to the dress...plunked down my $385 and was on my merry way. Dress in hand.

My best friend and her hubby agreed that it was a gorgeous gown and incredible price, a good choice. But as the day slipped by I started to doubt myself. Sure, it was a pretty gown. But was it me?

In a sleepless 3am panic, I emailed a photo of myself in the dress to Gabe. Cause there's nothing like blowing ALL the mystery out of the park! But I was desperate. I needed to know if this was a terrible idea. While Gabe commented on enjoying the curvaceous view, he backed up my fears: The dress wasn't my style. At all. He was right. Emotionally exhausted with dress shopping, I'd committed the cardinal sin: I lunged at one of the few dresses that made me feel foxy...at a price that couldn't be beat...but had completely forgotten my softer style.

My mind has played with various options--overlays or additions that might bring it closer to "me" and further from "accidental ego-boosted purchase". Perhaps we could edge toward to a softer look, like this breezy Ivy and Aster gown...perhaps it could be salvaged rather than resold? I just fear hiring someone to overhaul the thing, only to be out $800-$1000 more...and still not in love with it.

So, it's not the dress. Or at least not yet, and is hanging in my closet...awaiting the determination of its fate.

Am I alone in the accidental dress purchase? Surely others have made a similar misstep, yes? And my biggest fear: could there possibly be a bride who doesn't find "the dress" and just feels kind of "meh" on the big day?

***That was a lot of negativity in one paragraph, and I apologize. But I had to put it out there. 


  1. oh beth i am totally backing you on this one!! when you emailed me the picture i must honestly admit that i was a little bit surprised too!! of course it is drop-dead gorgeous, but i had definitely imagined you in something with a little more romantic whimsy...i am proud of you for sticking with your gut and for having enough self-awareness to know it's time to turn back to the drawing board. i just know you will find the very perfect thing ever, you'll fall in love, and all of this painful searching will soon be behind you...(kind of like finding gabe?)

  2. You will find it, and even if you don't you will never feel 'meh' on your wedding day! Keep searching, but don't limit yourself - try on the ones you love, the ones that sister's and friends love (that you do not) and even the one that the assistant recommends - that is how I found mine. Very different to what I thought I wanted/needed (tulle fluff and strapless, what?) but I put it on and could not get it out of my head.

  3. You know, if you have a particular style you like (whimsical, for example!) have you thought about getting a dress made? That way it will fit you exactly and you will get the dress you've always dreamed of!

    I also agree with le countess/meg. My sister tried on everything we threw at her, even though she had a cream slinky silk number in mind ... she ended up getting married in a bright white, sparkly bodiced, and tulled bottomed dress. She looked stunning!

    x Jasmine

  4. although you look beautiful, if it's not your style and you don't LOVE it....move on. that is a great price though. went to the ivy&aster site and there is a beautiful gown in the swiss dot fabric, but it's not trumpet shaped. my obsession with a gown was that it couldn't have any lace or beads. I wanted something simple but still formal. surprisingly found it at david's bridal, which really shocked me. this post has gotten super long, but in 11 days i'll have been married 1 year. yay! my wedding day was magical and i hope the same for you! enjoy every second of it!

  5. I totally bought a dress for the same price right off the sample rack. At first I loved it and thought it was everything I wanted. Well...after a while I decided this wasn't the dress for me and it was awful. Starting a second search, I found my dream dress and it's absolutely perfect. After that, I put my old dress on for my fiance (he hasn't seen the new one) and he said, "Meh, it's nice, but it's definitely not you." Phew! Catastrophe diverted! The dress is one of the most important elements, you need to feel perfect!

  6. The good thing is that you got the ball rolling. The other good thing is that you can make the changes to this dress if you need to make it more you.

    You are all sorts of curvy and foxy in this dress though and you will find a way to make it work (even if it means getting a different one). I've got faith in you, girl!

