Soon after I got engaged, I set aside a weekend in September as the “bridal gown shopping weekend” with my mom and my maids of honor (aka my sisters). I know myself well, and it could have easily become an obsessive hunt for the perfect gown taking up way too much of my time and energy. So I picked a day we were all available, made appointments with several bridal shops and was determined to find the dress that Saturday.
Unfortunately when you are on a tight budget, you don’t have the luxury to get just any dress you want–I mean, I guess you could, but you don’t want to be the Bride who wore Vera while your guests get hungry at your reception because you didn’t prioritize your budget properly. So I was determined to find my dress within my $500 budget.
I prepped my shopping companions before going into the shop: “I only have $500. That is it. Only Five. Hundred. Dollars. And I don’t want to pay any more than $50 in tax.” They were all like, “Yeah, yeah. Just wait until you fall in love with the most expensive dress and then we’ll see what you say then.” (We had all watched a TV marathon of Say Yes to the Dress the evening before, and to no shock, most of the brides on the show ended up increasing their budget by a few thousands of dollars. A few thousands of dollars!*)
The first place we went was David’s Bridal. Turns out that was the only shop we went to because I found the dress there. Now, I’ve never really been a fan of David’s Bridal. It’s always had that prom-dress stigmatism to it and it gets a bad rep for having cheap-looking dresses. But I knew that they had affordable dresses, so I chose to go there first. (Plus if a bride buys her dress there, then each bridesmaid gets $20 off their dress… a perk I was interested in for each of my girls.)
I arrived at the bridal shop with a catalog that I had previously starred and marked all dresses $500 or less to give to the consultant. They took me behind the curtain where I then spent the next two and a half hours putting on dresses, awkwardly walking over to my entourage, twirling and verbally rating each feature that I liked/disliked, then awkwardly trying to get out of the dress.
After trying on probably two dozen dresses, I ended up with three in the final running. I wasn’t sure what kind of style I wanted originally, so each of the three were very different in styles, shapes, and textures. I tried each of the three dresses on again and it was a clear choice which one I would get. I started to cry when I saw myself in it again and knew that it was The Dress. In fact, once I started crying, my sisters and mom joined in making a ridiculous scene in the backroom with tears and jumping and shouting “You’re getting married!” so loud the saleswomen and other shoppers came over to celebrate with us.
After confidently deciding that was The One, I reluctantly got out of the dress and returned it to its cover. As I was walking to the register, reality hit that I was about to spend a lot of money. When the lady rang it up, a sale was applied that I was unaware of, so after tax the total ended up being $499. I’m not even joking… just one dollar under my budget! It is absolutely gorgeous and I’m so excited to show you all what it looks like in (less than) five months. :)