Try Something New: Editor pushes past comfort zone, finds ‘perfect’ wedding dress

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I’ve always wanted to elope.

So what was I doing in a bridal shop looking at intimidating, poofy and expensive gowns? Easy: I adore my future in-laws, and it is important to them their son and I have a traditional wedding. In the interest of forcing myself to try on bridal dresses, I thought I would document my first time bridal dress shopping.

First shop: Bliss

Bliss, a sparkly store located in the Red Cliffs Mall, is full of options to outfit an entire bridal party. My nerves hit me as I walked in knowing I was headed to the white dresses in the back.

I’ve never gone prom dress shopping, somehow managing to get myself grounded on both occasions when I would have gone, but I knew how you’re supposed to feel in “the dress:” like a magical, beautiful princess. However, I’m not much of the princess type, so I didn’t know how I’d feel.

With enthusiastic help from a sales clerk and my oldest sister, we picked out a handful of dresses and carted them off to the pretty changing room.

After an almighty struggle to swim through the yards of fabric, I wiggled my way into the first dress. It was going well until I started to try to zip it past my mid-back.

It was not going to budge. I am an unashamedly busty woman, and my boobs defeated any effort of zipping the rest of the dress.

This irritating problem persisted with larger dresses that fit my chest but it  looked ridiculous around the rest of my body. The last dress I tried on actually zipped and gave that va-va-voom look, but it wasn’t precisely my idea of bridal.

With thanks to the helpful sales clerk, we packed up and left empty-handed.

Second shop: Lee’s

A jam-packed little store located in a strip mall right across the street from the Red Cliffs Mall, Lee’s, is a hidden gem. Having shopped there before to outfit my future sister-in-law for her prom last year, I was already predisposed like the little bridal and prom shop.

The store owner, Lee, greeted us as we came in to her crowded shop. Dresses of all kinds filled the shop from the floor to, literally, the ceiling.

Inviting us to pick out a few dresses while she helped a client who was there before us, we perused the dresses. I was excited to find a short wedding dress among all the offerings, as short dresses are all I’ve looked at online.

Taking the little dress to the dressing room with another, sheath-like dress, I anticipated the magic.

Yeah, no fireworks there. I just looked really short. I mean, I am short, standing at only 5 feet and 1 inch tall.  But I just looked stumpy. It was fairly disappointing, as I was really looking forward to looking free-spirited and different from the run-of-the-mill bride.

The other dress was nice but a bit of a squeeze. This trip so far had really driven home that the 10 pounds I had gained over the semester had to go.

With some regretful waves (the prices at Lee’s were really good), I drove us to our last stop.

Third shop: Boulevard Bridal and Prom

Feeling somewhat discouraged with my first-time bridal shop run, I wasn’t looking forward to coming to this shop. Having been treated a bit brusquely on the phone when making the appointment, I went in fairly determined not to like anything. Not a hard prospect, since none of the other dresses made me feel more than burdened and squished.

After being guided to the bridal section of the shop, I prepared myself to flail into a few more gowns. Seriously, I have been a bridesmaid and maid of honor, but until this trip, I had no idea just how cumbersome wedding dresses were just to get into let alone wear.

And then it happened. I wrangled my body into the first dress and stepped out to get partially laced up into the corset-backed dress.

The effect was stunning. I finally had a waist, and my chest wasn’t unforgivably compressed to show off my curves. I felt attractive, elegant and bridal. It was the magical moment I had given up on.

Convinced to try on a few other dresses, that first dress stayed on my mind. I hadn’t planned on buying a dress here, so I hadn’t looked at the price of any of the dresses. I didn’t want to find out I had found my perfect dress and it was beyond the price point I set for myself.

Finally, after quickly dismissing two other dresses, I gathered the guts to ask the lady assisting me what the price of the first dress was. To my shock, it was only $399. With my self-imposed budget set at $500, I was so happy to be able to buy my unexpectedly perfect dress and make my sister burst into tears.

Maybe you don’t need a wedding dress now or ever, but I feel like by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and trying things I was fairly sure I didn’t want, I found what I was looking for.