The dreaded dress lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc…)

Guest post by ThisIsHalloween

I have recently noticed a growing epidemic on the Offbeat Bride Tribe. I have seen this disease before and it aims to infect every bride at some point in the wedding planning. It's known as the dreaded Dress Lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc). The symptoms start when you've bought your dress and you find yourself browsing designers websites for “better” dresses, asking for second, third, or fifteenth opinions, going through every single piece of wedding porn thinking “I wish I looked like her” or “Oh wow, that's THE dress I should have picked.” [Editors Note: When to stop looking at wedding porn.) While these are extreme examples, symptoms can be as mild as thinking about “the dress that could have been.”

As brides we are thrown into a cruel world of “your wedding has to be perfect” and “you chose THAT?! What were you thinking???” The worst part is we tend to pander to one another. It can be as simple as replying to a post where the bride decides she “hates” her dress. She posts her dress against another. 90% of the time replies will consist of “get the new one. Get your dress. Buy. Buy. Buy.” While seemingly innocent, and made with good intent, we're discouraging our sisters-in-planning from listening to the instincts that possessed them to get their dress to begin with. It's a fine line where we stop helping and start hindering the planning process.

Constantly told to second guess ourselves, it's not a surprise when the dress becomes our security blanket.

I, myself, am guilty of indulging my “you'll regret that” mindset. I had a dream dress, within my budget, that I LOVED. This dress was the only one I could see myself walking down the aisle in and my safety blanket of bridedom. You see, as long as I have this particular dress, I was a bride. I would marry my perfect match. All my dreams would come true. Then I bought a different dress. gasp I tried it on and felt beautiful and confident. Then, doubt reared it's ugly head. “It's not the one you wanted,” “it was so cheap you can get the other one and not feel bad,” “you can always resell it to another bride,” “get your dream dress,” “get your dream dress,” “get your dream dress!!”

Finally I couldn't take it anymore! I went to my mom's and tried on my dress. Not in comparison to the other, but with an unbiased and open mind. How did it make me feel? Beautiful.

Something clicked at that moment. My fiance wasn't going to know the difference. He wasn't going to say “You would have looked good, but I would have preferred you in that Joli I saw in your Pictures folder on the computer or that Maggie you saw when we walked by that dress shop.” I realized that he would think I am the most beautiful woman in the world simply because I am walking down the aisle to him, my perfect match. No dress would change that.

Besides, I'll just have my “dream” dress made in a different color when we have a Christmas party to go to, or a Gala to attend. It may not be ivory, but it will still be the same dress. Which makes me realize, it's just a dress… and now I get to add two more days to my honeymoon by NOT buying a second one. A dress I'll wear once or time alone with my then husband? Which is really more important?

Now, stop second guessing your choices, put down the dress as a security blanket, and go have your future spouse wrap their arms around you. I guarantee it's a lot more comforting!

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on The dreaded dress lust (also called, Dress Envy, Dress Regret, etc…)

  1. This is SO good! Thank you!

    (and also helps to cement the number one reason I love OBB so much – so much love and acceptance, with a good dose of common sense!)

  2. PERFECT for how I’ve been feeling about loving two different dresses. your right, what matters more?! him and I and the fact that I’ll be marrying my best friend no matter what I’m wearing. thank you for putting perspective on this overwhelming decision.

  3. So glad you posted this.

    I’m guilty, I started this thread on OBT:

    And after having made a decision since then, I still felt miserable going through it. Ultimately I went with the dress that I thought I’d look smashing in and would remember forever. I think the key is to find something memorable and just YOU. And budget mindful.

    Still, there is an definite point in time where you need to back away slowly from the wedding porn and be happy and resolute with your choices.

  4. I went through a major “dress regret” phase publicly on OBT, I and just want to say that nobody told me to get a different dress. Even though I didn’t have fabulous pictures or finished alterations, everyone reassured me that the one I had was just fine – and they were TOTALLY RIGHT! The alterations made all the difference, and once I got it back I loved my dress again.

    • Kim, me too!

      I think with me, the biggest downside to the 8 month engagement (as opposed to, say, a 1.5 year engagement), is that I needed to make some decisions OMG RIGHT NOW, the dress being one of them. I wish I had taken more time to figure out what my wedding was going to look like. On the other hand, if I had, it would have severely limited my choices (given that my wedding is 3 weeks out and my dress was only finished about 2 weeks ago).

