Confession: wedding dress shopping was my biggest stress when I was looking at planning our wedding. I didn't know exactly what I envisioned myself wearing that day & what if the tiny bit of a vision I did have in my mind didn't look right on me when I finally tried it on? I have seen thousands of girls in stunning wedding dresses throughout the years all of which were absolutely beautiful but none of them ever spoke to me. I have never seen a dress & thought "Woah! That is my dream dress." I was so afraid that I just wouldn't fall in love with a dress that I felt truly embodied who I am & what I wanted to feel on my wedding day.
With all of that in mind I set-up three dress appointments so that I could see a lot of options in one swoop hoping that it would at least push me in a direction. Ray joked about flying me out to New York to find a dress because I was just that sure I would never find one I loved let alone here in Milwaukee.
When clients ask me I typically say to only go dress shopping with 2 or 3 women who's opinions matter to you the most. Dress shopping can be defeating, frustrating & can feel like too many opinions being shot at you all at once.
Well I broke my own rule. I ended up inviting my mom, godmother, Nana, cousin/best friend, future mother in law & future sister in law and to be honest with you I wouldn't have traded it for anything. Having them all there to share in this special moment was a once in a lifetime experience. I even allowed them to pick out dresses for me to try on (which I promised myself I wasn't going to do) but it allowed me to try on dresses & styles I would have never pulled off the rack on my own.
Stop one: White Dress Bridal Boutique.
White Dress is one of the most well known bridal salons in Milwaukee. It is filled with so many stunning wedding gowns & accessories. I would say that they are on the more traditional side when it comes to the gowns they carry so I knew walking into the appointment it might not be the perfect store for me but I have worked with them MANY times for styled photo shoots for work & was excited to get the full "white dress experience" that so many of my brides have raved about over the years.
We first walked around the store, learning about each designer they carry & picking out a few gowns to try on. The ladies all then sat on the couch outside the dressing room as I tried each dress on & came out to present it to them. Unfortunately none of them made my heart skip a beat.
Stop Two: Strike Bridal Bar.
Strike Bridal Bar is a brand new bridal store that just opened in the Walkers Point area of Milwaukee next to one of my favorite hotels, The Iron Horse. It is very industrial in design & the owners were very creative with the use of their limited space. It definitely embodies the "cool factor" that any modern bride would just love. Every inch of this space is Instagram worthy from the neon sign to the confetti popper that explodes when you say "YES" to the dress. They even have a custom dress service where you can design your very own dream dress!
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to check out Strike Bridal before it was even officially open to the public. Abby & her team were amazing to work with. Again I tried on so many dresses & although one of them gave me a spark, it didn't give me the full fireworks show.
Stop Three: Miss Ruby Bridal Boutique.
If White Dress & Strike Bridal Bar had a baby it would be Miss Ruby. They are the perfect blend of traditional & trendy. Fun & flirty. When we arrived for our appointment they had a huge display for us filled with champagne & little treats to snack on while shopping for gowns.
I picked out a LOT of dresses to try because at this point I was feeling even more defeated than ever before that I wasn't going to be able to find a dress after striking out at the first two stores but the ladies at Miss Ruby's were so encouraging & kept my spirits high. The one thing I did know at this point was what I didn't want when it came to a wedding dress. The first six I walked out in were a solid NO. They were gowns I had actually selected prior to dress shopping that I thought could potentially be winners but after trying on dresses throughout the day my direction had changed a bit & I knew these just were not the right dresses.
Finally after trying on just about every single dress in my fitting room the girls told me that this was the very last dress that they could think of that might work for me. As soon as I put it on my heart started racing & my face just lit up. I was so excited to show this dress off & felt the most confident I had ever felt wearing this dress. As soon as I showed everyone this dress we all knew that this was THE ONE for me. It was perfectly me in every way & I knew without a doubt this was the dress I wanted to walk down the aisle in when marrying my best friend.
So now after experiencing dress shopping myself this is what I recommend to all of you beautiful brides out there:
1. Don't get wrapped up in the numbers.
Keep the group small but invite the people you want to share this moment with because you only get one. So invite who you want & don't invite anyone you only feel obligated to invite. Today is about YOU & you should have people there that make you feel confident.
2. Keep an open mind.
Try one dresses you normally wouldn't. Let your family pull dresses & just have fun with it. It will make them smile and you never know what might happen.
3. Make a day of it.
Hit 2-3 stores so that each dress is still fresh in your mind but take a break in-between to grab lunch or a coffee so that you don't get overwhelmed.
4. Have a general budget.
Don't fall in love with something you can't afford because that will only make it more difficult to pick a dress in the end... haven't you ever seen "Say Yes to the Dress"?!
5. Celebrate every step of the way.
If you find your dream dress or don't, celebrate! This is supposed to be fun so pop that champagne, throw the confetti & don't get discouraged. Your moment will come.