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  • Writer's pictureSarah Soldau

My Wedding Dress Shopping Experience: Finding My Gown After Saying No to the Dress at Kleinfeld

I’m going to start off with a bit of a bragging moment. I’m GOOD at shopping. I can pretty much take one look at something and know immediately if I will like it on or not (like how I decided on my perfect engagement ring without ever having tried a single one on!). However, I’m also extremely picky with very high standards for my clothes and the way they fit and feel. When it came to wedding dresses, I was excellent at articulating what I did not want. But what did I like?

Once upon a time, I had a bridal appointment at Kleinfeld. That’s right, the Kleinfeld of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress. I tried on dozens of dresses. Ball gowns, fitted gowns, sparkly gowns, simple gowns, colored gowns… and I did not find one dress I had any sort of reaction to. My stylist Lisa even let me come into the stock room with her, which not a lot of brides get to do! I brought photos of certain dresses I liked, but those weren’t on the floor at all times, even in a place like Kleinfeld.

After this experience, I knew I had to come up with a strategy perfect for me. With more research, I started to become more familiar with the unique style of each wedding gown designer. I gravitated towards certain types of gowns: classic, romantic, dramatic, elegant, & glamorous. I realized I was pinning more and more of just two designers than any of the others: Hailey Paige (of @allthatglittersonthegram), and Lazaro. Both of these labels were collections under the bridal house JLM Couture. With the flagship boutique being in West Hollywood, I knew I had to make an appointment for an upcoming trunk show. If you don’t know what a trunk show is, it’s basically a special sales event where the entire new line of dresses makes its way around to different boutiques for a set amount of time. Since bridal boutiques normally only carry a select number of gowns at any given time, trunk shows give you the opportunity to try on a wide variety of dresses by a specific designer at one appointment! Oftentimes, special trunk show discounts are offered as well.

I was drawn a bit more towards the elegant styles of Lazaro than the whimsical feeling of Hayley Paige, so I first booked an appointment for a Lazaro trunk show at JLM with a plan to also look at the HP dresses carried in the store. My stylist, Molly, made the experience wonderful! We chatted about my preferences, pulled dresses to try on and headed into the fitting room. The very first dress I tried on was actually the dress I ultimately purchased. It wasn’t the dress I thought I would like the most out of the ones we pulled, but it was meant to be! It was the Natalia gown from the Fall 2018 collection, which was brand new at the time. I loved the subtle sparkle of the sequin floral embroidery that added just the right amount of glam. The bodice was flattering for my body type and I especially loved the off-the-shoulder detail (something I always admired on Belle’s dress from Beauty and the Beast!). The only problem was the skirt. I liked A-line gowns, but I needed more. It was not full enough for my liking and just did not make me feel like a bride.

Molly recommended I try on the “sister” dress to the Natalia, which was the Anna. It was the same beautiful sequin floral fabric, but with a fuller skirt, a tiered horsehair underlay and a more dramatic chapel train. The Anna had a classic strapless sweetheart neckline, but I definitely loved the bodice of the Natalia, so, we put them together! With this customization, I knew I would have a completely unique gown, which was really important to me. I felt like an absolute princess, and the tailors at the alterations shop just could not get enough!

That’s not to say it wasn’t a difficult decision to be made. It took two more appointments before I said yes. Furthermore, customizations cost a lot of money on top of an already expensive gown. I had to weigh whether it was worth the price difference to have this altered skirt. I ultimately knew I would be disappointed and regretful if I did not go with the custom gown. Tears were shed and although a tough decision, it was the right one for me. I also fell in love with the matching veil, but I was completely sticker shocked at the price! That was something I could live without, so I instead ordered a simple, two-tiered, horse hair cathedral length veil on Etsy for about one-fourth of the price.

When it comes to shopping for your wedding dress, you want to make sure you get the job done right the first time around. Once I created a strategy and found my groove, dress shopping became so much less of a daunting task. Narrowing down options eliminates so much second guessing and confusion, especially if you’re not the type of bride who has had a vision of the white dress they would walk down the aisle in since they were 12 years old. Be prepared to do a little bit of research and go to a few appointments to make yourself feel comfortable and confident in your decision making. I wasn’t afraid to voice my opinion and point out what I did or did not like. A good bridal consultant will only want you to feel like the most beautiful version of yourself standing in your dress, so be sure to be honest with both your consultant and yourself.

And let me say this: If you don’t have a “Say Yes to the Dress” moment like you see on TV, it's perfectly okay.

While the focus of your wedding is the love and union between you and your spouse, feeling confident on your big day will play a huge role in creating memories of one of the happiest days of your life. Just like you didn’t settle by saying “yes” to the love of your life, don’t settle on saying yes to a dress!

Still have questions? Let me know in the comments or send me a note!

Sarah Soldau is a Southern California based wedding coordinator, specializing in wedding management (also known as day-of coordination). Her goal is to educate and empower couples to be confident and in control of planning their own dream wedding day, and then actually enjoy it! As a “bridal cheerleader,” she is her couples’ biggest advocate on their wedding day and leaves no detail unnoticed. By sharing her own experiences in wedding planning, as well as her love of makeup and fashion on The Blushing Blog, she hopes to leave the world with a little more love and beauty. Head to the Contact page to learn more about services and pricing.

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