On Finding “The One”

To be honest, shopping for my wedding dress was not something that really excited me. I’ve always found wedding dresses a little bit…well, ugly! Even though we got engaged in March I didn’t go dress shopping for the first time until the end of April and it was a very unsuccessful experience with very unhelpful sales people. I pushed the whole idea of buying a wedding dress to the back of my mind for the summer.

When I visited Minneapolis last weekend Lisa took me to a really sweet little bridal shop in St. Paul called The Wedding Shoppe, and it was there I found “the one”.

Let’s back up…

Here’s what I knew I didn’t want:

  • Strapless
  • A train
  • A big poufy bottom that I could barely move around in

For example, this dress (blegh!):


When I went shopping in April with my mom and MOH, Michele, I tried on a few really flowy dresses and I LOVED the way they felt. No pouf, no problem moving around, very laidback and beachy (which suited our venue). I thought for sure that’s the kind of dress I’d end up with.

photo(39) photo(38)

Only problem was they did not flatter my body type. I have big hips and a small chest. If a dress fits me in the hips it’s going to be too big in the chest. If it fits me in the chest it’s going to be too small in the hips. Every time.

I thought “oh well”, I’ll find one like this that does work for my body. Because I loved the concept.

Once I started trying on dresses with Lisa and Amber last weekend it became clear the flowy style was NOT working with my body. The first hip-hugging dress I put on kind of made me go oh, ok, maybe I don’t have to be so worried about hiding my hips…


And that’s when we found it. It was one the sales lady had brought in for me and one I NEVER would have pulled off the rack myself. It has a lace-up back and as she was lacing it up I remember thinking “hmmm, where is my waist going?!”

Once I had it on it I thought this Iis something I could see myself walking down the aisle in.

But I am not an instantaneous decision maker so I said we’d put it aside and I’d try on more. The dress below was a VERY CLOSE runner up for me. I really liked how it looked and fit, but it wasn’t *quite* right, especially when compared side-by-side with “the one”.

photo(34) photo(35)

I tried on “my dress” again and just kind of looked at myself for awhile. It felt really right. But there was no way I could make a decision without emailing the photos to my mom and consulting her. I got all the dress information written down for me and we headed over to David’s Bridal.

This dress was another one I strongly considered. But whenever I looked at pictures of myself in these dresses and then pictures of me in “the one” they don’t even compare. Side note: the below photo on the right made me realize I do NOT want a veil. I feel like I am looking at a stranger in that photo and it does not feel like me at all!

photo(36) photo(37)

So after a full day of dress shopping I decided to do my classic decision making move: sleep on it (seriously people, I sleep on ALL major life decisions).

But after emailing my mom photos and asking Lisa and Amber approximately 1,000,000 times if I could borrow their phone just one more time to look at the picture of me in the dress, I knew it was the one! I used to think I’d know the second I put the dress on and I would burst into tears or something, but that’s really not the kind of person I am. I am all about weighing decisions in my head so the fact that I thought about it, compared it, kept looking at photos of it etc. is much more my decision-making style!

I ordered it on Wednesday and emailed the final paperwork yesterday. Wheee! I officially have my wedding dress ordered and will have it in my hands in 16-24 weeks 🙂

Sorry, I’m not sharing pictures of THE ONE on the blog (too risky for Eric to find them!) but I’m not opposed to people seeing it. If you really want to see let me know and I can email you the link or a photo of me in it 🙂


Questions of the day: If you’re married how did you pick out your wedding dress? Did you know right away? Did you sleep on it like me? Did you cry when you found “the one”?

If you’re not married, what kind of decision-maker are you? Instantaneous or the take-your-time-and-mull-things-over kind?

57 Responses

  1. Most of my friends had a similar experience as you. They found it, but kept looking “just in case”. Gotta be sure, right?

  2. J says:

    I looked and looked for my dress. I found one I really liked but it just didn’t feel right so I kept looking. At the final place I described to the woman what I wanted and the first dress she pulled I loved. There were no tears – I just knew it was the one I wanted to wear!

