7 Reasons Wedding Dress Shopping is the Worst
For some girls, purchasing a wedding dress is all they have dreamt of since they were old enough to know what a bride was. For others, it’s just another thing to check off the bridal to-do list. I fell somewhere in the middle of that range. Either way, the hype and pressure of actually finding “The One” can actually be super overwhelming. Some gals thrive on that. Some break out in hives. The truth is, it’s not for everyone. Here are my top 7 reasons why wedding dress shopping is the worst.
1// The Pressure
I’m not referring to pressure from a salesperson, I mean internal pressure (and media pressure) to find the perfect dress, the dress that will make your mother weep tears of joy, the dress you see yourself walking down the aisle in, the dress that makes your husband weep tears of joy, the dress you just knew was right the moment you stepped into it…. etc. etc. blah blah blah.
I mean, holy shit! How are we supposed to meet all that criteria with one dress? It is an important piece of your wedding, yes. But, in the end, it is just that: a dress. Your dress doesn’t represent your entire wedding. Your dress is not your marriage. No one tells you that it’s perfectly fine if you find one that is just “okay” and doesn’t make you tear up in front of the mirror. But, that’s not what women are fed by the industry.
An initial consultant appointment should really be called: Let’s see how many dresses can you try on in an hour before you and your entourage self destruct.
I tried on 9 dresses in my first appointment, which was mostly self-serve at the boutique I visited. I only brought my mom and my mother-in-law with me. I went there to look at a specific designer and knew 3 dresses I wanted to try on, but of course, once you’re in there it’s kind of overwhelming. So, I tried on 10 of them in 60 minutes – an average of 6 minutes per dress which includes putting it on, modeling it and taking it off. For the record, I do NOT recommend that. The consultant was continuously asking me how I felt in each one while encouraging me to try on another. At the end of the night, I couldn’t remember half of the ones I tried on, even the ones I had gone there to see.
I thought it would be easy. Here are my 3 choices. Boom, let’s go. Nope, not even close. One salon was so rude to me after I told them we hadn’t booked our venue yet or picked out colors because to them that was imperative to selecting a dress. I told them that I was going to wear what I wanted, regardless of the venue. It was such an unenjoyable experience for me I waited 2 weeks before bothering to book another appointment.
2// Apathetic or Fake Consultants.
I had both. During one appointment, the consultant didn’t say more than five words to me and sat at the front desk on her cell phone. I picked out my own dresses, my mom did them up, and we kind of did our own thing. Weirdly, the gal seemed disappointed when we didn’t buy anything.
Another time, I had a girl who was so over the top in her interactions it was uncomfortable. There is a fine line between offering support in their decision-making of a major purchase and straight up sales-suffocation.
Having someone constantly OMGing and telling you a dress is sooooo pretty, or telling you totally look like a bride strangely does not help. I hope I look like a damn bride, I’m wearing an effing wedding dress.
I find that your appointment time makes a difference. I had the most genuine interactions at boutiques early in the day, versus an evening slot when people either needed to make a last-minute sale or had already mentally checked out.
3// Pushy Salespeople
I watched a ton of Say Yes to the Dress before I got married, actually, before I was ever engaged. I can’t explain this one because I despise reality TV and yet I was
totally kind of obsessed with this show. However, watching it when I was engaged was not the same. Instead of lighthearted fun, I was in research mode but ended up seeing the same gowns get sold week after week.
I developed a major aversion to ball gowns or anything poofy. Also, the word bling. I hate that word.
Yet, somehow, I got sucked into trying a big cake-topper gown and a bedazzled mermaid dress. The sales person made a huge deal out of these dresses it got to the point where even my mom was kind of buying into it. Yes, they were beautiful dresses in their own way, they looked good, and are some girls’ dream dresses, but was it what I wanted or discussed? Nope, not even close.
I was by no means a bridezilla (my girlfriends actually nicknamed me bridechilla) but one day I had had enough and I snapped at one dude for wasting our time (they are pretty strict about that 60-minute appointment window) by bringing me a “blinged-out” ball gown $2000 outside my budget. Not okay.
