I tried on wedding gowns for the first time at Kleinfeld, the bridal shop from 'Say Yes to the Dress.' Here are 12 things that surprised me.
I had a bridal appointment at Kleinfeld from "Say Yes to the Dress."
It lived up to the show's hype, but some things about the appointment surprised me.
Some dresses looked completely different on hangers, and others were physically hard to put on.
I had an appointment at Kleinfeld, the bridal shop from "Say Yes to the Dress," even though I'm not actually engaged.
Not only am I a weddings reporter for Insider, but I've also been a fan of "Say Yes to the Dress" since it premiered in 2007.
So when Marissa Rubinetti, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Kleinfeld where the show is filmed, offered me a chance to tour the store, I jumped at the chance.
After the tour, Rubinetti arranged a bridal appointment for me with a consultant. I'm not engaged, but I was thrilled to be a bride for a day.
The appointment was a dream come true, but there was a lot about it that surprised me, from how the dresses felt to how the day went.
I didn't get to look closely at the dresses displayed on the floor before my appointment started.
There are dozens of gowns displayed on the showroom floor at Kleinfeld. There's even an entire section of the store dedicated to displaying Pnina Tornai's gowns because she's Kleinfeld's "most important" designer, as Rubinetti told Insider.
Although there were dresses all around me, I wasn't given an opportunity to peruse dresses I may want to try on.
My experience could have been slightly different since my appointment was built into my tour of Kleinfeld, but I didn't see many brides-to-be wandering the floor looking at gowns either. I know from watching "Say Yes to the Dress" that it can cause conflict if a bride sees a gown she likes that is outside of her budget, so maybe Kleinfeld intentionally limits their access to the gowns around them.
But it appeared to be convenient for the consultants to access the gowns on the floor, and they doubled as decor in the space.
The dressing room area is almost shockingly quiet.
When I walked into the showroom floor of Kleinfeld, I was greeted by excited brides, overeager entourages, and focused consultants.
The store was aflutter with energy, which is what I expected for a visit to the bridal boutique with the largest collection of gowns in the world. How could a room full of people picking out wedding dresses be anything but lively?
However, I didn't expect the whiplash I experienced when I walked into the hallway of dressing rooms.
Lined with rooms on either side, the hallway was jarringly quiet, even as consultants filtered in and out carrying dresses. I couldn't hear conversations in the dressing rooms, indicating clients had true privacy as they opened up to their consultants and slipped into gowns.
My consultant actually spent time getting to know me instead of immediately trying to sell me something.
Briar Moroschak volunteered to be my consultant for the day, treating me exactly like a bride even though she knew I wasn't engaged.
I expected Moroschak to ask me a few basic questions while jotting down notes about dresses. Instead, she got me settled in a chair in the dressing room and then sat down on the pedestal in front of the mirror right across from me.
Then, she asked me all about my hypothetical wedding: the vibe, the venue, my fake fiancé's name. "I like to write the fiancé's name in a heart," she told me.
"I just want to talk to you first," Moroschak said of why she starts her appointments this way. "I want to know your personality because your wedding dress is a reflection of who you are at the end of the day."
After she got a sense of who I was and the kind of wedding I wanted to have, Moroschak asked me what kind of dress I pictured myself in, and even asked if I had a wedding Pinterest board she could use for reference.
It felt like the kinds of conversations I have with my friends about weddings and style, and my time with Moroschak was much less formal than I anticipated. She helped me relax and made me excited to try on gowns.
Some dresses look incredibly different on the hanger than they do on your body.
I tried on three dresses during my appointment: a fit-and-flare dress, an A-line gown, and a ball gown.
Moroschak brought the dresses to my room at the same time, hanging them on the hooks on the wall.
The ball gown and A-line dresses both looked pretty on the rack with their full skirts and lace detailing.
But I wasn't impressed when I saw the $2,410 fit-and-flare gown from Anne Barge on the rack. It was really simple, and the ruching on the bodice looked dated based on how the dress was hanging.
But when I put the dress on, I felt gorgeous.
I was stunned by how much I liked the Anne Barge gown on myself after my lackluster reaction to seeing it on the hanger.
The simple silhouette I had been so suspicious of showed off my figure, and the ruching created structure. Its off-the-shoulder sleeves, button detailing on the back, and delicate train made it feel elevated and elegant, while the slight scoop in the neckline and clean fabric added a hint of modernity. It was hard to pinpoint anything I didn't like about the gown.
I never expected I would like the dress as much as I did based on how it looked on the hanger, making a note to myself not to focus on rack appeal if and when I actually shop for a wedding dress someday.
You can go barefoot on the showroom floor.
Because I write about weddings, I'm familiar with what bridal consultants recommend you wear to a bridal appointment, like seamless underwear and a strapless bra.
But I hadn't thought about what shoes to wear to an appointment, and because I didn't bring any heels with me, I ended up barefoot as I was trying on gowns. It's normal for brides to be barefoot at Kleinfeld, and I learned on my tour of the store that it's actually required that no one wear shoes in the alterations fitting rooms.
The contrast of wearing dresses that cost multiple thousands of dollars with my bare feet felt funny, but it did make it easier for me to change in and out of gowns.
