Ask Team Practical: I Found The Dress

My long engagement has gotten me into a bit of a pickle. I’m lucky to have the benefit of lots of time to plan ahead and consider our options. The trouble is, I already found my dream dress. It’s at David’s Bridal and the consultant said that the dress takes about fifteen weeks to come in after ordering and she had no idea when the style (CKP558) might retire. I know that if I don’t buy it “reasonably” soon, there is a chance that it will disappear before I get the chance. I am lucky to have a MOH with big closets who is willing to store it for me, away from prying groom eyes. But I am worried that if I purchase it now, I will turn into a balloon over the next year and no amount of seam allowance will allow a seamstress to squeeze me into it. I haven’t had huge problems with my weight in the past, but about two years ago I had a partial thyroidectomy that added ten pounds like magic. I have managed to lose five of that, but I am still nervous that something like that may happen again. It doesn’t help that my surg-iversary is actually next week, so I am feeling extra anxious (i.e. big blubbery baby over here). The remaining half has been behaving itself over the last two years of surveillance, but the sheer possibility of having to have another surgery as well as not fitting into my wedding dress is horrifying. I’m trying to figure out how to reconcile two scary potential consequences, and I would really appreciate some practical advice about a purchase timeline.

Thank you,
Wanting Help Easing Nerves

Dear WHEN,

I don’t usually encourage people to dwell on the worst-case scenario (especially since I am inclined to think about that, and only that, and drive myself crazy with worry). Buuut, let’s think about worst-case scenarios, here.

If you don’t buy the dress, the absolute worst thing to happen would be staying the same weight and going back to David’s Bridal to find that they don’t carry the dress any longer. In that situation, you’ll be thrilled that you haven’t gained a bunch of weight from thyroid issues, but bummed that you have to look for a different dress.

If you do buy the dress, the absolute worst thing to happen would be gaining some weight so you can’t fit into this dress you already spent a bunch of money on. You’ll probably (if you’re like me) be facing some body image issues as you adjust to a few extra pounds, but also will need to come to grips with some lost cash, and like in the other situation, still will need to look for a different dress.

When I compare those situations, that second one is about triply worse, which makes me think that you should skip on the dress. Plus, the wonderful thing about that terrible old WIC is that they’re constantly pumping out more gorgeousness for us to drool over. There’s a pretty healthy chance that if you pass on this dress and they stop selling it, there’ll be something else brand new and breathtaking when it comes time to actually buy something. I married years ago, and every season since, I find a new dress or invitation suite or veil that I wish had been available way back then.

But those aren’t the only two options!

You could buy the dress a size or two up, and then start saving now for the cost of alterations (which would probably be necessary anyway, with or without changes in weight). You could just watch that David’s Bridal website like a hawk. They seem to work pretty similarly to other retail, with last season’s styles making their way onto a clearance rack before totally falling off the face of the earth. Or if they do discontinue the style while you aren’t looking, the beauty of big box stores like David’s Bridal is that it’s usually pretty easy to find used dresses online after they sell out. So you can always keep an eye out on sites like or even eBay to see if they’ve got your dress available. And I’m sure there are even more great ideas just itching to make their way into the comments.

In the end, skipping on what you love right now doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll never find something else. Hurriedly scooping up everything pretty that you find in some flurry of wedding-planning panic is just the sort of thing that fuels the grosser corners of the industry. The truth is: if you pass on one pretty dress, there will always be another. And even if that second dress isn’t quite so perfect as the first, you’ll still be okay.


Team Practical, how did you determine when to buy the dress? Is it worse to risk missing out on something you love, or to spend money on something you never use?

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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  • Like you, I fell in love with THE dress before I even was engaged. I was trying on dresses for my best-friend who was supposed to be getting married across the ocean, and we had a long standing crush with this specific French bridal shop.

    It was the first ever wedding dress I had tried and it was perfect.
    Except at the time even if the now-husband and I had been talking marriage for a while, the when and our wiley-ducks were not ready yet. (I was due to graduate and move to his country in a matter of the next 3 months). So I wrote down the model name and obsessed about this dress.

    Fast forward 6 months, when the boy asked me to marry him, to make a long story short, this dress was nowhere to be found in my new country (there were bridal shops that carried those dresses but not that particular model) and if I wanted it I would have had to travel at least 3 times (one to try it/order it, one to get measured for fittings, one to pick it up) to the neighbor country to get it. Travel in Europe is cheap, but not that cheap.

    In the end, I found a similar (and much cheaper) -not quite the same- dress in my new country, because I just could not justify all the travel and extra costs. It really had the same vibe / style and I was happy with it, more so over the next 2 years and a half, because it is the dress I got married in. But I have to confess that even after the wedding I obsessed about that perfect dress. You can see both dresses and read some of that story here.

    So, I would say, if it really is your dream dress and you really are in love, if you *know* (like I did) and it is within your budget… you could get it, like Liz says, maybe 1 or 2 sizes up (in some bridal salons they do that anyway, to be able to alter it later… and they include the alterations in their services), and keep it in your friends’ closet.

    But if you don’t get it, know that you will survive, you will find another, maybe similar dress, you will end up loving it too (I promise), and your husband will love you in it because you will be beautiful, comfortable and the joy of the day will shine through. (Just look at wedding graduates!).

    Oh… and I wish and hope all the best regarding your health. Take good care.

    • Your second choice dress is so gorgeous! It looks straight out of a Jane Austin book!!!!

      • Thanks !!! Yeah, it made me think of Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey when I saw the movies. (Though I was going for either a Greek / Medieval or Renaissance vibe). Oh well, there was wide use of empire-cut dresses in all of those eras :)

    • I must say, I like your second dress even better than the first. Gorgeous!

    • You made the right decision not committing to travel. Due to [very long story] I bought my wedding dress at my parents home in Florida, though I live and got married in Texas. Then it became a huge hassle to fit traveling home into my work schedule and fit dress appointments into my visits home (compounded by some uncooperative-ness from the store’s new seamstress who was not the one who promised when we bought the dress that they could make the fittings work with my schedule).

      It turned out fine of course, but it was stress that was so unnecessary and I wish I had been smart enough to say no, I’ll buy a dress in Houston.

  • I fell in love with a dress not long after getting engaged but it was out of my price range, I then obsessed over it and compared every other one to it. But actually in the end ended up with something by the same designer but a bit of different style which I love even more than the original one.

    I think trying on a number of dresses in the time you have would be good, maybe you will find something you love more, or you will get a better understanding of what suits you. Then if you find you still prefer the original like Liz says there are a lot of good secondhand sites / sample sales where you should be able to find it. Mine was actually discontinued but I found it in a sample sale in my home town, saved me £1000 as well :-)

    You will look gorgeous in what ever you decide xox

  • I was given a dress a size or two too big about a year before I planned to get married. I figured hey, it’s gorgeous, it’s a gift, and I’ve got plenty of time to get it altered. Even better it was a corset back so it was super forgiving in both directions.

    Fast forward nine months and we ended up running to city hall … and the dress didn’t come anywhere near fitting. I ran out and bought a new dress very last minute (that also felt a little more appropriate to me) because of that, but I think if the situation had been anything other than deciding to elope I would have been really pissed off at myself for not fitting the other dress.

    At this point having a dress way earlier than needed stresses me out for the same reasons. I have a bridesmaid’s dress for the fall sitting in my closet right now and every time I see it I hyperventilate a little cause it still needs to fit come September. Luckily it wasn’t too pricey so I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I had to buy it again, but if I were looking at the cost of a full wedding gown for a wedding a ways out I’d hold out a little longer.

    • LikelyLaura

      I also bought my dress in a size too big (was talked into it by the salesperson) and guess what? The bust couldn’t be altered down! There just wasn’t enough fabric in the right place in the sweetheart neckline to make it work. I had to have someone completely remake the bust with new fabric, that I had to shop for, with my dress in tow to find a match.

      Maybe talk to an alterations person before buying too big of a size…

      • Lauren

        I just got a chill.

        I have yet to get my dress altered (been putting it off…) and I have 3 months to go.

        And a sweetheart neckline.

        And boobs that need to be covered.


        • LikelyLaura

          Oh man, I didn’t mean to freak anyone out! I’m so sorry.