      I do love the dress now that it’s altered and fits, and the train is shortened, etc., but my regret was more that I had to make a decision before I knew what I really wanted … if I had it to do over again, I’d probably do Dolly Couture or something similar.

  5. I am getting married for the second time. I will be 50 years old on my wedding day and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the 50 year milestone. My first dress was not what I wanted at all but it was cheap and looked relatively good. Well, it was the 80s so it looked as good as any 80s wedding dress could look. It was short (morning wedding and lunch reception) and I always regretted not having the long and trailing dress. Now that I am middle-aged and my career and my fiance’s career are both established and I could afford that expensive designer, bought-in-say-yes-to-the-dress bridal gown, my priorities have changed. When I got engaged, just for fun I went on Craig’s List and found a woman selling her bridal gown who lived just blocks from my work. I went to see the dress and amazingling, when she opened the door, we were exactly the same size and shape. The dress fit as if it had been made for me. She was about my age and she had no prospects of having children. She had had such a wonderful time at her wedding, she wanted to pass the dress onto someone else to enjoy it as much as she had. How wonderful! Thus, I got a dress, the crinoline, the veil, etc. etc, for $300. The only alteration I need to do is to have it hemmed as her shoes were higher than mine will be. I still watch Say Yes To The Dress and flip through bridal magazines (or ‘bridal porn’ as my 17-yr-old daughter calls it) but I am thrilled with my good karma, eco-friendly dress. Oh, and we found, also on Craig’s List, an almost new tux for my fiance for $35. Woohoo for Craig’s List!

  6. Well said!

    I got engaged 2 weeks ago almost, though I’ve known for well over a year he was going to ask me – he’s had the ring since April, had to get it sized for me πŸ˜‰

    I’ve been searching for the perfect dress – my needs were some kind sleeve, no sequins or crystals, preferably empire (fitted bodice, free fall). I have been looking since last year and found the dress about a month ago on ebay, brand new too in my size. As soon as I’d confirmed with the seller they could ship to Australia, I nabbed it. I didn’t even think, just grabbed it.

    It arrived 2 days before he asked, I didn’t have time to try it on as we were literally leaving within half an hour to drive 5hrs away with friends for an overnight trip. I got back very late Friday and didn’t have time then, he asked Saturday night and when I got home Sunday I finally got to try it on. It fits perfectly and is everything I wanted!

    And the end result, I am no longer spending hours daily looking online for one and I feel amazingly relieved. My family were fine with it, they know I hate nothing more than being dragged around to try on stuff and everyone who has seen the dress LOVES it.

    Friends are ok for the most part, my best mates are guys, their wives were set on dragging me out for dresses, want me to go through magazines with them and relive their weddings through me. The subject of oh you may find a better one has come up numerous times, but I’m standing firm!

    I believe my decision was the right one and it’s like a burden was lifted when I first tried it on, properly engaged and all. My biggest job now is shoes πŸ˜€

  7. Exactly! This is actually what this post is about. Unfortunately for some of us, dress-lusting becomes a horrible addiction.I highly suggest reading the “When to stop looking at wedding porn” that’s posted in the editor’s note! For me, writing this post was about needing a dress as a security blanket for bridedom & realizing it wasn’t the dress that made my wedding special, but the person I am marrying πŸ™‚

  8. Thank you for your responses! I hope you all feel beautiful on your wedding day & beyond!

    A little background: My dress was never “THEE dress.” I found it at JC Penny on an after prom sale. It was $30 and I felt pretty, besides… I HATE shopping. I bought it, but kept thinking about this awesome art deco dress that I had on my mind since I got engaged. It was all I would stare at and I would drive my FH craaaazy b*tch*ng about it. Then I started reading the bridal boards and how we put oursleves down for not having the OMG moment or the PERFECT dress. I think we’re so used to having everyone else put us down for every teeny decision that we start doing this to ourselves. Thank [insert religious preference here] that we have OBB to remind us it’s pretty bad @$$ to be ourselves!

