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.
Wedding Dress Shops in Winston-Salem (and nearby!)
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.)
The Magnolia Bride
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!
Nitsa’s Bridal Winston-Salem
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 Bride in Winston-Salem
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!!
The Magnolia Bride in Kernersville
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.
Southern Bride in Yadkinville
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.
Diva’s Bridal in Greensboro
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.
Megan | Freckled Italianat
So fun! I never went wedding dress shopping because I wanted to wear my mom’s dress so I always love hearing about other people’s experiences. Can’t wait to see more photos from the wedding! xo
Clare @ fitting it all inat
This was so fun! You tried on such a huge variety – and I love pretty much the same ones you did! Right now I think I’ll end up with a really simple satin gown with some unique cut or neckline, but who knows! That could be a lonnggg time away haha
ALL THE FEELS!
I ended up buying the first dress I tried on – and visited at least 4-5 shops between where I lived for grad school and my hometown. (And ended up getting married in my husband’s hometown….). That was nearly 20 years ago, but I do remember wanting an empire waist. I ended up with a satin dress, lace at the hem and lace overlay ‘top’ with short sleeves and a v back. The edge of the lace was wavy, which I loved, especially at the neckline. Now I want to pull out my wedding pictures! No pictures from dress shopping though, unless they are at my mom’s house somewhere 🙂
This was a really fun post!! I ended up buying the very first dress I tried on, but not until I tried on a ton of other dresses!
Unrelated, but are you still planning to do a review of your eyelash extensions? I’m very interested!!
Love this post! I just went wedding dress shopping with a friend last weekend, and the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking about how different my wedding dress would look if I were buying it now, instead of the one I actually purchased almost 7 years ago! I bought mine at my third stop, but get this…I tried on a RED BRIDESMAID DRESS, ordered it in ivory and that was my dress! I already knew that I wanted to make it “an original” and include some of my grandma’s jewelry/fabrics so essentially the ($300!!) bridesmaid dress was the perfect canvas to add the detail I wanted. My consultant did such a great job listening to the style of dress I wanted, and had this dress in mind the entire appointment, but was worried to bring it in for fear that I might think she was nuts. What she didn’t know is that my grandma was actually married IN a red dress back in the 1950s, so it was a sign for me!
I was in the same boat as you where my engagement was short (7 months). I ended up just going to David’s Bridal since my budget wasn’t huge. I initially bought the 2nd dress I tried on, but ended up going back about 2 weeks later with another idea of a dress and exchanged it. I loved my final dress. It was taffeta, strapless with a drop waist and some sequin designs on the bodice.
I also had a short engagement (about 6 months), and I ended up buying the 4th or 5th dress I tried on at David’s Bridal. I was actually just going to David’s Bridal to figure out what kind of silhouette I liked, and had appointments set up at some smaller boutiques, but I found a dress that I loved so much that I cancelled the other appointments and bought my dress!
I loved this post! Thanks for sharing.
I tried on 2 dresses total and fell in love with the first one almost instantly. I tried on a second one for good measure. I knew right after I tried it on, as I had been searching for a dress with sheer sleeves, “Kate Middleton-esque”.
I loved reading this because it took me back to my experience shopping for dresses! I tried on a ton of dresses at 7 stores, and the dress I chose wasn’t anything like I was expecting either. But it was perfect! I put it back on for every anniversary. I even got to meet the designer of my dress, Hayley Paige, which was so fun! Thanks for sharing, such a fun read.
This is so fun! But I can imagine it was exhausting! Lace is funny – When I first started shopping for dresses, I picked out a bunch of lace dresses because I LOVED them. Until I tried them on and I HATED them all on me. It’s funny because even now, I see the lace dresses on you and I think they look gorgeous. But for some reason, I just didn’t like them on me. So I get you, is what I’m saying 🙂
I WISH I had taken pics of all of them to do something like this – we went to one store in Buford, GA and I found my dress day of (you may have scrolled across it on my IG back in June) We really didn’t have a plan to go anywhere else either and went in with the mindset I would likely get my gown that day (which I know isnt recommend – but living here and getting married back home near the GA/NC state line, time was precious). I think I tried on 10-12 gowns, and I didn’t really end up with one I thought I saw myself in – but the back of mine is what was the winning factor, it was lace, but see-through and showed off my back/shoulders that I am pretty proud of haha! I typically am more of a boho, 70s style kinda chick, so I knew I wanted lace and did end up with that,but I always saw myself in something a little more flowy (and flowy and me in wedding dresses WERE NOT a good match, not with my body type and how the sizes run.) Which was another thing, I am glad I have good self-esteem, I am normally a 6-8, my dress size was a 12. The one I tried on actually fit pretty decently but I wanted it hemmed at the bottom so not a lot was dragging so I ordered one new, it would have messed up the beading and lace had I had them alter the one on the rack and cost as much as the discounted ‘black friday’ price.
Now I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my dress! Spent all that money and its now hanging in its bag – maybe I could make a huge shadow box to hang it in LOL
I went shopping with my mom when I came into town to also find a venue. It was the 2nd or 3rd dress I tried on. I also went to David’s bridal the next day with my mom and friends but couldn’t stop thinking about the other dress and ended up going back to the first bridal shop. While any davids I tried on a lot more variety of dresses, but confirmed what I wanted. I’m very small chested and a strapless just did NOT work. In the end I went with an all lace dress that was fitted through the hips and then flared out and had an open back. I loved all the extra details and was so comfortable in my dress! I also liked that the store ordered my dress in my size so the only altering I had was hemming the bottom pulling the top straps a little tighter and adding some padding up top. While dress shopping was overwhelming, I loved trying on all the different types of dresses!
I ended up buying the first dress I tried on. I had only been engaged for a month when my family was all together for my grandpa’s funeral. So my mom, sister and grandma went to the little bridal shop in my grandparents’ hometown. I tried on maybe 5 dresses and went back to the first one. It was everything I said I was looking for in my wedding dress. My mom and grandma both started crying. It was a really sweet and special time. Even though my fiancé was a bit surprised when I told him I bought my wedding dress (I don’t know if I even told him we were going to look) it was a blessing because we ended up planning our wedding in about 6 months.
On my wedding day, I wore my mom’s veil (my sister had also worn her veil) for the “something old” and my dress was the “something new.” Congrats on your wedding!
The first dress from Nitsa’s…..OMG! It’s my fave out of all them in this post. Very classic! Can’t wait to see (fully) what you chose!