I don’t know what’s normal, but I feel like I tried on an abnormally high number of wedding dresses before I found the one. I went to multiple wedding dress shops in Winston-Salem and even in a few surrounding towns. And, I’d always heard that I’d know immediately when I found “the one” but that wasn’t the case for me. I ended up trying on about six more and finally went back to the one that I ended up buying because I just couldn’t get it out of my head and it just felt like ME. The others had aspects that felt like me in some ways, but weren’t me. My dress was totally my style and personality and I think both are important.
I thought it would be fun to share all the dresses I didn’t buy and what I loved (or hated!) about them. There are SO many dresses and these aren’t even all the dresses I tried on. Dress shopping was definitely a time when I felt like a bridezilla and started to get disheartened that I wouldn’t find one I truly loved. Of course, I did and it all turned out fine. But I definitely felt a time crunch since we only had a 6 month engagement. And if you’re ordering a dress, you need lead time to order (especially for certain designers) and then time for alterations.
I’ll share pictures of when I found my dress and of course more wedding pictures when I get them. But today, I’m sharing all the dresses I didn’t buy along with some pros and cons about each wedding dress shop I visited.
I tried on dresses at five wedding dress shops near Winston-Salem: Southern Bride in Yadkinville, Bellissima Bridal Boutique in Winston-Salem, Nitsa’s Bridal in Winston-Salem, The Magnolia Bride in Kernersville and Diva’s in Greensboro.
A quick overview of each:
Their dresses were a lower price point than the other stores and it seemed like most their dresses were lace. The employees were so lovely but the space wasn’t anything special, if that’s important to you.
They had the best service of all. I LOVED their wide selection of dresses and prices. And they had great lighting!
They had a wide selection and I ended up buying from their store, so I obviously had a good experience. But looking there was really hard since their bridal area was SO dark. (I’ll do a full review on Nitsa’s at some point.)
They didn’t have a huge selection, but they had dresses that felt more unique. And they had the best lighting of all the stores, which I quickly learned was important. The store was beautiful too.
They had a HUGE selection. While they could have ordered my dress for me and offered to price match Nitsa’s, I decided to stay with Nitsa’s. I wanted a convenient location for alterations and Diva’s was a 35 minute drive (one way). The price matching was a big deal because if Diva’s ordered my dress, it would have been brand new and closer to my size. At Nitsa’s, I bought my dress off the rack and it was a size 12 so it needed major alterations. (I’m normally a 0 or 2.)
Okay, let’s get into the dresses!
I ultimately bought my dress at Nitsa’s Bridal in Winston-Salem and went there twice before I purchased it. I originally wasn’t planning on going to Nitsa’s at all because I heard their gowns started at $4000, which was way above my budget but that turned out not to be true. I’m so glad some of my Instagram followers encourage me to go!
The sales clerk at Nitsa’s was hesitant to let me try on this dress because it was so out of my price range. But, I knew that I’d always wonder about it if I didn’t try it on. The material was GORGEOUS and I loved so much about it. But ultimately, it felt too big for my frame. The bow in the back was amazing but overwhelmed a shortie like me. I tried on a similar one with a smaller bow in the back, but the material wasn’t great, especially compared to this one.
But WOW, it is a gorgeous dress. One of my favorites.
This dress was an instant no. I quickly learned what I didn’t like!
The v-neck on this was so pretty and I loved the simplicity.
I liked the boat neck on this dress a lot.
This was fun but soooo not me.
The other dress I tried on at Nitsa’s was the one I ended up buying. I was SO grateful that Tommy’s mom was willing to drive down from Boone multiple times to look with me since my mom lives in Utah. Mary was there when I found my dress and later told me that it was her favorite too. 🙂 My mom didn’t see my dress in person until my wedding day!
Bellissima was the second store I went to and it’s such a beautiful space. The owner, Monica, is lovely as well. I almost bought my dress here.
This was the first dress I tried on that I REALLY loved. Monica pointed out that I hated all the lace dresses I tried, which was true! So, I started focusing on satin dresses after we figured that out. This dress was a final contender.
I liked that this was fitted but I didn’t want it fitted quite so far down.
My mom and my face says it all! Nope! I was glad she had a visit on the books after I got engaged so we could shop together.
This was so fun but I’d rather have this style in a gorgeous color for a gala. 🙂
Ick. I HATED this.
I loved loved loved this. But the material was more summer than fall. I definitely felt a bit like Nicole Kidman in it though! And I never feel tall, so that’s saying something. 😉
Look at that back!! I just realized it’s similar to the back of my dress!
This is another one I almost bought. I loved the simplicity of it and the more modern cut of the sweetheart neckline. I really didn’t want strapless, but couldn’t really find any with straps I loved. My dress was a perfect solution with the illusion + appliqué straps! I was so certain I’d get a satin dress, but obviously not! Tommy later told me that my dress shocked him and he thought I’d buy something strapless and satin. But he LOVED my dress. (Although, I think he would have loved anything. 😉 )
I loved the buttons down the back though! Gah so pretty!!
I had a great experience at Magnolia Bride too. The owner was so sweet and she had an interesting selection of dresses. I LOVED the area with the mirrors and the boutique overall was just beautiful. While I didn’t love any of the dresses, I still loved the vibe of the store.
This was so pretty in person – I’ve since seen this on a few other brides on Instagram so it must be a popular designer!
I HATED THIS.
I tried on a few here, but I didn’t save the photos that my friend Alise texted me afterwards. Doh! There was one here that I thought I wanted and looking back, it makes me laugh because I’m like NO WAY. ha! I wish I had a picture of it. It’s funny how you learn as you go along.
I went to Diva’s specifically to try on more gowns from the designer of the dress I ultimately purchased: Pronovias. I LOVED this gown. Even now, I still love this gown!
Look at that back!!! AGHHHHH SO PRETTY.
This was quite possibly the worst dress I tried on. It looked TERRIBLE on me and was so NOT my style. I felt like Diva’s didn’t really get my taste as well as the other stores, who seemed to get a better read more quickly.
This was pretty but I didn’t like this type of lace…which I don’t even know how to define.
I really loved the long trains on Pronovias dresses!
Phew! I’m exhausted just looking at all these dresses! 😉
How quickly did you find your wedding dress? And was it what you thought you’d buy?
I really had no idea going in what I wanted! After shopping for a while, I thought I’d buy satin for sure, and ended up buying a lace + appliqué dress. But more on that in a future post with some pictures!
You can see more posts about my wedding and my planning process here.