4// Unrealistic Expectations
I started following designer Reem Acra a few years ago after seeing one of her fashion shows. She makes unbelievably gorgeous wedding dresses…that start at $7000 US. (Insert dry heave here.) Most of us don’t have a budget like that, and if you do, congratulations. To own something that couture would be unreal, even though I would probably feel too guilty about spending that kind of money to actually enjoy it.
After a serious amount of Instagram research that happened during a layover in the San Francisco airport, I knew I was drawn to flowy, bohemian style dresses. A-line, lots of movement, and very little poof. I was pumped when I found popular stores like BHLDN and JCrew carried boho gowns that seemed within budget, but because our Canadian dollar sucks big time, those prices go up and up and up with the exchange, tax, duties, shipping, and alterations. And, you can’t even try them on first. These factors can catapult a respectable $1000-$1500 dress into the $2500-$3500 range. Le sigh.
5// The Price Tag
Is a wedding dress really worth a small fortune? This one does have pockets… but, I mean, honestly. You could buy a below average used car with that money. This one was tough for me because I grew up in a very money-conscious household and paid for most of my own things when I was younger thanks to awesome parenting from my financial advisor mom. (That’s not sarcasm.)
The problem with this is I like nice things, and nice things are often expensive. Bridal gowns being no joke, are rarely if ever on the cheap side with the exception of a few sample sales and something in Toronto called the Bride Project (where brides donate their used gowns and they are sold at 50-75% off, and all the proceeds go to cancer research.)
It doesn’t help that once you place your order, it’s essentially a blood pact that no amount of phone calls or pleading can change – trust me, I tried.
So, like any respectable bride with a budget, I started looking at knock-offs wedding dresses on the internet. I became so obsessed with finding something under budget, I nearly bought something from China off of Etsy and was very close to experiencing a serious bridal Pinterest #fail. So close.
6-// Why is the Lighting So Bad????
This one I just don’t understand. It’s like Sephora – bridal boutiques, how do you get away with such bad lighting in your stores? If boutiques were smart, they would invest in the Bentley of light installments and mirrors.
Your customers are about to buy something that cannot be returned or revised once the order goes through, and if we make that decision based on fun house mirrors and questionable levels of darkroom-inspired lighting, the answer is probably going to be a strong, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Yes, we get you are trying to set your mood in the shop. Well, maybe do that in the reception area and not where the pedestal is? The wedding dress I ended up buying was an almond chiffon, aka not white. It looked like a different color in every area of the showroom. I was told, “Wait until you see it in the light.” No, I want to see what it looks like right now, before I buy it.
Turns out in the light it looks white (not what I wanted) and inside it looked dark pink (very much not what I wanted). In the end, I loved it and it looked exactly like I wanted, but I could have done without the stress.
7// You Want Me to Wait How Long Until I See It Again?
I ordered my dress on March 7th. My wedding was October 10th. I got my dress on September 20th. That’s 6 months of constantly second-guessing yourself which is exhausting. Some ladies wait over a year. I know for a fact I couldn’t have handled that.
Two weeks after I ordered my wedding dress, I had a total panic attack about the color (the almond chiffon vs. traditional white) and tried to change my order 3 times. I even called the designer and asked them if they had started my dress. This was ridiculous of course, especially because I knew from the beginning that I never wanted a true white dress.
They were lovely and sent me samples of each material used (the chiffon, the lace, the ribbon etc.) so I could keep those on hand. I also had a photo of my gown on my phone and looked at it at least once a day, but it was still a long wait.
People tell you to stop looking, to ignore everything else, and while you may be able to stop looking – you can’t avoid everything else if you are still planning your wedding because the wedding industry throws it all in your damn face.
Even with all that It took me about 4 months to feel 100% confident I had made the right choice in my dress, which I definitely did.
Dress: Truvelle | Headpiece: Jewel Feathers | Photography: Melissa Sung
If you have purchased a wedding dress or are on the hunt for one, what have your experiences been like? Share with me in the comments!
