We'd been at it for hours (again) -- bless my friends and family for their patience (again).

After today, I've logged more than seven hours of trying on more than 20 dresses. We narrowed it down to two at the boutique today, and then I asked my peanut gallery to accompany me back to David's Bridal, where I'd fell in love with (and cried about) one particular dress (which shall remain undescribed in case a certain husband-to-be actually reads the blog I pen about our wedding, ha).

When I stepped out and faced the mirrors, a lot of the same feelings rushed back to me. I love the dress itself, but I love more the way it makes me feel. Beautiful. Like a bride. And it makes me think about him and how he'll react.

My friend, Amy, was gunning for another dress back at the other boutique. But she'd missed last week's shopping marathon, so I was most curious about her reaction to this one.

That's the dress, she declared.

Why? I asked her in typical reporter fashion.

When she responded, she cited something about the dress, but what resonated most was when she said I looked happy in it. Indeed, I feel happy in it. The bridal consultant asked me if I was sure, and I most definitely am. Then, they asked me to make a wish and ring the bell, signaling I'd made my decision.

So, this is the one, and I am THRILLED. I cannot wait to see his face when he sees me in it, when I am HIS bride.

And that reminds me of another question I've been weighing: When should he first see me in it?

I've come to find out through my ongoing photography research that there's something called "first look" photography, where the groom and the bride actually see each other before the ceremony and are photographed as they do. I've actually cried upon seeing such images, notably that of Cavanaugh Photography. But I wanted to gauge other people's opinions (part of my whole need-to-do-research schtick): 
The responses were varied and helpful. As I suspected, some see the beauty of stealing away for a few intimate moments with your betrothed. Others see the beauty in the anticipation of, and the experience of, the aisle reveal.
If I had to choose today, I think I'd choose to have a "first look." But I don't have to choose today, which is good because I can only handle so many choices in a day.

What I will say is this: If you're a bride who's going dress shopping and plan to make a marathon out of it like I did, bring water and snacks (even if they have to be stored in your car for your "judges" because the shop doesn't think food and dresses mix, imagine that). And, if I may say so myself, my decision to bring scoring cards was clutch. Opinions get muddled, but when people are asked to rate a dress in a uniform system like the one I created, it becomes very clear when a dress is adored.

Above all else, find a dress that makes YOU feel transcendent.

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