I want to buy my dream wedding dress before I’m even engaged

Guest post by Endrin
By: lovemaegan – CC BY 2.0
By: lovemaeganCC BY 2.0

I am in a very loving, long-term relationship with my partner, and marriage is most definitely on the cards in the near future. In fact, we talk about the “big party” we'll have sometime fairly frequently. We both still live with our parents (but have had some experience living together) and he plans on proposing once we buy our own house later this year, once we are officially “adults” (if there's ever such a time!).

But this isn't a story about the “if” and the “when” — I know there's no “if,” and I know the “when” is coming. We both do. This is about one of my passions — wedding planning. Particularly, the wedding dress…

I have always been in love with love, and, as such, have always had a soft spot for weddings. For the last six years or so, I have become obsessed with wedding planning and styling. So many ideas, so many colours, so many themes! As you can imagine, I have quite the Pinterest board as a result. Over the years, I've collected many favourite pins and websites (including this one!) and an array of dresses. But a year or more ago, I found “the dress.”

I know this certainly isn't a feeling everyone has, or SHOULD have, but this dress just spoke to me. I adore it. Albeit, a little traditional, but not like any other traditional dress I've seen, with enough offbeat flair to pull off as my own true style.

I was happy to stare at it every so often, but this last month, it was brought to my attention that “bridal designs” go out of style. Sell out. Taken off the floor. Gone forever. As it was a couple of years old, I was worried I'd never be able to find the design in person, when the time was right.

When the time is right.

What is that?

In a bit of a panic, I may have rang all of the listed stockists in my state to try to find if anyone had any on their floor. Only one store had one left.

And here, dear audience, is my dilemma…

I know, there are plenty of dresses out there, and there will always be another dress. But I've lusted after this baby for so long. And now, I don't know what to do next.

I really want to go try it on and even buy it if it's as dreamy as I have imagined it to be. However, I have had such mixed reactions from my dearest friends, some being very excited, and others think that I'm (endearingly) a little bit mad.

I know that this is the one I want. I've wanted it for so long. Is it really so wrong to want to go try it on? Am I weird for wanting to buy my dream dress before I even get engaged?

Being a bit alternative and tomboyish, my friends don't really expect this from me. I also feel that there's this societal judgement of “ohh, that chick's nuts” or “what a red flag!” Why should I feel persecuted for being organised, or pursuing what I want? I can walk into an antique store and buy a gorgeous item or knickknack for my future house, but buying something for my future wedding is completely absurd?

Why do I have to sit around and wait for an engagement ring that I know is on it's way, just so that I'm “allowed” to go get my dress? It doesn't seem right that I have to potentially miss out on a dress I love just because I have to wait another 6-9 months to get a piece of bling of my finger that gives me “permission” to go for it. I'm an independent woman who knows what she wants, why should I have to wait around for that?

I would LOVE some advice from you all, has anyone else ended up buying a wedding dress before getting engaged?

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Comments on I want to buy my dream wedding dress before I’m even engaged

  1. I say if you know you love it, and this is the last one, go for it. You’re right there may be other dresses, but you’ll always wonder if you don’t at least go try it on. I bought a dress at a thrift store years before I got engaged – luckily it was cheap, because I ended up not loving it down the road. But at least I didn’t wish and wonder about it. And if you fall in love with a different dress later, you can always resell this one! Or you might not love it when you try it on – I thought I’d found “the one” and then hated it when I tried it on. Go try it. If you have the budget, go for it. If people are throwing shade, just don’t make it a big public announcement. Just do it. Clearly you feel strongly about this, don’t let social pressure back you down off something that will make you happy. Maybe discuss with your partner so they know it’s about the dress, not pressuring an engagement.

    • Just make sure you get it packed away to prevent any catastrophes between now and the wedding. My grandmother’s attic flooded (roof damage after a previous storm), my aunt’s dress even wrapped in plastic was damaged.

