Wedding: Dress Distress, Part One.

This is my long, long tale of finding a wedding dress.  So long that I decided to make it a five part blog post.  Welcome to part one…


Choosing a wedding dress is kind of a big deal, right?  I went into this mission with three items of criteria:

  • I wanted long sleeves.
  • I didn’t want to go over $1000 for the whole outfit (shoes, veil, alterations included in that).
  • I wanted to look like “me”,  just the bridal version.

Back in September, I set up an appointment with a bridal store that specialized in selling sample gowns.  The benefit of this was the prices would be discounted significantly from the cost a normal dress.  And timing was another factor- in the world of bridal wear, I was SOL becasue I had only 5 months before my wedding and most dresses require a 8-12 month lead time to order.  Buying a sample meant you would leave the store with your dress in hand.  The catch is they are only in sample sizes of 8, 10, and 12.


When I arrived to the store I told my sales associate the one thing I wouldn’t budge on was the sleeves, I would be happy to try on any silhouette, but strapless was a non-starter.  And in a store packed with a couple thousand gowns, she pulled the 3 dresses that actually had sleeves (shocking that the strapless trend is still so popular- am I the only one that’s over it?).


I tried them all on, some I liked more than others, but none of them were quite right for me.  The one thing that really stood out about all of them was how cheap feeling they were.  The prices ranged from $1300 to $2400, non-refundable or transferable, and every single one of them felt like a dress I wouldn’t pay $100 for.


So I started pondering, as I tend to do… And while I was in the fitting room I had an epiphany:


The problem with wedding dresses (and the wedding industry) is that as generations have passed we have changed our opinion on what’s acceptable.  Dresses are expected to be expensive because most brides aren’t paying for it themselves.  It’s a gift from someone.  Every other girl in that store was trying on dresses for the person that would be paying for it; like a mom, or an aunt, or a god mother- So $2000 becomes the cost of a gift, as opposed to the cost of the cheap dress it actually is.


The brides that are footing the bill themselves are the collateral damage in this sad state of affairs.  They are forced to buy into the concept that you should “treat yourself” to this, and that since you only get married once “why not” splurge on this hefty price tag?


At the end of my appointment, I didn’t find a dress, but I did find clarity:  the bridal store route wasn’t the right path for me.


It felt like a scam.