I'll be the first to admit it - I did not find wedding dress shopping to be an enjoyable experience. I watch TLC's Say Yes to the Dress, but cannot fathom that type of dress shopping. I don't enjoy trying on clothes, and I particularly don't enjoy trying on clothes I can't afford. I decided early on that I wasn't willing to spend more than $1000 for a wedding dress. Then, as time progressed, I decided I wasn't willing to spend more than $500 for a dress. Then I made the decision that I didn't want a brand new dress. The sheer volume of fabric it takes to produce a single wedding dress made me queasy. So, I started browsing the wedding dress section of a local web site that sells used goods. A few months later, I decided there was one I wanted to try on. I went to the former bride's house and put on the dress.
Now, this is when everyone expects to just *feel* that it's the right dress. I didn't feel that way, and that's okay! I knew it was pretty and liked it a lot, but I took my time thinking about it. It would need some alterations, but overall was within my budget and previously used - so it fit my criteria more than any other dress I had seen or tried on. I negotiated a price (another perk to previously used dresses) and came in under budget at $400. Even now that seems like a lot for a dress that I will wear for one day, but I've come to terms with it.
Instead of posting pictures of my actual dress (because the fiancé doesn't want to see it before the wedding day), here are pictures of dresses that were previous contenders (please ignore how unflattering these photos are!):