The dreaded dress lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc…)

Guest post by ThisIsHalloween

I have recently noticed a growing epidemic on the Offbeat Bride Tribe. I have seen this disease before and it aims to infect every bride at some point in the wedding planning. It's known as the dreaded Dress Lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc). The symptoms start when you've bought your dress and you find yourself browsing designers websites for “better” dresses, asking for second, third, or fifteenth opinions, going through every single piece of wedding porn thinking “I wish I looked like her” or “Oh wow, that's THE dress I should have picked.” [Editors Note: When to stop looking at wedding porn.) While these are extreme examples, symptoms can be as mild as thinking about “the dress that could have been.”

As brides we are thrown into a cruel world of “your wedding has to be perfect” and “you chose THAT?! What were you thinking???” The worst part is we tend to pander to one another. It can be as simple as replying to a post where the bride decides she “hates” her dress. She posts her dress against another. 90% of the time replies will consist of “get the new one. Get your dress. Buy. Buy. Buy.” While seemingly innocent, and made with good intent, we're discouraging our sisters-in-planning from listening to the instincts that possessed them to get their dress to begin with. It's a fine line where we stop helping and start hindering the planning process.

Constantly told to second guess ourselves, it's not a surprise when the dress becomes our security blanket.

I, myself, am guilty of indulging my “you'll regret that” mindset. I had a dream dress, within my budget, that I LOVED. This dress was the only one I could see myself walking down the aisle in and my safety blanket of bridedom. You see, as long as I have this particular dress, I was a bride. I would marry my perfect match. All my dreams would come true. Then I bought a different dress. gasp I tried it on and felt beautiful and confident. Then, doubt reared it's ugly head. “It's not the one you wanted,” “it was so cheap you can get the other one and not feel bad,” “you can always resell it to another bride,” “get your dream dress,” “get your dream dress,” “get your dream dress!!”

Finally I couldn't take it anymore! I went to my mom's and tried on my dress. Not in comparison to the other, but with an unbiased and open mind. How did it make me feel? Beautiful.

Something clicked at that moment. My fiance wasn't going to know the difference. He wasn't going to say “You would have looked good, but I would have preferred you in that Joli I saw in your Pictures folder on the computer or that Maggie you saw when we walked by that dress shop.” I realized that he would think I am the most beautiful woman in the world simply because I am walking down the aisle to him, my perfect match. No dress would change that.

Besides, I'll just have my “dream” dress made in a different color when we have a Christmas party to go to, or a Gala to attend. It may not be ivory, but it will still be the same dress. Which makes me realize, it's just a dress… and now I get to add two more days to my honeymoon by NOT buying a second one. A dress I'll wear once or time alone with my then husband? Which is really more important?

Now, stop second guessing your choices, put down the dress as a security blanket, and go have your future spouse wrap their arms around you. I guarantee it's a lot more comforting!

Comments on The dreaded dress lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc…)

  1. This is SO good! Thank you!

    (and also helps to cement the number one reason I love OBB so much – so much love and acceptance, with a good dose of common sense!)

  2. PERFECT for how I’ve been feeling about loving two different dresses. your right, what matters more?! him and I and the fact that I’ll be marrying my best friend no matter what I’m wearing. thank you for putting perspective on this overwhelming decision.

  3. So glad you posted this.

    I’m guilty, I started this thread on OBT:

    And after having made a decision since then, I still felt miserable going through it. Ultimately I went with the dress that I thought I’d look smashing in and would remember forever. I think the key is to find something memorable and just YOU. And budget mindful.

    Still, there is an definite point in time where you need to back away slowly from the wedding porn and be happy and resolute with your choices.

  4. I went through a major “dress regret” phase publicly on OBT, I and just want to say that nobody told me to get a different dress. Even though I didn’t have fabulous pictures or finished alterations, everyone reassured me that the one I had was just fine – and they were TOTALLY RIGHT! The alterations made all the difference, and once I got it back I loved my dress again.

    • Kim, me too!

      I think with me, the biggest downside to the 8 month engagement (as opposed to, say, a 1.5 year engagement), is that I needed to make some decisions OMG RIGHT NOW, the dress being one of them. I wish I had taken more time to figure out what my wedding was going to look like. On the other hand, if I had, it would have severely limited my choices (given that my wedding is 3 weeks out and my dress was only finished about 2 weeks ago).

      I do love the dress now that it’s altered and fits, and the train is shortened, etc., but my regret was more that I had to make a decision before I knew what I really wanted … if I had it to do over again, I’d probably do Dolly Couture or something similar.

