So I thought the whole dress shopping experience deserved a bit more detail.  Not only do I want to organize myself, but it would be nice to help others who are in the process of planning a wedding.  At this point, the bridesmaids have purchased their dresses, and I have purchased my dress.

We did the bridesmaids first, which may be out of order a bit, but it was a time when the 3 bridesmaids who live in Canada were all together, since it was the day after the engagement party.  We headed to bride central, aka the Danforth, with a few ideas in mind.  We knew the colour, the basic style (tea-length), and that's about it.  I suggested dresses from the Dessy Collection because they are nice, and also reasonably priced.  They looked on the website and picked a few they liked.  Actually, that's putting it mildly - they had lots of input, which was great, and Caroline even made a big spreadsheet of all the possible dresses which was incredible.

I really wanted the girls to get something they felt good in, and I was completely open to them getting different styles with the same colour and designer.  The sales associate was so helpful - she gave us a binder with their styles, and I just wrote down about 10 that we wanted to look at.  She gave the 3 of them changerooms, and they each tried on a different dress.  They let me know pretty much right away what they thought, even if they ddin't say it out loud - their faces really said it all.  They all rotated through, and the sales associated brought similar styles once she found out what they liked.  We eliminated the satin finishes - we wanted something softer and more summery, which really helped us out.  In the end, the girls all loved the same dress, so it was an easy choice to get it for everyone.  This also was great because I had to get a dress for Holly, who is in New Zealand.

Once we decided on the dress, the sales associate took each of their measurements and they tried on a sample of their size.  The girls are all different shapes, but somehow all ordered the same size - hilarious.  It will be big in at least one spot for everyone, but they all ordered up, because I kept saying that it is easier to take it in than let it out, and less damage to your ego.  They had to pay half of it up front, and they pay the other half when the dresses come in, in about 3 months.  They will have them in lots of time, before Christmas, and won't have to worry about alterations until the Spring.

Two weeks later I went to look for my own dress - I took my mom and Steph.  We had a great greek lunch first, and then headed to the store.  Once again, the sales people were wonderful!  I briefly mentioned what I was, and was NOT looking for - sheath or small A-line/trumpet, NOTHING puffy, I like the lace detailing, and nothing over the top in terms of design.  I was open to trying on different styles.  She told us to look through the dresses and pull a few, and she pulled a few as well.  I probably went into the changeroom with about 8 dresses, while my mom and Steph discussed options in the front. 

The sales lady helped me into the dress and clamped it all in place - those clamps are HARDCORE but awesome - they really show you how the dress is supposed to look!  The first dress I really loved - lace, strapless, dropped waistline, a bit of a train.  But it was the first dress.  I kept it in the changeroom for after I had tried on a few more.  The second one had wide straps - not a good look for me, along with V-neck and halter - supposedly it's too "mature" looking for my young face.  Fine by me - I loved the opinion of the sales associate - she was blunt and to the point.  Hey - she had more experience than me in this field.  For fun I tried on a princess dress - tight corset top all jeweled, with a straight out tulle skirt.  I'll have to admit - it looked good - very fun and I felt like I should be in a Disney movie.  It was tempting, but I knew it was not for me.  It was very heavy, and I really liked the simple look.  I tried on a few more similar to the first one, and I had another runner.  This one wasn't as lacy at the top, but similar shape, with a more modern look to it. 

After a few more and some crazy ones my mom and Steph picked, I really loved the very first one I tried on.  I put it on again, with the veil, and I just loved it.  No, I didn't cry.  No, my mom and Steph did not cry.  But I'm glad that they loved it as much as I do.  I love the vintage french lace and the way it hugs the curves without looking too tight or showy.  I didn't really want a train but I love the way it looks - I'll just have to figure out a good way to bustle it for after the ceremony! 

Like the girls, I had to pay half up front, and I'll pay the other half with it comes in, around the end of March.  The good deal about both of these stores is that you get 10% off if you get the dress altered at another location - I guess this is because they don't want to be liable for any mistakes, and it also supports local seamstresses because they give you a list of ones they recommend outside the store.  Once alterations are done and I get a veil (I'm actually using my mom's and altering it so it's shorter), I will still be under budget - YAY!

All in all, a great experience for both the bridesmaids dresses and wedding gowns!  I recommend going with no more than 2 people - the stores are not big and they are busy on the weekends, plus too many opinions will get confusing.  Make sure you get the one you love, but I would suggest letting the sales people know your budget, so that you don't try on dresses outside of your price range.  It would suck to find the dress love of your life, and have no way to pay for it!  Oh, and they won't let you take pictures until you've confirmed you are getting the dress for sure, but my store let me go crazy once I said "yes" to the dress!  Just hide them from your FI!

Happy Shopping to everyone else! :)

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