  3. I am so glad you had a fun experience finding “the one”. And I feel really honored to have been there with you when you found it! It was such a special experience! I got to be with Brooke when she found the one, too, and it’s as cheesy as this sounds, it’s a memory I will always treasure. And Brooke was alot like you – she didn’t cry. She just knew, though. I think that is how I will be, too. I am a cryer, but I don’t think a dress will make me cry, but time will tell, I guess! However, I am pretty quick when it comes to decision making! I think I would still sleep on it like you did, and consult my mom if she wasn’t there, but I think I would probably have my mind set and would sleep on it for good measure…

    So, so excited for you! This post makes me miss you even more. That was such a fun day, from running in the morning, to lunch at cafe latte, to dress shopping, to grilling. It was really just one of those amazing, picture perfect days. 🙂

  4. Shop Girl* says:

    I love the last dress you posted… you look incredible! I can’t wait to see the real one!

    When I got married the (soon-to-be) Hubster and I were on a very tight budget. Our goal was to do our entire wedding + reception of 200 people for $2000. We stayed on track, but it meant I had to get creative with my dress. I knew I wasn’t the sentimental type of person who wanted to have a dress to own and keep in a box in my closet for eternity, so… I borrowed one. There’s a bit of a story, but essentially I shopped in people’s closets! Someone I sort of knew–we didn’t have any of the same circles of friends–had a dress that I LOVED and offered to lend it to me. I tried it on, and it was perfect. So that’s how I found my dress. 🙂

  5. Heather says:

    I think with all the bridal shows I have watched and friends that have gotten married, not many people actually cry. Knowing how I am, I doubt I am going to cry when I find the dress.

    I want to see your dress!!!

  6. lisa says:

    Yay for finding the one!

    I think things in general are more complicated now than they were when I got married. I went to a few bridal shops, found what I liked best, and bought it. I didn’t have as many options as you have now. I think I’d be anxiety stricken if I had to wedding dress shop for myself these days.

  7. I’m pretty convinced that wedding dress sales people can see into your very soul and know more about you than you do.

    After trying on a lot of dresses and still not being 100% sure of what I wanted, the lady helping me at the last store had me try on a dress that I never would have thought of trying on. I loved it. I loved everything about it…except for the price. Well, sales lady to the rescue. The same designer made almost the same dress in a different fabric (instead of the super pricey raw silk). And that was my dress 🙂

    I didn’t have a tonne of time (I had already been scolded at another store and told that there would be NO way a dress would come in time…meanwhile, my dress came super early) so I didn’t sleep on it…I just went for it and I didn’t regret it at all.

  8. Becky says:

    I love your dress – it suits you so well! Plus I can totally see you with a flower tucked behind your ear, instead of a veil!

    I’m not an impulse-decision maker but when it came to buying my wedding dress I definitely didn’t sleep on it. I was quietly surprised, but decided that day to get it. I had to wait a few days to order it because the store I went to wouldn’t order me a brand-new one (I had to go to the same chain in a different place), but I ordered it within a week I think!

  9. I tried on 80 dresses in one day, and didn’t see anything that was “just right.” When I finally walked out in “the one” my mother-in-law cried. She and I both knew right away. I bought it and didn’t try on any others.

  10. This was such a wonderful, wonderful day! I have never dress shopped with a friend and had things be so calm… so peaceful and easygoing! You kept your head on straight and was so cautious and thoughtful about everything. I hope that someday I can be the same way when I am shopping for wedding dress. But… I am pretty impulsive. As I have gotten older I’ve gotten better, but I have found (as I have gotten older) that my gut instinct is rarely wrong. Obviously with some things I tend to mull them over, but other things I am impulsive with. It’s hard to distinguish what things those are until you know me… Maybe you get what I’m talking about already?
    Aaaanyway. This was a special day that I know I will remember forever. The dress you picked was perfect and simply made for you!

  11. Yay for finding your dress! I’m with you on veils – they’re not for everyone. I did wear one, but I refused to put it over my face like so many brides do – that part just wasn’t “me”.

    I got my dress during my very first shopping trip! In fact, my friend Becky surprised me with an appointment to look at them! She was getting married only a few months after I got engaged & I already had plans to go to her final dress fitting with her…and she set it up so I could try on dresses right after her fitting! I only tried on about 5 or 6 dresses, and cried for 2 of them. The 1st one I cried for I immediately called my mom & told her to come to the shop because I found “the one”…but then they found one more dress for me to try on & it was PERFECT! I cried again & could really envision myself in it on my wedding day. So that’s the one I got! And I must admit…part of me still gets little flutters inside when I see pictures of me in it on our wedding day – just a magical day & tons of fun!