          And really my mine was an issue because my boobs were too small, and I needed the top cut down so the dress didn’t swallow me whole. It’s hard to explain without seeing the fabric/cut/etc, but covering up a bigger chest would have actually been possible without more fabric.

          • Lauren

            No need to apologize! It’s just one of those things. My Big Issue has been getting the dress altered (just had my first freak out cry sesh the other day! Woot!) so it doesn’t take much. Thank you for sharing your input! It is helpful. :)

  • BB

    I am currently planning a destination wedding (well kind of… the wedding is in my home state and I live across the country), so I had very little flexibility about when to buy/alter my wedding dress if I wanted to buy it with my mom and sister, and if I wanted to avoid carrying it with me on the plane twice to get alterations and bring it back. Thus, I bought my wedding dress 11 months before the wedding on a planned 4 day trip home for that express purpose. The dress was a few sizes too large because some dimensions are less proportional than others (*cough*boobs*cough*), so I wasn’t too worried about having to be my “wedding weight” 11 months out. I then had the dress measured/fitted 5 months later (i.e. about 6 months from the wedding), and now I am nervous because the seamstress threatened me if I gained/lost more than 10lbs it would be a problem. This is especially the case since I will only be back once more before the wedding, and if the alterations don’t fit right or need to be worked on again, I will only have about a week before the wedding back in the state to get it right. I have since gained 5 pounds (thanks holidays/birthdays/new ice cream machine!), and am very stressed about gaining more. I keep telling myself that the dress has a corset back so I have some flexibility, but it is definitely stressful!

    Anyhow, long ramble, but I agree that for me, it would be worse to own a dress I couldn’t wear than have to find a new one I like. There are so many different dresses in similar styles that you could most likely find one very very similar, if not the same–you may even like it better! Good luck! It’s stressful figuring in health issues in to this already self-image-fraught equation!

  • I bought my dress over 6 months ago and it is still a year and a half till the wedding. I’m trying it on again soon and I’m very nervous that it wont fit. I’m not sure if it’s worth the stress of trying to stay the exact same weight for so long especial since, like Liz said, if it’s from Davids Bridal you can probably find it used closer to your wedding date.

  • I bought mine eight months before our wedding from J Crew, so I had it within a couple of weeks. I ordered it in what I thought would be a size too small since I was in the process of losing the 15 pounds I gained in the year since we’d moved in together. Except when it came, it fit. Which filled me with so much security that I regained the five pounds I’d already lost. Which is when I made the decision that everyone but my sister said was a horrible mistake. I sent it back five months before the wedding for a size smaller. Maybe it doesn’t sound quite as dumb if you know that I started training for a half marathon at the same time. On the wedding day, it fit. Obviously, this plan may not be a good idea for everyone. Or maybe for anyone. But not only did I look how I wanted for the wedding, it was like getting a wedding gift of a new wardrobe, with all of my old clothes that I fit into.

    • Teresa

      I bought a J.Crew dress too–it arrived 2 days after I ordered it! Same thing for all my bridesmaids. It made this weight worry a little easier (especially since I tried my dress on a week after I had my thyroid removed–thyroid surgery FTW!). I could always send it back and get another one in a different size if I really had to! Also, spanx are your friend if it’s just a few pounds!

      If you can’t imagine getting married in anything else, buy it in a size up. But there are always other options and there will always be other dresses. Even now, only 7 months out from my wedding, I think that maybe I would have liked to have worn a blush pink dress…I still love what I chose, but I could see myself in something else! Good luck!

  • Ceej

    You can also save all the photos of it ever (from the site and of you trying it on) and if it’s discontinued by the time you’re ready to commit, and you can’t find it anywhere else (doubtful with a DB dress) you can go to a seamstress to recreate it. Or even one of those overseas rip off places (though quality isn’t great typically).

    • Aubry

      That’s my plan! I found my dress, I love it so so much, but it is 3000 pounds and in London (UK only, they don’t sell anywhere else of course). So, I am saving pics and looking for other dresses with aspects I love about this one and planning on getting it made. I know a number of great seamstresses, so that is a big plus!

      • Aubry

        To clarify, that is absolutely not too much to spend on a dress! It is just too much for me, and equal to what I want our whole budget to be. I didn’t want to come off budget-shaming!

  • Katelyn

    Errrrgh….body issues. Plus thyroid issues? Not fun.

    I’m delaying ordering my dress from J.Crew because my size is the highest that they carry in that style and if it doesn’t fit I will be a wee bit devastated. My fiancé just wants me to walk down the aisle naked, but I’m not sure the Catholic church will appreciate that *ahem*

    I think waiting a few months to order is the best bet, I’ve noticed that David’s Bridal doesn’t discontinue their styles as quickly as other retailers. Their dresses also pop up on ebay frequently. I looked up your dress style and it’s new this season, so it should be up there a while.

    Good luck!

    • Samantha

      I got my dress from JCrew too! Just a heads up, keep an eye out for sales. I bought my dress without ever trying it on because there was an awesome sale happening that I couldn’t pass up. And the great thing about JCrew being a regular store is that you can always just send it back if it doesn’t fit. I completely get your wanting to wait a bit so I’m not saying that you should buy it now but just keep an eye out for their really good sales prices, it might be worth it then to save a good bit of cash! :)

      • Brittany

        Careful buying J-Crew sale though- J-Crew doesn’t accept returns on some sale items, and it’s not always clear which ones they will exchange (one of my bridesmaids learned that the hard way…). That said- I had a great experience getting my wedding dress from J-Crew. It was beautiful, came fast, fit well and was long enough that I was able to use some of the fabric from the bottom to make the neckline a little less, um, revealing. Plus it came in a really nice storage box. :)

  • I gained five pounds between the Sunday before my wedding and the wedding. I wish I’d got a bigger dress. I love my dress though and it was not the “one” I’d fallen for that would require regular train trips to Scotland for, but it was gorgeous and had sequins unlike the other one. I’d go with the advice above and if the size thing could be an issue, juts don’t get it. The one I got married in still made me cry when I put it on, just like the one I tried before. It turns out I am just a big old crier. Good luck with your thyroid and good luck with your dress hunt! x

  • kyley

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that the David’s Bridal consultant is a sales person. I say this not with contempt, but as a person in sales myself. Of course she’s going to say, “I don’t know when that style will be retired.” I’m sure it’s true, but it’s also the perfect line to get you to make a decision now so she can sock away that commission. I would not put too much stock in that kind of rhetoric; it’s a classic (and I think less-than-awesome/kind-of-manipulative) sales tactic and it’s not doing you any favors.

    • Moe

      I was about to post a reply to say exactly this. I wouldn’t put too much faith in what a commission-hungry DB consultant has to say.

      When the time comes and you still want This Dress and it is not available anymore you can still have one custom made to you at whatever size/shape you are.

    • Exactly. My dress was a brand-new style in the most recent DB catalog, but the saleswoman still used the “I don’t know when it will be retired” line on me. It seems like it’s the company line. Also, my experience was that they *told* me it would take up to 15 weeks for the dress to come in, but it only took a month. YMMV, of course, but that’s my experience.

      • Liz

        They will always, always tell you it’ll take much longer than it actually does. Benefit of the doubt- it’s probably partially to make sure for sure for sure that it arrives with adequate time for alterations. But it’s probably also a *smidge* rooted in feeding that “MUST BUY NOW” frenzy which ensures that you’ll give them your monies, and hopefully need a good deal of alterations because you bought it so soon.

        • DO NOT count on this! I was told 6 months for my dress (not from DB, though) and it was 6 months practically to the day until it arrived.

      • Cathi

        Same story here. New DB style from the new catalog, given the same line about them not ever knowing when styles get discontinued (which might be true, but. eh.), in addition to being told that it was currently on sale and there’s no way to predict when another sale will happen, and given a 3-month in-by date.

        It came in two weeks later (at which point the sale had ended…and then started up again), which included them having to cancel the order they placed for the wrong gown after I noticed the description on my receipt sounded nothing like my dress.

        So, yeah. Especially with the chain stores like DB, I wouldn’t stress out about it at all.

    • As someone who has done sales in a large company before, I feel like I should say that this is not always a line. Most times, the dresses retire when someone higher up in the company decides they do. The sales person you’re talking to may not know when the dress will retire. Yes, she might be saying that to push the sale and get the commission. She might also have made an estimate to a customer before (guessed that the dress would be available for another year) and then have been burned when her guess was wrong. She also might be new to the floor and have no idea.