    PS I still love my dress πŸ˜‰

  9. I love this post! What a great read.

    I have the “this is the dress I picture myself walking down the aisle in” dress! It really is my dream dress and I love how I look and feel in it. I have a picture of me wearing it on my phone and every single time I see another bride in a dress that I just LOVE, I look at my picture. Seeing it reminds me that I absolutely made the right decision. =]

    I do have to apply this to the little wedding extras, though. All the adorable, fun things that I originally planned to have but now can’t because of budget. Yes, I miss them. But my guests will never know that their table number was supposed to be a little chalkboard…unless they’ve read my wedding blog ;]

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the “must. have. PERFECT. wedding” mindset. This is why I’m glad for the OBB/OBT, they keep me grounded with posts like this!

  10. OMG, this JUST happened to me looking at the idea boards at the OBB store. I saw the Temperley London embellished silk crepe wedding gown ( and I just lost it. Fortunately, it cost about 55 times as much as the dress I already bought and nearly $2000 more than my entire wedding budget, so it’s out of the question, but I did totally have a moment of I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT I WANT!!!!! Fortunately I find it pretty easy to remember that what I REALLY want is my fiance (barf), not some stupid outfit.

  11. My fiance wasn’t going to know the difference. He wasn’t going to say “You would have looked good, but I would have preferred you in that Joli I saw in your Pictures folder on the computer or that Maggie you saw when we walked by that dress shop.”

    This. I feel like this applies to EVERY aspect of weddings. Because once everyone is there, they can only see what you put out there, not the process of elimination. I can’t imagine anyone saying ‘Oh this should have been blue’ or ‘The bride could have put another ribbon there’. It’s actually put my thoughts about weddings in general in a different direction.

    • You’re so right JB. I’ve been trying to make myself relax as I’ve gotten so caught up in worrying about creating decorations on a very tight budget. Like recently I was standing in the craft store fretting over the price of little butterflies or eggs for my terrariums and it finally hit me: just let it go! Don’t get them! People aren’t going to see your terrariums and think “these would be way better with cute butterflies and eggs.”

      I just have to keep reminding myself, when I see other peoples weddings on OBT and OBB all I see is how beautiful they are, and how perfect they look and perfectly suited to that bride and groom. I think it’s about learning how to adopt the loving, FORGIVING eye that we turn towards others with, and turning it on ourselves, instead of being so fretful and hyper critical.

  12. Yeah, when I was at a Goodwill bridal expo, trying on dresses, I found I’d picked up one that was more than I could afford. As I was talking to myself out loud, saying that I needed to put it back, another bride’s mother chimed in that “It’s not too much, you should be able to get any dress you want!”

    I understood she was randomly trying to be supportive, but to me, that was actually a bit confusing. I can get what I want, but that doesn’t mean I have to keep buying and spending to get it. I just have to make a single, smart purchase.

    Now, anytime I feel dress envy, I just try on my dress again. Works every time.

  13. I cried when I read this. I feel like I’ve been stricken with dress lust without having even found a dress yet. I’m trying so hard to find a dress that I absolutely jump up and down for, and feel radiantly beautiful, because I see so many other people on OBT having that reaction when they finally found THE dress. I want so hard to be beautiful for my fiance, I’m stressing myself out about trying to find THE beautiful dress that I look amazing in, on a really low budget.

    When it comes down to it, the wedding is just a day, and I’m going to look like me no matter what. Hopefully I’ll look like me in a dress that fits and looks nice. Really, my fiance is marrying me for me and not the clothes I’m in, so there’s no need to stress or second guess the dress. It’s just wrapping paper.

  14. I had a hard-core dress crisis about a month before our wedding. I had a great dress: light blue, ankle-length, vintage, severely altered well in advance so it would actually fit, all at an affordable price range. And then I was hit by a car while riding my bike to work. I made the mistake of trying my dress on a few weeks after that happened; I hadn’t been able to walk at first, let alone work out. My legs were bright purple. My confidence was down. I tried my blue dress on and thought, “This doesn’t even look pretty. And I definitely don’t look like a bride.” I said none of this, but my then-fiance literally watched this happening. “WHY DON’T YOU LOOK HAPPY?” was his extremely alarmed response. I told him I felt bad, and stressed out, and angry that I’d been hit by a car, angry that I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything and my legs were purple and none of this was how it was supposed to be. He encouraged me to try on more dresses — something I really hadn’t done in the first place. (I found my blue dress on etsy.) With a friend in tow, we went to a fancy, incredibly friendly salon nearby that let us try on samples. I found an amazing dress that was handmade, with vintage lace and a light blue underlayer. It was flattering and unique and very bridal, but not at all traditional. I loved it, but not enough to spend $4,000 on it. My fiance was even game for it — he wanted me to be happy. But in the end, I bought a $40 crinoline and waited till I was mostly healed before I tried my dress on again. I wore it on our wedding day, and it was gorgeous. Everyone loved it…and so did I.

