POPSUGAR Fashion

These Real-Life Wedding Dress Stories Will Inspire Your Own Search

Oct 1 2014 - 10:40am

It's the ultimate love story, your seemingly endless search for The One. Armed with a mental list of qualities you care most about and a definitive set of deal breakers, you hold out hope for the perfect match. Sometimes it only takes a few disappointments, often many, before you finally find the one that makes you feel good about yourself, shows off your best assets, and you know, hugs you just right. And before you know it, you're saying "I do" to . . . a wedding dress [1].

That's right. For those who've already found their soul mates, finding the perfect gown to walk down the aisle toward their betrothed can feel just as important. To inspire your search, our married POPSUGAR editors shared the stories of meeting their dresses.

And then it's your turn: share your own wedding [2] dress photos with us on Instagram. Tag POPSUGAR Fashion [3] using #POPSUGARBrides, and we'll pick the best stories to share on our site!

Kate Schweitzer

The dress: Maggie Sottero

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 7-8

The story: "I'd never been the person who dreamt of her wedding [4] day, and I was nervous by all my friends' assurances that when I tried on 'the dress,' I'd know it. But there you had it, when I put on this embellished lace and tulle trumpet gown, I was sold. It helped that it made my mom and aunt cry, even if not me."

Something old, something new...: "My something old was my wedding band — it's a simple gold ring that my mom picked up at a flea market in the '70s! My something new was the dress, my something blue was a gorgeous sapphire necklace my husband gave to me on our wedding day to match the sapphires in my engagement ring. My something borrowed was technically my mom's garter, but I kept it, so I'll admit that my actual 'borrow' was a pretty box clutch that I'd bought but barely used . . . and returned the next week! Shhh!"

Where the dress is now: "In a garment bag in my parents' basement. I haven't even cleaned it yet, and with all the running around I did outside taking pictures, and the amount of times it was snagged on the dance floor, it definitely could have used some TLC. But for the deal I got on it, it felt wrong spending more to have it preserved just to sit in a box, very likely never to be worn again. Although I think it's beautiful, I'm not going to assume a future daughter or granddaughter is going to want to dust this off!"

Source: Switzerfilm [5]

Lisa Horten

The dress: Oscar de la Renta [6]

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 4-5

The story: "Our wedding [7] was a destination wedding on a beach, so I knew that I wanted something really special, but also light, airy, and not too formal or stuffy. I got my dress at a trunk show at a small boutique called Hitched. The shop was one of the first things that I wrote about in my first job as an editor, and I had become friendly with the owners, so the whole experience was extra-special. I brought three or four girlfriends with me to look at dresses, and knew this was the one right away."

Something old, something new...: "My engagement ring was my husband's great-grandmother's, so I considered that my something old, my dress and shoes were new, I borrowed a bracelet of my mom's, and had my monogram embroidered into the bodice of my dress in blue!"

Where the dress is now: "The dress itself is in my parents' attic in one of those preservation boxes. I had the jeweled sash stitched onto a black velvet ribbon so that I could get more use out of it — which I admittedly haven't done, but I still love looking at it! — and one of my best friends borrowed my veil for her wedding."

Source: Julie Fischer McCarter/Shoot Photo Inc. [8]

Lauren Turner

The dress: Anne Barge

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "This was one of the first few dresses I tried on, and after spending the rest of the day shopping, I kept going back to this one." 

The story: "I loved the subtle layering and that it felt like a wedding [9] dress but was still simple enough to reflect my personal style. It was actually pretty comfortable and easy to wear, and I loved the way it moved, especially when the train wasn't bustled."

Something old, something new...: "The Jimmy Choo [10] shoes that my mother-in-law bought for me were new, my old and borrowed were two diamond tennis bracelets that my mom and stepmom let me wear. My something blue was Hanky Panky [11] 'I Do' underwear that was given to me at a shower."