    • “I bought a dress at a thrift store years before I got engaged – luckily it was cheap, because I ended up not loving it down the road. ” — I did the exact same thing!! It was my dream dress at the time, but tastes change. Years later, my wedding ended up reflecting my relationship with my husband. The whole wedding probably would have looked different with a different man! You never know what your dreams will hold. 🙂

    • Thanks for the support! You’re right, I’ll always wonder about it if I don’t just go and do it. He ended up getting it out of me because I was being all secretive and weird (I’d be a terrible spy) and he knows what I’m like, and that it was about the dress and there was zero pressure on him. He told me to just go do it if it’s what I wanted to do.
      Thanks for the reminder that society sucks, and that I should do what I want!!

  2. I totally see no problem with going and trying it on! One of my good friends did this before she was officially engaged (although it was definitely in the cards that marriage was coming), loved the dress, bought it, and has no regrets. So it can definitely work out well. Maybe you’ll know it’s for you or maybe you’ll find out it doesn’t look as good in person, but you may as well go have fun trying it on. Even if you decide not to buy, it may help you figure out what you want down the road!

  3. You should absolutely go and try it on. You don’t need to bring anyone with you, or even tell anyone. The dress on you could look completely different from how you imagine and you’ll know that now. Or it is just as likely the dress of your dreams and you buy it now and you have it for when you do get married. I tried one on when I wasn’t officially engaged because I was in love and it had been difficult to track down and I wanted to see it. Unfortunately it wasn’t a great dress for my boobs, but I learned that and was able to move on without worrying.

    • At least now you know! I’d hate to spend a long time regretting never going to look at it, or missing out on even trying. Thanks for the support!

  4. I would say it depends on the price of the dress, and exactly how long you think you will be waiting for the wedding. But I gotta admit I am in the ‘wait’ column on this. Maybe it is your DREAM dress, but have you & the SO discussed wedding budgets/locations/guest lists? If you buy a dress perfect for a little chapel will you be OK wearing it if you guys decide to have a big out door party? Or if you buy the perfect beach wedding dress will you be OK if his family insists you have a ceremony in a church? Or if you get pregnant, or if you decide not to get married, how much of a disappointment it will be to have this dress you couldn’t/didn’t get to wear.
    If you’ve considered those things, I don’t think there’s any harm in trying the dress on IF you have the money for it (in case you have to purchase right away) especially if it is something you’ve had your eye on for a long time. There are places to resell online, so especially if you get a good price it could be worth it.

    • HA i guess i should have read the other comments first because i just said almost EXACTLY the same thing! great minds think alike, i suppose.

    • All awesome points! Life can change, that’s for sure. We’ve chatted a lot about ideas, budgets, etc etc. and I think an added benefit of getting it now (if I loved it) is that it’s less pressure when we’re putting deposits down on everything at once, so financially, I feel it’d be a good move (it’s not tooo pricey) and I could always resell if it didn’t work with the theme or what not. The dress would work in any environment luckily!

  5. Of course go try it on! However, I will add that I also had this experience. I had found the dress way before I was engaged and was talked out of it by my friends and family who said it was too crazy or even bad luck to buy one beforehand (even though I knew the engagement was just a matter of time, like you!). Well here I am engaged and I have a dress. I love my current dress! I feel amazing in it. Do I regret not buying that dream dress? Well, looking at it now, it would not match my current theme/feel if I had. Does that mean that had I bought the dress I would have regretted spending the money? Nah, maybe my visions would be different. I don’t know how helpful I am being, my only point really is: try it on, see how you feel, can you envision your venue and the plates and centerpieces when you wear it? Do you hear birds sing? You won’t know until you try it on. And in the most offbeat way, don’t let anyone judge you, whether you buy or not.

  6. i think the idea of not being “allowed” to look at dresses or even think about wedding plans before you’re formally engaged is pretty ridiculous. i mean, it’s a pretty major event, why wouldn’t you think about it? and there’s so much weird sexist junk connected to the idea that if a woman so much as mentions weddings without being engaged she’s suddenly super crazy and desperate. it’s all just absurd. your wedding dress is just that, a dress. it’s an article of clothing for a special event. so i absolutely think you should not feel like you are doing anything wrong for wanting to try on and possibly purchase a dress you really like.

