Ask the Experts: "I'm Having Second Thoughts About My Dress! What Should I Do?"

Welcome to our latest installment of "Ask the Experts," where our contributor team of wedding planners solves readers' most pressing wedding-planning dilemmas! This week, Cathy O'Connell from Celebrations of Joy counsels a bride who's having second thoughts about the wedding dress she purchased. Do you have a question that you'd like to submit? Email [email protected] and we'll do our best to respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Q. "I'm having major doubts about my wedding gown, mainly because I think the bridesmaid dresses are so stunning and elegant whereas I feel my dress isn't. I bought it in a panic that I wasn't going to find one. (My gown has an A-line silhouette, and while it's flattering, it just doesn't make me feel glamorous. It also has a beaded bodice and the bottom has a sheer layer over the skirt with lace edging on it. The bridesmaids are wearing fitted dresses with cap sleeves, and I'm worried they will outshine my gown.) Should I find another dress for myself?" —BG reader Roxy

wedding dress hanger

Cathy Answers:

"Dear Roxy, you're not alone. Having second thoughts about the dress, the menu, your first dance song and the color of the flowers happens more than you think. On your wedding day, all eyes are on you, and that can be a daunting prospect. Before you run off to get another dress, I want you to ensure that it's not just your insecurities about being the center of attention that is forming your opinions. It can be very difficult being the center of attention, even when that attention is positive. Whether it’s because you are shy or are afraid of not living up to expectations, please be gentle with yourself as a fear of social situations like this is extremely common, especially with brides!

Also, are some of your bridesmaids or family members commenting on the dresses? Sometimes it’s helpful to solicit feedback from others; other times, people 'volunteer' their opinions without being asked. Everyone has an opinion when it comes to the details of a wedding, but the one that matters most is yours.

Your dress sounds lovely, and so does the bridesmaids' dress. Although it's hard to give a definitive answer as to how well they complement each other on the glamour scale without seeing them in person, I can tell you that the bridesmaids NEVER outshine the bride! It's all about you and your fiance on your wedding day...nothing else. If it makes you feel better to keep looking at dresses, go ahead — but don't over-think this as you will be glamorous on your wedding day no matter what.

Keep in mind that the process of getting a wedding dress often takes up to six months. If you are within a three- to four-month window you are going to have to find something off the rack, which limits your options. Replacing your dress can also be costly. If your current dress has been altered it’s not returnable, so you are looking at a loss even if you can sell it online. If it hasn't been altered yet, some salons accept returns, but often with a hefty penalty. Another option is to consider finding a terrific alterations specialist who might be able to add a drape or a flounce or some additional sparkle to bring more glamour to your dress.

The most important part of the day is the moment when the person you have chosen to take into your heart is standing right in front of you in that intimate moment of sharing your vows. That’s the reason for the party, and I encourage you to honor those moments and make them as real as it gets! The rest will be icing on the cake after that."

—Stefania Sainato

cathy oconnell

Cathy O'Connell, founding partner of COJ Events, has designed and planned hundreds of weddings over the past twelve years. She utilizes her background in interior design, corporate management and personal coaching to guide couples through the fun and sometimes challenging wedding planning process. Destination wedding specialists, COJ Events, headquartered in La Quinta CA, creates unique and special events worldwide for a discerning clientele.