Wedding Gown Shopping Tips from the MOB – Texas Weddings
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Wedding Gown Shopping Tips from the MOB

A quick recap of our story so far: Sheila Dunn, Texas Wedding Guide Editor for more than 20 years, has a new title, Mother-of-the-Bride as her daughter, Hannah, plans her 2021 wedding. So, what happens when an industry insider gets a chance to see things from a different point of view? Follow our occasional series to find out!

My daughter found her wedding gown. What a delightful, simple statement, only 6 words: My daughter found her wedding gown.

In reality, there was nothing simple about our quest to find a wedding dress.

If you haven’t been wedding dress shopping yet, the best way I can explain it is Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Some dresses will be too big and full; others too tight. They’ll either have too much bling or not enough; too little lace or they’ll look like grandma’s curtains. Nothing is right.

It may take many trips, and many dresses, but you will find the one that’s “just right.” There is a gown for every bride.

Like many parts of the wedding, Hannah and I had different wedding gown visions for her. One of us dreamt of a fit-and-flare, the other a full ballgown. One was all about the lace, the other more drawn to satin. No sleeves but also, no strapless. No bling but not too plain.

You’re getting the picture here, right? There was no way the two sides were going to come together.

Side note: I am not a mom-zilla. I’ve just seen way too many weddings (while selecting images for the magazine) and she hasn’t seen nearly as many (despite working for a venue for a time during college.)

After years of shopping together, we’ve developed a system so we could get what we needed and still be speaking to each other. (Teen girls and their moms, you get it.)

Our system: Hannah could try on whatever she wanted, BUT, she also had to try on my picks (I was allowed 2), whether she liked them on the hanger or not because (A) things look different on a hanger than on a body and (B) historically, when it came to picking dresses, I was usually right.

Considering shopping for her prom dress had required 40 or so dresses before she picked one, I prepared for an epic crusade. I wasn’t wrong.

Her smile in the selfie as we entered the first shop showed her excitement. When we left a little over an hour later, she was in tears, convinced she’d never find a dress to fit her curvy shape.

The next shop went a bit better. She experimented with different silhouettes and realized there were gowns made for her shape and size. She looked beautiful and she almost picked one, but decided to wait.

Something was missing, but she couldn’t describe what, other than a feeling.

Like all brides to be, she expected a “sign” or feeling when it was the right dress.

When the third appointment rolled around, we were shopping with face masks. (Which made it easy to hide what we really felt about some dresses lol.)

The appointment started like the others. I pointed out some dresses I’d like her to try on and she did the same.

The fashion show began and as we went through both our picks the same thing kept happening. The dresses were close, but not perfect. Something was missing.

And then, instead of one of our picks, Hannah tried on a gown selected by the consultant.

And the curtains opened.

And I saw my baby girl, standing there beaming, all grown up.

And the “sign” Hannah had been waiting for happened.

I cried.

She tried on a few more dresses to be sure, but it quickly became apparent she had already found THE dress.

So, it was a successful trip. Hannah found the wedding dress of her dreams, and we both lived to tell the tale.

To help other mothers and daughters (or anyone shopping for that special dress), here are my tips for the best wedding gown shopping experience:

  • Know what you want. Have a vision (and pictures are a pretty big help too).
  • Don’t be locked into that vision. Hannah’s dress is everything we both asked for as well as nothing we expected to like.
  • Try on every silhouette. You never know what might look fabulous. Besides, when else in your life are you ever going to get the chance to try on a ballgown!
  • Keep your bride tribe small, but make sure the people you take are the ones you trust to tell you the truth. Too many voices can cause confusion.
  • Assign one of those people to take photos. Otherwise, you’ll all get so caught up in the moment you’ll forget.
  • Trust the professionals. In the end, the gown Hannah chose was one neither of us picked (because we were looking for “our” vision). The consultant was able to take our visions and bring them together.
  • Remember, you’ll be trying on sample dresses. In most cases, your dress will be made specifically for you, so if there are modifications you would like (pockets, deeper sweetheart neckline, etc.), ask. It may be easier than you think if you ask early enough.

Finally, have fun and take plenty of tissues. It will forever, for me, rank as one of my favorite special memories with my daughter.

Now I’m ready for the bridesmaids! Let’s shop!

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