When I got engaged, I knew the thing I would look forward to most was wedding dress shopping. I’ve always been a dress girl—to this day, my mother will tell anyone that will listen that I first learned how to twirl in a dress rather than walk! Finding my dream dress was something I took very seriously and as someone who works in fashion, I knew it would be especially overwhelming to find a dress that felt uniquely me.
At the time of my engagement, I was working as an assistant to a celebrity fashion stylist and had my hands on the best of the best in terms of fashion. Every other day for me involved a luxurious gown that came with a hefty price tag. Even though most of my days of the week were filled with such stunning pieces, I knew that my wedding dress would be the most important gown I would ever wear.
One store turned into 25 and before I knew it, I suddenly had tried on over 200 dresses!
I had some semblance of what I wanted in a dress: a fitted waist, a mega dramatic bottom, and possibly an airy fabric. When I first started shopping around for my wedding dress, I kept an open mind and tried on things outside of what I thought I wanted and was a little down that I didn’t find it in the first few stores. However, one store turned into 25 and before I knew it, I suddenly had tried on over 200 dresses!
I know what you’re thinking, “How could anyone try on so many dresses?” Funny enough, it was all too easy! My engagement spanned a year and a half, and over that period I tried on every kind of dress imaginable. My weekends were spent in bridal salon parlors with gauzy tulle all around and mini silk floral bouquets. Thankfully though, I never went shopping alone. My bridesmaid Christine dutifully went to every appointment with me, and never seemed to lose steam—even when I did.
After a few months, I was starting to worry that nothing was going to give me that bridal “glow” that I always heard about. I watched bride after bride in stores find their “one,” and yet I didn’t. Every dress I tried on was beautiful in its own way but just didn’t feel 100 percent my own. In dressing rooms lined with red velvet curtains, I wore silks, taffetas, hand-stitched bohemian gowns, and still couldn’t see myself in them for my big day. Often, I felt terrible telling the sales associates that nothing felt quite right.
During a particularly long day of trying on dress after dress at a sample sale, I found one that I thought I could convince myself to love. It was a strapless A-line number with hand-stitched pearl detailing and undoubtedly very pretty. I looked in the mirror in the dressing room for a few minutes, and then walked out and told Christine I loved it. She jumped out of her seat thrilled that I seemed happy with a dress and the sales associate quickly came over and placed a veil at the crown of my head. Gleaming, she asked me the age-old question: “Are you saying yes to the dress?” A peep of the word “yes” came out and a full-body panic came over me. I instantly regretted saying yes, and Christine and I posed for a picture as the sales associate snapped our photo.
I immediately ducked behind the curtain and felt the panic continue to wash over me. I texted Christine (who was only a few feet away from me), “I don’t know why I said yes, this isn’t it!?” What Christine did next, to this day, is the solidifier in our friendship. She made an excuse for me, claiming that we forgot to bring cash, and would be sure to call. We then promptly took an Uber to my apartment to regroup and figure out the next wedding dress move.
After dozens of appointments at seemingly every store in Manhattan, and hours scouring the internet, I didn't find my dress inside the velvet-lined shops on Madison Avenue—I saw it on Instagram.
After my hasty "yes to the dress" I felt relieved, and I never stopped looking for that magic one. Whenever anyone would tell me to just buy a dress, I had to explain that this simply wasn’t an easy purchase. This was the dress, and it needed to feel magical. After dozens of appointments at seemingly every store in Manhattan, and hours scouring the internet, I didn't find my dress inside the velvet-lined shops on Madison Avenue—I saw it on Instagram. While applying a rose-scented face mask in my tiny bathroom, I scrolled through Instagram mindlessly, and then I saw it: a black and white video of a model twirling in the most gorgeous Christian Siriano dress I had ever seen.
I’ve always been sold on the idea of wearing traditional white, so my mind immediately went to what it would look like in ivory or pearl. I knew the dress I was seeing was something special, so I quickly DM’ed it to all my bridesmaids. Convinced that this may be the one, I sent an email to the sales team at Siriano requesting more information regarding the dress, while simultaneously texting my mom that I think I found one I loved.
A few weeks later when I went in for my initial measurements, the Siriano team had the dress that I had seen in black as a sample in mint green. I lost my breath at the sight of it and could hardly contain my excitement when I slipped it on. It didn’t hurt that it also won my mother’s approval. While the team chatted with Christine and my mom, I couldn’t help but feel absolutely amazing in it—I didn’t want to take it off! My white dress would need to be made custom, but I knew that at long last, I had found the one. It made everything else I had tried on seem dim in comparison.
After signing the dotted line to get my custom white Christian Siriano confection, I stopped looking at wedding dresses. I felt like that chapter of my wedding planning was happily finished and tied with a bow. I felt perfect in it and would daydream of getting married in it. There was not a shadow of a doubt that it was the one.
When it was finished in white silk faille, nothing could compare to the joy that came when I finally got into my dream dress. The dress itself was white silk, fitted at the natural waist with panel detailing, off-the-shoulder straps, and more crinoline than a football field. Christian himself fitted me to ensure that everything was tip-top. The dress was so large in fact that it couldn't stay in my tiny NYC apartment, for fear that my fiancé would see it. Someone from the Siriano team hand-delivered it the day before my wedding!
Looking back, every wrong dress was really just one step closer to the right one. Four years married later, it’s still the best dress I could have ever imagined myself in and makes me smile just to think back on it.
My honest advice? Follow your gut. If the dress doesn’t feel right, chances are it isn’t the one. Don’t fall into the pressure of buying a dress you don’t love or think that you can “make” yourself love it. Just like finding your fiancé, finding the dress needs to be a perfect fit.