  7. I had one day to dress shop with my mom and mother & sister-in-law-to-be. I tried on quite a few dresses that I hated, a few that I thought were ok, and two that everyone raved about. I went with the one of the two that I liked the best but guess what...I didn't love it. I definitely liked it but didn't LOVE it. Am I bummed that I wasn't totally head over heels in the dress - sure but in retrospect given I was head over heels for the guy I was saying "I Do" to it really didn't matter. When I look at our gorgeous wedding photos I'm looking at the love between us not my dress :-)

    All of that being said, I say find the dress you feel the best in but don't drive yourself crazy if you don't find "the one." Gabe is the only "one" you need on that special day.

  8. OMG! Your body does look "bangin'" in the first 2 photos! Though, part of feeling confident on your big is having a dress on that you know reflects you as an individual. It is kind of scary and not really the time to take a daring leap into a dress that doesn't scream "Bethany" ya know? It's beautiful! and sooo cheap in price! I love love love the 2nd dress you show. BUT the $300 dollar dress may also be "your" dress after you make adjustments and add "Bethany" accessories. Best of luck! : )

  9. The dress you purchased is gorgeous but I agree that it isn't even remotely whimsy. You'll find "the one" so don't panic! You're going to look perfect on your wedding day!

    What about repourpsing the dress you already bought, though? I realize it might be a little too risky to commit to all the alterations for your actual wedding dress, but what about having it modified to make it your rehearsal dress or the dress you wear when you leave for your honeymoon? Or even a sexy little number for one of your romantic nights in Greece? Maybe it could even become your anniversary dress...who knows? It might not be your wedding fairy tale vision, but you did say that you felt like a fox in it, so why not capitalize on that? Plus, if the alterations don't turn out exactly like you like, you're not scrambling to find a replacement wedding dress at the last moment.

    Just a thought. :)

  10. I used my mother's dress when I got married in June. We got rid of the 80's sleeves and there were a few details (lace bodice, pretty neckline) that I loved. The dress was just never that flattering. Made me look chubby, made my arms look weird, etc... Even after 3 alterations I wasn't in love with it. There were no magic warm fuzzies when I looked in the mirror, which is what we've come to expect.

    My advice is to forget about the magic warm fuzzies. It's just one detail of your wedding. (It's a big one, I know, but still just a detail.) On your wedding day, with your hair fixed and all your family and friends buzzing around you the excitement will come. Seeing yourself in a bridal shop mirror is not the same as seeing yourself as THE BRIDE on your day. I felt completely beautiful walking down the aisle, and the look on my husbands face took away the last shred of doubt.

    Hang in there!

  11. You're right about looking totally foxy in that dress! What about having it professionally dyed, so you can use it for another fancy occasion down the road? Or alter it and use it for a second dress, like for the reception or something?

  12. I just did the whole dress shopping thing with my baby sis who is getting married in Oct. It's a short engagement (4 months) so we were stuck buying off the rack. After a nightmare of dresses and all the insecurities that you are feeling, we finally found that ONE. She had her doubts, as you do now, if she would ever find 'that one' and that she'd just have to settle for mediocre. But when I zipped up the ONE, she just knew it. All those doubts of having to settle were whisked away quickly as it all finally fell into place...like it always does. Don't doubt that...you will find the one. :) It's only a matter of time.

  13. I just wanted to second the notion of re-purposing it into a fancy occasion dress. With Gabe being in the military, you’ll have at least a few "dining-in" opportunities or formal mess nights when he is back stateside.

  14. As someone just beginning this process, my advice would be to trust your instincts. You look beautiful in the sample but if you don't feel like your best self (because isn't that what you should feel the day you get married?), it's not the right one.

    Also, we have very similar taste--I'm eying a few Ivy & Aster gowns. Their collection is the perfect mix of romantic, sexy, whimsical and classic. LOVE!

  15. Hey! I hear you, re: trumpet shape. I just saw this dress recently.. swiss dot with a flowy trumpet shape: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ePEGSW-3Dg8/TZJ6hzGjTyI/AAAAAAAACh8/1ybadvG6UGU/s1600/gigi_ad.jpg

  16. I had this EXACT thing happen to me... I was hating dress shopping, tired of trying on dresses so I just went with one and called the shop back in a back panic the next day!!! I actually had a dress on hold that was almost exactly like your first, and ironically enough, the one I chose was similar to your real dress!

    Love your blog. You have inspired me to document my wedding adventure.


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