Last week I took my first trip to a real bridal salon: the US chain store David’s Bridal. I was supposed to look through their website and pick out some favorites before showing up, but the photos are so small and editorially shot that browsing online wasn’t very helpful. So I ended up walking in pretty clueless.

First impression: The ladies working in the store were immediately friendly and warm. Good job. They had me fill out a form with details about me, my fiancé, and the wedding. I waited about five minutes for my consultant, who turned out to be pretty interesting herself. She was young and bubbly and said she’d been working at David’s for a year.

She was a former EMT who had to stop doing that job due to nerve damage it had caused. She said she is so flexible in her hands and wrists that she would uncontrollably overextend her joints when performing CPR, and it ended up doing permanent damage and required surgery. Yikes! I felt very at ease with her and she seemed to “get” my style instantly (of course, the visible piercings and tattoos are probably a dead giveaway).

My consultant first had me flip through a couple David’s catalogues and pick out my top three favorite dresses. Then she brought over a strapless bustier and a slip while I picked out a pair of heels in my size from the shoe department.

Here’s where the funny part comes in: Before getting the bustier, she asked me for my bra size. I laughed and told her 28G, and she gasped a little. I said this is basically the equivalent of a 34DDDD, but that I had intentionally worn a strapless bra today for this very reason. Then we had a good chuckle over the fact that she is the person in her family who the boobs skipped, while she got the big butt that everyone else in her family lacks.

She brought the best bustier she could find, but the cups were still laughably too small, so I stuck with my own bra. And after trying on some dresses, unfortunately I have to say that David’s dresses are not designed with a big bust in mind. However, as we all know, some styles are simply more forgiving than others and I did find one dress that looked and felt wonderful. It might actually be the one!

But first, let’s discuss the duds. I accidentally left my camera on the “cloudy” setting and my mom didn’t notice, so all the pictures were bright yellow and basically unusable. As such, I’ve only got the images from the David’s Bridal website:

Style WG3482
Style WG3482

The first dress I tried on was one of the ones I picked from the catalog. I thought it looked a bit like a ’50s pinup, which is one of the looks I’ve been considering. However, this dress turned out to be really unflattering. I even think it’s not so great on the model. It made me look a lot heavier overall. The fabric also seemed quite cheap, though for $399, what did I expect? It also didn’t really look bridal to me. I want to look offbeat, but still want to be a bride. NEXT!

I next tried on a short tea-length dress, but it was not a hit. I also tried on another short dress later but it was so unmemorable that I can’t remember which one it was, even while I’m flipping through the catalogue!

Style WG3486
Style WG3486

So cute, right? Not nearly enough boob space and it gave me preggo tummy. I need more structure in the torso! I also felt like a ballerina. Blech no thanks. But aside from the fit issues, which I know can be remedied if you buy a bigger size and have a good seamstress, the two short dresses basically taught me that short is not the way to go. I just wasn’t feeling it at all, and I don’t think short is great for a late fall wedding. It was too young-looking as well. I want something a little more mature.

And here is where we come to the WINNER (maybe):

Style SWG579
Style SWG579

According to my mom, it doesn’t look like much in the picture, but it was awwwwwwwesome on. The single shoulder made it a lot more accommodating to my boobs and there was lots of structure and boning in the bodice, so it felt really good on my body, like it was holding everything in place.

The color looks gray-ish in the above shot, but it’s really a champagne underskirt with ivory tulle overlay, and basically looks tan, so it’s pretty unique. Here’s a better representation of the color:

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The waist actually sat on the right spot on my extra-long torso, which was a relief. And the beading was so sparkly and pretty. Here’s a closeup from the back:

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I loooooove it. With all that beading, though, I was concerned about price. But it turns out to be $850. My jaw just about dropped when the consultant told me that. I think too many years of watching the TV show “Say Yes to the Dress” have scarred me, as I assumed any beading or nice lace would push a dress into the minimum $3,000 range.

$850?? I can actually afford that, and it’s quite a bit below my budget. It turns out the most expensive dress David’s Bridal sells tops out at $1,698, and the vast majority are under $1,000. I know the fabrics aren’t as nice as what you might find at Kleinfeld or a local boutique, but the designs are still just as nice. Besides, I’m only going to wear it for 5 hours, what do I care whether it’s silk or polyester?

I was just about ready to take this dress, but I can’t bear to choose one without my sister being with me. Plus, I would like to try on some more styles, especially now that I know there’s a lot more to choose from within my budget than I had anticipated. The question is, where do I go next?