      Don’t put too much stock in the phrase, but also remember that she’s just trying to do her job. Let’s assume that she meant the best.

      • Alexandra

        As the third person to chime in with David’s Bridal telling me “They don’t know when dresses will be retired.” I think that it’s very likely that while the salesperson likely doesn’t know when it’ll retire, it’s probably something the company tells them to say to ensure they don’t get burned or to help hurry a sale.

      • So many factors go into what a salesperson will tell you, as I can also attest from previous and current jobs. It’s the job to create reasons to buy today, and one big motivation in that can be FOMO (fear of missing out). Then there’s the fact that the Powers That Be in a company can and do take products off the line with no notice to the front line staff (oh, that product you priced out last week and didn’t buy, glad you came in today because WE DONT HAVE IT ANYMORE and now I have angry customers). That’s even without taking into account the motivating factor of commission and paycheques.

        So do take it with a grain of salt but realize that it can also be straight up the truth. Things do get discontinued and salespeople need to cover their butts.

  • Granola

    I bought my dress about 11 months before my wedding and I too worried that it may not fit after the alterations, even though my weight has always been incredibly stable. The times I’ve gained even a little weight though have been because I was really stressed out, so I can’t imagine that putting yourself in a stressful situation about your weight would be a good way to keep it off or lose it. My husband gained a little weight before our wedding because of the stress of everything.

    I never had that fall-in-love-with-the-dress moment that you’ve experienced, but I will say that I now constantly see new beautiful things that I’d be happy to have worn. That may be because the pressure is off, and maybe it’s not helpful advice when all you can focus on is this particular thing. But if you choose to do so, and you work at it, you will be able to accept and be happy with another dress. Remember, this one is perfect* – the asterisk is all the headaches that come with its timing and your health.

  • Secrets McGee

    I actually bought my dress in the summer of 2011, about 6 months before my guy proposed. I tried it on and absolutely positively fell in love. I then freaked out and put off buying it. It was a preview dress and the consultant warned me that she wasn’t sure if they would keep it or not. The new catalog came out a few weeks later and my dress still wasn’t in there. I felt incredibly lucky to have purchased it when I did since I have never (in the past two years) been able to find it online or in other DB stores. I did buy it two sizes too big, planning on the (supposedly inevitable) bridal weight gain. WRONG! I apparently don’t eat when stressed and am now ten pounds lighter than I was when I bought the dress. I can’t wait to see the dressing down my seamstress will give me in a few weeks when I show up with this (now humongous) dress.

    I vote get the dress!


    I bought my dress, somewhat inadvertently, eight days after I was engaged. I just went in to try different styles on to see what I liked. After getting over label shock I just pulled it for the color. I’ll admit I’m not the happiest when it comes to my body. (Not that the FH cares a whit, but I do). So I looked at my mother and said, “But mom. I don’t want to BE this size when I get married..I don’t feel healthy and at home in my own skin!” She came back with the ever-pragmatic “Sometimes life, and dresses, don’t work that way. Buy the dress that fits you now. And you’ll know that if life didn’t work out the way that you planned and you didn’t lose a pound (in a seventeen month engagement period…or at all) then your dress will fit. If you decide losing weight is something you want to do *because it makes you healthy* then we just get it taken in to fit you.” So I did. It didn’t look like it was going to work, but I put that gown on and it fit like a custom tailored glove. It is hanging in the closet at mom’s and I find it a relief to know that if my weight doesn’t shift: it fits. And if it does: well, that’s what a damn good tailor is for.

    Best of luck to you ladies; dresses are tricky.

    • Your mom. Wow. What a great, smart lady.

      • SHANON

        She is the most amazing woman I know. :)

  • Rosie

    Hello WHEN, I was just thinking: if you do buy the dress and it doesn’t work out, you have options such as returning it or selling it, which will mean it’s not such a financial loss. It seems that the bigger question is whether letting go of the dress would make you feel terrible or not. If having to sell it/return it/give it away would make you feel worse about yourself, then I’d say definitely don’t buy it! It might be that it would just add to the stress, and in that case I don’t think it’s worth it. I second the people saying that if this doesn’t work out you will find another dress! Basically, if not fitting it would be a blow to your self esteem, then I vote for giving it a miss.

    • Liz

      Someone jump in and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think David’s Bridal (or any other wedding gown retailers) allow returns.

      But selling it to someone else is definitely an option!

      • efletch

        Wedding dress sales are usually final. When I asked them “what if it just doesn’t work?” They told me “oh we will make it work.”

        • KH_Tas

          I imagine the returns thing would have a location aspect – where I live refusing return/exchange outright is illegal, although wrong-size is not usually included in the law.

      • Vic

        I bought my dress from DB and they told me I could exchange it for anything else as long as I did so before alterations. I didn’t use that option but it seems like from the comments on the website others have because many of them talk about exchanging for a different dress that came out between ordering theirs and their wedding date.

        • Liz

          Good to know! When I bought a lowly bridesmaid dress, they had me sign a, “Not going to return or exchange or anything at all, pinky promise” sort of form. It’s always nice to hear about flexibility.

        • meg

          Also, I’d REALLY check that out, if I were counting on it. Lets just say I’ve been lied to in those sorts of situations before. Commissions are commissions!

  • Martha

    I vote get the dress. Is someone out there keeping track of the votes?

    Go for what your heart wants – it’s similar to choosing a mate really. I can’t put in to words all the reasons I want to marry my J. No more than I can describe the way my dress makes me feel.

    • Liz

      I think I’m gonna start a fight with Martha (not intentionally! Sorry Martha!) but I think this is probably the fundamental difference between perspectives in wedding dress shopping, yeah? I don’t know that there has to be some magical “THIS IS MINE” moment, the way there (sometimes) is with your future spouse.I think maybe we hype up that emotional end of things when a dress is… a dress. So, you like this one. There are other nice ones, too.

      Am I wrong? Did a bunch of you guys have that, “THIS IS THE ONE” moment?

      • Nic

        I agree that there must be very different takes on this – I had very specific things in mind for my dress (not long and not white for a start – our wedding was somewhat cocktail-party themed in terms of dress) and then just went with the first one I found in line with my ideas. But the friends I took shopping were very much pushing for the whole ‘does this feel like the dress you’ve always wanted’. Which is fine – people are different and for some, a wedding dress is just another dress to wear on a special day, whereas for others, the dress is special in and of itself.

        Having said that, for the current problem I would give the dress a pass right now, as I really don’t think you want to add any more stress to an already stressful situation. As others said, there are soooo many dresses and seamstresses out there that the chances that you will find something you love and that fits you for the wedding are very high. And sometimes, after finding the perfect item, another one comes along that is even more perfect, so waiting doesn’t mean wearing your second-best choice dress on your wedding day.

      • Granola

        Nope! I tried on like 30 dresses, and eventually picked one b/c it was on sale, fit perfectly (it was a sample) and my mom and sister told me I looked good. I just wanted to be done. Told myself that I could sell it on eBay if I didn’t like it later, but it turned out that I did.

        I was a little sad b/c I thought I would have that moment, but even if I wouldn’t pick that same dress again, damn if I didn’t look great in it.

      • This is a really great point — and something my sister and I both recently faced. Our weddings are five weeks apart, so we’re doing everything at the same time. Though we both found dresses we really liked the first time we went shopping, we were comparing everything too heavily to “Say Yes To The Dress” and its ilk.

        Neither of us burst into tears when we donned the dress. Though I really liked mine when I put it on, a unicorn chorus didn’t suddenly burst into song. Our family didn’t cry and hug in the middle of the bridal salon . . . in short, we were excited, but it wasn’t the BAM! moment of an engagement.

        I felt weird/guilty about that for a bit, but now realize it was a moment others (and the bridal industry?) build up — and that I love my dress and I am happy with it, even if buying it wasn’t like a scene from a musical.

      • Moe

        I picked out a dozen dresses online that I thought could be The One. All sleek column or sheath dresses. When I went to try on such dresses and realized it didn’t work on my very busty curvy frame I ended up with I thought I would never wear: a simple minimal ballgown. Go figure.

