When I was engaged, I knew that what I would look forward to most was shopping for wedding dresses. I’ve always been a dress girl – to this day, my mom will tell anyone who listens that I first learned how to turn in a dress instead of walking! Finding my dream dress was something I took very seriously, and as someone who works in fashion, I knew that finding a dress that felt unique to me would be especially overwhelming.

At the time of my engagement, I was working as an assistant to a celebrity fashion stylist and had the best of the best in fashion. For me, every other day a luxurious dress was associated with a high price. Even though most of my weekdays were filled with such stunning pieces, I knew that my wedding dress would be the most important dress I would ever wear.

One shop turned into 25, and before I knew it, I suddenly had tried on over 200 dresses!

I had a semblance of what I wanted in a dress: a fitted waist, a mega dramatic bottom, and possibly some airy fabric. When I started buying my wedding dress I was open-minded and tried on things that were outside of my expectations and was a little downcast that I couldn’t find them in the first few stores. However, one shop turned into 25, and before I knew it, I suddenly had tried on over 200 dresses!

I know what you’re thinking, “How could anyone try on so many clothes?” Funny enough, it was all too easy! My engagement lasted a year and a half, and during that time I tried on every type of dress imaginable. I spent my weekends in wedding salons with gauzy tulle all around and small bouquets of silk flowers. Fortunately, I never went shopping alone. My bridesmaid Christine dutifully went to every appointment with me and never seemed to lose steam – even when I did.

After a few months, I began to worry that nothing would give me the bridal glow that I had always heard of. I watched bride after bride find their “one” in stores, and yet I didn’t. Every dress I tried on was beautiful in its own way, but didn’t feel 100 percent my own. In changing rooms with red velvet curtains, I wore silk, taffeta, and hand-sewn bohemian dresses and still couldn’t see myself in them for my big day. I often felt awful telling the sales reps that nothing felt right.

During one particularly long day trying on dress after dress at a sample sale, I found one that I thought I might convince myself to love. It was a strapless A-line with hand-stitched pearl detailing and it was undoubtedly very pretty. I looked in the dressing room mirror for a few minutes, then went out and told Christine I loved it. She jumped up from her seat, excited that I seemed satisfied with a dress, and the salesman came over quickly and put a veil around my crown. Shiny she asked me the age-old question: “Do you say yes to the dress?” One look at the word “yes” came out and a full body panic overcame me. I immediately regretted saying yes, and Christine and I posed for a picture when the seller took our picture.

I immediately ducked behind the curtain and felt the panic continue to flood me. I wrote to Christine (who was only a few meters away from me): “I don’t know why I said yes, that’s not it !?” What Christine did next to this day is the solidifier in our friendship. She apologized for me claiming we forgot to bring cash and would be sure to call. We then immediately took an Uber to my apartment to regroup and figure out the next wedding dress move.

After doing dozens of appointments at seemingly every store in Manhattan and searching the internet for hours, I couldn’t find my dress in the velvet-lined shops on Madison Avenue – I saw it on Instagram.

After my hasty “yes to the dress” I felt relieved and I never stopped looking for that magical one. Whenever someone told me to just buy a dress, I had to explain that it just wasn’t an easy purchase. This was the dress, and it had to feel magical. After doing dozens of appointments at seemingly every store in Manhattan and searching the internet for hours, I couldn’t find my dress in the velvet-lined shops on Madison Avenue – I saw it on Instagram. While putting on a rose-scented face mask in my tiny bathroom, I thoughtlessly flipped through Instagram and then saw it: a black and white video of a model spinning in the most beautiful Christian Siriano dress I’d ever seen.

I’ve always been excited about the idea of ​​wearing traditional white and immediately thought of what it would look like in ivory or pearl. I knew the dress I was seeing was special, so I quickly gave it to all of my bridesmaids. Convinced this might be the case, I emailed the Siriano sales team to request more information about the dress, while also texting my mom saying I think I found one I loved.

A few weeks later, when I was taking my first measurements, the Siriano team had the dress I had seen in black as a mint green pattern. I lost my breath at the sight and could hardly suppress my excitement as I put it on. It didn’t hurt that it got my mother’s approval too. While the team chatted with Christine and my mom, I couldn’t help but feel absolutely fantastic in it – I didn’t want to take it off! My white dress had to be made to measure, but I knew I had finally found this. It made everything else I had tried on seem bleak by comparison.

Courtesy Belle Bakst; Designed by Tiana Crispino

After signing the dotted line to receive my custom white Christian Siriano confection, I stopped looking at wedding dresses. I felt that this chapter of my wedding planning was happily completed and tied with a ribbon. I felt perfect in it and would dream of getting married in it. There was no doubt that it was the one.

When it was finished with white silk, nothing could be compared to the joy that came when I finally put on my dream dress. The dress itself was made of white silk and featured panel details, strapless straps and more crinoline than a soccer field at the natural waistline. Christian himself adjusted me to make sure everything was up to date. In fact, the dress was so big that it couldn’t stay in my tiny New York apartment for fear my fiance would see. Someone from the Siriano team hand delivered it the day before my wedding!

Courtesy Belle Bakst; Designed by Tiana Crispino

In retrospect, every wrong dress was just one step closer to the right one. Married four years later, it’s still the best dress I could ever imagine in, and it makes me smile just to think about it.

My honest advice? Follow your belly. If the dress doesn’t feel right, it’s likely not the right one. Don’t fall into the pressure of buying a dress that you don’t love and don’t think that you can make yourself love it. Just like finding your fiancé, finding the dress has to fit perfectly.

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