Dress shopping is by far my favorite part of wedding planning. Even though I basically haven't decided on anything else yet, I am pretty sure I've found my dress as you may have figured out from this post. It took more than ten bridal boutiques and literally hundreds of dresses for me to find "the one," and I figured if there is any journey that it is important for me to share with you, it's this one.
I started looking at wedding dresses before I got engaged. Like, significantly before I got engaged. This seems to be a habit with me. I have always been strongly attracted to formal dresses, and I started trying on prom dresses when I was twelve. In fact, Daniel will probably do a Groom-inations post at some point about how weary he is of following me into formal dress shops whenever we go shopping. Needless to say, I was eager to try on wedding dresses long before I had a good reason to do so.
My friend Laura gave me an excuse. She started patrolling WeddingBee.com during our junior year of college and eventually asked if I wanted to go try on wedding dresses with her. I wasn't hard to convince. As neither of us were engaged at this point, we were a bit anxious when we walked into Kate's Kouture for the first time, especially since we didn't even have an appointment. We needn't have been. Kate is one of the nicest people I've ever met, and she was exceptionally welcoming and helpful even though she only had half-an-hour free before she had an appointment and even though we had no idea what we were doing. We tried on two dresses each, and both of us fell in love instantly. Seriously, this shop may not be huge, but it's got good stuff, and if you live anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area, I would highly recommend stopping by Kate's, for the service if nothing else.
Since we had such a good experience, we made an actual appointment to go back and brought along a friend who was engaged for real! but already had a dress. It was during this visit that I fell in love with my first dress. Even then (almost two years ago) this dress had been discontinued and was only available off the rack, so I don't have pictures, but I really wish I did because it had the most beautiful sweetheart neckline I have ever seen (Even now. Remember, I've worn hundreds of dresses). At the time, it was exactly what I was looking for: sweetheart neckline, cap sleeves, A-line, decorative but not overdone. And being off the rack, it would have cost me about $400 with the major alterations it would have needed. I came very close to buying that dress when I actually got engaged. But it never felt quite right enough for me to do it, and now I'm glad I didn't because I've definitely found dresses I liked more since. Still, it was a great start to my dress hunt, and I still feel like I owe Kate a lot.