Tips for Wedding dress shopping
Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were five and know the exact specifications you want for it down to the last sequin, or you’ve never thought about it until your future spouse’s mother nagged, “You still haven’t gotten your gown?” — we’ve got you covered on how to choose a wedding dress.
With all eyes on you, not to mention photos you’ll keep forever, of course you want to look perfect on your big day. But what does perfect mean to you? For some brides, a dream dress is a regal ballgown fit for a princess. For others, a dream look is a sexy, va-va-voom sheath gown that makes everyone appreciate her curves; to other brides, the best dress is one that allows her enough movement to be able to re-enact the choreography from “Thriller” on the dance floor.
The choices can seem overwhelming for sure. No matter your budget, your personal style, or your timeline, check out our wedding dress shopping tips for finding the gown of your dreams — the one you’ll love today, on the big day, and in 30 years from now when you look back at your wedding photos.
Research and have an open mind.
Rip pages out of magazines, click through bridal boutiques online, explore on Pinterest, and check out what celebrity brides are wearing to compile a visual file of your favorite dresses. Then look for a connecting theme — are they all very embellished? Lacy? Voluminous? Have open backs? Find a couple commonalities of styles you like and bring your ideas to your first appointment.
Bridal consultants will tell you that they constantly see women come in with a set idea of what they want for a gown, then try it on and don’t actually love it — and instead, fall for something completely different that they’d never considered. Keep an open mind to finding a dream dress that you didn’t know would be your dream dress.
Finding your dream gown can be stressful. After all, you’ve likely never even tried one on before, and it’s the most expensive garment many women will ever own, so it can feel like the pressure is definitely on. Plus, your dress sets the tone for the wedding as a whole, whether it’s a grand ballroom affair or a casual beach bash. It may also feel like there’s a whole new language to decode — tulle, A-line, fit and flare, organza, sheath. Plus, more brides than ever are doing multiple dresses, a more formal one for the ceremony and a party-centric (danceable or more blingy and outrageous) one for the reception, which can double the task of shopping.
Do your homework before you startand find a Great Bridal Salons for making appointments, since you don’t want to waste time at a shop that doesn’t carry dresses you like or has terrible customer service. Get referrals from married friends and check online reviews to find shops with solid reputations.
When to start to search.Many gowns take four to eight months to be produced, and once it arrives, you still have to factor in more time for alterations and accessorizing.
If you’re having a long engagement and immediately start shopping for gowns, the one you end up buying might be out of style by the time your wedding comes around, or you might find one you like even better closer to the date.
Set a budget.
Yes, it’s uncomfortable to talk numbers, but it will save you from heartache later on. Before your first appointment, figure out who is paying for the gown (your family, the groom, you?). If someone else is paying, get the hard numbers on your limit, so you can choose to stay within that budget or pay the difference yourself to get the dress you want.
Plan Non-Obvious Costs Into the Budget: Say you plan to cap your dress spending at $2,000 — you actually shouldn’t buy a $2,000 gown. That’s because you need to factor in for tailoring, accessories (your veil, jewelry, and shoes) and cleaning and preserving the gown after the wedding if you want it to be a keepsake.
In most bridal stores, the dresses aren’t displayed in a way where you can just leaf through them and browse on your own, the way you can in other retail stores. You’ll need an appointment so a consultant can help you select dresses and try them on
Don’t waste your time shopping at a store that doesn’t have the style, designer, or price range you had in mind. Call the boutique or salon ahead of time to get the low down on their inventory before you make a visit.
Make your first appointment with the least-expensive bridal shop and keep scaling up if you don’t find anything. Same goes for trying on dresses during your appointments — try on the most affordable one first, and work your way up to the bank-breaker; you may fall in love before then! Bridal salons are packed on the weekends, meaning you may get less personal attention or that the dress you love is being tried on by someone else. It’s worth using some personal time from work to have your appointment on a weekday.
Take your time for each appointment. It’s surprisingly time-consuming to put one wedding gown on and off, let alone three or four, and you definitely don’t want to feel rushed to make a decision. Instead of making plans for brunch after your appointment or trying to fit it in between other errands, leave a few hours so you can take your time browsing and trying on dresses.
Tips to prepare for the shopping day.
Choose Your Crew Wisely for Appointments Yes, you love your mom, your sister, your sister-in-law, your maid of honor, and your six bridesmaids — but if you’ve ever tried to get a crowd to agree on where to go for dinner, you can only imagine how hard it will be to find consensus on a gown. Narrow the group down to the two or three people whose opinions matter most to you.
Bring the Right Undergarments. It can be hard to take in how a strapless dress really looks when your leopard bra straps are sticking out, or how a curve-hugging gown would fit once your hips are smoothed. For your appointments, wear a nude thong and strapless bra, and bring Spanx.
Some bridal salons have communal high heels you can borrow, but that’s a little icky, and a dress will look a lot different with flip-flops than stilettos. Be prepared by bringing heels of the same height you think you’ll likely wear for your big day, so you’ll have a better idea of how the dress will look.
Pick Your Silhouette , your ideal gown’s shape is partly based on the style you like, the venue and mood of your wedding, and also what flatters your body most. A fit-n-flare is both contemporary and traditional and works on many body types, whereas a simple sheath is best on tall, willowy brides. A voluminous ballgown adds drama, but can overwhelm a petite frame. Mermaid styles show off curves like your favorite pencil skirt.
Make sure to pay attention to Fabric In addition to silhouette, color, and embellishments, fabric makes a big difference on how a gown will look on you. A heavier, more structured material (think silk shantung, taffeta, or guipure lace) will hold its shape and smooth your figure. Less flattering for those with curves are unstructured silk or filmy chiffon.
The gown that makes you feel the most beautiful is the gown you should choose. Even if a gown checks off all of your criteria, keying in on feelings can help you decide between dresses and lead to that magical moment when you’ve finally found “The One.”
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