Finding the man of your dreams is just as difficult as finding the dress of your dreams. From an early age, many girls start dreaming about what they will wear on their wedding day. If you had asked me in high school, I would have said the most sparkly and bright white ball gown I could find. Now, my style has evolved by my pickiness has not.
I had started an idea of meeting my family in Chicago to go dress shopping. I was fine with just having my mom and sister, but then thought I wanted my grandma’s to go since I don’t get to see them very often and this would be something different for them to do. First, they decided to come to Indiana so they could see my house and because Chicago is so expensive. Then we had to decide on a date. Then we added more people to the mix. We decided the second weekend in November and they left Iowa on Thursday and returned on Sunday. 8 of them. In an RV. Needless to say, it was an interesting trip!
My aunt drove her little RV with both my grandmas, my grandma’s sister, my cousin, my sister and MOH, my mom, and my mom’s sister. There was no heat (but they didn’t freeze probably because there were so many of them). When they arrived, I had already set up 2 airbeds, the couch, and both beds upstairs. I’m sure Jason was THRILLED to have 9 women in one house! After a quick tour, we were off to bed since we had to head to Indy at 10am the next morning!
Before we knew it, the sun was up and so were we. Coffee was made, unhealthy breakfasts were eaten, and mimosas were mixed for the “Party Car”*. (Don’t worry, my poor sister was in charge of being the MOH and DD at this point, since she was the only one not old enough to drink). Before we knew it, we were there and I was nervous. I love to dress up and be the star of the show sometimes but not when expensive dresses are on the line and I’m listening to the opinions of 8 other people…
The first place, sold off the rack/sample gowns which means you find one in your size that you like, buy it, and take it home with you to be altered. These dresses are usually tried on at other stores and some were there on consignment. This means you can get a great deal on a designer dress. I found a Hayley Paige dress that I LOVED but I didn’t love the price. While the bridal stylist said she would make some calls to see if she could get the price lowered, we drove on to our Airbnb to meet our host. Note: our stylist SOLD us on the experience. She was good at her job and made an effort to customize the experience for us. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to start off this experience.
The Airbnb we rented for the night was ADORABLE. You could tell they didn’t live there and that it was very staged (with stickers from TJ Maxx, Home Goods, etc. on the bottoms and backs of everything). We met with our host, grabbed the key, and headed to our second shop of the day.
At our second stop, I could tell we weren’t going to find “the one”. I had a very strict checklist for dresses that included little-to-no crinoline under the dress, “bedazzles” (per Jason’s request), little to no lace or satin, and NOT white or ivory. We also had a pretty small budget to work with because throwing a bitchin’ party was more important to me than a dress. This place was filled with beautiful dresses, just not ones that fit every box on my checklist as many were covered from top to bottom in lace. Pros: we were given free Champagne (even Haley!) Cons: Our stylist here was
sweet cookie-cutter-esque and she kept telling me my dream dress was “different” (not in a good way). Also, Haley didn’t like the champagne (who’s surprised?)
By this point, we were hungry and stopped at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano to eat. Turns out I just needed some carbs to catch my second wind! When we got back to the house, we played Uno, Skipbo, and Twister until the wee hours of the morning before deciding we had better head to bed if we planned on looking presentable the next morning but not before a short Nerf gun war with Dorothy…
The next morning, the grandmas were up making coffee and biscuits and gravy. I sat on the edge of the couch in the middle of the house and sat in silence, soaking up every second. The smell of the coffee, the giggles from the girls getting ready, the clinking of dishes being rinsed in the sink, and the sight of family gathering together from both sides to help me experience this wonderful moment in time.
I was soon interrupted by the mention of gooseberry pie for breakfast and then it was back to some sort of dream-like reality.
Afteer we packed, we left the Airbnb with mimosas in hand and headed to our third shop of the weekend. This shop was in the middle of a strip mall and reminded me more of the second shop than the first. Our stylist was older (40-50 years old maybe?) and she was not very interested in my opinion on the dresses. We picked some out together (which my entourage didn’t like because they all had their own dresses they wanted me to try) and put them on with belts and hair pieces. There were two dresses that if I had the ability, I would have taken things from each of them to make the perfect dress. I tried on different styles than I had the previous day and found out I liked them more than I had originally thought. However, I didn’t like any of these enough to keep them and my stylist disregarded that fact that I told her I planned on wearing my hair down as she kept twisting it up and telling me how beautiful each dress would be with an updo and tendrils down in my face. NO THANKS!
On our way to the last store, I was feeling a little anxious. I had heard back from the first store and they were able to get the price lowered but I would need quite a bit of altering and that shot the price back up. With a heavy heart, I wasn’t sure if we were going to find anything. Sophia’s was our last stop, and last chance to find “the one” with my family.
Our original stylist’s previous appointment was running late so we got paired with Hailey. She had a lot of similarities between my sister and I. Haley said it best when she told the stylist, “I’m glad the other girl was busy. I like you”. We picked out a few from their wide selection (over 300 pieces!) and headed back to our personal fitting room. My family sat on the benches and I tried on several different dresses, each getting more oohs and ahhs than the one before. Haley and I had talked about trying on a two-piece while we waited for our appointment to start, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. We asked our stylist and she said to try one just to see so we added that to our pile. As we were trying on dresses, Hailey asked me about our wedding, the proposal, the ring, my necklace, and our hobbies. She loved our story and the sentimental meaning behind everything we did.
Finally, we were down to the last two dresses. After trying them both on, I was in love. With both. Now, I can’t say to many details because Jason is a sneaky little bugger and might be tempted to figure out which dress I picked… but let’s just say, I went with the two-piece. It’s light-weight, NOT white, and perfect for our setting and style. I can’t wait to post pictures of this dress and it will be hard to wait almost a year.
One of the things I️ really loved about Sophia’s was that our stylist went above and beyond her job description. She gave me a fun tank top that said wifey and fun little letters and envelopes. She told us the history of the building. It used to be a post office. She thought it was a fun way to bring the history into our wedding day. I️ loved the idea and can’t wait to give them out to my family on the morning of my wedding (or maybe the night before)!
Now, I’d like to share some information I found helpful through the process:
- If you have a budget, don’t be afraid to share it with the stylists. It sucks to see a dress you love, then try it on, only to realize it’s not in your actual budget but what you “fluffed up” for the stylist.
- I don’t recommend attending 4 stores in less than 48 hours but we made it work with the small amount of time we were given. We were all tired at the end of each day!
- Think about where you will be wearing this dress. (For example: dusty barn = maybe not the best place for a all white ballgown. Plan on dancing? Stick with a dress that you can bust a move in without busting the dress (think light-weight)
- Choose a dress YOU love, you’re the one who will be wearing it so YOUR opinion is the most important.
*We never claimed to be responsible, only a good time.
Celebrating finding “the one” and that we can finally go eat!