Where the dress is now: "I had it cleaned and preserved in a box. It's now high on a shelf in a closet somewhere at my in-laws' house!" 

Source: Mi & Mo Photography [12]

Molly Goodson

The dress: Vera Wang [13]

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 3-4

The story: "I never thought I would end up in a strapless dress, but it felt right in the moment. I was one of those brides who had immediate regret after buying the dress. As soon as I put down the payment and walked out of the Neiman Marcus [14] bridal salon knowing that there would be upwards of six months until I saw it again, I was filled with a sense of dread that I would hate it when I had my fittings. I'll be honest: I did cry at my first fitting. I grew to be at peace with it, but had moments of thinking I was crazy for picking a dress with horizontal stripes. Now I feel attached to it and fond of it, but it's not my favorite thing about our wedding [15]. Loving the dress wasn't the most important thing to me. You can love your wedding and not be 100 percent in love with your dress."

Something old, something new...: "Something old was a locket my mother gave me that my father gave her on their wedding day. Something new were sequined Christian Louboutins. One of my bridesmaids lent me a chain to hang the locket on, and my blue was Hanky Pankies."

Where the dress is now: "Real talk: I left it at the dry cleaner for over a year. Now, it's in a preservation box underneath our guest bed. There's a window so I can look at it."

Source: Brian Sugar [16]

Maria Mercedes Lara

The dress: Wren

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 20

The story: "I didn't want a strapless dress, and I didn't want a mermaid gown, so I figured something a bit looser would be better. I was torn between this one and a Jenny Packham [17] gown, but I thought that the heavy embroidery on Packham gowns would overpower the outdoor location. I also liked that the place where I went, Stone Fox Bride, only makes 10 of each gown, so I knew I wasn't going to see a ton of wedding [18] photos of my same dress on different women on Pinterest."

Something old, something new...: "I didn't follow this tradition."

Where the dress is now: "I got it cleaned and put it in a box! But now I'm thinking about dying it and wearing it as a regular gown. I just need an excuse for a formal gown!"

Source: Yuna Leonard Photography [19]

Emelie Burnette

The dress: Bonny Bridal

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 8

The story: "When I put on the dress I ultimately chose, my mother-in-law was gushing, and my sarcastic bridesmaid was cursing a lot, in a good way. It helped that the sample size was pretty darn close to my size, and that the price was so, so right. My favorite part of the dress, though, was how the skirt and train rippled down — so feminine."

Something old, something new...: "For my something old, I had my great-grandmother's ring, and my gorgeous pearl necklace and earrings — a gift from my wife — were something new. I got extra lucky with my something borrowed — at a friend's wedding [20] the year before, I'd caught the bouquet, which had a blue ribbon around it. I kept that ribbon and one of the pins and used them for my own bouquet, and then I gave the pin back to the other bride. I also painted my nails blue, just because."

Where the dress is now: "My mother-in-law was nice enough to have the dress professionally cleaned for me, so now it's safe in a storage box in my closet."

Source: G Aronow Photography [21]

Laura Meyers

The dress: Casablanca

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 20

The story: "I loved the lace, the small train, the way it moved. I loved that it was a little bit sparkly and a little bit fairy tale, but also casual enough to work with our outdoor venue. And there was something in my mom's reaction, and in my best friends' reactions, that told me it was the right choice."

Something old, something new...: "I counted the dress as something new, and I paired it with my mom's diamond and blue sapphire bracelet — which tripled as something old, something borrowed, and something blue."

Where the dress is now: "I had my dress preserved, and now it's tucked into a box in the corner of my closet."

Source: Cooper Carras [22]

Lisa Sugar

The dress: Vera Wang [23]

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "It was one of the first three I tried on, but I still proceeded to go to four more stores and try on at least 30 others knowing this was what my heart was set on."

The story: "Total princess — I was 22 when I got married and wanted something that was age-appropriate as well as dreamy. I hated tulle and didn’t want anything super puffy but when I had this on, it just felt so right. My only rule was non-strapless, which this dress actually was so I added straps."

