Ever since we got engaged (OK, pretty much since we met), I’ve been obsessed with the idea of my wedding dress. I knew exactly what I didn’t want, but other than that, I was open to trying on anything and everything. I have a deep, deep love for formal gowns (including prom gowns — every spring I drool over them), and I love looking at them, touching them and trying them on. Fiance joked that I might leave my wedding band at home and continue trying on gowns long after our big day. In total, I think I tried on 17, but The Dress was #7.

The Dress will remain super secret until the wedding, but  I do want to share my shopping experience. Even though I love dresses, I was pretty nervous. I was afraid I’d look huge or I wouldn’t be able to find The Perfect Dress Made Just For Me. I know that it is a dress for one day and I didn’t want to blow it out of proportion, but I’m a clothes person. My weight loss journey began in the pursuit of fashion. I watch awards shows only for the fashion. I love reading about high end fashion and how they construct couture. And, you know, it’s my WEDDING DRESS! I’ve never forgotten the weddings I’ve been to where the bride rocked an amazing gown.

The whole experience reminded me of shopping for my prom gown. I was a lot heavier, albeit not my heaviest, in high school, but I was still excited to go find a prom dress. At that weight I never worried that I wouldn’t find a gown or that I would look too fat in my dress.

My senior prom, May 2002. It’s funny how weight loss can skew your perception of yourself.

Anyways, I am so happy and so excited about my dress! I won’t officially purchase it until my mom sees me in it at the end of the month, but I could not believe I found The Dress so quickly. I think it has a lot to do with my approach to dress shopping, so I’ve put together some tips for other brides-to-be:

– Most importantly, enjoy it. This is such a happy time and you cannot let stress ruin this experience. After the death of my close friend back in December, I’ve learned how important it is to savor moments like this. My friend was 25 and will never get to shop for wedding dresses, so think of that before you have some bridezilla meltdown in the dressing room.

– Don’t set your heart on one particular dress. I saw two different ones in bridal magazines that I loved, but they were upwards of $7,500 ( … yeah). But I saw that each one that grabbed my eye had a lot of similar details and made sure to mention those when I shopped.

– Don’t judge a dress by how it looks on the hanger, in a plastic bag. If the sales girl brings it, try it. They always look completely different on.

– Get out there and shop. Go to 12 different stores if you want to or have to. As much as I love bridal magazines (and they are slowly but surely taking over the entire house), all the dresses were starting to look the same to me. It made such a difference to just bite the bullet and make the appointments.

– It’s great to have a specific dress style (A-line, ball gown, mermaid, etc) in mind, but I think it’s even better to give the sales girl a  bunch of adjectives: Timeless. Classic. Modern. Funky. Dramatic. Simple.

– Pick your dress before the bridesmaids’ dresses. Now that I’ve found The Dress, we can look for bridemaids’ dresses that really work well with it.

– And finally, much like when you met your fiance, when you put on the right dress, you will know. I’ve read that a million times and never really believed it, but it was true for me. When I put on The Dress, I pictured myself walking down the aisle in it — and that’s a visual I’d never  had before.

If you’re married or engaged, how many wedding dresses did you try on? How did you know when you’d found The Dress?