Wedding Tips: Shopping For A Wedding Dress

One of the things many brides are most excited for after they get engaged is dress shopping. They can't wait to get in the store and start the fashion show. On the other hand, some ladies dread it. They might hate dresses and even consider not getting one. No matter what your feelings are, here are some tips on how to survive the big decision:


Set a budget. Before you start thinking about where to shop for your perfect dress, you need to figure out how much you can spend. This way, you'll be sure to make an appointment at a place that only sells dresses within your price range so you don't fall in love with something you can’t have.

Plan to start early in your planning process. Like 6-8 months at least (or 8-10 if you think you'll be particular). Many times, brides don’t find their dress the first time they go looking. You don’t want to end up feeling rushed into purchasing a dress. Plus, dresses can take months to come in after they’ve been ordered. You'll want to allow yourself plenty of time to find your dress, have it come in, and make time for fittings and alterations.

Make an appointment. Most stores welcome walk-ins, but then there is the risk of not having enough time or room to adequately look for your dress. You may not get a sales associate who’s available to help you. Make an appointment and you can have time and a reserved room, as well as an associate to help you. Pro Tip: Make your appointment on a weekday to avoid the crowded weekend walk-ins. Take a day off of work and indulge in the experience. Have a glass of bubbly while you look and go to lunch afterwards!

Research. Do some research on your body type and what styles will look the best for your body. Look at the new trends and styles before going into the salon to give yourself a better idea of what you’re looking for. Pro Tip: If the thought of dress shopping makes your skin crawl, this can speed up your appointment.

Choose wisely on who you bring with you. Some brides choose to bring their moms, siblings, grandmothers, MIL, friends and entire wedding party to their appointment with them. Others decide on just their mom and maid-of-honor. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that the more people you bring with, the more opinions you'll hear. Depending on the type of person you are, you may find this overwhelming, or you may find it helpful. If you decide you only want your mom and maid-of-honor there, stand your ground if others try to pressure an invite out of you. Everyone’s excited about the dress and everyone will want to join in the fun, but having more people present than you wanted may cause stress for you.

At the Appointment

Stay within your budget! We’ve all heard it before. It’s the number one mistake brides make. They set a budget and then don’t stick to it and end up with a dress that costs way more than they planned for. This can result in pulling money from other areas of the wedding. Do yourself a favor and don’t look at dresses that are out of your range. Pro Tip: Don’t make eye contact with it. Sometimes all you have to do is see a dress to fall in love with it. If your salesperson is bringing you dresses, tell her your budget and ask that she doesn’t bring anything above that. If you the guests you invited to the appointment are picking your dresses, tell each of them to check the prices before bringing them to you.

Bring your shoes, veil, and jewelry. If you already have these items, bring them with you to the appointment. This will give you the best idea of how the dress will look on your wedding day. Many brides don’t get these items until after they find the dress. If you know what type of shoes you want but don’t have them yet because you’re waiting until you find your dress, bring shoes that are similar.

Bring your undergarments. On that same note, you’ll want to bring whatever you’ll be wearing underneath your dress to the appointment if you already have these items. You want to be sure that they’ll be comfortable and look the way you want them to under your dress.

Keep your expectations in check. Better yet, leave them at the door. Go into your appointment knowing full well that you may not find your dress that day. It takes many brides multiple appointments to find their perfect dress. However, don’t be nervous if you do find your dress right away. Some brides find the perfect dress on the first try but they think, "There’s no way I found it that fast. It’s supposed to take longer than that.” And they continue to try on dresses, only to go back to that first one they can’t stop thinking about. Expect nothing of your appointment except to have fun and go with the flow. You’ll know it’s the right dress when you find it. Whether it’s dress number 1 or dress number 51.

Know what you want, but keep an open mind. When you get to your appointment, the sales person will ask what you’re looking for in a dress. Having some idea in what you want will help her determine which dresses will be a good fit for you. While you may know what you want, keep an open mind about other options. Dresses that may look terrible on the hanger, may look amazing once once you're wearing them.

Trust your salesperson. Have some trust in your salesperson. This is her job. If she brings you a dress, give it a chance and try it on. You might fall in love with it! However, don’t let anyone sweet-talk you into buying anything you know isn’t really "you".

Keep the theme of your wedding in mind. If you’re having a small backyard wedding, you probably don’t want a gown that looks like it belongs in the Queen’s palace. Keep your theme in mind so that your dress can match the rest of your carefully crafted day.

Jump around! Walk around, wiggle your arms, dance, sit. Make sure this dress is comfortable. Does it have little beads that irritate the inside of your arms? Does it make you feel like your too exposed up top? Does every step feel like you’re about to face plant? Is it so thick, that you’re sweating from just the waddle you took to the mirror? Take notice of every little detail. You’ll be spending an entire day in this dress. Make sure you’re going to enjoy it.

Try on other styles. If you came into that store knowing for certain you wanted an A-line lace dress with a sweetheart neckline and you’ve tried on 10 already but still haven’t found ‘the one’, try on some other styles. You may not know that you actually like the mermaid style, or that A-line isn’t exactly the most flattering fit for you until you see it. My associate photographer, Steph, thought knew what she wanted going into her wedding dress appointment, but she just wasn’t falling in love with anything. She ended up trying something different and found her dress. She had no idea that she'd like spaghetti straps and a deep v neck! It certainly won't hurt to try something you haven't considered yet.

Trust yourself. You know what you want. You know what you like. Many times, the people you have with you can tell you’ve just found your dress by how you react when it’s on, but only you will know for sure. You don’t need to be reassured that it looks great on you. You can see yourself making your way down the aisle in it. It gives you a full sense of confidence that THIS. IS. IT. Everyone says you’ll know it when you find it and that really is true. Trust yourself. Trust your feelings.

Buy a dress that fits now- So many brides buy a dress a size or two smaller with hopes of losing enough weight by the time it comes to fit into it. Unless you have a lot of time between the purchase date and your wedding date, you have a personal trainer lined up, and you know you lose weight when you’re stressed, don’t do it. Dresses can be altered and it’s much easier and cheaper to take a dress in than it is to let it out.

Sleep on it. If you're still unsure but have a few that you like, take a breather and sleep on it for a night or two. Most dresses you try on can either be ordered from the designer, or there might be multiples of the dress in stock at the store. Choosing your wedding dress can be one of the biggest decisions you make during wedding planning, so make sure you've given it plenty of thought.

I can't wait to see what you pick! Comment below with what you’re ideal wedding dress looks like.