Something old, something new...: "My mom's diamond stud earrings were my something old and borrowed — I had just gotten my ears pierced. My dress and shoes were new, and my dress had some blue threading. I had a tiara with blue stones as well."

Where the dress is now: "It's at my parents' home in a bag. I know, so terrible it's not preserved — some day I may get to it, but it's been almost 15 years!"

Source: Len DePas Photography [24]

Mandy Harris

The dress: J.Crew

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 5-6

The story: "I tried on a few dresses at bridal salons, but they all felt stuffy, heavy, overdone, and . . . not me. I'd been admiring J.Crew's wedding [25] collection online. I loved the simple elegance of their dresses. As soon as this dress came in the mail and I put it on, I knew it was the one. It fit perfectly even without any alterations, felt light and airy, and really fit the vibe of our somewhat less formal, outdoor wedding. Fun fact: the dress went on sale three times between the time I bought it and the time I got married, so I kept returning it and re-buying it at the sale price. I ended up paying $75 total for the dress."

Something old, something new...: "My something old and something borrowed was a pearl necklace that belonged to my maternal grandmother, and my something new was a pair of pearl and diamond earrings. I don't think I had a something blue! Am I cursed?"

Where the dress is now: "I had it cleaned and packed up, and there it sits, in its box in my closet. I'd love to find a new use for it someday, or pass it down to one of my nieces or a future child!"

Source: Kristyn Stroble Photography [26]

Melissa Pinpin

The dress: Marisa

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "Literally tried on 50-plus, no joke. Sometimes I wonder if I really loved the dress or just got tired of trying things on."

The story: "I love feminine details, and this dress had both beautiful lace and asymmetrical layers of chiffon draping from one side down. It was comfortable enough to dance all night in, too — a very important feature."

Something old, something new...: "A clutch that was given to me by a friend years ago was my something old. New was Jimmy Choo [27] shoes. Borrowed was the handkerchief my sister used on her wedding [28] day, and blue were Alexis Bittar [29] earrings."

Where the dress is now: "After a year and a half, I still haven’t done anything with it — in fact, it’s been sitting at my parents' house since the wedding and my mom has been hinting at me to do something with it for months now. I hate that it goes to waste after one wear, so I have visions of a future anniversary 'trash the dress' shoot with my husband . . . but he doesn't know this yet."

Source: Delbarr Moradi Photography [30]

Melissa Liebling-Goldberg

The dress: Carolina Herrera [31]

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "I tried on maybe four dresses total and got this one and one to change into for my reception." 

The story: "I got it at a sample sale! I wanted a beautiful dress but I wanted to be reasonable with my overall budget. I never wanted to wear a traditional wedding [32] gown but once you put one on that is this beautiful, you realize the power of the princess moment. I loved the simplicity of the dress and the small details. The only embellishment was rows of tiny topstitching along the bust and on the peplum."

Something old, something new...: "My something old was a Judith Leiber [33] clutch that my aunt had given to me years before — my bouquet was made of green tea roses and it matched perfectly. My something borrowed were spectacular diamond bracelets from my eternally stylish and generous grandmother. And my something blue was an antique handkerchief from my family that I pinned to the underlayer of my dress."

Where the dress is now: "It is archived at my parents' house in Houston. I hope someone wants to borrow it one day or I find a good use for it. Seems sad to waste it!"

Source: Julie Soefer Photography [34]

Rebecca Gruber

The dress: Carolina Herrera [35]

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "I probably tried on 100. I felt like it was an endless process, but this was one of the first I saw and I just kept coming back to it!"

The story: "Three of my closest friends and I were getting married within a year of each other — funny how that happens, right? — and I wanted a dress that didn't look like anything they were wearing. I wanted a classic dress that would stand the test of time in photos, but I also wanted to feel like a princess and that's exactly what I felt like the minute I stepped into it. I loved how comfortable it was, and I loved the beadwork on the bodice."