        But I LOVE my dress. It was a very straightforward decision. The heavens did not open, there were no angels singing. I simply said “Yes, this works. Thanks. I’m going to put my clothes back on now.”

        I don’t know if it’s wise to make such a pricey decision based on emotions.

      • Laura

        I just tried dresses on for the first time this past weekend. At a bridal salon across the country from where I live. With no intention of buying. And absolutely no expectations. Just because it was probably the only time my mom and two best friends would all be in the same place until the wedding. And I definitely did *not* find THE DRESS.

        But I did find A DRESS. One really really nice, beautiful, silky, romantic, perfect-for-someone-else dress that made me feel, for the first time, “like a bride.” Um yeah, there was some blinking back of tears. But mostly because, until I put that specific one on (and all three of them made simultaneous “aw” faces and immediately got up out of their chairs to take a closer look and the consultant stabbed my hair with a little veil), I had been feeling like I was planning someone else’s wedding or living someone else’s life. Something about seeing your own damn bridal self reflecting back at you has a way of making it all a reality.

        So, yes, there was a moment, of sorts. And, after that moment, I’m not sure if I expect to have “the moment” when I find the one I end up purchasing (in a much more practical location). Either way, I’m not too worried, because, hey guess what! I’m getting married, like for realz!!!

        The end!

        • Moe

          That little move of adding a veil at the end should just be criminal.

      • Newtie

        I think this is so key & part of why I love APW so much. I do think the WIC perpetuates & sells this idea of “the one” for a dress as if it’s as important as your spouse. And for most people this is going to be a great big myth.

        I’ve been MOH at dress-shopping occasions six (!) times, and not one of those brides really had the big cinderella moment, although they all picked perfectly beautiful dresses that they loved.

        I personally am the kind of person who makes ALL my decisions by “feel.” This is probably not a good thing but it’s just how I work. When choosing grad schools, I had to visit and get a sense of “THIS IS THE ONE.” Picking out cats from the shelter, same thing – had to just keep visiting until I felt I had found “THE ONE.” Wedding venues. Clothes to wear to major events. What to name future children. All these decisions for me end up being a quasi-spiritual, meditative experience that don’t end until I have the stereotypical wedding-dress feeling.

        So for me personally, yes, there was a long, blase search that ended in me seeing “THE DRESS” in a catalog, then going to try it on and buying it. I never tried on any other dress because I never saw another one that struck my intuitive fancy. I did have the stereotypical “IT’S THIE ONE” moment and made my decision that way, but that’s how I make all my decisions – so I think it had much less to do with any kind of “dress magic” and more to do with how I operate in the world.

        • alyssa

          I’m right there with you! Totally make decisions based on my heart, totally have the tears when a moment feels right. Totally had that moment with my dress.
          Just goes to show that eeeeeverybody’s different!

      • irene

        Nope. The dream dress I envisioned for ages was on clearance at the first store I went to, almost half what I wanted to spend, fit perfect, and left me emotionless. (Whomp-whomp.)

        Then the sales girl brought out everything and the kitchen sink, I found a dress that I couldn’t stop smiling in, and it was twice my budget. (Whomp-whomp.)

        The dress I ended up with (Which I do love!) is close to the budget-buster, without a few of the details, and I am happy. Got it after a marathon shopping day trying on lots of dresses I looked great in, but felt more like Bridal Barbie – yes I can pose pretty in it, but I also wanted to dance, hug, etc., not just be on a pedestal.

      • Martha

        No fight :-) I didn’t really have a moment either – there was no crying involved. I just meant that I know it’s my dress and can’t really explain why.

        • Martha

          More clarification, but I hit “submit” too quickly, I didn’t really have a “moment” with my J either. Which is what I meant when I said I can’t explain it (or my dress feelings). I have an un-engaged-but-coupled-up friend who recently asked me “When I knew J was the one” and I couldn’t really answer it. There was no moment. I couldn’t really answer her, but I had all these reasons in my head which I just couldn’t articulate.

        • Liz

          Whew, then I can put my earrings back in.

      • I seem to be in the minority here but I did have a THIS IS THE ONE moment. I came out of the dressing room and me my mom and my sister started crying, then the sale consultant started crying, then the other people who were shopping came to have a look and gasped. It was all very strange, I don’t really recommend it.

        I ended up feeling guilty for having all these emotions and this moment and like maybe I wasn’t being practical enough, which is just as much nonsense as feeling guilty for not having a THIS IS THE ONE moment.

        • Samantha

          “I don’t recommend it.” hahaha

        • Denzi

          I had a THE DRESS moment, but it was a huge risk. I hadn’t found anything I liked anywhere I had tried dresses on, so I bought a dress that looked PERFECT and was in my size from (shout out to their awesomeness!). I was terrified. I rationalized that I could resell it again if it didn’t work.

          But when the box came to my parents’ house I rushed up there the same day, tried it on, and I felt like the most gorgeous version of myself ever. I didn’t want to take it off. I declared I would wear it for the next six months until the wedding; I would just have to not see my fiancé until then. :-P No tears, but lots of calling my friends and future sisters-in-law to say “I FOUND MY DRESS.”

          So I believe in a THE DRESS moment, but I also believe it only happens to some people, and it’s been overhyped as the Only Way to Find a Dress, when it’s really in the same category as Love At First Sight: happens rarely, gets a side-eye from sane people, requires lots of soul-searching afterwards to make sure you’re not just dating him/her/eir for the preeeeetty, but that your values and lifestyle fit together too.

      • Rebecca

        I didn’t have a magical moment, but my step-mom burst into tears. I also came into the situation prepared to NOT have a magical moment. Even though I have been overweight my entire adult life, somehow I always thought getting engaged would be the best motivator for me to lose weight and be magically thinner on my wedding day. Yes, I realize how utterly ridiculous that sounds now! The dress I chose was pretty, made me feel good, and my parents were thrilled to be able to buy it for me and take it home that day. I also have body issues and worry that the dress won’t fit on the day. It was a bit snug and the sales lady said that I could either go up a size and have it taken in or stay with the current dress and lose 10 pounds (that is my summary, the kind lady did not actually tell me to lose weight while I was standing in my wedding dress). I chose the smaller dress because I needed to lose more than that anyway, and the wedding was over a year away at that point. I also knew that I would be wearing a real corset instead of just a longline strapless bra, so that gave me some confidence as well. I don’t regret the choice, but it’s not like buying the dress has eliminated that aspect of wedding stress in the same way that, say, buying the invitations, has.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I had a “this is the one” moment only insofar as my dress was custom made, so the first time I saw it/had it on, I’d already chosen it as mine. While wedding dress shopping hadn’t been really stressful, it’d been kind of the opposite. No way I was going to start over, no matter the issues with the dress (and there were a few).

        I guess that’s the arranged marriage approach to wedding dress shopping.

      • Samantha

        I went dress shopping one time with my mom and found a few dresses I really liked, one particularly but three that I could definitely have worn. I did love that one dress but all the dresses were more than I wanted to spend so I went into it planning on finding a dress and then finding it online for less – used probably. So I went in with restraint. I looked for the dress online and didn’t find any that were marked down enough for me except for one that was much too big.

        Then I decided to check up on a dress at JCrew that I had noted a while back. They were having a 40% off free shipping sale which was literally ending the next day. I couldn’t get into the store to try the dress on so I bought it online without ever seeing it in person. Weeks later when I finally made it to my mom’s house I unpacked the dress and tried it on. It fit like a glove and bam I had a dress. I love my dress but it was a totally sporadic ridiculous way to get it.

        So there was no This Is The One moment and I feel like I could have been happy with many dresses but I would not have been happy if I had broken the bank to buy it. So I’m going to jazz up my simple chiffon with a funky necklace!

        Even though I didn’t get any dresses that I tried on in person I’m so glad I did go to the bridal boutique with my mom just for the bride experience and memories. :)

      • alyssa

        I totally had a “THIS IS THE ONE” moment. I cried, my mom cried, my sisters cried, etc. And I had never seen Say Yes to the Dress, so I have to think it was an organic moment!
        But, I tend to get emotional over change, and over decisions. So it was really “me” to have an emotional moment surrounding the dress.
        I will say, though, that after I gleefully purchased the dress and I was waiting for it to arrive, I had ALL kinds of second thoughts! And I found other, gorgeous dresses I would have been happy in. Am I glad I purchased the dress I did? Yes. It arrived and I felt the same in it as I did when I tried it on in the store. But, I could have gone another direction and it would have been okay. :)

      • meg

        I firmly believe (and research backs me up) that this is a sales myth that the WIC created (see One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead for a detailed explanation of how this marketing campaign is intentionally put together).

