You know the scene: On a whim, Carrie and pregnant Miranda go to a downmarket, tacky bridal shop to try on wedding dresses, just for fun. "One, two, three!" they pop simultaneously out of the dressing rooms and screech with laughter when they see the other in big bows, poofy sleeves, lace flying everywhere. Carrie steps up on the pedestal, dons a veil, and then totally panics: "I can't breathe! It's too tight! I'm burning up! Just rip it!" An attack of hives. Thanks, Carrie Bradshaw, for traumatizing a whole new generation of wedding-dress shopping brides.
A strong negative reaction to a wedding dress — even hives — doesn't mean your fiancé's going to be kicked to the curb like sweet Aiden Shaw. Nor does it mean something's wrong, either. It just suggests that maybe, just maybe, you should slow things down, go have a cup of tea, and come back another day.
Trying on your first wedding dress is a watershed moment in your life. There's no denying it: up on that pedestal, you are a bride, and your life is changing. In great ways, yes, but change is happening. The process of trying on wedding dresses is a physical manifestation, an outward indicator, that this is happening.
The first dress can be a shock to the system, but even trying on your fiftieth dress, there's a lot more going on than just tulle versus lace, mermaid versus ball gown. You're in the process of getting comfortable in your own skin as a married woman. But at the moment, you're not married yet, so you're making a pretty big imaginative leap. It takes time to find just the right one that fits you in your new, married skin. Be patient with yourself as you work your way there. If you're really worried about a Carrie Bradshaw-esque attack of hives, go ahead: pack some Benadryl in your purse, alongside your Spanx.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.