Hannah Drake

Finding the Dress

MarriageHannah DrakeComment

I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted as soon as I started seriously thinking about my wedding. (Which, let's be honest, was before we got engaged.) We were originally going to have our wedding this upcoming Saturday, so when we first got engaged, it felt like the pressure was on to get to wedding planning right away. Naturally, one of the first things I did when I got back to the States was make an appointment to start looking for a dress. For some reason, It thought it would be best to start at David's Bridal, thinking they'd have a big selection so I could try on different shapes, styles, colors, fabrics, etc. I was wrong. Almost every dress I looked at had more things on my "absolutely not" list than it did things I liked about it. Too much sparkle. Too much white. Too pouffy. Too tacky. Too simple. I don't know. Just all around no. It was overwhelming and discouraging. In the end, I found a dress I liked enough that was incredibly marked down, which of course made me think I liked it even more. I left the store empty handed, considering calling back later to put the dress on layaway. That night, before they closed, I called to reserve the dress, paying 25% of the total to keep it while I thought about it. They assured me that if I changed my mind, I could use the money for something else, so I figured there was no harm. If I found something else at another shop, I could buy my shoes there, gifts, or even my mom could get her dress there.

After a bit of a rough start, I made a few more appointments at smaller boutiques in the area, all of which got cancelled when I found my dress at the next appointment. There, I was a little bit nervous because my consultant simply pointed me in the direction of what I had described instead of pulling dresses she thought might fit my description like the consultant at David's Bridal had done. But the first dress I put my hand on ended up being the one I bought. I tried it on first and through all the other dresses, I kept saying "I don't know, I just want to put the other dress back on." I guess that's how I knew!

Afterward, I posted on Instagram:

Before I was 6 months old, I had had two heart surgeries, leaving me with a scar on my back and a scar on my chest that only grew bigger as I grew bigger. For a long time, I vowed to have plastic surgery to revise the scar on my chest before my wedding day. I was convinced I wouldn't feel comfortable in a wedding dress with the scar visible--that it would be all anyone would see--and in my darkest moments, convinced I wouldn't even find a man who would love me because of my scars.

In recent years, the scars have faded and my hatred and shame has morphed into love and pride. I am blessed to have access to modern medicine and be so loved by a God who had bigger plans for me. Last night I tried on a beautiful dress that was everything I had envisioned and I didn't even noticed my scar peeking out from the neckline. I found a man who loves me and loves my heart, scars and all, and I cannot wait to be his wife.

That dress ended up being exactly what I originally. It was the right shape, the right color, the right neckline, the right fabric. Everything! I know some brides end up buying something that was almost the exact opposite what they wanted, which is great! I know some brides who tried on what they thought would be their dream dress and hate it. That's why everyone recommends trying on a variety of dresses until you find the right one. And yes, it's so cliche, but you'll just know it when you see it.

A little while later, I got a new coworker who's getting married this weekend actually. We seriously considered going to a beautiful shop in Denver with some friends to try on insanely expensive wedding dresses, eat cake, and drink champagne. It would have been so much fun, but it never happened. Maybe that's for the best because wouldn't it have been a shame if either of us had tried on a dress that we loved more than the one we already got? However, the only safe way I could have gone there is knowing I already had a dress because those dresses started at about double my budget and went to over $10,000, according to their site!

A lot of people have asked me about my dress over the last few months. I mean, more than the usual "Oooh, have you found your dress yet? Can I see?" They want to know if I bought it there or here. (There.) They want to know how it's getting here. Well, I'm so happy you asked! My mom is actually flying it out here next month! She's working on shipping the rest of my stuff over in a crate in the next few weeks, which we considered adding the dress to. But if something happened to the crate? Oh my gosh, what a nightmare! So we decided that the best course of action was her to personally see it make it's way over the Atlantic. I did some research about flying with your wedding dress (Hello, destination wedding!) and basically discovered that it depends on the airline. (Here's a great article from The Knot about carrying on your dress with different airlines.) The consensus was carry it on. For a lot of destination weddings, you don't have much wiggle room to hunt down lost luggage, and while I would have, it's just not worth the risk. Earlier this week, my mom and I FaceTimed to talk about our options. She found an incredibly cheap flight through Norwegian Airlines, but after reading some reviews, we figured it wouldn't be best because they have a reputation for forcing passengers to check carry-on bags at the gate (and pay for it), in addition to weight restrictions on carry-on luggage, which many discount airlines do these days. It wasn't worth the risk, especially when she found a British Airways flight for only about $100 more that flew into a more convenient airport a week earlier. The boutique where I bought the dress, offered to pack the dress in her luggage before the trip, so all she has to do is bring her carry-on to the shop and they'll take care of the rest. After that, I guess I'll have to trust Luke that he won't got peeking in the garment bag that will probably be hung on the back of our guest room door, since--you know--no closets in England.

Honestly, I think I'm excited most about getting to wear my dress on our wedding day. You should be excited about your dress. You should be itching to spill the beans to your fiancé at every opportunity. I think you should have that same "The One" feeling about your dress as your fiancé! If you don't have that feeling when you try it on, maybe it's not the right dress for you.

I'll leave you with a few tips for wedding dress shopping:

1. Shop within your budget, whatever it is. While it would have been so fun to visit that boutique in Denver with my friends, it wouldn't have been a wise move while still seriously considering every dress. Like I mentioned, the cheapest dress there was well over my budget and only got more and more expensive from there. It might be fun to play dress up in insanely expensive dresses, but not when you fall in love with a dress that you'd have to refinance your house for. Everyone has a budget, even brides who end up buying a $10,000 dress, so figure it out before hand and plan accordingly. I wouldn't go to a shop that didn't have anything in my price range and I probably wouldn't recommend trying on a dress when you know it's more than you can afford.

2. Do your research. I don't even mean about the dresses. I think it's perfectly acceptable to not really know what you want and try it all. But do your research about the shops. Make sure they have something you want. And you know how every scene in any sitcom or rom com has the bride and her friends drinking champagne in a beautiful--and empty--boutique, maybe even eating cake? The shop where I bought my dress wouldn't even let us bring in water. The shop in Denver encouraged us to bring champagne and snacks when we called to make an appointment. Find out if you have to make an appointment. (You probably do.) Find out if you'll have one-on-one access to a consultant. Find out what they recommend you wear in terms of under garments. All that fun stuff.

3. Keep an open mind. Just because you tried on what you thought you wanted and didn't love it doesn't mean it's hopeless. There's still a dress out there for you. Bring along people you trust to give you honest feedback. Bring a camera to see how it photographs. 

4. Have fun. Of course! There's only one time in your life when you get to dress up in an unlimited amount of wedding dresses! Embrace it and have fun with it. Yeah, shopping isn't for everyone, big fluffy white gowns aren't for everyone, but still give yourself a chance to fall in love with something you can't wait to wear on your wedding day.