(Summary of my wedding can be found on an earlier post here and stay tuned for a future entry explaining how we kept our wedding budget to under $8500.00)
Fact: I am a crazy contest lady.
What does that mean exactly? It means that I am a strange human being who actually enjoys spending hours on the computer filling out online forms from reliable entities in order to have a chance at winning a prize. We do exist.
I haven’t won an insane number of things, but when I do win something it’s fun and exciting. Someone has to win and you never will unless you take a chance and enter.
Contest Tip #1: Always enter, someone has to win.
Winning my wedding dress was the best prize that I have won to date (next to Chris’ heart [Ba Dum Tis]). It started with winning a much smaller contest – the entire process was very lucky.
I first saw a random post while searching for #weddingcontest on different social media forums, this is why some contest entering can take patience in research. I found a post by the National Bridal Show (@ntnlbridalshow) on Instagram that was giving away two free tickets to their upcoming convention. The show was in Vaughan, Ontario, which was approximately an hour drive from my house and it happened to land on the weekend of my 25th birthday party that I had been planning for a long time (Cassy-con: everyone had to dress in video game, anime, comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy costumes and I made a lot of DIY decorations).
I entered the contest just in case.
I was happy to win the tickets, but unsure of how I was going to make it work! I decided that I would go on the Sunday, luckily I drank a lot of water during my party and wasn’t hungover. I brought my mom and my future (now) stepmom which is an odd mix, but they got along great and it we had fun.
I was excited to be there for mainly one thing – contests. Bridal shows, especially big ones, have a lot of contests with really great odds. I had hoped to have a chance at winning some stuff for the wedding since we were on a small budget, but I never imagined winning my dress.
After entering every contest in the building, sampling food, and collecting too many heavy items in our bridal shower tote bags, we headed home.
Sometime later, I got an email that I had won the chance to choose any dress from a bridal store and I almost didn’t believe it was real.
Contest Tip #2: Always research; do your homework on who is hosting the contest to determine the legitimacy of the prize.
The store was legitimate, beautiful, and the prize was better than “you won this specific dress,” it was “come to our store and choose any dress that you want!” I was over the moon excited. My original budget for my wedding dress was $500, but I would likely get to wear a real wedding dress now and all I would have to pay for were accessories and alterations. The boutique sells dresses at discount prices similar to Vows [check out PHD and Pie Filling’s experience there] on I Found the Gown so their prices are quite reasonable for brides on more traditional budgets!
The wonderful dream-granting store was Revival Bridal Boutique in Vaughan, Ontario. The two women who own the store are incredibly sweet, friendly, and accommodating. I recommend supporting their small business not only because they gifted me a gown, but because they have great prices for really beautiful dresses that work within a wide range of budgets.
Once the shock of winning died down, I figured out a date that worked for my bridal party and waited with anticipation for December. My bridesmaids (minus my now sister-in-law who lives in London, England), my mom, and Chris’ mom (my stepmom wasn’t able to make it this time) excitedly drove to Vaughan one cold day. The two moms and I met my sister at a nearby hotel where we were going to have a girl’s night after because my sister lives four hours away, this worked out too because my sister is 1000x better at doing hair than I am and helped finish my look before trying on dresses.
Vanda, one of the co-owners from Revival Bridal Boutique, was a joy to work with. She made sure that even though I wasn’t buying the dress I was getting the regular bridal appointment treatment. My support group sat around the dressing room and Vanda helped me try on dresses, she had picked out some gowns that were similar to what she saw on my pinterest board.
The first dress was beautiful and I joked about how on TV women often end up choosing the first dress they try on. It was really gorgeous, but I didn’t have a “moment,” I didn’t cry or anything. I was excited to try on the next one. I tried on around ten gowns that day and loved most of them, but I’m actually a really good decision maker and picked the top three quite easily (ability to do the twist was a priority). From there we tried them on again and it was clear to me… the first dress was my dress.
The second that I realized this I started to cry – which is so silly, but it happens sometimes when you start to get older and you cry about a lot more things than you used to (this is coming from a girl who’s favourite parts in The Lord of the Rings movies were once when people’s heads got cut off with swords – now I’m a sap who cried three times during a Disneynature chimpanzee documentary narrated by Tim Allen)!
I never thought that I’d wear a veil, but I loved the cathedral length one. That day, I purchased a belt and a veil that came to $300 together and placed the order for my Lillian West gown #6349 in Alabaster/Ivory.
A month before the big day I drove to pick up my dress with my bridesmaid Natalie in terrible Friday afternoon traffic on the 401. The gown was exactly how I’d remembered it and fit almost perfectly, it just needed to be hemmed and for a bustle system to be put in. The owners were very understanding in my wanting to have it altered closer to home and were happy to make my dreams come true.
I had it altered by a very sweet lady in Oshawa who also altered my stepmoms wedding gown earlier this year. I really recommend Shimmer Alterations for price and professionalism in Durham Region.
My alterations came to $316.00 making the grand total for my dress, belt, and veil $616.00 which I am VERY happy with.
Collection of dress photos from the wedding taken by Caitlin Currie: