Walking you through my journey to finding my wedding dress, my dress shopping advice, and everywhere I shopped!
I didn’t choose any of the dresses above, but thought they were a good reflection of a number of designers, silhouettes, and styles I tried on!
Journey to The Dress
This is truly such an exciting post to finally get to put together and share. I’ve been dreaming about shopping for my wedding dress since I was a little girl, and similar to how so much of how my wedding planning process has gone for me so far, it turned out not quite how I expected it would, but even better.
To give you the overview, I tried on dozens of absolutely breathtaking dresses at the incredible bridal boutiques that are so close to where I live in NYC, but ultimately ended up deciding on and purchasing a dress from a designer I had never heard of before… while I was in Paris on my ‘engagement-moon’ with Johnny.
But let’s backtrack… it’s honestly hysterical how it happened, and even crazier how completely meant to be the dress is. When you see it on the day of our wedding you’ll agree. 😊
I touched on this more when I talked about our wedding inspiration in this post, but I am aiming for a wedding style that feels ‘traditional with a twist,’ and of course this applies to the dress design I wanted too. To get even more specific about the dress, I was looking for something that was feminine, classic, but unexpected and over-the-top (sounds easy right?! 😂).
In a very God-orchestrated way, after trying on so many dresses and *almost* saying yes to one, I was in a deep Instagram hole when I saw this one dress that happened to have every single thing I was looking for. It couldn’t have been any more perfect if I had designed it myself so I DM’d it to my mom and sister and called the designer about it the next day.
Turns out that this dress was only available in Paris and Tel Aviv to try on… and I was headed to Paris in three weeks. I thought about it (wondering if it was too good to be true?!) and then decided I was being an idiot for not at least going to see it when I was in Paris.
So I booked an appointment, left Johnny to fend for himself in Paris (he was MORE than happy to do so, which I talked more about here 😂), and ended up having one of the coolest experiences of my life. I wore the dress for over an hour, had both my mom and sister on Facetime for the majority of the appointment, and after some back-and-forth on a small design change I wanted to make (in which they literally brought out a seamstress who sketched the design change on an iPad, which they airdropped to the sales associated who texted it to the designer himself on the spot for approval… like what!) I knew it was IT.
I heard the designer voice messaging the sales associate a lot during the appointment as well, as she was sending him photos, and we all agreed that it couldn’t be more me. It’s now being made and will be shipped to NYC for me to have altered here!
Here’s the only photo I will share… clearly grabbed it from my Instagram stories 😂
My Shopping Advice
Here are a few things I did and would recommend, that ultimately led me to the dream dress…
- Instagram stalk every wedding and bridal inspo account (I shared my favorites here!)
- Narrow down a few designers you love and then figure out where they have dresses you can see in person (their websites should have this info, but I found that I got additional information when I called or looked at their Instagrams too)
- Start calling bridal boutiques early on in your wedding planning process, even if you aren’t sure if you’re ready to try dresses on quite yet, because some of them book far out and aren’t too flexible with appointments
- Bring a hype girl (for me that was my mom, my mom’s best friend, and/or my sister) with you for support and to help take photos. I did go to two appointments alone though– at Carolina Herrera and in Paris and just Facetimed them in the whole time!
- Take a ton of photos and videos of you walking around in the dress because that REALLY helps to get a better sense of how it moves with you (I got this tip from my best friend who recently got married!)
- Wear nude underwear and anything else that would make you comfortable, like Spanx or a strapless bra. I also packed heels with me to every appointment but probably only put them on once!
- Have your hair and makeup done to the best of your ability! I didn’t get my hair or makeup professionally done for any of the appointments, but I did curl my hair and wear a full face of makeup so it could help me truly envision what I would look like in each dress. Though I’m hoping my hair will be much longer by the time we get married…
- Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you like and dislike about dresses, inquire about the prices, and ask as many questions that come to mind. It’s a BIG purchase, and you should feel 100% comfortable and excited about the decision you ultimately make! Plus you never know what changes or alterations they can make to a dress, or what they may have in the back or floating around in another showroom!
- Once you think you know which dress is The One, feel free to show it to as many or as few people as you want! I am only showing mine to my mom, my sister (who is my MOH), Johnny’s mom, and my wedding coordinator. Everyone else will get a first look the day of (like my dad, my bridesmaids, and of course Johnny!!). This way I can keep the opinions to a minimum 😂 and know that I’ve chosen it because it’s a design that I truly love.
- Finally, try not to be swayed by fancy showrooms, champagne pours, or designer names! As you see in this post, I thought I was going to go with a household name wedding designer (honestly because those stores are so close to me and easy to get to in NYC), but ended up finding something I loved 1000x more from a designer I had never heard of before. Sometimes going a little bit rogue (or in my case, out of the country 😂) can really work out in your favor 😉
Where I Dress Shopped
- Carolina Herrera— This was by far the most luxurious experience of anywhere I went in New York City. I had their whole bridal suite to myself, with their associate, Rachel, who was extremely kind and helpful. It was so personal and felt like a true princess-meets-bridal moment! Their designs are also so quintessentially classic and stunning!
- Bergdorf Goodman Bridal— We went to a Reem Acra trunk show at Bergdorf’s (which I shared in this reel) and had Anna for our appointment, and she was the best sales associate I had during my entire dress shopping experience! I was actually 95% sure that I was going to say yes to a Reem Acra dress I had tried on, and actually went back a second time to try it on again with my mom (my sister was with me the first time I went!). But then I saw the dress I decided on on Instagram… but nonetheless we had the best experience here and thought it was the perfect spot to see either a trunk show or a designer you’ve been eying! And definitely ask for Anna for your appointment!
- Monique Lhuillier— This is totally random but I thought that Monique had the best lighting out of anywhere we went dress shopping… which doesn’t sound like a big deal but actually really impacts the photos you take of the dress and how you look back on it after! I truly adored so many of their exquisite dresses and my third favorite overall was a Monique dress!
- Mark Ingram Atelier— I received so many recommendations to visit Mark Ingram in the city and am so thankful we did. It was so helpful because they carry so many designers, so I came in with a short list of the ones I wanted to see and described what kind of dress I was looking for. We were able to rule out a number of designers and silhouettes by trying so many on there!
- Oscar de la Renta— My best friend Kaeli, who got married in New York City this February, wore Oscar de la Renta and was the most unbelievably gorgeous bride, and she spoke so highly of her experience at Oscar so I knew I had to visit. Their styles were truly so elegant and beautiful, and it was the only time I got to try on dresses with a petticoat underneath, which was such a fun experience.
- Glamour Closet— My sweet friend Sarah Mae, the founder and designer of @maedinnyc, recommended I go to this store in NYC and I’m so glad I did! They have second hand and sample wedding dresses, all from incredible designers, at outlet prices! It’s SO much fun to look through them all– I highly recommend going if you want a unique and extra special dress.
- The designer in Paris– I won’t be sharing the designer until the day of, because you guys will totally be able to guess which one it is 😂, but if you are a bride who’s planning on shopping in Paris, feel free to reach out and let me know, and I’ll be happy to loop you in and connect you to the sales associate there, because it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.