I'm not gonna post photos of THE dress, for obvious reasons, but after giving it some thought I decided to post photos of the other two favorites I had. (Initially I made my mom delete them from my phone so I wouldn't start second-guessing my decision, but then I saw them in my Photostream and I can say with complete confidence that I made the right choice. So that's awesome.)
I had harbored a lot of anxiety about dress shopping in the week or so leading up to it, for some reason. I just felt a lot of pressure about the whole thing. Dress shopping is so built up thanks to shows like Say Yes to the Dress, etc., and I was worried that my indecisive nature would prevent me from having that "A-ha!" moment upon finding The One. And for most of the trip, it seemed like that would indeed be the case.
We started at Elegant Bride, a little boutique in Dublin. The staff was really friendly and helpful, and the dresses (and their price points) were awesome. We pulled about eight or 10 gowns and got started. When I emerged from the dressing room in the first gown, I did have a bit of a "moment." All I could say was, "You guys, this is a wedding dress!" It was a little overwhelming, and I fell in love with it. Which was surprising, because...
(Allure Bridals style 9121)
...it was pink. A light blush pink, yes, but pink nonetheless. (It looks more peachy in the photo, but next to the white dresses it looked straight-up baby pink.) I even got a little teary in it. Looking back though, I think that had more to do with the fact that it was the very first wedding dress I ever tried on. I tried on the others, but kept coming back to that pink one. Ultimately, I knew I had to at least go to my other four appointments and see what other options were out there. So off we went to store #2.
That was Trumpington Bridal House in Worthington, another small boutique. I tried on close to a dozen that were all "it's okay, but...[insert blank]." None of them really felt like The One, though I did like a slim one with a keyhole back, one with a gorgeous illusion neckline, and this one:
(Unfortunately, I didn't catch the label/style number for this one)
Then one emerged as a top contender. I think my mom wanted to get married again herself, she loved that dress so much. It was beautiful and really figure-flattering. I liked it a lot, but I didn't tear up or anything. (Well, I did when my sister said that my daughter would be more likely to re-wear it than the pink one, but again, I think that was more of the circumstances than the dress itself.) I was especially happy with the price point; it was the floor sample of a discontinued style, so I could buy it off the rack for half off, which was well under my budget. It had the added bonus of having the bra and crinoline all sewed in, so I wouldn't have to buy those separate. And really, it was very, very pretty.
At that point, we had to leave for my cousin's bridal shower up in northern Ohio. We hung out and visited family for a while after, and didn't get back to Columbus until nearly midnight. Sunday morning, we hit the shops again after brunch at Northstar. I had made up my mind by then that if I didn't find anything at the third store (Alfred Angelo in Dublin), I'd go with the Trumpington gown. I cancelled my remaining two appointments, which were stores I had previously had bad staff experiences at anyway, and started trying to convince myself of the merits of the Trumpington gown: It was super affordable for me, it was really beautiful, it made my figure look amazing. I tried to convince myself that if I bought it, I'd feel like it was The One.
Alfred Angelo is more of a showroom than the other two stores, so I told the consultant what I liked and didn't like, showed her the first two dresses and rattled off a list of Alfred Angelo styles I had liked online. She then went and pulled about eight dresses for me. None of them were really doing it for me, though they were all very pretty. I tried on the "Snow White" gown from their Disney Fairy Tale Bridal collection, but was a bit put off by how much was going on with the bodice and the whole "wearing a Disney-branded wedding dress" thing. And then this one was nearly perfect (with a white sash instead of a colored one), but it dipped far too low in the back for my taste, which also prevented it from being a strapless dress. I could have had a seamstress remove the straps and insert the boning, but it likely would have been crazy-expensive. So that was the second-to-last dress in the pile. As I was getting into it, I mentioned a little detail I had neglected to mention before. (I don't want to say what it is and give any hints, sorry!) So as I'm modeling this, my consultant grabs another dress to try on.
I put it on and I remember thinking, "Yeah, this is kind of nice" as I looked down at it. Then I crossed over to the mirror, looked up and basically melted. I was crying before I even stepped up onto the pedestal. I was crying so much I had to stop and calm myself so I could get a full look at the thing. I turned around and everyone in my group was teary--even my typically pragmatic, reserved sister. It was such an overwhelming flood of feels. Someone handed me a little fake bouquet and had me walk around the store, and I swear it looked like I was floating in this thing. Then she faced me to the mirror again and told me to walk toward it, pretending that I was walking down the aisle to meet my groom, and I lost it all over again. I could barely choke out the word "yes" when they asked me if this was It. Then the whole store clapped and I was really embarrassed because I was still crying. So much for thinking I wouldn't have an "a-ha!" moment.
Then it was all discussions about a few tiny alterations I wanted (including pockets, yay!) and measurement-taking and card-swiping (hello, airline miles!). It wound up being a little more than most of my other contenders, but still a great price for the quality of the gown. Plus, I'm getting a brand-new dress, not a floor sample or anything. (And for anyone who's wondering about the financials of it, I'll say this: I did charge it to get airline miles to use toward the honeymoon, but as soon as the transaction posts in a day or two, I'm paying it off with money from my wedding savings fund. So I'm not paying interest or going into actual debt on such a significant purchase.)
After that was over, my mom and sisters went home and I hung out with Emily for a bit, who had come to Ohio for shopping and for a baby shower in Cincinnati the day before. She and I made some bouquet flowers and grabbed dinner before she had to leave. She is officially the queen of a certain style of flower that I am absolutely terrible at, though I think she gave me enough pointers to make a reasonable attempt at them in the future.
And just for fun, here's another shot of me in one of the dresses, reacting to a request for me to "strike a pose like in the magazines."