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Dear ESB: Should I be IN LOVE with my dress?

April 25, 2012

Oop, look who’s stopping by today! It’s our favorite wedding etiquette expert, Ms. East Side Bride. We’re betting that every lady shopping for her white dress has asked herself this same question.

Dear ESB,

I live in Brooklyn, NY. I am 30 years old and getting married in Sept of this year. I work in a fashion-related field and I like to think I have good sense of personal style. However, the past few months I have been in wedding-dress-shopping-hell. I just have NOT enjoyed the process. Mainly because most dresses at bridal shops I find to be really cheesy (strapless, puffy skirts, etc) and they made me feel like I was wearing a costume. Nothing felt right. 

Then, recently I found a dress at Saks in their evening wear dept. that I liked. It is not a wedding dress, but it can easily pass for one. It was the first dress I tried on that felt…good. It wasn’t an amazing “I’m so freaking psyched this is IT” kind of moment, but it was good. Plus, it was affordable. (Under 1K) After trying on so many dresses that were horrible and expensive, I was really happy to feel “good” in something at last. I bought the dress off the rack.

I know this is not a huge problem, and I am not complaining I swear. I am marrying my best friend whom I love immensely, and I would be ecstatic about doing so in a potato sack for what it’s worth. But I am curious what other girls out there have experienced? 

Is there supposed to be some moment where you fall in love with your dress, or have other people just felt “alright” like I do? What was your experience when you picked out your dress, ESB?


I’ve gotten this question several times over the past couple of years. You’re not the only bride feeling ambivalent about her dress, or wondering, “How do I know if it’s THE ONE?”

I tried on — and bought — a grand total of two dresses.

The first one was a sample I plucked off the rack when I was shopping for a bridesmaids dress for my best friend’s wedding. I was secretly engaged, this friend was the only one who knew, and when I put the damn thing on I think I was just so excited to see myself as a BRIDE that I bought it even though it wasn’t me at all.

For a whole year I told myself I was going to wear that stupid dress. I bought two pairs of shoes and a pair of earrings (and maybe even a shrug?) to go with it, desperately trying to make it work. And then three months before the wedding I panicked and went into a teensy little hole-in-the-wall boutique in my neighborhood and tried on this other, crazy amazing dress.

Did I FALL IN LOVE with it? I don’t know. But I know I felt good in it. I felt like me.

If you feel good in your dress, you’re doing A-Okay.

And: I hereby give you permission to buy a second dress if you change your mind.

Photo: James Macari for Vogue ESP