If you have an appointment at Kleinfeld, I'd recommend bringing a pair of comfortable slides or heels with you if you don't want to expose your feet to the floor.
When you're trying on dresses, you can see and hear the other appointments around you.
As an avid "Say Yes to the Dress" viewer, I knew that Kleinfeld's bridal floor was open and that other brides would be nearby as I walked in gowns on the showroom floor.
But the other clients seemed a lot closer when I was actually in the store. I could see the dresses they were trying on, the detailing on the veils their consultants paired with their gowns, and everyone's loved ones snapping photos of their brides-to-be as they stood on Kleinfeld's pedestals.
I didn't mind being able to see the other brides, though. It created a fun environment, with the entire store celebrating when a bride found her gown. The other brides and I also sneaked looks at each other as we modeled gowns for our entourages, grinning when we made eye contact.
Putting on a dress is a lot more work than you'd think.
I had never tried on a wedding dress before my appointment, so I hadn't thought much about what it would be like to physically put one on.
My first thought when I stepped into the $3,658 Martina Liana A-line dress Moroschak brought for me to try on was that I was glad she was there. The gown's layers made it difficult for me to pull it up by myself, and the lace bodice felt so intricate that I was worried I would rip it if I tugged on it.
Plus, sample gowns at bridal stores are also only available in a few sizes, so it's rare for dresses to perfectly fit a bride when she tries them on in a store. The Martina Liana gown was a bit tight on my bust, and if I had been putting it on by myself or even with a friend, I would have assumed it couldn't close in the back. But Moroschak zipped it with ease thanks to her expertise.
I always appreciated Kleinfeld consultants when I watched "Say Yes to the Dress" for their knowledge of gowns, but I didn't realize the physical labor they put into helping brides put on dresses until I experienced it myself.
You need to go to the floor to truly see what a gown looks like, especially if it has a train.
I always thought brides modeled dresses on the showroom floor because their entourages can't fit in dressing rooms and it feels exciting to model the gown, which I'm sure were factors in designing the floor.
But after trying on dresses at Kleinfeld myself, I realized I couldn't see the entirety of the dresses until I was in the showroom. Kleinfeld's dressing rooms are spacious, but there just isn't enough room to see every part of a dress, especially if it has a train.
It's glamorous to strut from the dressing room to the showroom when trying on gowns at Kleinfeld, but it's also practical.
The dresses were also heavier than I expected.
I assumed both the A-line dress and ball gown would feel a little heavy on my body because of their full skirts, but they were heavier than I thought they would be due to the lace on each of the dresses.
I had never worn anything made of lace before I tried on these gowns, so I didn't realize how weighty it would feel on my body, particularly when combined with the skirts.
Both the A-line dress and ball gown dragged behind me as I walked, and I had to carry them to get to the bridal floor.
Interacting with your entourage is half the fun of the appointment.
Obviously, putting on pretty dresses is the highlight of a bridal appointment.
But oohing and aahing over gowns with your entourage makes the whole experience better. I loved hearing what the group with me thought of the dresses, and they helped me notice details I might have missed without their eyes.
Trying on a wedding dress can also feel surreal, so having people around to support and ground you is extra important. At the same time, I can also see how too many people could be overwhelming.
Strapless gowns are more supportive than I anticipated.
The three gowns I tried on all had different necklines, including a strapless gown from the Pnina Tornai Love Collection that cost $7,000.
In my years watching "Say Yes to the Dress," I frequently heckled the television when a bride picked a strapless gown, ranting about how she would be uncomfortable at her wedding because she would have to pull her dress up all evening. I'd experienced the never-ending tug any time I wore a strapless bra or top, so I assumed it was the same with wedding gowns.
Shockingly enough, my television binging does not actually make me an expert on all things relating to dress necklines. I found the Pnina Tornai gown incredibly supportive.
It had corset boning, so everything was locked into place, and padding inside the dress made it feel even more secure. I could easily see myself dancing for hours in the dress without having to adjust the bodice.
There really is a magical connection to certain gowns like you see on "Say Yes to the Dress."
Any fan of the TLC show can describe the moment a bride finds "the dress" to you. She cries, her loved ones fawn over her, and she seems certain as she walks out of the store. But I never thought that would be me. I'm often indecisive, so I always assumed I wouldn't have that certainty in my gut when it's my turn to buy a wedding gown someday.
I was more than surprised when I experienced a glimmer of that "say yes" moment during my appointment at Kleinfeld.
The Anne Barge gown wasn't anything I expected I would want in a wedding gown, as I love writing about lacy dresses with full skirts. But the fit-and-flare dress gave me pause. It wasn't just that I thought the dress accentuated my figure. I felt confident as I looked at myself in the mirror, my normal insecurities drifting away while I wore the dress.
The Anne Barge gown made me feel like the most beautiful version of myself, both inside and out, which is how I imagine most brides want to feel on their wedding days. If I combined that feeling with envisioning walking down the aisle to the love of my life, I easily could have wept just as brides do on "Say Yes to the Dress" while trying on the gown.
You don't have to have the "say yes" moment when you find your dream wedding dress, but my experience at Kleinfeld convinced me some brides really do feel a special connection to the dress they wear to say "I do."
Read the original article on Insider