  12. Café Moka says:

    Yay for finding the perfect dress! I totally want to see you in THE dress! Email me the link!
    Thank you!!!

  13. Nora says:

    One of my mom’s best pieces of advice to me: always sleep on it and make no decisions at night. I’ve abided by that and it has done me wonders 🙂 So glad you found your the one dress! Consideirng I saw photos I know how stunning you look and just so excited for you 🙂

    I will probably start my hunt closer to the end of this year, even though I am 99.9% sure I have found the dress I want. I still would like the experience!

  14. I definitely knew my dress was my dress. It really had every element I was looking for. I didn’t cry, but I was totally giddy and excited. I’m glad you found yours! 🙂

  15. Leigh says:

    So exciting that you found the one! I would love to see it if you have a chance to send it my way 🙂

    When I went looking for my dress, it was the 3rd one I tried on. I loved it, but I waited for my mom’s opinion on it before I committed to it. I ended up buying it used which saved me a tonne of money and I was so happy with it!

  16. Holly says:

    I’m glad you found “the one”! We got engaged in early October and I didn’t start looking for my dress until January. I just wasn’t into it – I hate wearing dresses, and I was never one of those girls who poured over bridal magazines and gushed over the dresses. When I did go shopping, I found my dress pretty quickly but it took me a couple of weeks to realize it. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in any of the dresses so I found the designer’s website and looked at it 20+ times a day 🙂 I had tried on so many but it was the one I kept going back to – so that’s the one I picked 🙂

  17. Caroline says:

    Hmm.. I’m not sure what kind of wedding dress decision maker I will be! I tend to over think about a lot of things and go back and forth and overall be really indecisive! But then other times I just know deep down what I want (but usually sleep on it anyways if it’s a big decision!). I have a feeling wedding dress shopping will be more stressful than it will fun for me haha.
    I love the last two dresses you pictured, so I can’t wait to see “the one” – but I think I want to be surprised come July : )

  18. Katrina says:

    That’s super exciting, I didn’t feel the whole wedding vibe until I found my dress and the whole shopping for one was annoying for me, i’m not into the whole girly “omg wedding dress shopping” deal. We went to a few places with no luck, then I found my dress in a bridal magazine and I knew it was the one, I called around to all the stores until I found the place that had it, made an appointment and went and tried it one, and it was the one, it was everything I wanted.
    I love your dress 🙂

  19. mania says:

    Hi Amber, finding the right dress is so hard. I had one thing that I really wanted and was one shoulder dress, like you puffy strapless dress was a big NO for me 😉 when you see the right one you just feel it . I don’t remember that I cried but I was SO happy when I find the right one. I still have it in my closet 😉

  20. Amy says:

    Ah! You look so pretty! I can’t wait to see the one!

  21. Those two runner up dresses look amazing on you, so the one you picked must be fantastic! Im so excited for you!! 🙂

  22. omg i LOVE the lace/vneck one AND the last one is so beautiful on you!!! That is the style my mom wanted for me (until she saw it on me) but you would be her dream daughter in this dress hahaha. I can’t wait to see which one you chose!!

  23. Heather C says:

    I want to see it!! 🙂 Ha, I am not patient enough to wait until next July.

    The dress is something I’ll be excited about, but the shopping part doesn’t excite me at all. Not an all-out shopping type, and when I do find it, I definitely won’t cry. I’ll just get impatient from that moment on, wanting the day to come when I can finally wear it!

  24. Emily Jane says:

    I would love to see a photo of the one!! Yay for finding it! I went shopping alone because I just wanted to get it out of the way lol, and bought something ridiculously cheap in a spur of the moment decision… then watched way too much “Say Yes to the Dress” and realised I really wanted a proper, NOT off the rack dress that I was in love with. So I got another one, and even then, I saw it on the mannequin and knew right away. I think I’m just a very impatient (or “spontaneous”) person! 🙂

  25. Lisa says:

    I love the dress you tried on with the veil. I agree on the veil, I don’t think I’d use a veil.

