I'm not sure what to call this weekend. Bridesmaids Weekend? Pre-Bachelorette Weekend? I'm aware that it isn't very common to invite your bridesmaids (from all over the US) on a trip to go dress shopping, but whatever it's a perfect excuse to get my besties together. When I started planning the trip my idea was to go shopping for a wedding dress AND bridesmaid dresses, but we didn't end up looking for bridesmaid dresses because I found some online that I really loved.
I put together little gift bags for my bridesmaids which included a customized stemless champagne flute, mini La Marca prosecco bottles with a custom label I ordered from Etsy. They say "I can't say I do without you!", I also added cute paper straws, bath and body works body wash, and some candy. I wanted to make these little gift bags for them because I wasn't that girl that sent all of her bridesmaids gifts in the mail asking to be one of my bridesmaids. I actually just asked them over the phone or through text lol. Most of them knew that they were going to be a bridesmaid anyways, so it wasn't really a surprise.
Anyways, we spent the long weekend at my parents house in Marco Island, Florida with the plan to go shopping for my wedding dress on Saturday in Naples, just 30-45 minutes north of Marco Island. On Friday my dad took all 7 of us out on the boat and we had a ballll. My poor dad. He gave us girls a tour around the island while we sipped spiked seltzers all afternoon. What a gem. That night we all went out to dinner at one of my favorite spots on the islandSnook Inn.
From left to right: JT's sister Ashlee Castner, Erika Tarley, Holly Backer, Jessica Matthews, ME, Kelly Getz, and my maid of honor Jennifer Connell!
The next day was dress shopping day! I wasn't even really excited until right before. My bridesmaids were asking me what kind of dress I was looking for and I honestly had no idea. I wasn't familiar with any of the wedding gown styles. I just knew I wanted something beachy.
The first place I went to was Tie The Knot Bridal. The stylist, Hillary, was hilarious. I loved her from the start! She said she likes to read peoples energy to help find a gown for them. She calls herself the gown whisperer. Without even knowing anything about me she told me my energy was sweet and sassy with a little bit of an edge and I FELT THAT. Seriously, she couldn't have been more on point. I may be a little more sassy than sweet but I'll take it! She did such a great job finding gowns that were right up my alley. She also made me try on different styles to help me figure out what style I liked best. I found one dress that I really loved here but I had another appointment after and I wanted to see more.
The next place we went to was Palm Bridal. This place is the CUTEST. I was in love with the whole aesthetic of the store. My stylists name was Kersten and she was so sweet. I found a few dresses I really liked here, but none I absolutely loved.
Although I did NOT find my wedding dress yet, I learned a lot during my two appointments. I still have one more appointment scheduled at Kleinfeld's Bridal in New York City in a couple weeks, so I'm crossing my fingers this is where I find the dress. Wish me luck!See below for a video I forced JT to put together of our girls weekend (lol) and following that I've listed 10 tips for wedding dress shopping!
Figure out your budget before. You don't want to try on dresses that are outside of your budget.
Keep an eye out for trunk shows and sample sales. You can score some really good deals at these! I wanted to go to a trunk show recently, but I was out of town. They were offering 10% off all gowns!
Book an appointment ahead of time. Some places are obviously more popular than others so it's better to book a few weeks in advance.
Research styles before your appointment. This is something I wish I would have done. I had no clue what I wanted in terms of "style" but I quickly learned what worked best for my body after trying on a few dresses.
Bring photos for inspiration. This is a given, but in case you needed to be reminded...bring photo inspiration!
Keep your venue and theme in mind. For example if you're going for a boho/beach theme then steer clear of the ball gowns.
Look at a picture of yourself in a dress you really like. It's crazy how different you see the dress in a picture vs. in person. I definitely recommend trying it, then you'll understand what I'm saying.
Don't be scared to voice your honest opinion. Don't be shy with your stylist/consultant. Make sure she knows what you like and don't like.
Don't shy away from gowns that aren't white. I know white is traditional, but some gowns have beautiful underlays in different colors such as sand or champagne. You'll be surprised how good they look when you put them on. Most of the time it gives the dress good contrast while still looking like a wedding dress.
Make sure it's comfortable. Probably the most important tip. You have to feel comfortable and beautiful in your dress. Will you be able to dance? Will it be annoying to wear all night long? I tried on a dress with sequins and right away I knew it wouldn't work because the sequins were scratching my arms.