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"I Never Thought This Would Be My Wedding Dress!"

SMP Contributor

Wedding dress shopping is a bonding experience for you and your #squad. No matter who you decide to bring with you, you should also bring an open mind. More often than not, brides walk out of the salon loving something they never expected. As a bridal consultant, I see this kind of reaction from brides all the time. I always start off the appointment by asking what they envision themselves in, but it's rare that the bride ends up in the type of gown she's describing.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind while shopping for a gown:

Don't judge a dress by its hanger appeal

When you're wandering through the store, we recommend not completely writing off a dress just from one glance at it while it's hanging up. Gowns truly come to life when they're on a body. Until you put it on you won't get a good sense of the shape it creates, the drama of a train or the fit of the fabric. If you have even the slightest interest in a gown, try it on. You'll be surprised what you end up loving.

Trust your consultant

While you may know what you think you want, the consultants are incredibly familiar with the store's inventory and how the gown will look. They have insider intel on what body shapes look the best in certain gowns and what dresses look incredible on every kind of body. There have been many times where I pull a dress for a bride and she's hesitant, but once she sees it on herself, she's floored by how great it looks!

Remember you're trying on sample sizes

The great thing about wedding gowns is that they're custom made for your body. The consultants take your measurements after you've picked your gown and send it up to the design house to build the gown from the ground up to perfectly fit your body. The downside of that is you're trying on sample sizes in the fitting room, and they might not necessarily fit you. As consultants, we'll do the best we can to clip you into the gown and get it to look as close to fitted as we can so you can get a good idea of what the gown will look like when it's yours. Don't get discouraged by it, nobody fits perfectly into the sample sizes.

I talked to a handful of real brides who had this happen to them!

It Takes Two

"I originally envisioned a classic satin ball gown with a sweetheart neckline. I did try one on that was beautiful! But then I went to another appointment and tried on another series of dresses that were all pretty and I hesitantly picked up the two-piece by WToo. I loved what the skirt looked like (layered flowy ivory organza), so we (me with the consultant) grabbed a top to go with it, a matching ivory belt, and went to try it on! And I was shocked I loved it! It felt like it was made for me and it looked like a perfect dress! The top was lace (which I thought I didn't want at all), the pieces were ivory, which I didn't think I wanted, but it all came together so beautifully. At first I was hesitant to love it so much because it was two pieces and it took me a second to get over that, but it was perfect."

-Julie // Washington D.C.Expect the Unexpected

"I thought I knew what I wanted in a wedding dress. Something long, simple and elegant, with some lace. I wanted a classic look, but I wasn't finding anything that wowed me. People told me that usually one of the early dresses wins and I wasn't thrilled with any of them. My mom came to New York to visit and take me dress shopping. We tried on so many dresses at numerous bridal stores in Manhattan. We were at the last place and my mom reached into a rack and pulled out this dress that looked totally over the top; it had a super long train that would need to be bustled and elaborate patterning, plus these cut out portions on the bust. It was something I never would have picked off the rack. I laughed and agreed to try it on for fun. I put it on, my mom and I looked at each other and that was it. It was truly stunning."

-Olivia // New York, New YorkStyle Me Pretty Contributor – Sarah Title is a travel & wedding writer and editor living in Washington D.C. She also works part-time at a bridal salon in Georgetown helping women find the perfect dress. When she isn't working, you can find her at the closest oyster bar enjoying a glass of rose or catching up on the latest celebrity gossip.