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saying yes to the dress.

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

wedding dress shopping in new jersey as a 2023 bride | by Meghan 02/16/23

It felt like that epic back-to-school shopping day…. but to the max! Glitz, glam, gowns, veils, lots of Prosecco cheers + laughter - wedding gown shopping was a dream come to life.

Mom, sis + I shopped at three different bridal boutiques in South Jersey, in late summer/early fall of 2022 for my November 2023 wedding.

Here's where we shopped:
Here's where we ate + drank:
Here's what I wore:
thrifted mint romper from our hoboken engagement photos
thrifted @zara mini floral dress
@oldnavy nude + black maxi dress (I've literally had since high school)
thrifted pink bow pumps

That’s right - surprise! I said yes to the dress back in October with my Mom and sister by my side. I was grateful to have Ryan’s Mom and my faithful friend Caleb join us at the initial try-on too!

Opting to keep our wedding plans private has allowed for more intimate moments with loved ones.

Sharing the joy + excitement of dress shopping with my Mom and sis was magical, to say the least. Growing up, going shopping with Mom was truly one of our favorite activities (and still is).

"Matchy-matchy" Mom always taught us to boldly accessorize life, to dress up not down + to always check the clearance rack.

I was all over the place at our first fitting in Cape May but after trying on a handful of styles + shapes I was quickly able to vocalize what I didn't want in a dress. It’s true - when you know... you know! I went into our second fitting with a better idea and found my dream dress in a matter of minutes.

My tips:

1. Pick your venue and date first - this will help you align the perfect dress that matches the aesthetic of both the time of year and location. (And beyond the dress... it gives you a base to build off of for color palettes, invitations, decorations, flowers, etc.)

2. Keep it intimate. This allows the focus to remain on the true task at hand: you finding the dream gown that makes you feel overwhelmingly beautiful + ready to walk down the aisle to your one true love. Side note: post-Covid a lot of boutiques still enforce a cap on how many friends you can bring - the average being 2-4 people max.

Another reason to keep the experience private and allow your own thoughts + intuitions to guide the decision!

3. Set + honor a budget you’re comfortable with - just because something is expensive doesn’t mean that it’s better.

There are affordable options out there and even eco-friendly upcycled options accessible at boutiques like @handmegownsbridal + @maybellenyc. We said yes to our veil at Hand Me Gowns for a fraction of the price of other boutiques carrying the same exact tulle! More on "saying yes to the veil" later this month on the blog.

4. Don’t compete. Don’t compare. Don’t complain. My Mom's favorite line. And it’s true!

Get off Instagram + Pinterest and stop comparing your body, dress, wedding, or style to others. Go into your first appointment with an open mind and don't forget to wear your favorite jewelry + nude undies!

5. Plan something fun to do after the bridal appointment!

After each appointment, we had reservations for lunch or sips. In Cape May we dined at @thecapemayfishmarket followed by cocktails at @elaines_cm.

After Cyndi's, we went to brunch at @whitmandiner followed by sips at our favorite local winery, @kennedycellarsnj. Having plans to look forward to after the appointment allows the day to feel extra special regardless of the "success" of the appointment.

I am giddy with gratitude for these "beyond my wildest dreams" moments. My wedding dress shopping experience is now added to that list!

Special thank you to my family + friends for making this experience so lovely + to the bridal attendants and vendors who have also made each step easeful + joyous.

Be well, Meghan

photography: @lucid.ladybug | all rights reserved.


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