Thank YOU for voicing how I’m feeling! For being honest and relatable. Not everyone dreams of their wedding day. I always dreamt of who I would someday marry, but not the actual wedding day, dress, flowers, etc. I come from the fashion and event industry. I was the fashion editor, stylist and celebrity interviewer for two magazines. One of them – a bridal magazine. I’ve planned weddings and events, and have such a keen eye for detail that I would much rather create my floral arrangements and tablescapes myself then pay someone thousands of dollars.
Now that I’m the bride, I’m not into planning most days. Sometimes it’s enjoyable, but mostly it feels forced, unauthentic and contrived.
I just came back from wedding dress shopping (my wedding is less than eight months out-so imagine the pressure everyone feels-except me actually). I think it’s insane to spend this much on a dress, on a five hour event, on all of it. It’s not about having of money or not, to me it just feels like too much and a waste of money in so many ways. Of course I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and friends, walking down the aisle with my parents, and reciting personalized vows to my fiancé, but, the rest of it, the stress, the financial burden, everyone else’s expectations- are frankly, really overwhelming me.
I feel like I’m in a costume-but not a fun one. “You don’t have a lot of time, you have to get going with ordering.” I’m not giving into that. I’m not your “typical bride.” I don’t give a shit about 95 percent of this stuff for one day. I care about our future, our future children, and the life we live and are yet to build. This all feels like too much. And wedding dress shopping can go down as one of my least favorite things to do. However, that’s when I put unnecessary pressure on myself because I feel guilty for feeling that way. For not being excited. For not genuinely soaking up every special moment with my mom and family members. But I can’t seem to help how I feel.
So thank you for being honest, for pointing out so many of the unrealistic expectations (that have me putting unnecessary expectations on myself), and for saying what I’ve been jotting down in my notes for the last year, for a future story of my own!
Great content and tips about invisalign that everyone can refer through it.
Mery Bridal selection
I think selection of bridal dresses requires you to be personable, look professional and have a good deal of knowledge about weddings.
Great post, I took a picture of every dress and zoomed up on the computer to see how it looked on me in pictures and I picked the one that looked the best on me. It made it less stressful and I loved my dress.
I could have written this post myself, I relate to it so much. I went for my first appointment last night and it was awful. I hated it. I started considering if I should just wear leggings and a hoodie because I’d know I’d be comfortable.
SAME! I just said that I should make my own sweatsuit lol. I refuse to be sucked and stuffed into a restrictive dress. I want to be comfortable!
Oh no, haha – my wedding is in November and I haven’t even glanced at dresses! Blehhhh…
-Clarissa @ The View From Here
My first marriage I didn’t get a chance to even buy a dress if I ever do I’m hoping to make it an effortless process lol. I am in my cousin’s wedding and she is about to lose it and the weddings in December
Love the post! I can totally relate to any budget-friendly bridal posts!
Quick question – where did you find your dress? I’m currently on the hunt for a wedding dress in Toronto myself, and would love any suggestions you may have!
Thanks for reading! I got my dress at Sash & Bustle on Queen East, but if you are looking for budget friendly I would recommend checking out the Bride Project near Broadview and Gerrard. It’s a very cool concept where brides donate their dresses and the proceeds of all sales go to Cancer research. Dresses are often 50-75% off of the retail price. I was very close to buying one of those dresses and probably would have had I not tried on the one I bought, first.
I’m nowhere close to getting married but this was hilarious to read, especially as someone who’s also weirdly obsessed with Say Yes to the Dress haha. My jaw drops when I see those $10k+ price tags…crazy for something you’re only going to wear once! But still, as stressful as I know it’s going to be, the little girl inside me still can’t wait to put on a big princess gown for the first time ^_^
P.s. “Bridechilla” needs to become a thing
oh my gosh, first of all you are hilarious!! Secondly this quote:
“Having someone constantly OMGing and telling you a dress is sooooo pretty, or telling you totally look like a bride strangely does not help. I hope I look like a damn bride, I’m wearing an effing wedding dress”
is soooo true. I see it all of the time and it turns me off way more than anything else.