        Was it important for me to feel like my dress was right for me? Yes. Did that mean there was only one dress, and if I didn’t buy it I was screwed? No. There is this culturally reinforced idea that we should feel about our wedding dress like we feel about our partners: he/she/it is The One. I don’t even think it’s emotionally healthy, or takes us to a good place. Fall in love with your partner.* Wear something that makes you feel good. Those are two pretty different emotional states.

        *I don’t even believe in The One for people, but that’s a different story.

        • Breck

          This, exactly. Just like the Dear Sugar article that was shared in the Saturday Roundup explained, I truly believe there are very few (if any) one and only’s for people. There will basically always be a ghost ship of the partner/dress/venue/job/house/life that you didn’t choose, which can be sad, but also comforting.

          • I bought my dress right after getting engaged. It was A Dress. Also THE dress, but only because it had everything (has everything) I wanted my dress to have: glitz, poof but not swallowing me whole poof, and a corset-back. It made me giggle a lto while I had it on, but I didn’t cry.

        • Granola

          I just want to say thank you for the asterisk – because I don’t really believe in The One for people either, so the dress analogy feels doubly weird.

          • ElisabethJoanne

            I find the analogy holds, and I don’t believe in The One in either area of life. There are certain qualities I look for in clothes, and certain qualities I looked for in men. In neither area do I expect to find something perfect. In neither area do I ever truly “need” something.

            Timing is huge for me in both areas. I’ve found wonderful suits or formal dresses (2 things I find it hard to shop for) that I’ve passed by because I felt cash poor at the time, or didn’t feel I’d use it. And there are great men I’ve known, just before we were ready for marriage.

      • Alyssa

        Nope. It was cheap, used (was feeling especially guilty at the time for all of the newly manufactured stuff we bought), and my money went to a good cause (hooray for Brides against Breast Cancer. It was also made by one of those huge brands I thought I’d hate, and strapless, which I do in fact hate on me…meant I got to wear an awesome cover up. However, I looked surprisingly good in it (if I may say), and my butt looked fabulous. No moment, just a “hey, this looks good.”

        Also, for indecisive people like me, it really helped to give myself a time limit on shopping. In my case, I had an hour and a half that I could attend Brides against Breast Cancer while it was in town, and when I had it boiled down to two or three dresses at the end, I was running out of time and just had to pick based on my gut instinct, and thankfully didn’t have time to look at the rack for the millionth time.

      • Kess

        I actually never even really had that moment for my guy, so I definitely don’t expect it for the dress. I don’t think I’ve ever made a decision in my life where I “just knew” what was right for me – it’s always weighing and balancing and agonizing and eventually forcing myself to take a plunge!

      • Rebecca

        I…may have bought two dresses in less than an hour at Nordstroms. I had been looking at stuff online and just couldn’t really decide what I wanted, and I was getting closer and closer to my thesis deadline and just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t accidentally wind up naked at my wedding because I was too busy to buy a dress.

        For reference, I was looking for a less traditional (i.e. not floor length) dress, and neither dress was more than $100, so I just went for it. Wore one for our elopement, wearing the other for our family ceremony this spring. I can’t say that either one fits my concept of a dream dress (I have no idea what my dream dress is. I may not have one.), but they’re pretty and I like them and that’s fine.

      • Alexandra

        Actually, I did have a “this is the one” moment. I tried on dresses at 4 different places, never felt much of anything and when I left I’d pick out the dress I liked best based off pictures and my mom would argue against it while I argued her picks were boring and obvious…

        Anyways, a few weeks ago, we made appointments at 3 different stores over the weekend, went to the first one, within 5 dresses I was sitting in this one completely different from all the ones I said I liked, and melted into tears because I loved it and yet felt bad it meant the weekend worth of dress shopping was done in an hour. But it was just right, and every other dress I tried on afterwards was “This is really pretty… But I want to put that other one back on.” Completely cannot explain it with any form of logic. Even now, I’m unsure why that one, but it was just right.

      • Lucy

        Right, but if *this* bride had a “this is THE ONE” moment with this dress (as she seems to describe), then why should she be made to feel silly for it?

        I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with your advice, Liz. The dress can be resold if it doesn’t work out. Doesn’t seem like much of a risk to go for it when the alternative is always measuring other dresses to “the one” (which will inevitably end up seeming *even better* in hindsight, as things often do).

  • I think Liz’s advice is spot-on, and agree that I feel it would be worse to spend money on a dress you won’t wear than to hold off and find a gown closer-to. Though you may risk losing this dress, I have no doubt you will find a gown you love — and look absolutely beautiful.

    Personally, I’m going through changes since joining a weight loss program in January. Because I felt so pressured to go get a wedding dress already (mostly from everyone and their dog asking me about it), I went to David’s Bridal, found “the one” and bought it on March 1. I figured I’d get it in a few months, as promised . . . and surprise, surprise: I actually picked it up a few days ago. A mere two weeks after ordering.

    Great, right? Except . . . I have nowhere to store it. We’re already tight on space, and I have this gigantic garment bag literally blocking the entrance to my closet right now. Not a long-term solution, I know, but I have no clue where to put this baby. (And it is my baby. I love it.)

    And the dress I bought just two weeks ago — the one that fit so well at the time? It’s already too loose. I knew when I bought the gown that I would be continuing my weight loss (it was time, especially for health reasons), and I just told myself that I would build the cost of alterations into the overall cost of the dress. So, this is all my round-about way of saying that if you really love the gown, you could do the same . . . buy it with the idea that you will have to make changes down the road.

    And I realize I may have just contradicted myself. Sorry about that — but I do believe both ideas are options!

  • Alison

    After I got engaged, I fell in love with a Maggie Sottero wedding dress that I just couldn’t justify spending the money on, so I ended up finding it on for $300. $300! I was completely stoked to have found “the dress” so early in our 22 month engagement. Then I got sick and gained almost 40 pounds. (Cue freaking out and crying. A lot.) I knew that I was going to try and lose the weight, but who knew how much I would lose, or if I would lose any?? About 7 months before my wedding, my MOH convinced me that I should look for a second dress. I begrudgingly went to David’s Bridal, feeling horrible about myself and mourning the loss of the gorgeous $300 Maggie Sottero that I was still lovingly staring at in my closet. I ended up buying a dress off of the clearance rack for $550 that I liked, but it wasn’t my Maggie. Cut to three months later and the magic of a wonderful endocrinologist who figured out my issues, and I lost 35 pounds. Now my second dress was too big and my first dress was ever-so-slightly-too-small. I tried both on, and it turned out that I now loved my second dress more than the first dress. It had to be altered like WHOA, but the seamstress was amazing and it fit like a glove. I still have the Maggie Sottero in my closet and I plan to relist it online so hopefully someone ELSE can fall in love with it.

    All that to say, if you’re seriously concerned about your weight (which is understandable, given the unpredictable-ness of the endocrine system) I would say hold off on the dress for now. Definitely watch to see if the dress goes on clearance, as Liz suggested, and as your wedding date gets closer, evaluate your weight and how you feel about it then. Having felt the pain of being “too big” for your dream dress, I don’t wish that on anyone. However, being “too big” for my dream dress led to me finding my ACTUAL dream dress, so I guess in the end, it all worked out. I hope that you also find a happy ending with your dress, and best of luck with your health!!

