There is no clothing purchase as fraught or dramatic as our wedding dress. We visit multiple stores and take all our friends and family along with us. We make it fun with Champagne toasts and jelly beans, but shopping with an entourage can be a big mistake. Just ask Beyoncé.

Apparently when the mega star married Jay Z in 2008, she let her mother Tina design the dress she wore. Later, she told her mother, "You know, when my daughter gets married, I'm going to let her pick out her own dress."

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It makes sense. The dress she wore was lovely, but it wasn't "hers." And that is the same problem women run into when they shop with family. I did ultimately love the wedding dress I wore 13 years ago (though it is dated now), but I also know it wasn't one I chose. My stepmother and father decided it was "the one." In retrospect, I probably would have chosen a tea-length dress and maybe even nixed the white idea altogether.

I am not someone who buys into the whole spend-a-million-dollars-on-a-dress-you-wear-one-time-in-your-life idea. A wedding dress needn't be some perfect article of clothing, and it doesn't have to cost a lot. But it does need to represent the bride. It needs to be something she feels comfortable and beautiful in. That will show in the photos and also during the ceremony.

When I look at the photos of my wedding, I do like my dress a lot, and I do keep it in storage on the off chance that one of my two girls (or both of them) will choose to wear it some day. But if they don't, I won't fall apart. It holds only marginal sentimental value. It doesn't feel like "me" or "mine." Someday when my girls are shopping for their gowns, I hope they will invite me along. I'd like to be part of their experience, of course. But I also hope that if I am invited, I can manage to keep my opinions to myself. My girls have to feel the dresses they buy. They need to be "them." No one else can see that or tell them what that means.

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They have to go it alone.

Did you shop for a dress alone or with people?