  5. I am getting married for the second time. I will be 50 years old on my wedding day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 50 year milestone. My first dress was not what I wanted at all but it was cheap and looked relatively good. Well, it was the 80s so it looked as good as any 80s wedding dress could look. It was short (morning wedding and lunch reception) and I always regretted not having the long and trailing dress. Now that I am middle-aged and my career and my fiance’s career are both established and I could afford that expensive designer, bought-in-say-yes-to-the-dress bridal gown, my priorities have changed. When I got engaged, just for fun I went on Craig’s List and found a woman selling her bridal gown who lived just blocks from my work. I went to see the dress and amazingling, when she opened the door, we were exactly the same size and shape. The dress fit as if it had been made for me. She was about my age and she had no prospects of having children. She had had such a wonderful time at her wedding, she wanted to pass the dress onto someone else to enjoy it as much as she had. How wonderful! Thus, I got a dress, the crinoline, the veil, etc. etc, for $300. The only alteration I need to do is to have it hemmed as her shoes were higher than mine will be. I still watch Say Yes To The Dress and flip through bridal magazines (or ‘bridal porn’ as my 17-yr-old daughter calls it) but I am thrilled with my good karma, eco-friendly dress. Oh, and we found, also on Craig’s List, an almost new tux for my fiance for $35. Woohoo for Craig’s List!

  6. Well said!

    I got engaged 2 weeks ago almost, though I’ve known for well over a year he was going to ask me – he’s had the ring since April, had to get it sized for me 😉

    I’ve been searching for the perfect dress – my needs were some kind sleeve, no sequins or crystals, preferably empire (fitted bodice, free fall). I have been looking since last year and found the dress about a month ago on ebay, brand new too in my size. As soon as I’d confirmed with the seller they could ship to Australia, I nabbed it. I didn’t even think, just grabbed it.

    It arrived 2 days before he asked, I didn’t have time to try it on as we were literally leaving within half an hour to drive 5hrs away with friends for an overnight trip. I got back very late Friday and didn’t have time then, he asked Saturday night and when I got home Sunday I finally got to try it on. It fits perfectly and is everything I wanted!

    And the end result, I am no longer spending hours daily looking online for one and I feel amazingly relieved. My family were fine with it, they know I hate nothing more than being dragged around to try on stuff and everyone who has seen the dress LOVES it.

    Friends are ok for the most part, my best mates are guys, their wives were set on dragging me out for dresses, want me to go through magazines with them and relive their weddings through me. The subject of oh you may find a better one has come up numerous times, but I’m standing firm!

    I believe my decision was the right one and it’s like a burden was lifted when I first tried it on, properly engaged and all. My biggest job now is shoes 😀

  7. Exactly! This is actually what this post is about. Unfortunately for some of us, dress-lusting becomes a horrible addiction.I highly suggest reading the “When to stop looking at wedding porn” that’s posted in the editor’s note! For me, writing this post was about needing a dress as a security blanket for bridedom & realizing it wasn’t the dress that made my wedding special, but the person I am marrying 🙂

  8. Thank you for your responses! I hope you all feel beautiful on your wedding day & beyond!

    A little background: My dress was never “THEE dress.” I found it at JC Penny on an after prom sale. It was $30 and I felt pretty, besides… I HATE shopping. I bought it, but kept thinking about this awesome art deco dress that I had on my mind since I got engaged. It was all I would stare at and I would drive my FH craaaazy b*tch*ng about it. Then I started reading the bridal boards and how we put oursleves down for not having the OMG moment or the PERFECT dress. I think we’re so used to having everyone else put us down for every teeny decision that we start doing this to ourselves. Thank [insert religious preference here] that we have OBB to remind us it’s pretty bad @$$ to be ourselves!

    PS I still love my dress 😉

  9. I love this post! What a great read.

    I have the “this is the dress I picture myself walking down the aisle in” dress! It really is my dream dress and I love how I look and feel in it. I have a picture of me wearing it on my phone and every single time I see another bride in a dress that I just LOVE, I look at my picture. Seeing it reminds me that I absolutely made the right decision. =]

    I do have to apply this to the little wedding extras, though. All the adorable, fun things that I originally planned to have but now can’t because of budget. Yes, I miss them. But my guests will never know that their table number was supposed to be a little chalkboard…unless they’ve read my wedding blog ;]

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the “must. have. PERFECT. wedding” mindset. This is why I’m glad for the OBB/OBT, they keep me grounded with posts like this!

  10. OMG, this JUST happened to me looking at the idea boards at the OBB store. I saw the Temperley London embellished silk crepe wedding gown ( and I just lost it. Fortunately, it cost about 55 times as much as the dress I already bought and nearly $2000 more than my entire wedding budget, so it’s out of the question, but I did totally have a moment of I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT!!!!! Fortunately I find it pretty easy to remember that what I REALLY want is my fiance (barf), not some stupid outfit.

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