    • KB

      Maggie Sottero fist-bump :-)

  • anon

    I bought a wedding dress I liked a lot about a year before my wedding, but then accidentally found one I liked better about 9 months later…and bought it too. So now I have to sell the first one. Kind of wish I hadn’t bought it, but at the time I thought it would save a lot of problems down the line…

  • efletch

    I bought my dress really early in my long engagement thinking I was being super smart. I was really anxious about the dress, so when I found one I loved I pounced on it. It came in about four months and fit like a glove with just a few alterations needed to the bust. It was in a word perfect!
    Then bam one month later found out I was pregnant! This is awesome news for me and my partner, but the day I found out I sobbed about my wedding dress. So now I am faced with the stress of the dress that fit my pre baby body so well. If I gain a lot of weight the dress will have to be let out. If I loose a lot of weight post baby the dress will need to be taken in.Either way it will be expensive. I feel like I’m walking a tight wire and did I mention I’m pregnant? So not worth it.
    The point I’m making is this: If you hold off on the dress (trust me I know how hard it is because I couldn’t do it) and it isn’t available later you will find something else. But if for some reason you are faced with a medical issue that is beyond your control, you do not want to be worrying over your dress fitting you. Whatever you decide to do though I am sending you hugs!

  • First off, WHEN, body image issues SUCK, and you have all my empathy. To couple that with health issues is not fun. I wish you all the best!

    As for the dress, my own experience is likely not that helpful to anyone else because I ended up with 3 wedding dresses!

    In an effort to be “low maintenence,” I bought a dress online without ever trying it on, and when it came, I hated it. It was ugly in ways I didn’t know a dress could be ugly. It made me feel like a trampy Marie Antoinette, and somehow like a linebacker at the same time. I took it to a seamstress to salvage. She made it better, but at the core it was still ugly, and the silhouette was not helping my short, curvy body one bit. Next up, I actually tried a dress on and bought a banana republic dress on clearance and called it a day. That dress was totally fine, and I’m sure I would have liked getting married in it, but my mother in law found a dress when shopping at Macy’s and bought it “just in case.” When I put it on, it made me way happier than the second dress, so I ended up getting married in it.

    The one thing I can say I learned is that it didn’t help me to be impulsive. I bought those first two dresses because I felt like my window was closing, and I lept without doing much looking. Even though I had what seemed like a ridiculous list of specific requirements on what I wanted (under $300, no strappless, nothing fluffy, short, plus sized), there ended up being a LOT of dress options out there that I noticed even after dress 3 was decided. I think if you’re the type of person who carefully analyzes a decision before you act, and you can talk to a seamstress about how much wiggle room that particular dress would have for alterations, you could be safe getting the dress now and altering it when you have a better idea of where your weight will be closer to the wedding. If you’re at all like me, I’d say you might be happier if you hold off.

    Good luck!

  • I put on my dress. Had a “I love this dress, this is it” moment.

    And while I can’t call it “regret” the one thing I would change about our wedding? I’d buy the $200 bridesmaids dress I liked almost as well. The fabric wasn’t quite as nice, the styling wasn’t as sophisticated. I love love loved wearing the dress on wedding day. BUT it wasn’t worth the $500 difference between the two. Depending on how you look at fashion/dresses/stuff like that it may be worth it to you or it just might not. (I thought it was to me. Turns out I had to spend too much to find out.)

    Since it *IS* from Davids and as Liz pointed out in a comment above things don’t usually disappear immediately from retail (you can call DB every couple of months to check in) you have time to think, and breathe.

    Best of luck WHEN.

  • Amanda L.

    I bought THE dress. It was the 9th dress I tried on, my mom and sister were with me, I could SEE myself walking down the aisle in it with my dad, it was slightly under-budget. You know what, I wish I’d tried on more dresses, I wish I’d stopped worrying about hurting my mom and sister’s feelings if I’d kept looking. I wish I’d picked a different dress. Even though every time I tried it on, I loved it, it’s 361 days after my wedding and I’m still second-guessing my pick.

    The truth is, there are a million dresses and you can only wear one. It goes back to the decisions we’ve been talking about. Choosing one means not choosing any of the others, so if you’re ready to do that, I’d order the dress one size up from where you are now to allow for alterations, and then check it off your list. If there’s even an INKLING that you want to try on more dresses, then don’t buy it!

  • KB

    I feel like another thing to think about is to take a step back and look at the dress dispassionately – what is it about this dress that’s “perfect”? Is it an uncommon style? Have you seen anything else like it anywhere? Would it be easy to replicate?

    For example, I had a SUPER specific vision in my head that sounds like it could be common but, in reality, wasn’t. So when I finally found a dress that checked off all those boxes for me, I was so psyched – until I found out that no boutique/shop/retailer in the tri-state area carried it. I am ashamed to say that I actually called 30 places to find this dress, but it was a design from 1-2 years ago. I finally found a place that carried it, but it was 50 miles away. I convinced my mom to drive me there and I was so giddy as I was trying it on – but no dice. It looked NOTHING like what I thought it would and I was so disappointed. But I ended up describing my “vision” to the saleswoman who then went and pulled a dress that made me think, “Wait a second…” It ticked off all my boxes and, even though there were a couple features that I wasn’t too keen on (corset in the back and the sleeves were detachable), I realized that this was what I was going for. So I bought it and it’s been sitting in my closet since November.

    Since then, I’ve had pangs when I look at magazine photos and blog posts and think, “Oh, that’s such a pretty dress” – but I have to say that, when I take the step back, none of those dresses make me seriously second-guess my purchase because none of them fit “my vision” more than the one that’s in my closet.

    So my point is that, I agree with Liz, you may not be totally 100% comfortable with either buying it or leaving it – and that’s ok. I remember feeling so horribly let down when The One Dress I thought was perfect turned out to be a dud and thinking to myself, “Good God, am I ever going to find an effing DRESS??” But I also worry that I’m going to click on a blog one day and see The One Dress and totally regret buying the one I have now. Your feelings are important, but acknowledging that you may have regrets either way is also important, so it’s good to make the decision based on probabilities, budget concerns, and a realistic assessment of what you want at the end of the day.

  • Newtie

    Ooo a similar thing happened to me! Except I did the opposite of what Liz suggests, and for me that was the right choice.

    I found “THE DRESS” early in a long engagement – and I DO have a history of fairly significant weight fluctuations in fairly short amounts of time. The weight changes are caused by thyroid disease and funny hormone problems that weren’t under control at the time, but I also have a history of anorexia, and prior to the thyroid problems my weight had fluctuated a lot because of the eating disorder. So weight was kind of big in my life, plus there was a very real chance my weight could change significantly in the almost-year between buying “THE DRESS” and my wedding.

    For me personally, going ahead and buying “THE DRESS” anyway was important. It was a way to not let my fears about my health and my fears about weight take over my life. It sounds like you still live with some fears around your health – it may be a good idea to go ahead and get the dress if for no reason other than as an F-You to thyroid disease. I decided I personally would rather be faced with having to find a new dress than faced with knowing I had given something up – again – to my fears and worries about health/weight.

    When I imagined my worst-case scenerios, being stuck with an unworn, relatively inexpensive dress that I knew I could probably resell for around 2/3 the original cost if it didn’t fit seemed better than giving up a dress I loved to the FEAR that life would throw me a curve ball. In my case I had to buy the dress slightly big anyway (you have to buy to your “biggest” measurement and take in the other measurements) which gave me some added comfort.

    Because I’m an average size my dress did sell out pretty quickly. And in the end the dress fit fine, and I was so glad I didn’t let my fears and worries drive the car, so to speak.

    So — my advice is, if you can handle the possibility of having to resell your unworn dress, go for it! Your surgery and your health concerns have taken enough of your time and attention. No need to let them continue to dictate your decisions. :)

    • Catherine B

      I love it when people who faced similar decisions weigh (ha) in. This is a great perspective!

    • WHEN

      Thank you so much for sharing, it really means a lot. Part of the whole ordeal two years ago was a feeling of total helplessness and I didn’t realize how much of that I had internalized. Letting the dress that I love possibly slip through my fingers because of anxiety over something that hasn’t been a big issue for over a year isn’t fair. I don’t want to let that fear win. I know that a lot of brides worry about changing weight just because, but it became totally linked with my health fears. I know that I am capable of maintaining the weight that I am at now, with no problem getting back down to it even after a hefty holiday. So even though no one would ever say it, whenever I read “size up or skip it” I automatically fill in “because you have to have another surgery and lifelong medication.” That made a lot of the replies sting (though I really appreciate all of the advice and know that that was certainly not the implication or intention!). Those posts actually helped me make my decision by making me realize just how much power I was giving to a hypothetical.

      I think I will wait a month or so and then try it on again to confirm the butterflies and rainbows that I felt the first time, and if they’re still there I will make the purchase.