    I am looking forward to one day dress shopping. I may not be super girly but I do want to enjoy the whole dress-up experience! 🙂

    I agree on the strapless thing. It seems like ALL wedding dresses are now the style that is like halter-tops–no sleeves or straps? I don’t like that at all.

  26. pensive says:

    I’m almost ashamed to admit that I am a married woman who has never even tried on a wedding dress. Getting married didn’t even really appeal to me, I would have been perfectly content to live in sin for the rest of my life. But Hubby wanted it, and I wanted him to be happy.

    We were engaged just over two whole months, so a traditional wedding dress was impossible anyway. I wore an off while ball skirt with pockets for lipstick and such, an off white cashmere sweater set, and some seriously amazing off white suede stiletto boots. And yeah, I just knew that was what I wanted. I walked into Macy’s eveningwear department, saw the skirt, and bought it. I was so chill it was weird.

    Of course, my mother still saw fit to put Xanax in my tea on my wedding day. She thought I’d been so calm for so long, I was bound to freak out and not show up.

    I really love your blog, and I am backtracking to read every post. You are awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Kara says:

    I definitely didn’t sleep on it when it came to picking my dress, but that’s how I roll. If I see something I like – I buy it! I went and looked at dresses a week after I got engaged and bought it the same day. I don’t *think* I knew it was the dress right away because I tried on a few more after it, but my mind kept going back to it. I tried it on again and I just felt right. Then they put a veil in my hair and my mom started crying, which made me cry. I don’t think I would’ve cried if it wasn’t for my mom crying!

  28. Kyria says:

    I want to see THE ONE!

    The last two dresses are beautiful, so I am sure The One is even better! Yay!

    I am TOTALLY NOT an impulse shopper/decision maker. I would have done the exact same thing you did. Actually I pretty much do that will all decisions. I think having a clear head and not being too stuck on one thing definitely makes it easier in the long run. You sound like a very non-crazy bride, which is good, since some brides are CRAZY!

  29. erin says:

    i totally know how you feel. And i always knew i never wanted a veil. which was totally fine. they tried to stick veils on me, and tiaras – no go! it just looked awkward on me!

    can’t wait to see actual wedding day pictures in just under a year!!! =) I rather wait until your special day before i see pictures!

  30. Nicole says:

    My wedding dress shopping experience was very similar to yours, except that I was super excited to go dress shopping! I just couldn’t find “the one” and to this day (5 years later!) I feel like I never found “the one.”

    While I like the dress that I went with, it had almost everything that I said I didn’t want. I wanted a satin dress- I ended up with tulle and lace (not pouffy though); I wanted strapless with a straight across neckline-my dress had a sweetheart neckline; I didn’t want the swag to the one side at the waist- my dress had a subtle swag. I wanted a lace up back and my dress had a zipper with buttons.

    Since I ended up going with a dress that was very different than what I originally wanted, I wish I had tried on a bunch of other dresses that weren’t exactly what I wanted and maybe I would have found “the one?” I just see other people’s dresses and like them way more than mine!

    I think the hip-hugging silhoutte looks wonderful on you!! Makes your waist look tiny! Can you send me a picture of you in “the one” please?

    I am not trying to persuade you, but there are a few ways to wear a veil other than in the picture you posted. Mine was clipped in under my updo and it was floor length so you could barely see it when looking at me from the front. I am not a fan of the veils that take over your head either!

  31. Wendy says:

    I’m glad you managed to figure out what worked best for you, congrats on finding the dress!

    I had a week to find a dress when I was back in Ontario for vacation (living in northern Alberta = no options for 450km to find a dress!) and that was probably the most frustrating thing for me! I must have tried on over 60 dresses, met every kind of wacky salesperson out there (seriously some crazy ones, included the eastern european “No, do not try, that not look good on you, you be swim in that one, is this the one you want?!”), and didn’t get to it until the last place that we tried. When I put on the one that I will be wearing ( in 3.5 weeks!), I was just looking at the mirror when I was getting it on and went “oh….”, just quietly thinking and surprised about all the others I tried vs this one.

