In November 2018, I married my college sweetheart, Mike Sorrentino. One of the most memorable and surreal moments of the entire experience was my first time trying on wedding gowns. I planned our entire wedding start to finish in roughly two months, so I didn’t have time to waste on decisions, especially when it came to wedding dress shopping. I decided on both my wedding gowns in just 30 minutes. I swear, it’s true! But that’s because I went in prepared. Right off the bat, I had in mind a few dresses I liked and wanted to use as inspiration for my gown. I had Pronovias, Ines di Santo, Marchesa, and Zuhair Murad bookmarked as my favorite bridal designers while researching before my appointment. I went into the store with a mission, and really didn’t consider the possibility of not finding a dress I loved. Plus, I made sure the place I was going to carried my preferred designers ahead of time, which was a big help to stay ahead of the game.
Here were some of my top picks for inspiration.
Obviously, I’m not saying you need to choose dresses like these, as they should be to your personal taste. But I am saying you should have a few options either printed out, saved to your phone, or bookmarked in your brain, and concrete reasons why you like them. That way, you know what elements to look for in other gowns. For example, I chose the Zuhair Murad dress on the left because I love the fuller skirt and heavy embellishment; I like the Marchesa one in the middle because the feathery light detail at the bottom of this dress is dreamy and ethereal; and I also love the Zuhair Murad dress on the right because I’m obsessed with the 20s feel of this gown and the embellished cape.
When it comes to wedding dress shopping, it is possible to get a dress on your first appointment and not spend hours in the store and have it be a miserable experience. Here are a few wedding dress shopping tips you should keep in mind, based on my personal experience, to make the whole wedding dress shopping process less stressful (and, dare I say, actually fun).
1. Do Your Homework
Like I said above, don’t show up to a boutique expecting people to read your mind. Have a Pinterest board ready to show your stylist. Even if you can’t verbalize what details you like, the stylist will be able to identify the common thread between the photos to make sure you’re happy with what she pulls for you to try on. (But it’s way easier if you do verbalize the details you like, as I did in my example above.)
2. Don’t Bring Too Many People
If you’re going wedding dress shopping, I’d advise you limit your guest count to 4-5 max if you have a hard time making decisions. The more people you bring, the more opinions you have that may sway you away from your vision. If you’re like me and don’t care what anyone else thinks, then bring your whole bridal party! I picked my dresses (yes, two) in 45 minutes TOPS. It can be done.
3. Don’t Make The Process More Stressful Than It Needs To Be
Enjoy yourself! You’re getting married! This is fun! It can be a stressful time with all the detailed decisions and lifetime commitment and all, but make sure to enjoy this special bonding moment with your friends and the amazing multi-generational women in your family if you’re lucky enough to have them around!
4. Trust Your Gut
The best piece of advice I could give any future bride is to stick to your gut instinct. A women’s intuition is everything, so take a moment (or a day or a week) to decompress after your first time wedding gown shopping experience (if you need it), but don’t second guess your first instinct! Don’t doubt yourself. As sure as you know you want to marry your soon-to-be husband, you’ll know what the right dress for you is as soon as you see yourself in it!
And because I’m sure you’re all super curious about which dresses I went with, I’ve included them below.
I knew I wanted long sleeve lace for my main gown, meaning the gown I’d be married in and wear for our formal photos and first dance.
I love long sleeves on a bridal gown. To me, it’s just super chic, and the lace combination really added a romantic feel. Plus, there’s a traditional aspect to long sleeves on a wedding gown. I didn’t want too much sheerness or anything corseted. I wanted to stick to a semi-traditional silhouette in that sense.
Tip: What I didn’t realize was that even though I had a fall wedding, I definitely worked up a sweat taking photos and socializing the whole day. Had we gotten married in spring or summer, I probably would’ve gone the strapless route or worn an off the shoulder look.
Dress: Stephen Yearick
For the second dress, I went with the mermaid and fit and flare look. When going for a more fitted look like I did, I think as long as it’s done tastefully it can be as beautiful and timeless as a traditional bridal look.
Tip: Balance is key! You don’t want to do fitted, sheer, cleavage, corsets, etc.—it’s just too much! As someone with big boobs, I didn’t want them to be exposed in either dress or to have too much sheerness along with a more fitted look so I went with a higher neckline.
Whether you’re buying one dress or two or five (hey, no judgment), it’s important to go into your appointment with a clear idea of what you like and don’t like. But above all, enjoy the process! You’ll only wear the dress once, so have fun with it.
Images: Charisse Kenion / Unsplash; Michael Romeo Creations (2); Zuhair Murad (2); Marchesa