      Thank you everyone!

      • Sydney

        As a fellow bride-to-be with thyroid issues similar to yours, I really relate to your worries and the dress dilemma! I completely unexpectedly found a dress 15 months before my wedding, and my sister convinced me to purchase it on the spot. My thyroid was radiated several years ago, but they ended up radiating more than they expected. So every time I get a check-up, my life-long thyroid medication doses increase. I have fretted a lot about the dress and gaining weight, but I too feel that I am capable of maintaining my weight. I left the dress alone in my friend’s closet for months, resisting the temptation to try it on. But with my wedding and the time for alterations nearing, I tried it on recently. And miraculously, I need the dress taken in because I lost a little weight!
        So either way, trust in your decision and don’t let your thyroid issues hold you back- you will be a beautiful bride in a perfect dress!

      • Newtie

        You go, girl! Kick those hypotheticals to the curb – all worrying does (unfortunately) is job today of it’s joy. You gotta a wedding to plan and a marriage to prepare for – tell those nagging, hypothetical fears about needing another surgery to take a hike, ‘cuz you’re busy thinking about more important things. :)

  • I am not yet “officially” engaged. We have a tentative wedding date of Oct. 2014 but we might push it up to this year. I found my perfect dress while “just looking” online at David’s Bridal. Lucky for me, it was only $200. After months of deliberation about buying a dress before getting engaged, I decided to go for it. In fact, my sweetheart INSISTED that I buy it as soon as possible. It was worth it to me to spend a little bit of money and have no regrets later than to not buy it, have it go out of season, and wonder about the dress that could have been. Worst case scenario I could sell it if I change my mind.

    I think I might be kind of a weird case though. I knew the second I saw the dress online that it was perfect. I went to David’s Bridal with one girlfriend, and group messaged two other girlfriends on the other coast, tried on 4 dresses, and still knew 100% that I wanted that dress I saw online. I bought the dress one size up just to be safe even though my size would have fit me without alterations. In the past when I gained 15 lbs. it only added one or two dress sizes.

    Overall, I am very happy with the decision I made. I know it will save me a whole lot of stress in the future, and I don’t have any regrets about buying an amazing dress. It’s this one by the way:

    I don’t place a lot of value on The Dress. I’ve always thought it was out of control how much money and emotion people put into a dress they wear for probably less than 12 hours. I wanted something practical, comfortable, relatively inexpensive, that I could run around in wearing my red Converse shoes, and that I look bomb in. My dress fit all of those criteria, and made me smile. And maybe in the future I could wear it to the opera or something or give it to my little sister for prom.

    • That dress is beautiful — and tea-length for the win! I also bought a tea-length gown from DB and was impressed that they were available and affordable. Yay!

    • Oh, I love this one! So pretty. I keep looking at tea length gowns online. They look so fun!

    • Secrets McGee

      I’m pretty sure that’s the dress that beat out my also strapless and tulle tea length preview dress. So cute!

  • Other Katelyn

    Definitely buy it a size up. My weight fluctuates like crazy, I bought my dress when I found it and have an awesome alterations lady who is making it work.

    ETA NEVER underestimate what a good tailor can do!!

  • I’m looking at a long engagement myself — 18 months feels long to me, but maybe it’s just slightly more than average? I’m not sure — and I’ve been facing this dilemma of when to start looking at dresses. I’m not going to lie, when I was helping my sister look for prom dresses a month ago, I may have popped over to the bridal section of the shops to see what they had available and what prices were like.

    I haven’t tried anything on yet, but part of that is because I don’t want to find myself in a similar situation – finding a dress I luurve and then having to spend the next year and a half fretting about my weight to suit a dress. I mean, alterations, yes, and healthy eating and exercise, yes, but it just seems like one more point of stress on top of all of those other points of stress that we engaged ladies have to face every day between now and then. And I can’t even imagine adding uncontrollable thyroid-y stress like what you have to worry about, WHEN!

    So I think my advice is this: as fab as it may be (seriously, I checked it out on the David’s website, and it is FAB! Reminds me of Audrey Hepburn!) it’s still “just” a dress. (I say that knowing full well knowing how many emotions and tears can be tied up into articles of clothing.) I say wait, and keep looking, and if you see that it’s going on clearance or whatever and you can’t find it on a pre-owned site or on eBay, and that you know that it’s still your dream dress, then snag it and be happy and ask your friends for a tailor recommendation JUST IN CASE. And then bask in the happy of knowing that you are going to look amazing on your wedding day no matter what dress you are wearing, and in the EXTRA happy if it’s in THIS dress.

  • I am planning on having my dress made by a seamstress friend of mine. (Hiring her at her market rate.) So I don’t really need to go dress shopping. (Is it bad that part of me still wanted to do that, just to have done it? I’m not going to find anything I am even going to want to copy and I’d just be wasting the saleswoman’s time. But…)

    My concern is when to have it made. She wanted me to buy the undergarments first, and will build the dress around those. I was planning on going for a bra fitting in February when it occurred to me that I am at my heaviest at that part of winter, and am actively losing weight (or working on it). So my new plan is to go for my bra fitting in June (the same time of year that I will be getting married) when I have been walking and biking around town for a few months, rather being than bundled up indoors and eating potatoes with cheese.

    • Aubry

      I fully plan on getting my dress made but still going shopping. What the hell, you’re only engaged once (maybe, hopefully) might as well get in there when you have the chance! And I plan on trying on really expensive dresses too, just for fun!

      • My sister used to work at a high-end bridal store, and those girls work really hard for their wage and commission. (And put up with a lot of high-strung WIC bullshit *and* some really, really terrible customers all day.) I’d feel really bad about wasting their time when I had no intention of buying, when they could be working with someone who is going to help them make their rent.

  • Amy March

    Would buying a second dress be a major financial headache, or just fine? Depending on the cost, I’d buy it now, and pin a note to it that says “this dress is a gift to myself I have been enjoying for a year. If it does not fit today, I have still gotten the pleasure of having it” to remind myself to be kind to myself when I try it on again.

  • Ellen

    I’m not getting married until July 2014 but I already bought my dress… and it is hanging in my future mother-in-law’s closet… oops. Last month I brought my mom and L’s mom dress shopping with me for my initial outing. I didn’t want to feel guilty that they wouldn’t have the experience of dress shopping in case I found the dress. Fully planned to not buy anything, not buy anything, not buy ANYTHING.

    And then I found it, on clearance, my size (or close enough that some tailoring can handle any fluctuations in the next year plus), totally unlike anything I’d ever seen and totally like me (and something out of an Austen novel). In a general store that also sells shotguns and gas and groceries and gold panning supplies. I couldn’t NOT buy it- and so I did.

    Fortunately the style is something that will lend itself well to a generous amount of tailoring if the need should arise, and it wasn’t so expensive that if my whole plan falls apart I won’t be devastated. And the ridiculous amount of after-the-fact web searching I’ve done hasn’t turned it up, so I’m glad I didn’t wait on it.

    Even though it was probably far too early to buy my dress, the story and everything else is worth that bit of risk to me.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      In a general store that also sells shotguns and gas and groceries and gold panning supplies.
      LOVE IT! My favorite cowboy boot store has bridal gowns in a back room. Cause, why not.

      • Ellen

        The best part is that both my dad and brother said “that’s so you”- in reference both to the dress AND where I bought it.

  • Hintzy

    I just recently went and bought a dress and we haven’t even really set a date yet… so I don’t know what size I will be at that time, I’m in the middle of working to undue the damage I did by taking a desk job after college. That being said, my dress was very very inexpensive ($100, at a charity sale, where I couldn’t have tracked it down again if I didn’t buy it that day). So yeah, those particular circumstances changed the worse case A vs worse case B scenarios for me. I think (even though I’m terribly prone to worrying too) that it’s a good way to look at it so you can come to a decision.

  • Sarah

    Can I ask why not buy the dress a size or two larger than you are right now? Then you can always have it altered to fit closer to the wedding date.

  • I’m sorry. WHEN…did you say she told you 15 weeks???? Is that standard??
    Please correct me if I’m wrong here, you guys, but I smell a rat.

    I just got back from a super fancy bridal place in NYC and they told me it would take absolutely no more than 2-3 months to get a dress direct from a designer, who stitch the darn things themselves for crying out loud.

