First, some backstory: I’m currently 23 years old, and I’ve been obsessed with weddings (especially the dresses) since I was 8 years old. I’ve had wedding magazine subscriptions since then, an extensive wedding board since I made my Pinterest account over 4 years ago, organized folders with pages upon pages of wedding-related stuff.
I got into a serious relationship when I was 15, and the more time went on, the more certain I was that I was going to marry this guy. We had talked about it, more and more each year, and I knew it was going to happen eventually. When I was 18, I found my “dream” dress as well online.
As obsessed with weddings as I was, and as certain of our relationship I was, I refused to try the wedding dress on. My mom was pleading with me to take me to a store to try it on, and I wouldn’t budge, for a few reasons (which I’ll explain in a minute). I was in love with that dress, sure, but I was adamant that I was going to wait.
Five years later, this past November, I got engaged to the boy I’ve been with since I was 15.
Which brings me to my reasoning as to why I wouldn’t buy THE DRESS before an engagement.
First, I refused to try on wedding dresses before the engagement because I honestly didn’t know how soon it would be until we got engaged. For me, it ended up being years, which was totally fine. But I wanted the process of trying on wedding gowns to be special, and the feeling when I put on wedding gowns after we got engaged was indescribable – it made it feel so much more real, like “oh, this is finally happening.” Still, I obviously could have tried on gowns ahead of time – that wouldn’t have changed much. Except – what I had pictured for our wedding has changed dramatically since we got engaged. Turns out engagements end up changing at lot of wedding plans, sometimes. I was planning on a fall wedding ideally with an outdoor ceremony, and now we’re going to get married in the winter when it’s going to be snowing (so indoor ceremony it is!). Also, in the span of five years I’ve gained a fair bit of weight and that changes how dresses fit me and whatnot.
The other thing was that I didn’t want to try on a dress, and fall in love with it and have that weighing on my mind the whole time. Especially if I had decided to buy it, then I would’ve been thinking the whole time, “come on, I have the dress, what’s the hold up?” I didn’t want to be putting any more pressure on our relationship, and on my boyfriend-now-fiance, even if he knew about the dress. Obviously, that might not apply here, but that was one of my main fears.
Having said that, after we got engaged, I did try on a wedding dress – it’s still in stock, with no signs of it being discontinued anytime soon. I put on this dress that I had dreamed about for years – and I hated it. Absolutely despised it. It was nothing like I had imagined, and I took it off almost immediately.
I ended up going to another store and finding a different dress that fit my dream so much better. And when I put it on I thought, “oh my gosh, I’m going to wear this as I walk down the aisle towards my husband.”
I’ll also say that after I got engaged, it was really nice to go try on wedding gowns with both my mom and my fiance’s mom with me – which I would’ve felt weird about doing if we weren’t engaged yet, and I think his mom would’ve thought I was completely bonkers if I had asked her to come with me then anyhow.
So yeah: I really wouldn’t recommend buying THE DRESS before getting engaged.
I understand the fear of “what if a dress I love gets discontinued,” and for that reason I almost do suggest trying it on despite what I’ve said, but then you risk being super frustrated if you fall in love with a dress, buy it, and then something changes about your wedding plans. Stuff like what you want to look like, the wedding budget, or even the wedding getting canceled! A lot can happen.
If your dream dress is from one of the big chain wedding stores, they generally don’t seem to remove stock all that frequently. But obviously it could happen. I guess part of it would depend on how soon you imagine getting engaged, and how emotionally prepared you are for if things change between now and that theoretically engagement.
As certain as I was about wedding plans, our proposal changed a lot for us as a couple, and for me as a future bride. Our wedding guest list was much different than I imagined, and everything ended up more expensive than I imagined, and both of those things affected our budget… which affected how much I could spend on my dress. My body changed, the season changed, my theme changed, even what I imagined my fiance would wear changed. All of this stuff shifted how I selected my wedding dress.
I guess all I can say is to really think it over. Think about how you want your “I found the dress” experience to be. Think about all your wedding details and if they are subject to change, and what those changes might be, and how you will handle those changes.
But if you’ve thought these things over, and you feel really sure about this, and you really want to try the dress on? Go for it.
Even though I said I wouldn’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t.
dress: KMK Designs