Wedding Dress Shopping

Secrets to Successful Wedding Dress Shopping by Anna Whitener

I am often asked about cringe worthy moments and bridezillas. Honestly, Loveliest offers a laid back, no pressure atmosphere that discourages drama. This is not your reality TV wedding dress shopping experience. However, there are certainly things that those of us in this business see regularly that make us want to get on our soapboxes, so mic check please! Here are (the first) five secrets to a successful visit!

She said YES to her Loveliest!

She said YES to her Loveliest!

1.       Let the bride react first!

I know that most of you reading this are brides yourselves. If not, read secret #1 above. If so, please encourage your guests to listen to your thoughts before they utter theirs. Everyone has their own preferences, senses of style, wedding ideals, etc. that will come through in their reactions. And it is okay for them to give you feedback. After all, that’s why you brought them along. However, most of the time, if a loved one sees your excitement, they will support you in your decision. Similarly, voicing that a dress is not the one for you discourages your guests from building it up, giving you more time to try those that could be “the dress!” Remember, the way you FEEL in a dress is going to show on your actual wedding day, and only you can truly know that feeling. Find the dress that makes you feel like the most beautiful bridal version of yourself and trust your gut!

2.       Bring the yes makers with you (when possible)!

I know secret #1 suggested making your dress decision based on your own feelings, but there are often loved ones whose opinions matter! I wanted my mom and my husband to LOVE my dress! Since my husband couldn’t see it, my mom’s input was incredibly important to me. When she saw my reaction to “the dress” she loved it, simply because she could see that I did. Bring those people with you – the ones who “get you” and recognize when you light up! I have watched brides itching to say yes who feel they can’t without their sister, MIL, MOH, etc. seeing it first. I totally get it! Bring the people whose opinions you MUST have with you to each appointment. Made-to-order dresses can be discontinued, or you may lose out on a limited time discount, pushing a dress over budget. At Loveliest, many of our dresses are available off-the-rack and can sell before you bring your inner circle back. One of the absolute worst parts of my job is telling a bride that a dress she loved is no longer available.

Getting fedback // Credit:  A&M Cunningham Photography

Getting fedback // Credit: A&M Cunningham Photography

3.       Don’t look until you’re ready to commit!

Similar to secret #2, this one refers to your mental and financial readiness. Some of my favorite appointments are those “just looking” visits. Without the pressure of needing to find your dress THAT day, you often enjoy the experience more, listen to your own thoughts, and can react without trying to check boxes off a list of must haves. For that reason, even if you are “just looking” make sure you come with the funds and open mind you need to say YES!

4.       Let the FOMO go!

The fear of missing out seems to have reached an all time high. There are literally millions of wedding dresses out there. There is no way for you to try them all on, just like there is no way to date every potential partner to see if he/she might be better than the one with whom you’ve already fallen in love. If you LOVE a dress and it makes you feel the way I mentioned in secret #1, do not agonize over the decision! I have now had MULTIPLE brides search for several months at endless stores in various cities only to come back to the dress they loved at Loveliest. That does not sound particularly enjoyable for the bride (or for those who need to attend every appointment – see secret #2). Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be, which leads us to secret #5…

5.       Have FUN!

Wedding dress shopping fun // Credit:  Whitney Jade Photography

Wedding dress shopping fun // Credit: Whitney Jade Photography

Behind the Hair and Makeup by Anna Whitener

Earlier this week I shared some sneak peeks of the headshots I had taken by my friend and local photographer Whitney Fisher. I don’t think I’ve gotten that many likes and comments since posting my wedding pictures almost three years ago! For someone who focuses on lifting up women daily, I have to admit, it felt really good to be on the receiving end of so many compliments. However, my immediate reaction to feeling proud, pretty (thank you Tori Stewart), and loved was guilt and shame over my vanity.

Y’all, that is ridiculous!

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If dressing up, being pampered with professional hair and makeup, and posing in front of a camera for an hour or so leads to a moment captured in time when you felt strong, beautiful, and loved that you can share with your children, spouses, moms, colleagues, and girl squads, DO IT!!!

More importantly, if you can help another woman feel these things by uttering a kind word or posting a fire emoji, DO IT!!!

In a world where we only see what is posted on picture perfect social media, it is easy to forget that we are all struggling with some aspect of our lives. We should seize the opportunities we have to lift one another up and celebrate the sense of pride and empowerment we get from being supported by those dear to us!

Ok, it’s about to get real…

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Though I don’t allow negative body talk in the store, I myself worry about not being pretty enough, cool enough, curvy enough, business-savvy enough (thank you ever-changing IG algorithms), a good enough wife, a good enough daughter, and as a self-admitted people pleaser, likeable enough.

The good enough daughter card is probably the hardest to play right now. I lost my dad almost 10 years ago, and I am now finding myself on calls with palliative care doctors regarding my mom’s health, with an overwhelming sense of guilt for not being there in person. As a 32 year old, most of my friends can’t yet relate (nor would I want them to be able to). I feel like a “debbie downer” for being distracted with these stresses even when I don’t utter them aloud.

Even with amazingly supportive friends and family, I can sometimes feel alone.

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So…receiving numerous “likes” and comments on a simple post of pretty pictures left me feeling seen, acknowledged, supported, and loved. Those small acts served as reminders of what I already know is true. Ladies, keep it up! The next time you see a noteworthy post from a friend, a colleague, a family member, or even an aquaintance, don’t you dare keep scrolling. No matter how idealistic each of our lives looks from the other side of a computer screen, we all need each other.

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You're Coming In with Me? by Anna Whitener

Oh crap. I should have worn prettier underwear. How are my underarms so hairy? I literally just shaved. There is no way my legs can be that ashy! Did I not put lotion on earlier?  Geez, I really should have tanned at least once this summer so I wouldn’t blind everyone in sight. Why does it have to be so hot? She is going to think I don’t even wear deodorant! I wish I hadn’t eaten that extra slice of pizza today. I feel so bloated.

Ladies…if these or any other similar thoughts come into your head while trying on wedding dresses at Loveliest, I want you to know:

1. I have been there, and

2. this is a judgment-free zone!

When I first realized that a bridal stylist would be joining me in the dressing room to physically help me in and out of wedding dresses, I was a bit shocked. I was thinking “I should have worn different undies.” Then, “Did I shave my bikini line?” And finally, “Oh my gosh, she is going to see just how flat-chested I am.”

Now, I am the one in the dressing room either supporting a bride as she steps through layers of fabric or guiding her hands through the armholes of a dress as I pull it over her head. I can promise you that I am not looking at your undies, your bra, your belly, your underarms, or anything else. I am fully concentrating on making sure I get you properly into said dress with each layer of fabric laying as it should and pinning it the best way possible so that you and your guests are able to see what it will look like post-alterations.

At Loveliest, I see that you have the curves I’ve always dreamed of, or the perfectly toned arms and back, or the beautifully bronzed skin, or the gorgeous smile that makes you glow, or the hair that looks good with or without a veil. Every bride I work with is beautiful. Each one exudes hope, excitement, and awe. This is one of the most magical times in your life. Let’s focus on that together. 

Does that mean you can’t voice your opinion? Absolutely not! I encourage you to tell me if we need to change the music, if you are too hot or too cold, or if you need a refill on snacks or a drink. Most importantly, please tell me what you do and don’t like about each dress.  It will help us find your perfect one! But, if I catch you spouting silly negative thoughts about yourself, we might have to have a quick “reset” chat, because I guarantee there is plenty of positive going on in that wedding dress! Love wins!