AUTHENTICALLY WED: Finding your perfect wedding dress / by Kelly Golia

Many women spend their whole lives dreaming about their wedding dress: what it will look like, whether they'll cry when they realize it's "the one", and what it will feel like to walk down the aisle in that dress towards the love of their life. When it really comes down to it, choosing a wedding dress can absolutely be that exciting and wonderful to a lot of people! But a lot of times - more often than you think - high expectations can get in the way and make the experience overwhelming. After all, there are thousands of dresses to choose from, and you only get to pick one!

Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography

You better believe I was one of those girls who dreamed of finding my perfect wedding dress. But can I be honest, you guys? When it finally came time to try on dresses for myself, I got totally overwhelmed and scared. I had planned to be at least 20 pounds lighter by the time I even thought about wedding dresses, plus I was terrified of what kinds of emotions might pop up without having my mom there (she had passed away just a few months earlier). On the other hand I really wanted that quintessential experience of finding my perfect dress, surrounded by my bridesmaids with glasses of champagne in hand to celebrate.

Ultimately, while I was planning a full on girls day with my bridesmaids and mother in law to try on dresses, I panicked a bit and booked a last minute appointment at my local bridal boutique. I wanted to get those initial emotions out of the way and have at least some idea of which styles and sizes looked good on me before going through it in front of other people, so I dragged one of my sisters along with the intention of still doing the whole shebang with everyone a few weeks later.

Two things happened at that makeshift appointment that surprised me:

1. I didn't cry (out of happiness or sadness or anything!) which is shocking because I'm nothing if not a crier.

2. I found my dress! It was a complete accident really. I tried on no more than 4 dresses and ended up falling in love with the second one.

My point is that I went in without expectations, and ended up having a really wonderful experience. I loved how intimate it was with just me and my sister Julia (who is also one of my very best friends!). I knew that if I got sad about missing my mom that she'd totally understand, but luckily I didn't get sad at all. I knew that if I felt ugly and fat in any dresses that Julia would cheer me up while still being honest, but luckily I felt just as gorgeous as any bride should feel.

Trying on wedding dresses can be scary and overwhelming, but I've rounded up some of my best tips from my own experience, and I hope they'll help make your wedding dress shopping as magical as you deserve!

Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography

Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography


1. Size doesn't matter. This is a big one. A lot of people don't know that, in general, wedding dresses are sized at least 2-3 sizes larger than "street sizes" For example, a size 10 in normal clothes may be a 14 or 16 in wedding dresses, which can be discouraging in and of itself. Don't fret! As long as you go into it keeping in mind that the size of your dress doesn't matter (it will be altered to a custom size anyway!), you have nothing to worry about. A bridal boutique attendant can help you figure out what size you can expect to be and where to look for those dresses.

2. Keep an open mind. I started my dress search by completely ruling out strapless, and there was no way I was going to try on anything fitted. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, which was the first dress I tried on. I hated it. The attendant asked what I liked and didn't like about it, motioned to me to wait just a moment, and came back just a couple of minutes later... with a strapless, fitted dress. I was hesitant, but tried it on, and whaddayaknow... it was THE dress. The attendant recommended a beaded belt that finished the look and I was in love. I never in a million years would have picked this dress off the rack, but it was perfect in every way and ended up being one of my most favorite parts of our wedding.

3. Take your time. I happened to only try on 4 dresses total, and chose the second one I tried on, but if that doesn't happen for you, it's 100% okay. Take your time! The last thing you want is to purchase a dress and spend the next year or so dodging photos of other dresses to avoid questioning your own choice. Whether you choose the first dress you try on or the 50th, trust yourself and be confident in your decision.

4. Celebrate in your own way. However you choose your wedding dress, it's an occasion to be celebrated. I always dreamed of popping a bottle of champagne with my best girls when I found THE dress, but it didn't happen that way for me. Instead, I invited my bridesmaids over for a ladies' brunch and debuted the dress then. It was still super special and I got to see my big sister Val cry about it, which is totally the dream, right?! ;)

5. It's your dress. People are going to have a lot of opinions as to which dress is perfect for you, but your wedding dress is perhaps one of the most intimate details of your entire wedding. You should look and feel great in it, and ultimately the choice is yours and only yours. Don't settle based on other peoples' opinions, and trust your gut.

Remember - as long as you choose a dress that makes you happy, you can't go wrong. Shopping for wedding dresses is one of the most special and exciting times in your life, so don't stress, and be sure to embrace every second. And when you find "the one", don't forget to celebrate!

What questions do you have about wedding dress shopping? If you've already found your dress, were you surprised at what you chose? Or was it exactly what you always envisioned? Let me know in the comments!

Authentically Wed is an ongoing series of wedding-related blog posts by Kelly of Kelly Golia Events intended to provide you with an honest approach to planning your own wedding by highlighting stories of real brides, wedding professionals, and experiences from Kelly herself in her roles as a bride and as a wedding planner. For real, customized advice on a wedding-related topic of your choice, contact Kelly at or fill out the contact form here and let us know what you want to read about!