Something old, something new...: "Good question: it's funny how you plan and plan and then years later you forget it all! I think my old and blue was a garter that my mother wore at her wedding [36]. My borrowed was a beautiful triple-strand pearl bracelet with a diamond clasp that my grandmother lent me, and my something new was my gown!"

Where the dress is now: "I got married on Sept. 8, 2001. We had planned on having it preserved, but three days after the wedding, it was Sept. 11, and everything in Washington DC closed down for some time, so it never got cleaned. It's still hanging in a closet in my parents' house and sometimes when we visit, I slip it on to give my sons a good laugh!"

Source: Len DePas Photography [37]

Stacy Hersher

The dress: Enzoani

Dresses tried on before finding The One: "I'd guess over 50. We went to five different places, and a couple shops twice. This was the very last dress I tried on, and I knew it was the one immediately."

The story: "I knew that I wanted lace and that I didn't want a strapless dress. I had my heart set on another gorgeous lace cap-sleeve dress initially, but then discovered I couldn't lift my arms above my head with that design. This one won out because it was unique, comfortable, lightweight and I just felt like myself in it."

Something old, something new...: "I combined my something old and borrowed: The brooch that I put on my belt actually belonged to my great aunt. I splurged on new shoes, and my mom gave me a garter that had some blue in it."

Where the dress is now: "My parents sweetly got it dry cleaned while I was on my honeymoon and it's now hanging in their hall closet. I don't know what, if anything, I'll eventually do with it."

Source: Carrie Richards Photography [38]

Tara Block

The dress: Priscilla of Boston

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 30-40

The story: "I tried on a wide variety of dresses because I really wasn't sure what style I wanted or what would look good on me. I even asked my husband-to-be if he had any preferences and he just said 'not mermaid.' I had always imagined I'd get a non-wedding dress, but after looking at dresses up and down California I ended up finding 'the one' at the bridal shop Priscilla of Boston (now closed). I didn't cry, but I did almost pass out at a fitting when I got pricked by a pin! Funnily enough, it was essentially a mermaid style, but my husband loved it anyway. What really made it special is that it's linen — a pretty fabric in theory, but probably not the best when it pours rain on your wedding [39] day. Oops."

Something old, something new...: "My something old was my vintage engagement ring, and my something new were my Kate Spade [40] heart pumps and Jennifer Behr [41] rhinestone headband. We had a very nontraditional wedding, so I didn't have a something blue or borrowed."

Where the dress is now: "In a preservation box in our closet. I haven't taken it out since it was cleaned, so I hope they were able to get the hot pink that bled onto the bottom of it from my shoes out!"

Source: Michèle M. Waite [42]

Jenny Sugar

The dress: Maggie Sottero

Dresses tried on before finding The One: 30

The story: "I wanted big and poofy because it was so different from the jeans and tees I usually wore. Originally I wanted a ballerina style with a huge tulle skirt with a hoop, but then realized I wouldn't be able to walk! A tie-up back was also on my list so I wouldn't stress about it fitting on the special day. I didn't like a whole lot of beadwork or embroidery, and definitely no lace. And since I'm a practical person, I also didn't want to spend a lot on something I'd only wear for a few hours, and actually got it on sale for $400!"

Something old, something new…: "I had my wedding [43] band made using small diamonds from a ring given to me after my grandmother passed away, so that was my something old. The dress was the something new, I wore pale blue undies, and I borrowed a silk robe from my bridesmaid that she wore getting ready for her wedding."

Where the dress is now: "It's in my 18-month-old son's closet, zipped up in a gown bag, covered with grass stains and who knows what else. I never wanted to have it cleaned or preserved because I wanted to leave it as is, because seeing it well-worn reminds me of how truly special that day was."

Source: Kathleen Landwherle [44]


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