I'll start out by saying if you came here to see the dress I actually picked, you might be disappointed... ahem, Jesse. You'll have to wait until after the wedding to see it. Sorry, I don't make the rules. No spoilers here. :)

However, I did want to share my experience because it wasn't anything like I expected it to be! I am a huge fan of Say Yes to the Dress, and while I love binging the show, it wasn't quite like what I've seen on TV. Obviously, I didn't go to Kleinfeld, but even the process itself was slightly unexpected in the best way possible.

I will also note that the process is different for everyone. Some people find it on the first go (not me!), and others try on hundreds before they land on the one. I tried on about 15-20 dresses before making my decision at two separate bridal shop locations, which I thought was a big success considering I'm usually a very indecisive person. Much to my mom and sister's surprise, my wedding dress shopping experience was a breeze!

I wanted to walk you through my experience and share a few tips along the way, whether you're going through the process yourself or are bookmarking it for future reference! Or, if you just want to relive the fun with me, that's alright too... because it was a LOT of fun! :)

Bridal Shop #1 - The Dressing Room in Celebration, FL

My first stop in wedding dress shopping was at The Dressing Room, located in Celebration, Florida. I absolutely loved this place. The boutique was on the smaller side, which actually made it a great place to start because I wasn't overwhelmed with options right off the bat. I went in with an open mind and wanted to try on a bunch of different styles to see what fit me best and what I felt most comfortable in.

For your first appointment, I highly recommend doing just that. Try on EVERY style, regardless of your initial thoughts of how it looks on the hanger because you might just be surprised on what style you end up falling in love with. I went in thinking I wanted a more mermaid or fit and flare style, but ended up loving the ballgown style best!

The manager there made the process super easy and comfortable, and made sure to take note of everything I loved (and everything I didn't) about each dress I tried on. It was also nice because I was the only one in the boutique at the time, so the personal attention made the experience really great. And, the price points were reasonable for the quality of dresses they carried - everything was under $3,000 in the boutique.

I started out with the more fitted styles based off of what I had been saving on Pinterest. I fell in love early with a beautiful lace gown that had a plunging neckline and mile-long train. It was very unique feeling and gave me a boho, vintage vibe that I loved. I failed to get the designer's name on this one, but if I find it I'll update!

I then tried on a blush pink ballgown (designed by Essence of Australia) with more lace detailing throughout. It was stunning. I felt like a total princess in it! I felt that this might be the one, but it was too early to tell. I tried on another gorgeous ballgown in a silvery white color with a glittery tulle skirt. I loved this one too, but there was something off about both of them. It wasn't the style I had in mind, so I was caught off-guard by that, but both tops were also not as flattering on me as I'd hoped.

I left thinking about the blush pink dress, but took it as a good place to start. I didn't want to settle on the first one I found in case I found something better, so I made an appointment for a boutique on the other side of town.

Bridal Shop #2 - Calvet Couture Bridal in Winter Park, FL

My next visit was to Calvet Couture Bridal in Winter Park. I was so excited to visit this boutique because they carried the designer dresses of my dreams by Hayley Paige! I have been lusting over her designs for years and knew for sure I wanted to at least try them on.

I will say I am very glad this wasn't my first appointment because I had a much clearer vision of what I was looking for. It made it super easy to pull the dresses that fit this style instead of just trying them all on and hope for the best. I also liked that they allowed me to shop around the store and pick out anything I wanted to try on. The first boutique didn't allow me to do this, so it was nice being able to decide for myself what I liked and what I didn't.

There was one in particular I wanted to try on that I had saved on my Pinterest for a long time, and they ended up having it in-store. It was my dream dress, and I couldn't believe they had it!

I tried on nearly 10 different gowns, all from Hayley Paige. While they were all beautiful, there was one that stood out most to me (the one I saved on my Pinterest). I put this one on first, which set the bar really high. As I tried on more, I couldn't stop comparing them to the first one. There was either too much beading, not enough tulle, or something off about the way it fit me that made me not like them as much.

I narrowed it down to two - my early favorite and then one that my mom and sister loved - and went to try them on both again one last time. As soon as I tried on the first dress, I knew it was the one and didn't want to try on any more. My mom and sister were shocked that I was able to make the decision so easily! Like I said, I am super picky and indecisive, so when I put the dress on and just knew, I stopped looking right then and there.

They added the veil and I couldn't. stop. smiling! I had found my dream Hayley Paige gown and it was all happening! There weren't any tears, but there were a lot of smiles, laughs and a glass of bubbly to cheers. It really was a dream come true.

I can't thank the sweet ladies at Calvet Couture enough for making the process so easy and fun.

A few tips... 

Go in with an open mind. Like I mentioned, you can love something on Pinterest and then fall in love with something completely different when you go to your bridal appointment. Try on every style first, and then narrow it down.

Do your research. After my first appointment, I updated my Pinterest with ballgown styles I liked, since that's what I concluded from trying dresses on. I bookmarked specific dresses, not just inspiration, and tried on most of those same dresses on in-store. I also narrowed down what I had previously saved and took off what I didn't. It made the process much easier and less overwhelming when I knew exactly which ones I liked and what I didn't. I still tried a few on that weren't on my Pinterest board, but overall they were all from the same designer, Hayley Paige.

Don't settle. While I loved the dress from my first appointment, I had this gut feeling that I was settling on the first dress I found. I actually had made an appointment to go back and try it on again with my mom, but opted to visit a different bridal boutique instead. I am really glad I did! Since I loved Hayley Paige's designs so much, I am glad I got to try them all on before I made my decision. Even if they didn't work out, I would have at least been sure of which one I wanted.

Keep it simple. It was very easy to get overwhelmed during this process. Between Instagram and Pinterest, there were so many styles and dresses I found that I liked, but once I decided on the ballgown style, I stuck with it. There were beautiful fit and flare dresses at Calvet Couture I liked, but I didn't even try them on because I knew that wasn't what I was looking for anymore. It made the decision much easier in the long run!

Give yourself plenty of time to shop. Wedding dresses can take up to 6-10 months to get. Between ordering the dress and alterations, it is a LONG process. Make sure you don't wait until the last minute to get your dress, or else your options might be limited.

Have fun! This seems like a no-brainer, but I had to remind myself of this during the process. While it can be stressful at times, it will all be worth it. :)