    THAT SAID – there are actually some logistical reasons you might want to hold off. have you and your partner ever discussed your feelings about weddings? about what kind of wedding you imagine having eventually? if you buy a dream ballgown, what happens if your partner is more interested in a simple backyard wedding? if you buy something casual and beachy, what happens if a traditional church wedding starts to seem more likely? you may love the dress now, but will you love it in the context of your actual wedding? maybe now is a good time to start having these conversations with your partner. they don’t need to be firm plans, but you can still get a sense of what kind of setting feels right for you as a couple (as well as your family, friends, other potential guests). just like you shouldn’t feel prohibited from thinking about wedding plans yourself, you also shouldn’t feel afraid to talk to your partner about them, if you feel confident that you’re both on the same page about where you’re headed (and if you’re not, that’s worth talking about too).

    • I agree, there’s so much stigma surrounding basically anything wedding related before you’re engaged, with all those comments regarding craziness and desperation, god forbid I be prepared or actually like something, right!
      Great points about the logistics, and I’d definitely be more hesitant if my partner had no idea, but we actually chat about weddings fairly frequently. He’s very easy going, and is on the same page with me about a lot of my ideas which is great (and will likely save a lot of stress when the time comes!!). I even have “plan B” themes and venues and the dress in question would fit nicely there too 🙂

  7. I’m coming at this with the perspective of being a 34-year-old first-time engaged lady. From that perspective (not knowing how old you are, whether you’re in a serious relationship, or anything else about you and what the future is likely to hold), I’m not sure I’d do this.

    When I was 28, I was dating someone I was sure I’d eventually marry. I also weighed 30 pounds less than I do now, lived on the other side of the country, and was just, ultimately, a different person. I’m pretty sure that even if I could fit into a wedding dress I bought in New York City when I was 28, it probably isn’t what I would want to wear at the actual wedding I am currently planning, six years later, in Los Angeles. (Needless to say I broke up with that dude, moved to a new city, and met someone else I’m now engaged to. Seriously, six years is a long-ass time.)

    Which brings something else into it: your someday actual partner. I’m not going to pick a wedding dress with my fiance in mind, per se, but the wedding we are going to throw together is different from anything I imagined doing in the abstract, when it was just me I needed to think about. Any wedding dress I’d have shopped for as a single woman would be really, really different from the dress this specific party that we are planning together is going to require.

    TL;DR: I don’t think this is wrong from a feminist standpoint, or a romantic standpoint, or any of that. I do think it might not work out from a practical standpoint. But, hey, if you have a couple grand to drop and are mentally OK with maybe never using this dress, you do you.

    • I appreciate your words, and you’re right, a lot can happen in 6 years! I probably should have mentioned a bit more about myself and relationship. I’m 30, and we’ve been together for four years and will basically get engaged after we purchase a house together (one large lot of money at a time).
      Subjectively, I find that the dress is about “me”. It’s something I get to pick, what *I* am going to feel great in – partner and audience be damned. And that’s what shows on the day. So for me, I personally feel like that wouldn’t change. And if things don’t work out, it’s not like I’d be missing out on my only opportunity to get married. And there’s always sites that sell second hand or not worn dresses (sure I’d lose out a few hundred, but then someone else could love it).
      But I definitely hear what you’re saying in terms of practicality and planning it together, and how the event as a whole would be quite different. We’ve discussed a lot of aspects of the wedding and luckily agree on a lot of elements (he mainly just wants to control the music).

  8. I think you should go try it on at least. There’s a chance that the dress you love looking at so much won’t be as mind-blowing when you try it on. It sounds disappointing, but it happens, and that’s okay. You may walk out with a lot more knowledge of what silhouettes work for you, or what colors clash with your skin tone, or that the gorgeous gown you love is the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever attempted to wear. On the other hand, it may be even better than you imagine. Either way, if you don’t try it on and it gets sold, you’ll probably spend an inordinate amount of time wondering about it. Or I would, in the same situation.

    Look at it another way: There’s something you want, something you love, and you have a reason to buy it (eventually, maybe not now, but still a reason). Ignore the social pressure, if only for a moment during this exercise. Now imagine it’s not a dress. Imagine it’s some other item that you probably won’t use much, and probably not for a while, but you really love it and want it, and it’s available *right now* and possibly never again. Maybe it’s a Kitchenaid mixer that you’ll only use for Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s a pair of diamond earrings you’ll only wear on your anniversary. Maybe it’s a motorcycle you’ll only drive to Bike Week. Would you still get it? Imagine your husband-to-be found an amazing suit – or suit of armor, if that’s his style – and faced the same decision; what advice would you give him?