    I struggled because I am petite in wedding dresses (size 2-4), and it was so hard to picture myself in dresses I was literally pinned into, whereas many others the dresses are close to fitting them. I think we always seem to go back to the ones that fit us best, because we can actually see what it’s like to wear it on our day.

  32. I got engaged just days before losing my aunt. Therefore, I was in a real wedding blues funk for awhile–and had no desire to do anything “wedding” related. My dear friend from Texas came to visit me late last summer—and we decided to get some exercise one afternoon. We put on our jogging clothes and headed on a jaunt through my town. While going down Main St—we saw some dresses in the bridal shop and she suggested we “stop.” I was sweaty and probably looked like the most out of place bride-to-be in my shorts and tank top—but I agreed. My only stipulation was “We’ll just LOOK.” Of course, she was able to talk me into trying some dresses on and before I knew it, SHE had found the perfect dress for me. I never really had a “vision” for what I wanted my dress to be—but I knew it needed to fit my personality. It certainly did 🙂
    I loved everything about my dress—and I love seeing it in all of my pictures. I will always remember the day I picked out with my dear friend–and I love that you now have a special memory like that with Lisa and Amber!!!

  33. I actually designed and made my own dress, which made it actually…easier. I didn’t try on any dresses; I just sketched a few ideas, bought some fabric (on sale, duh!) and after making a test dress in cheap muslin, cut and sewed my silk. It DID actually need alterations, even though I used my body measurements, because it was a snug fit and I gained a few lbs before the wedding! But luckily I could handle the alterations, too!
    I’m glad you found your dress relatively easily; can’t wait to see it!

  34. Stephany says:

    I am the worst at making big impulse shopping buys. I’m getting better at making myself sleep on decisions or wait a week to see if I still want what it was I “had to have” at that moment, but I have a feeling that when I go wedding dress shopping, I’ll just KNOW and have to order the dress RIGHT THEN. Hopefully not, but we’ll see when my time comes! 🙂

    I would *love* to see a photo of the dress, if you don’t mind!!

  35. So exciting! I’m so glad your second experience was a better one. Can’t wait to see all the other details fall into,place as younger closer to the wedding! You look beautiful in all of them – I bet the one you chose is stunning!!!

  36. Kelly says:

    As usual I could’ve written this post. I had the same three “I don’t wants” and I also did not really get excited much about wedding dresses. I was more excited about bright, colorful and fun bridesmaid dresses haha. I agree that wedding dresses are sometimes very ugly haha.

    I know I debated a bit between two dresses- both I liked but one was more me. There was never ANY chance I was going to cry when I tried on “the one” or anything like that, no offense to anyone who did but that’s just not me. It’s just a dress. The whole wedding itself is way more fun!

  37. Jessica says:

    Weeeee! I’m so glad to hear you found one. The ones you photographed looked pretty good, I cannot wait to see what you chose!

  38. nicole says:

    i need to email you the picture of me in my dress and my reaction. no tears just SUPER happy and excited. I think we are SO alike! 🙂

  39. after my dream of you last night.. i kind of need to see it hahahah. i knew what i wanted in theory and just had to find it in a store.. and i tried on some horrible ones. im not sure i knew knew it was the one, i kind of just knew i was starving and i loved the dress and it was time for lunch hahaha. but my mom cried when i put it on so i assume that meant it was the one. 😉

  40. Jen says:

    Ohmigod – I SERIOUSLY cannot wait to see your dress!! I would love it if you emailed it to me 🙂

  41. eemusings says:


    OMG, I am so not looking forward to the dress hunt.

    Your list of don’t wants is identical to mine. Whether it’s a halter, spaghetti straps or those pretty straps that get wider at top and slimmer where they join the dress, I need something up there because I don’t have the boobs to hold up a strapless one.
    I actually was keen on a super super slim dress (like Pippa Middleton’s figure hugging bridesmaid gown) but that might be just as hard to move around in as a poofy one. I’m thinking possibly a bit of a flared or fuller skirt might not necessarily be a dealbreaker for me – kind of like the ones you tried on.