  15. I LOVED reading this article! One of the many ways I knew my guy was The One was because I didn’t care if we married in our pajamas or anything! I didn’t even care about having the ring. I just cared about spending the rest of my life with him!
    I’ve essentially chosen a dress, though I haven’t yet purchased it (currently unemployed pursuing work), and I chose it because it looked comfortable, dancable in, airy, lovely and affordable! (Full price is $550, but I see it on sale for 30+% off just as often, which would make it $400- πŸ™‚ Worst case, it’s discontinued before I purchase it, I’ll buy a different dress and he’ll still think I look beautiful on our wedding day! Don’t sweat the small stuff! ;D

  16. You are amazing. I had a TERRIBLE dress experience having my dream non-traditional red dress made by an online store – which was a horrible experience from start to finish and then ended up NEVER showing up. I had to buy a last-minute off-the-rack, my wedding is in one week and I’m just trying to calm down about it. It’s so many emotions – and a lot of it has to do with being angry at myself for making such a foolish choice – and angry at the woman who took my money and messed with my dreams (this lady was a piece of work, for real) – and feeling like a failure for not finding the dress – for it not working out. But my “backup” dress – it’s perfectly fine. I look nice in it. It doesn’t have the elements I wanted. But here’s what it does have. It’s my wedding dress. I’m getting married in it.

    The end. πŸ™‚

    So thank you – I’m gonna go snuggle my sleeping fiance now.


  17. Decided I couldn’t care less about the dress. I got a white lace top that’s kind of nice at Dress Barn for $30. White skirt for $28. That’ll do me fine. Although I’m still considering other colors, because white really does nothing for me. Lead is a denim skirt I already have.

    Went offbeat on the ring and that worked out, so I’m thinking offbeat on the dress too. πŸ™‚

    • Peggy, completely agreed — this photo was submitted to our photo pool, and I grabbed it quickly as an easy illustration of this old post, having NO IDEA that there was this whole massive story associated with the photo. I wish the story had been submitted to us as an article, instead of just a photo without context!

      Regardless, I’ve swapped out the illustrating image to avoid confusion.

  18. It is very common on the tribe but I find such posts get a variety of responses. That’s why the tribe is great, you can get all sorts of answers to your issues.
    I’m lucky, I’ve been given some money for the dress and my best friend’s mum (who’s known me for years) owns 3 wedding dress shops. I like alot of dresses, especially the designers she stocks. πŸ™‚ I just can’t decide which one I like best. My issue is that I’d happily wear any of the dresses I’ve tried on and my fiancΓ© would marry me wearing jeans. But my loved ones insist I must find the one to rule them all. I know I won’t, but I’ve got to convince them.
    It’s crazy that so much pressure is put on a dress. The sooner this idea you have to have the ultimate dress of your life, dies the better. It causes too much stress to people getting married.

  19. I am having a really hard time with this right now. I am 4.5 months away from a very offbeat pinata filled wedding. I went to a very fancy store a few months ago and really tried on my dream dress- It was beachy, low back- just for me. I couldn’tget it due to my mom getting sick that day. So I left and went to another store last week as the date was creeping up. I couldn’t get it out of my head but I knew that I wanted to and was told I needed a dress. So after a depressing doctors appointment I went to a bridal shop and tried on very similar dresses to my trop choice. they offered that dress as available to purchase if I wanted but they also did not have it to try on in person so I was weary. I got my sister in law to come with me and she gave this new-ish, but not as much me dress and I went with it. It was rush delivery, way expensive, and not as flattering to be honest.

    This was five days ago and now I wish that I had just bought the other one! I know this is stupid because it is just a dress but I just do not feel that the one we purchased is really the one I want and that it does not feel very “me” I don’t know what to do at this point. I really feel like the one I got is a waste of money and I hardly want to wear it. I feel looney even writing this and wish that I had just got that one the first time, or I could change this but it is “already being processed” Any support is appreaciated!

Comments are closed.