    Personally, I wouldn’t worry as much about matching expectations. There’s no rule that says you can’t wear a big, floofy ballgown at the beach or a backyard barbecue wedding. People might insist that such rules exist, but really it’s a mixture of expectations and practicality. Regardless, you have every right to wear whatever appeals most to you. Sure, you should discuss it with your future intended; communication is key in any part of any relationship. Assuming he raises no objection, assuming you can fit it in the budget (and hey, maybe you can have it paid off before you have to start putting deposits down for things like venue and catering!), assuming it’s still there by the time you’ve read this, go try it on and see what happens.

    • Thanks for the support, that was all really insightful! I just need to KNOW. If it doesn’t work, great, I can move on. If it does, I can get it and know it’s one less thing to budget for later.
      If my husband-to-be found an amazing suit, I’d 100% tell him to get it (I mean, we’ve all seen how bad some of those rentals can be, yikes!).
      And thanks for the reminder about the rules – it matches everything else I’ve had planned, but even if that changes, who says it won’t “go with” the venue, and what not!

  9. I would say that after considering the previous comments (would it fit all themes and wedding possibilities, etc), and if you still want to try it on/ buy it, talk to your future fiance about it. Not to “ask permission”, or anything like that, but this is something that could affect him, and it makes sense that you would get his input; it’s almost like test driving your marriage a little (marriage, in my experience, is a lot of big decisions made together; communication is huge). Honestly, if you feel weird about talking to him about it, or if he freaks out, it could tell you a lot.

    • Great advice 🙂

      He ended up getting it out of me (he aaaalways does) and he didn’t care at all, he knows it’s what I love and told me to look at it if I wanted to, no judgements. ^_^

  10. I did not buy a wedding dress before I was engaged but I am a lifelong dreamer who can while away happy hours researching options for my perfect future. Wedding planning plus the internet pretty quickly transformed “researching options” into a pretty much full blown addiction. At first it’s a huge high looking through website after website and dreaming away but then you hit on something which seems absolutely perfect and it begins to hurt that you don’t have it yet, especially when you know it’s years away. Yesterday you were perfectly happy knowing it didn’t exist now it seems the sum total of your happiness. I am currently trying to curb my property research addiction as we are at least 5 years away from buying a house….
    It’s totally up to you what you do but consider this, if you go and try this dress on, you will likely only increase your dilemma. If you like it you will want it even more, if you buy it (assuming you can) then that desire will be answered for a bit but it will probably begin to hurt that you are not wearing yet.
    Things change, including you. I am not at all questioning how well you know yourself but just that anyone can know the future. It’s not just your tastes but possibly also your physical self that can change, I bought my wedding outfit a totally reasonable year before the wedding and in that intervening time I suddenly and unexpectedly needed a hysterectomy after which my body was very changed. Ok that’s a pretty extreme example and the message here is definitely not never plan anything ever because you might need a hysterectomy or face some other catastrophe, but what I am trying to say is be honest with yourself about how much this desire is something that you have created and whether satisfying that craving now (and thereby either closing down or complicating options in a future you don’t know yet) is that important.
    I’d also definitely second the comments about what you plan on your own being different to what you plan with a partner (and I planned my wedding outfit with my wife). As someone who came to partnership later in life it’s been a learning curve that over dreaming and over investing on my own in the abstract can actually hinder genuinely joint decisions. And if you think it’s sweet finding the perfect thing yourself it’s nothing compared to the joy of choosing something together that suits you both.

    • They are definitely all things to consider! It’s a lace up back, so I’m hoping that will help a little in terms of size (but I of course know the limits of that too!).
      My partner is well aware of the themes, venue and styles of everything I like, so the wedding has already been half planned really! And the dress isn’t something that I’d show him anyway (it’s probably the only traditional thing about the wedding that I’ll keep).
      I can also greatly relate to property addictions!! I spend sooo long staring at dream homes, I have for years. Hopefully this year! *fingers crossed*

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