How to Find Your Perfect Wedding Dress

Van Cleve Bridal Pavillion
Van Cleve Bridal Pavillion

Van Cleve Wedding Pavillion

One of the most exciting things in wedding planning (well, at least for the bride) is searching for your wedding dress. I’m a person that likes to plan ahead, which is why a lot of the planning for my wedding has been done far before the expected time. But for my wedding dress, I waited and did my research and took the time to find the perfect dress that made me stop and say to myself, “I’m really getting married.

When it came to start planning how I was going to start wedding dress shopping, I first started with the people that I wanted to bring. Of course, I needed my mother and my sister – how could I pick out MY wedding dress without them? And then, I chose to have my maid of honor come along too. She’s been a big help in my wedding planning and she knows my style.

I chose to have no more than three people come along with me, because you don’t want too many opinions when wedding dress shopping because it can get overwhelming. And honestly, you are guaranteed to have 1-2 extra people with opinions when you go shopping because the bridal consultants tend to put in their opinions too.

***Please note: As you are reading this post, I have left out the name of the designer of the dress that I choose as well as the picture of my dress on purpose, because my fiancé does read my blog. It’s a secret until the wedding day.***

Wedding Dress
Lace Wedding Dress
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***Check out my Mama in the background with a look of awe when I tried on my very first dress***

During my first appointment at the Van Cleve Wedding Pavillion, I didn’t know what to really expect. My plan was to go into the appointment, show the consultant a picture of a dress that I like and tell her what I must have as a part of my dress and what I absolutely don’t want. I found that this was very helpful for the consultant when we went around to choose dresses for me to try on.

She was able to move through the styles quickly by not showing me dresses that were outside my price range and by showing me dresses that would match my style but have some extra aspects that I didn’t really talk about. By showing me more dresses, we were able to really define what my style was – which actually ended up with me picking out 12 dresses to try on. I was told that it wasn’t abnormal to try on 10-14 dresses at your first appointment since you are still trying to figure out exactly what you want and what looks amazing on you!

At this boutique, I tried on dresses from Pronovias, Jolie Bridal, and Jovani Couture – all of them have a signature to their dresses that are all to die for.

At the end of my first appointment, I actually found a dress that I fell in love with. But sometime during the appointment, I took a risk and tried on a dress that was outside of my price range just because it looked amazing on the hanger and I loved all the details. When the consultant finally told me the price, I was a little shocked. After all the alterations and additional accessories, my dress would be over $3,000 – and that was not what I wanted.

Arielle Bridal
Wedding Dress

It was heartbreaking, but I sucked it up and convinced myself that I might find another dress elsewhere and that since it was my first appointment, I should just jump at the first dress. I needed to take my time.

I spaced out my appointments. Some people choose to do all their appointments on one day, and if that is for you then go for it. But I know myself and I need time to decompress and think instead of being flooded with a bunch of things to think about. So after my first appointment, I waited a week and went to my next appointment the following weekend.

During my second appointment at Arielle Bridal, I was a little dissatisfied with what I found. I walked into the store and looked around and barely found any dress that I thought I would fall in love with. Don’t get my wrong, the dresses there were gorgeous. They carried dresses from Maggie Sottero, Allure Bridal, and Stella York – so, it wasn’t that they didn’t have any beautiful dresses, they just didn’t have a dress that was for me. I tried on many of the dresses anyway and ended up walking out with the other dress from my previous appointment still on my mind.

Slowly, I was beginning to convince myself that it would be okay to pay double the amount that I originally planned to spend on my wedding dress, but I stopped myself and made another plan.

After I had left my previous appointment, I looked up the designer of the dress that I fell in love with and looked for other boutiques in my area that also carried the designer. I made a list and saved it on my phone for reference.

Walking out of my second appointment, I realized how close we were to one of the boutiques that carried my dress, La Bella Moda, so I took a risk and called, and to my luck, I actually got an appointment within the hour.

I went into the appointment asking about the dress that I had previously tried on at my first appointment, and as if it was fate, they also carried the dress. My consultant pulled the dress along with other dresses that were close to the look that I wanted (upon my request), and we went on trying on a bunch more dresses before returning back to the one I loved.

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When I tried on the dress again, I still was stunned. This was my dress and to my surprise, the boutique was running a 20% off sale and the original price of the dress was already hundreds less than it was at the boutique from my first appointment. So I screamed, “I’m saying YES TO MY DRESS!

I put my down payment on my dress and went over all the formalities with my consultant. Honestly, it was the most amazing experience and I am so happy that I found the dress that I will wear during one of the most amazing times of my life.


  • Van Cleve Wedding Pavilion – has a great selection of dresses and a beautiful atmosphere. The staff is very attentive and are as invested in finding  your dress as you are. They also carry bridesmaid dresses, mother of the bride dresses, and bridal accessories. On the property, they also have other wedding vendors (it is like a one stop shop).
  • Arielle Bridal – they have a selection of great designer dresses at a very affordable price. They tend to have a lot going on so make sure that when you book your appointment, ask how many other appointments are booked at that time. There was a dress that I had to try on first because another bride who was trying on dresses wanted it as well.
  • La Bella Moda – this boutique carries a select amount of styles from the designers they carry, but I loved the atmosphere and the staff was so attentive. They even have mimosas in the boutique every once in awhile for you and your guests to have while trying on dresses. They also carry bridal accessories, bridesmaid dresses, and dresses for the mother of the bride. 


  • You don’t need to bring heels to the fitting. They have shoes for you to wear, but most of the time you just walk around barefoot. 
  • After you purchase your dress, you won’t see it for another 5-6 months (this is when you’ll need your shoes). 
  • It pays to be patient.
  • The last thing you should do is buy the first dress you like at your first appointment. You’re still reeling off the excitement and it is best to take time and think.
  • You don’t pay for your dress all at once and the alteration price is completely separate. 
  • Many wedding dresses don’t come with belts – contrary to many wedding photos – belts are typically separate and are sown on later, if requested. 


  • Wear clothes that are easy to get in and out of.
  • Wear a strapless bra in nude or black along with other neutral undergarments (some dresses have light fabric)
  • Make sure to eat beforehand – it’s the worse feeling to be hungry while trying on dresses
  • Try to not take too many people because you’ll get too many opinions – some boutiques actually have a limit to the amount of people that you are allowed to bring with you
  • Prepare to have an appointment that will last an hour and a half, but may slightly run over
  • Make sure to take plenty of photos from all angles. You’ll want to look back at the dresses before you make your decision and after you buy your dress, you’ll want to look at it all the time. 
  • Don’t let anyone persuade you and change your mind about what you want. This is your wedding day, not theirs. Some people who come along try to pick out dresses based on their style and not yours. 


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