    She’s lying. Call another store and see if they have it/will have it 6 months out. that sounds to me like a sales technique. “Buy it NOW or you will spontaneously combust.”

    • ElisabethJoanne

      I ordered my custom dress from a local small business which took my measurements, showed me fabric swatches, discussed options for details, and took my idea photos – then gave all that info to their contacts in China. (The saleslady’s notes were in Chinese.) I think my dress was ready for me to try on about 15 weeks later, which was 4 weeks later than they originally told me.

      I’m kind of curious about transit times – across the Pacific, then from a port in California or Mexico north and across the U.S. I’m sure that was several weeks of my waiting time.

  • HannahMay

    I did exactly this! Minus the health problems leading to weight changes, unless you count depression eating as a health problem. But yeah, I fell in love with a dress online about 2+ years before we planned to get married. I kept going back to it thinking “Oh, I have time, la la la” and then one day I went back to “visit” and they were sold out of my size. I PANICKED. And then I googled. And then I found it at another store in my size and ordered it and stuck it in my closet. Fast forward a year (which has included an epic amount of working out, not for wedding but just because I got in to it) and we’ve moved up the wedding date to August (SO EXCITED) and I still adore my dress, although it’s a bit too big now so I’m going to have to have it taken in. My biggest worry about buying my dress that early was that I wouldn’t love it any more by the time the wedding rolled around, and what decided me was that it was quite cheap by wedding dress standards (under $200) and I figured, well, if I don’t still love it by then I can eat that cost. I’ve spent more than that on less important clothing items before (i.e. prom dress). Regardless, I agree with the advice to go ahead and buy your dream dress up a size and have it taken in if necessary when the time comes.

  • Diane

    I bought my dress 15 months before my wedding (in less than a month now!). It was beautiful and elegant and felt good on and I looked relaxed in it — no funky screwing up my shoulders or tugging at the bust. There was a trunk show that weekend so I got it on sale at a place that really truly does not have other sales. The store held onto it for me in the interim, though, which is good when one has a feisty and curious cat. I’ve been in to try it on a few times, once a couple months after it arrived to make sure that I still liked it and it hadn’t all been a crazy impulse (not like me to impulse buy but still…), once so my mom could see it and we could choose a veil, once so my best friend (who was with me when I bought it) could see it and we could see how it worked with the shoes we’d just picked and because it was fun, and finally about a month ago to meet with the seamstress for the fairly minor alterations needed. At that last visit, I was instructed not to lose any weight (turns out I’m good at not losing weight!). This has worked great for me but that’s partly because my size doesn’t tend to fluctuate that much, even if my weight goes up or down by 10 lbs. For the record, though, I’ve never put it on and cried. Neither did my mother when she saw me in it. We’re both criers. My best friend did cry. She is not a crier.

  • Beth

    After trying on a bajillion dresses that made me feel good but not great, I came across a Nicole Miller dress on the Nordstroms website that I fell in love with, but was out of budget. After some sleuthing, I found it on ebay for within budget and promptly went off to the local Nordstroms to try it on. I loved it, and after thinking on it for a couple days, I decided to go for it….only to find that the ebay dress had sold. And then it was not even available on the Nordstroms site anymore and they wouldn’t sell the sample! And I couldn’t find it anywhere else online (new or used)! Suddenly it became THE ONE and I had missed it and was crushed. I figured it had been discontinued and that I was just out of luck.

    I had emailed a couple bridal salons about it and one of them got back to me and told me that, actually, it was part of the new spring line (which is why I couldn’t find it anywhere else yet) and they would have it at a trunk show the next weekend. Hallelujah, right? So I went and tried on that dress along with a bunch of others. I still loved it, as did everyone in the store and my mom (through pictures), but I also tried on another dress that I loved as well. And when I tried on the other dress the words, “I just feel like myself in this one,” came out of my mouth. But I was still stuck on the first dress and didn’t want to lose it again.

    The store was running a 10% discount for dresses purchased that weekend, so after going home to show pictures to my mom, I freaked out some more since I now couldn’t make up my mind between the two and I knew they were going to send the first dress back to NY and I wouldn’t be able to try them both on again. Luckily for me, the owner of the store decided she wouldn’t mind having an extra sample of the first dress, so she suggested that she order that one for me in my size and I could try them both on again when it came in, and if I didn’t like it, I could swap (best dress store owner ever). So that’s what we did. And when I went back in to try them both on again, it wasn’t even a question that the second dress was my dress. That whole “I feel like myself” thing should have given it away, but I was stuck on the first one and the opinions of the other people in the store.

    So, sorry for the long comment, but all this is to say that, sometimes, when you think you might lose out on something, it becomes much more desirable and can cloud your judgement. Which is what the sales people are counting on to get a sale. So maybe, just take a step back (try on some other dresses?) and see how you feel. Maybe do some research into used dresses to see how often that one pops up. If it’s everywhere, it might make your decision to wait a little easier.

  • Mellie

    I tried on about a bazzilion dresses and found one that wasn’t perfect but looked AMAZING and happened to be out of my price range and my wedding was a year away so I had the same fears as you… so I went on Ebay and was totally able to find that same one for half price that was one size too big and when we are a month or two out I will have it altered to fit perfectly and other alterations to make it perfect (add a sweetheart neckline, raise the waist, make it tea length.) I found an amazing affordable local tailor so the whole thing is getting me a $1,000 Casablanca dress with tons of customizations for the same price as the $700 DB dress I kind of liked which would have probably needed alterations too. I guess I am just sharing my story so you will know it can be beneficial to look on Ebay, etc, you can buy your dress early and have it work out, and that alterations and customizations don’t always break the bank. Get creative!

  • Amanda

    THIS IS MY DRESS. I knew that style number looked familiar. Depending on when you need it and what your size is, OP, maybe we could work something out. (My wedding is in May but I need the dress again for a reception we’re having next spring in my fiance’s home country. Also I normally wear a street size 10 but DB ordered the dress in a 14 for me for alterations.) Also it didn’t take anywhere near 15 weeks to come in when I ordered it, I think it took maybe three.

    • WHEN

      Thank you very much for the offer, but the stars aren’t quite aligning for that to work. I’m glad to hear about other brides that chose our dress though :)

  • Abilene

    I bought my dress about 11 months in advance — two weeks before we even booked our venue! It worked out for the best, but the next 11 months were filled with additional stress about fitting into my dress. I recommend waiting longer to make sure you don’t stress-eat, or your life circumstances change (I quit smoking, which is great, but it packed on 8 stubborn pounds). Another thing I recommend is a corset dress. Not only did I save on alterations (just a bustle and cups sewn in), it was adjustable. =)

  • Kara

    Umm, I bought a dress I couldn’t wear because I put on about 5 pounds in the wrong place. I bought it because was afraid I wouldn’t find anything else, thought I liked the style (since it was one of the first I tried on that fit me, not a size 6 model), and it was being discontinued. Ultimately, itt just made me feel all ugly. I finally took it to a (lovely wonderful) seamstress who gently suggested that it might be more worth our/her while to find something different. I did about 3 months before the wedding, and felt beautiful.

  • Sharon

    With a year to go, I found THE dress at a coture shop a few towns over. We pulled a bunch of dresses I’d never be able to fit into off the racks, but she said we could figure out what they would look like on me by holding them up to me. I was a bit skeptical, but figured, O.K., why not?

    Before we went through that excercise, she got an imaginary exclamation point over her head and she said she had a one of a kind dress in the back that might fit me. She came out with this gorgeous ivory tiered lace gown with beadwork on the bodice that looked like it would fit my size 20 body. Slipped it on and don’t you know that it fit me like a glove? It was even just the right length – all I need is a pair of low heeled shoes (I ordered a silver pair which arrives from Zappos today). It’s also the color I wanted, and the style is basically somewhere between modern and Victorian, which suits me to a T. My friend thought it looked perfect on me.

    I’m showing it to my mom and MIL and buying it tomorrow morning. Not 100% sure on the veil and headband I picked out, that’s what I want them there for. The dress is a total win.

  • Sharon

    PS: to the original question asker – the Oleg Cassini dresses are pretty timeless, and even if that particular dress gets discontinued, there will be other that look similar.