Would just like to say your dress is absolutely perfect and you look beautiful. I think you actually could have pulled off any of those dresses but I totally get it wasn’t you, or what you envisioned. And props to you for not letting people push you over with the whole “OMG you haven’t picked this yet or done this yet.” It’s your wedding for goodness sakes!
OMG! I always wondered why it takes so long to get the dress too. I mean they should make a few of them to buy because you end up having to get it altered anyways. You looked gorgeous in your gown by the way! Looks like everything worked out in the end!
Bahaha! #6 had me rolling! So dang true! Same goes for fitting rooms ~ mirrors and lighting both in all places! I hate having to hunt for a dang mirror to actually see myself in something. The dresses look beautiful on you hun, congratulations! Me? I have been married twice ~ first was slacks and a blouse, the second one was very gypsy. Loved it!
Aah this just makes me so nervous for when my time comes! I love your post, though. Ther are tons of blogs out there shouting the best parts of dress fittings and appointments, you’re so right, they can’t all be that good!
OMG, tell me about it !!! It was THE MOST stressful time during the whole wedding prep. So agree that there’s so much pressure to pick the right dress and if you get a pushy salesman, then it can just go all over the place.
It has been over 10 years since my wedding but I still remember the stress of dress shopping. I tried on dresses EVERYWHERE. I had expensive dresses and more expensive dresses, but I eventually fell in love with an inexpensive dress from David’s Bridal that was plain….very plain…with a pink bow.
My sister and I went into a David’s Bridal to try on a few “traditional” wedding dresses. I got so hot and sweaty trying on the gowns that I thought I was going to break out in hives. I ended up finding a Calvin Klein dquin dress from Boston Store for $200 that I fell in love with (even had a train). It was the perfect dress for me.
Architect of free time
Well i prefer to think about wedding dress shopping as a nice challenge. No pressure, no fake expectations. Just follow your heart and you cannot be wrong! 🙂
KelsinwonderlandArchitect of free time
In hindsight, I wish I would have looked at it that way.. especially considering the idea is that you will only do it once.
First off…thank you for keeping it real! Secondly….your dress is absolutely gorgeous!
Thank you so much, on both accounts 🙂
I never had a problem nor my friends – guess we were lucky 🙂
No bridezilla here
I’ve never been married, but I’m sure there are a million things that could make that experience be unpleasant. I think the idea is to try and keep it in perspective.. a wedding is about love.. dont stress and just enjoy it, being in the moment.
I absolutely agree. It is very easy to lose sight of the big picture. In reality, it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.
I found my dress quickly. I was looking for one particular feature. It was probably the tenth dress I tried on. I found it in one store – got the model number and called another store and had them order it. I didn’t like the store I ordered in – they wanted outageous prices for alterations, they didn’t really help me at all. I actually found the dress after they told me they didn’t have anything like it.. So, in the end it was great for me – was able to get the dress cheaper than I was originally told – and I got my alterations included 🙂 Very happy..
That’s awesome, good for you! If there was anywhere else in Ontario that sold the dress I ended up buying, I would have purchased it from there :/ It’s crazy how much the environment you try it on in can influence your decision….
I had a great experience-found my dress at the very first place we visited. Got an amazing price too!
I’m so happy to hear that!
Ugh, trying on dresses you think you will like, then getting them on and…nope…not it. The price on the ones I loved were outrageous….sheesh, I could go on and on and on lol
Lol, so true. My list started out with 15 points!!
My girlfriend really experienced the pushy sales lady. She also wasn’t very supportive of my bff’s budget
Oh no! That’s such a bad feeling, because it’s hard to say no to something you love, even if it’s out of budget 🙁
Wedding dress shopping is the worst because you spend a lot of money and time for one day to be perfect.
Yes, it is a lot for one day. Yet somehow, we still do it 🙁
I found my dress so quickly and was so happy with it, but then there was so much time left until the wedding that I literally had to stop looking at magazines and unsubscribe from email lists so that I would not fall in love with another dress. So much hype for a damn dress you wear once!
I know!! I really thought I was going to sell it afterwards… now it’s hanging in my closet and I have no idea what to do with it 🙁