How Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress Feels, According To 6 Women

Ask any bride-to-be about the first thing she thought about when she began planning her wedding, and there’s a solid chance that she’ll say it was her dress. In fact, many brides begin fantasizing about their gowns long before they’ve even gotten engaged. Needless to say, if you're wondering how finding your dream wedding dress feels — the first word that comes to mind is magical.

Some dream of fairytale-worthy frocks, with full tulle skirts and sweetheart necklines. Others imagine elegant gowns with low backs and long trains. And unconventional brides lust after colorful vintage dresses with eccentric accents. Your wedding dress is not only a reflection of your personality and unique sense of style — it’s also the first thing you’ll be wearing as you say “I do” to your new spouse. So naturally, it’s a pretty important consideration.

Some brides find their wedding dresses online, while others hop from boutique to boutique trying on options before landing on the perfect gown. Still, regardless of where they end up snagging their dream dress, most agree that on one thing: They instantly knew it was "the one." Perhaps they felt a little shiver up their spine, or they spotted a tear in their bestie’s eye. Or, they may not have even needed a sign — they simply had an instant feeling that it was what they were meant to tie the knot in. That was the case for these six women, anyway, who were fortunate enough to find their dream dresses.

The Destiny Dress

Wendy Laurel/Stocksy
I've always dreamed about a wedding gown. I'm not just talking a plain white gown. I'm talking a ball gown style with full tulle skirt, lace, beading, embroidering.... the works.
This last weekend, I was in a thrift store, looking through their items. As always, I looked at the gowns. Now, understand I'm a bit bigger than average. So it's always a fruitless trip because nothing ever fits. But then I see it. It's my dream wedding gown, sprung to life from my imagination. It's so beautiful. As I go to check the price tag I see it's $100. It's clearly underpriced because the quality of the dress and the materials are obvious. Any comparable gowns I've ever seen are $2000+. I see there's a size tag... It's a size 20!
I can't tell you the chill that went down my spine. I've been able to fit into some size 20s. Could it be possible? I immediately grab the gown, which is a bit tricky as it's not only a massive skirt, but it's got a long train (squeee!). I rush to the changing room and try it on. IT FITS! So many emotions washed over me, I almost cried. I think I now get what goes through a brides mind when she finds the perfect dress. Basically, if I had hired a seamstress to specifically build my dream dress, this is what I would've had her make. Just putting it on makes me feel like I'm on a cloud. I can't believe my luck!

u/ladylucksmiles

When Pockets Are A Priority

Brad + Jen Butcher/Stocksy
I always wanted one with pockets but it wasn't really on my mind when I was trying dresses on... I loved this dress as soon as I put it on: it was soft, fancy but not too fancy, and it felt really heavy and substantial and comfortable. So I was twirling around in it for a few minutes before I even realized it had pockets... once I figured that out, it was my dress.

— Dee, 28

Second Time's A Charm

Liliya Rodnikova/Stocksy
I actually bought the dress I "dreamed" of and ended up really regretting it and buying a new dress (three weeks till the wedding no less).
I thought I wanted something fitted, with lace, boning, and sleeves. The longer I had my dress the more I hated it. I couldn't lift my arms up and I was having a deep internal battle about how I would dance in my original dress.
There were aspects outside of my control ended with me buying a new dress. It was comfortable, soft pink lace, and deep V's in the front and back. I ended up wearing a faux fur stole with it and felt like I was in GoT.

Llama_laughter

The Curveball

Leah Flores/Stocksu
I was CONVINCED that I would be wearing a ballgown. I have been dreaming about my ballgown ever since college (6+ years?) and then what do I go with? The complete opposite (lol).
I was convinced that I couldn't do a mermaid gown because I wasn't going to be able to dance and really get my groove on, but when I put on that gown and put on the lace jacket, I was in love. I couldn't stop thinking about it!
Moral of the story: Go with an open mind. You may end up with something you never thought you would have liked!

plaintastic

But First: The Dress

Jess Craven/Stocksy
I worked at David's Bridal when it was a new dress and fell in love with it on the hanger, but refused to try it on or buy it before I was engaged. I quit David's before we got engaged unfortunately because that discount would have been nice!
The first thing after we announced our engagement I went with my mama and we bought it. Like before we booked a venue or had a date or anything. Seriously, I would wear this dress every day. I think that's why I love it — because it's basically a formal version of the style of dress I wear often, so it's entirely me but also entirely bridal.
I did change my mind on veils and shoes about 18 times though.

AskPamBeasley

She Got It From Her Mama

Chris Zielecki/Stocksy
I had been lusting over Maggie Sottero wedding dresses for basically forever and had pretty much made up my mind that I’d be wearing one of her designs. One day, I was poking around in my the attic looking for our Christmas ornaments, and I came across my mom's wedding dress. I pulled it out and looked at it, and I don’t know if it was the lighting up there or my mood that day, but suddenly I saw it differently. Without thinking about it, I took off my clothes right there and slipped it on.
“MOM!” I yelled until I heard her coming up the stairs. When she entered the attic, she stood in the doorway and I’ll never forget this — just put her hand to her mouth in disbelief. “I need help with the zipper,” I said.
And just like that — without ever having gone shopping — I had my dress. I knew I’d need to have it tailored a bit (my mother and I are about the same size, but very different shapes), but it was perfect. Something about wearing my mom’s dress gave it a special sentimental value, and she even let me make it my own by having the sleeves taken off and adding a lace belt.

—Lily, 30

Trying on your dream wedding dress should be every bit as magical as you imagined it would be. But the one you choose may not be exactly what you had in mind — in fact, you may be totally blindsided by the dress that takes your breath away. As they say: when you know, you know. And that doesn't just apply to your spouse-to-be, it also applies to the dress that you'll marry them in, as well.