I make a living judging people's dresses. As a producer for Fashion Police on E!, we are constantly critiquing everyone's looks on the carpet. But when I got engaged, I knew the tables would soon be turned.
It's the dress of all dresses, the one that would live on forever in pictures and albums for years to come. It was now my turn to find the wedding dress that would be put on display for all to see. But when all was said and done, there were so many things I wish I would have known on my journey to find The One.
As brides, we are constantly bombarded with "How Tos" and "Bridal Tips," but what about things to avoid? If I could do it all over again, I would have done it differently. I'm here to tell you what I wish someone would have told me. It's what not to do when picking out your wedding dress.
1. Do Not Believe Everything You See on T.V.
Everyone from my fourth grade niece to my 50-year-old mom have spent their Friday nights watching Say Yes to The Dress, myself included. I was a total Say Yes to The Dress junkie. Having seen the show numerous times, I envisioned how my dress buying experience would be. When I found my dream dress, I would weep and cry, hug my mom, the heavens would open, the angels would sing, and I would continue to weep and cry.
Cut to me finding my dress: "Yeah, it's cool. I like it." That's it. No tears, no angels, no tissues. That was seriously it. It was a very logical matter-of-fact reaction. When the bridal stylist asked me again if I was sure this was my dress, my response was "Sure. Looks good."
My reaction wasn't because I didn't like the dress, it was just my natural feelings at the time. But because I didn't have my Say Yes to The Dress moment, I second-guessed my dress decision every day leading up to the wedding. The dress didn't make me cry, so it wasn't really The One.
It wasn't until I met wedding dress designer Rani Totman of St. Pucchi, that I realized how normal my reaction was. She told me that out of every 10 people at her salon, only five or fewer cries. So no need to analyze and agonize over the dress decisions you make. Our reactions, whatever they may be, are perfectly OK. Waterworks or not.
2. Do Not Be in a Hurry
Would you agree with me that buying a dress only to find it half off a month later, may be one of the worst feelings ever? The same goes for wedding dresses, so don't be in a hurry to buy them right off the bat.
Have fun trying them on, but do your homework. If you think you've found your dress, go home and see when that designer is having their next trunk show. That way you'll be buying your dream dress, but with at least 10 percent off, which will likely cover your sales tax.
Also be mindful of changing trends from year to year. I had a long engagement of two years, so a dress that may have been in style the first year of my engagement may have gone out of style by the time I got married. But this doesn't mean you should procrastinate. Wedding dresses take six to eight months to be delivered, so if you wait too long, you'll be forced to pull from samples, which drastically limits your selection.
Lastly, bridal designers show off their new collections every April and October. So if you get engaged around those months, be sure to try on dresses after those bridal fashion weeks. You may see a dress from a new collection that you fall in love with, but may have missed otherwise.
3. Do Not Just Stand There
You may not have known this, but Young MC actually wrote his line, "Don't just stand there, bust a move" as advice for brides trying on dresses. Really, this isn't a known fact? I'm surprised! All kidding aside, this is one nugget of information I wish I would have known during my dress search.
We've all seen the drill. Stand on a podium, suck it in, smile, and try to picture yourself wearing that gown. But one thing I wish I had done is sit. No one ever told me I should try sitting in my dress. And on my wedding day, boy did I find out the hard way.
Sure the thing looked great on me, with its corseted back making my waist look super tiny, but when I tried to put on my shoes for pictures, I realized I had a major problem. I couldn't sit, let alone breathe in the thing! It was like my internal organs were cursing my name every time I tried to bend!
So take it from me, as a girl whose spleen may still be suffering, move around in your dresses when you try them on. Sit, squat, do the "Dougie," whatever you need to do to make sure you are nothing but comfortable on your wedding day.
4. Do Not Forget the Photographs
We are always our own worst critics, especially when it comes to pictures. How many times must you take a picture with your girlfriends until everyone agrees it's one they all like? I'm guessing more than once.
So be sure to take lots of pictures of every angle of the dresses you try on, even the angles you find least flattering. You can't pick and choose what glimpses people will get of you in your dress. So make sure your dress not only flatters your front, but your back, your sides, and every area in between.
On my wedding day, I turned around and said, "This thing has a train?" See that's why I'm here for you guys. I'm your guinea pig. Now onto more things I wish I had known.
Take note of how the fabric appears in pictures. Lots of times, dresses made of taffeta or silk satin may look great in person, but the way the light hits them causes them to look wrinkled in photographs. And after all, it's the photographs that are going to last a lifetime.
Lastly take note of how your body looks in the pictures. My favorite body part is my waist, so I made sure to find a dress that cinched it (so tight I couldn't breathe). So if you like your arms, or your legs, or your collarbone, be sure to choose a dress that shows them off, and more importantly that shows off your partner's favorite assets as well. And speaking of partners...
5. Do Not Forget Your Fiancé
When picking out a dress, the question asked by all bridal stylists is "What style are you looking for?" But have you ever stopped to ask your soon-to-be husband what he's looking for?
I was tossing and turning over two dresses, both I could have seen myself wearing down the aisle. One was a fashion-forward lace and organza number and the other a more traditional hip hugging silk satin rouched dress.
That night, I asked my future husband, "Do you like lace?" His answer: "I hate it." Welp, problem solved.
Let's face it; girls dress to impress other girls. Guys could care less what is "trendy" or "cute." They just care about how the outfit makes your body look and how it makes you feel.
If I wouldn't have stopped and asked my husband about what he liked, I would have been walking down the aisle in an uber trendy lace gown that I'm sure my girlfriends would have loved, but more importantly my husband wouldn't have. Your fiancé loves you, so of course he is going to say you look great no matter what. But just remember, he's the person you should be dressing for, not everyone else.
You may cry or you may not, you may choose lace or you may not, you may choose a dress you can breathe in or you may not. Everyone is unique, as will be every dress shopping experience. But in the end, remember it's fit over fashion. And more importantly, it's not about the labels. It's about the love.