    Send me the photo pleeeease! 😀

  42. Carissa says:

    congrats on finding “the one”! thanks for sharing your wedding dress shopping experience… it was so fun seeing you in all the different dress styles! I think you’d make a beautiful bride no matter what, you look seriously stunning in those dresses above, so I can only imagine how fabulous “the one” is!!! Even if you didn’t cry when you found “the one,” I’m sure Eric will shed a few tears when he sees you walking down the aisle in it! can’t wait to see!

  43. Melissa says:

    Yay for finding the right dress!! I remember when my sis-in-law found her dress too, girls just *know* when they see it. Always. It’s so awesome.

    I’d love to see a picture of you!! I love weddings like, a lot. 🙂

    Also question for you, like SO unrelated but I’m asking anyway… I didn’t realize until recently that we were the same age because you already have like a full-time career and house and all that- but how did you get a job so quickly? Did you graduate from school young & find something right away?

  44. I’m sure that was a tough decision to make. I love the last one you showed here. I’m definitely looking for one with the little shoulder strap like that when I go searching someday. I just feel like strapless dresses never look great on me.

    So exciting that you found the one! And it’s cool to hear how you just have that feeling like you know it’s the one. I need to see the photo again. Can’t wait to see you in 1 MONTH!!!

  45. erin says:

    I think you looked great and really showed your figure on the picture you said you dont have to hide your hips, I AGREE!!!!
    Love to see the ONE.
    and Happy Birthday

  46. I know how you feel. I totally didn’t feel like “me” in a traditional wedding dress and veil, so I ended up just getting a sundress and pinned some flowers in my hair. So I didn’t expect to have that “this is the one” moment – and I didn’t cry or anything profound – but when I tried it on I just kept wanting to see myself in it again and again, so I know what you mean!

    Glad you found something that you love and is flattering. Exciting stuff!!

  47. Shoshanah says:

    How exciting that you found the dress! I still have no idea what I’m going with. I definitely need to get a little more shopping done, but I couldn’t help but share the pictures I did have. And I love how we both thought to post our dress shopping photos the same day!

  48. Tristan says:

    Hi Amber! Congratulations on finding the dress! I’d love to see a photo if you don’t kind sending me one! I’m so excited for you!

  49. Becks says:

    Love, love, love, the fourth one you posted, it’s so unique and looks really good on you…of course I can only imagine what “the one” looks like as you’ve got great taste!

  50. Mel says:

    I’d love to see the one! I love wedding fashion!! Also…if your hips are bigger and chest small… I’m the same and always have to have dresses altered. I feel your pain.

  51. Hayley says:

    So exciting!
    I was engaged on Easter Sunday and our wedding is set for June 9, 2012. I’ve search a few dress shops now, and while I found some that I really like, I haven’t found one that I love. Any tips? I’m starting to get frustrated. Oh, and I attended a wedding at Rockwater last month. Its beautiful, and thats the second yime we’ve been. I would be happy to answer any questions. I would love to see a picture of the dress. Don’t think I can wait another year!!

  52. Kaci Johanna says:

    I knew because I didn’t want to take the dress off. I didn’t want to try on anything else.

    And I almost cried, but more out of relief than anything. 🙂

    Congrats on finding your dress! I understand not posting photos… but I can’t wait to see!

  53. Linz says:

    I’m so happy that you found “the one”. I wasn’t quite sure about mine at first either, but once I saw the faces of my aunt, grama, mother, and MOH and they were all bawling…i thought a little harder about it. Tried on a few more dresses, and kept going back to the one that made everyone cry. Come my wedding day I was so excited about the dress, I knew i made the right choice! 🙂

  54. Lorinda @ Waisting Away says:

    Congrats on finding Your dress!

    After being a part of many dress shopping missions I’ve always been a big believer that the one that makes you cry is The One. Enjoy your beautiful dress!!

  55. Morgan says:

    Catching up on posts, I totally want to see “the one” please email! I do love the runner up’s you had considered so I can’t wait to see the real deal.

    I’m very nervous about picking out my dress someday, I think I’ll be so concerned with not spending a lot of money that I’ll never really allow myself to buy “the one.” Cheap girls FTW! 🙂 LOL!

  56. […] dress is here! Only a few weeks after I ordered my wedding dress it arrived on my doorstep. So fun! I tried it on and then sent it home with my bridesmaid Jen so I […]

  57. […] On finding “the one” […]