Lessons Learned the Hard Way: 'I Bought Two Wedding Dresses'
Despite what you see on TV, weddings rarely go off without a hitch. These are the true stories of real Arkansas brides who learned a few lessons the hard way. *cue the dramatic music*
Arkansas Bride: Vivian Hunter
March 29, 2014, at Loft 1023 in Little Rock
Photos: Rachel Estrada Photography
Confession: I bought two wedding dresses.
This is something so embarrassing I don’t think I have even spoken of it to my own mother…
Two months into the wedding planning process, I bought a second-hand dress at an all-proceeds-go-to-charity bridal show. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with buying a second-hand dress, but a couple of months and a few shed tears later, I eventually bought another dress that I wore (and loved) on our wedding day.
In hindsight, there are several obvious red flags surrounding the situation that led to purchasing two dresses. Mainly, I didn’t have a single clue what I wanted my dress to look like, and I did nothing to change that before shopping for one. Call me crazy, but while I had opinions on what I liked and did not like on other brides and models, I never took the time to determine what I pictured myself wearing. Because of that, I tried to glaze over the whole dress-buying process.
My experiences purchasing each dress were like night and day.
The first experience was rushed. Because my family and friends live out of state, I attended a bridal show by myself. In an effort to quickly get the dress out of the way, I had the bright idea to peruse a section of second-hand dresses for sale. Browsing naively turned to buying, and I soon found myself frantically texting dimly lit photos of ill-fitting dresses to my sisters and aunts to get their opinions. The building had poor cell reception, so their sincere replies of “Are you sure this is the one?” never arrived.
Looking back, I had such fake and awkward smiles in all of those pictures. No wonder my sisters and aunts knew something was up. I was taking dress advice from strangers in makeshift dressing rooms nearby. I purchased one of the first dresses I saw and semi-liked and got the heck out of there. Icing on the cake: I got a speeding ticket on the way home.
Needless to say, I experienced a lot of buyer’s remorse. Without spilling details of what the dress looked like, I confided in my now-husband and he gave me some perspective. I eventually took the time to think about what I really wanted to wear on our wedding day, which—by the way— is an odd thing to do. Most people don’t pick out outfits the night before they wear them, let alone eight months in advance.
The second experience was done the way it’s supposed to be done: with three close and honest friends to help guide me! So began the process of trying on several dresses before finding the one that truly felt like “me.” There was no magical moment, nor any joy-filled tears. I just knew that I would be comfortable and feel like myself, not an unrecognizable version of myself wearing a beautiful gown.
This trip was much more enjoyable and productive. I was so happy with the end result. The bridal shop helped me accessorize and make the dress my own with details unoriginal to the off-the-rack design, which I loved. Being a DIY-er, I even got to personalize the dress with a sash I made. (This confession is on the house: I finished the sash on our wedding day, minutes before I had to put it on. I would not recommend that either.)
While there are possibly an infinite number of lessons to glean from my personal tale of buying two wedding dresses, the one I’d like to emphasize is this: Be patient!
Every bride will inevitably hit a wall at some point. Maybe it’s over the dress, maybe it’s the guest list, or venue, or decorations, or menu, or just being sick of wedding planning in general. In that moment, be patient, take a moment to breathe and honestly consider what is and isn’t important to you and your groom, then let that be your guide. If I had been more patient, I could have avoided unnecessary stress and guilt over a poor choice. And maybe I wouldn’t have had to deal with storing an extra gown in our attic, not to mention having saved a little bit of money from our overall budget.
In the end, I was more than happy with the gown I wore when we got married, to the point that the dress wasn’t what mattered. I was focused more on the new life I was beginning with the one I love most.
As for the “extra” dress I have on my hands, I’m currently taking suggestions on where to go from here. Do I sell it? Donate it? Re-purpose it into some artisan silk pillow cases? Demolish it and be a zombie bride for Halloween? If anyone out there has some creative input on how I ought to best put this spare gown to use, let me know!
For the time being, it’s out of sight and out of mind. Luckily, this time, I don't feel any pressure to commit to a plan by a certain date. (Insert sigh of relief here.)
Bottom line? It’s all about perspective. Vivian didn’t let the dress debacle dampen the day of her dreams. We love that! And for what it’s worth, our vote is for zombie bride.
Do you have valuable advice for brides that you learned the hard way? Send your story to Info@ArkansasBride.com and you could be featured!