I had been dreaming of the day when I got to try on a wedding dress and that day finally came true last Saturday. My fantastic mother came made the trek from Stoney Creek to Ottawa for the occasion and I had set up a day long trek across the city to shop for the “one.”

We had a great day, mixed with laughs, tears, sticker shock and lots of posing and twirls (on my part). I got schooled in what it means to get a wedding dress that day. This is what I learned:

1. Wedding dresses make your body look FIERCE.

For some reason, I had this irrational fear that no dress would look good on me and that I would look awful on my wedding day. I think there is so much unnecessary pressure on the bride to look perfect and I just wanted to make sure I fit this mould. However, as quickly as I put the first dress on and looked in the mirror, this worry was gone. The dresses had this amazing way of highlighting all the good features and masking the problem areas. All of a sudden, I looked more tanned (thanks white!), slimmer (thanks good boning!), taller (like I need to look any taller, but I’ll take it), and elegant. I found that all styles actually good on me, from the ball gowns to the fitted sheath dress. I think my height, which is often an issue when finding well fitting clothes, actually helped me in this instance.

2. You get what you pay for.

I went to three wedding dress stores to find my dress: two high end boutiques and David’s Bridal. I can only describe David’s Bridal as the “Wal Mart of wedding dress stores.” I mean this in the best way possible. They have a huge selection of dresses and most are really reasonable and are current styles. The most expensive dress I tried on there was $1300, half of what I ended up paying for my winning dress. Personally though, I found that the service and quality wasn’t there as much as it was in the boutique stores. My salesperson was not very knowledgeable in the stock they had in the store, the store was jam packed and ultimately, even though the dresses were nice I found the fabric and craftsmanship didn’t measure up to the more expensive dresses I had tried on.

3. The thrill wears off after dress five.

At first, it is thrilling to try on wedding dresses and, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the entire experience but after you’ve tried on about five different dresses it starts to become less exciting. The dresses start to get heavy, you start getting hot from trying to get in and out of dresses and they all kind of start to blend together. I found with trying on too many different styles that I started to get confused as to what I wanted because lots of dresses looked good, but not all of them spoke to me like my final dress did.

4. Go to more than one store.

I originally was just going to go to one store, but it was my mom that encouraged me to book three appointments. In the end, I am glad I did. I was able to see a wide variety of designers, price points and get different perspectives and advice from the sales people.

5. Let your salesperson pull dresses for you.

The dress I ended up purchasing was one I let the owner of a shop pull for me. I told her straight up that it was not my style and I wasn’t sure about it, but she assured me I should try it anyway. Good salespeople and store owners have experience in this area and know what dresses look good for your body type. Make sure to enjoy the experience of looking through the racks of dresses, but encourage your sales person to pull some dresses that she thinks would compliment your body.

6. Once you found the dress, stop looking.

I can’t take credit for this one. I heard this piece of advice on an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress.” There is no point in continuing to try on dresses after you have made your purchase. You will just end up getting confused. Be confident in your choice and make sure you are 100% sure your dress is the one before you purchase it.

7. You will cry.

I did not, in a million years, think I would cry when I tried on my first wedding dress. I will never forget the moment (and no, not because it was only a week ago) when I looked at myself for the first time in a dress. I came out of the dressing room, stepped onto the little pedastal, and looked at myself in the mirror. I instantly burst into tears, which in turn caused my mother and the sales woman to tear up. It was such a genuine moment, that I didn’t expect but in that moment it was so real. I joked to my mom later that I started crying because I was taken aback by my own beauty. Realistically, when I saw myself in that dress I saw myself walking down the aisle to my future husband and the joy I felt was overwhelming.

8. It could be the first dress you try on.

The first dress I tried on, the one that made me cry, and the one that I told the salesperson was not my style, was the dress I bought. At first I couldn’t believe it was the first dress I tried on and kept trying to top the dress with others. When nothing topped it, I knew it was the one.

9. Don’t rush into anything.

Even though I knew the first dress was it, I didn’t buy it right away. I had two appointments left that day and I knew nothing would top the dress, but I still waited until the end of the day to go back and get the dress. This is a huge investment and this is the outfit you will probably be photographed in the most in your entire life. Don’t rush it.

10. Have fun.

You’re only doing this once, hopefully. Enjoy every moment. Bring the people you are closest to so that they can experience this milestone with you. Laugh when you look awful, try on dresses you would never buy, remember this time. Don’t get stressed out, don’t rush it, just love it.

Don’t panic, this wasn’t the winning dress….if you want to see the dress I ended up choosing, click here!'
Written by Tracey