Welcome to the dreamy world of bridal fashion! We would imagine, since being engaged, you’ve been asked an array of wedding dress questions – what you like, when you’re shopping, who’s going, are you wearing sleeves, can they come, who’s your favorite designer, who’s buying? Who knew shopping could seem stressful?!
But worry not! We have all the best wedding dress shopping tips! Follow our guide and not only will shopping for gown be your favorite planning to-do, the whole process can be the one totally flawless wedding excursion and when your ready schedule your appointment with our boutique!
1. Set a Budget
Before you get carried away Pinning all those diamond encrusted wedding dresses, take a look at your wedding budget and set a number you’re willing to spend on your gown. This will not only narrow your choices (such an endless amount of beautiful gowns out there!) but also help you hone your expectations in the dress shopping process.
2. Start Shopping 9-12 Months Ahead
Believe it or not, gowns typically take anywhere from 5-10 month to be made. Factor in shipping times (is your dress coming from Barcelona?) alterations and multiple fittings – in the end, your gown could take up to 12 months to be ready.
Don’t have that kind of time? Some designers offer rush services, but be prepared to pay an extra fee. Out of timely options? If you’re happy to get a professional cleaning and are lucky enough to fit in sample sizes, salons often allow brides to buy samples off the rack for a lower price.
3. Use Social Media To Find & Save Gowns
Pinterest and Instagram are brilliant for discovering the endless gowns on the market these days. Follow your favorite blogs, designers and bridal salons to discover new collections, see your favorite gowns on real brides, find out about surprise sample sales and hear about nearby trunk shows. Save your faves on your wedding dress boards, and Instagram archives to bring with you to your appointments.
4. Pick A Few Wedding Dress Style Keywords
It’s great to be able to concisely articulate to your bridal stylist what wedding dress styles suit you. For example “sexy, silk & tailored” and every bridal stylist pulled gowns that were totally New York City. Pick a famous bridal muse too that best represents your style.
5. Make Bridal Salon Appointments
Try to schedule your bridal salon appointments all in one day or weekend. This way, each gown is fresh in your mind for comparison; you’re more likely to say “Yes!” if you’re not waiting on another appointment weeks later.
6. Choose Your Bride Tribe Wisely
Take special care when you select which guests will join you on this wedding dress hunt.
First, check how many guests your salon will allow in their rooms (most often 4-5 including the bride). Second, take a good hard look at who needs to be there. For instance, is anyone helping pay for the gown? Finally, choose guests who are above all, positive people. Certain close friends may not be suited for this day due to general cynicism (no matter how fun they are as friends!) Make sure your bride tribe is uplifting, understands who you are, what you like, and understand that this day is about you choosing your gown.
Brides often ask if they should invite their future Mother in Law. Our take: if she’s someone you get along with and super supportive, absolutely, if you like! If you have a contentious relationship, or you worry about her judgment, perhaps invite her to another bridal event and let her know you’re shopping with a few close friends. You want to feel comfortable zipping and unzipping all day.
7. Have A List Of Questions Ready For Your Stylist
Bring along a list of questions only your bridal stylist can answer, including how long it takes to make the gown you love, whether or not they alter dresses in-house or suggest expert tailors, whether they ship the gown to you (and if there’s a shipping charge) or if you pick up in shop, the best way to travel with your gown and if steaming the dress day-of is the best strategy.
8. Give Yourself A Beauty & Spa Morning
Consider this an optional luxury that will seriously give you a boost on a busy day. If you can budget in the time and money, head to your hairstylist for a blowout, get your makeup professionally done and give yourself a zen spa morning. It’ll be easier to imagine yourself in the dress on your wedding day if you look and feel “wedding-day-ready”.
9. Bring The Proper Undergarments & Shoes
Our bridal experts suggest nude colored panties, and not to worry about the bra (unless you have an issue with support or want to be comfortable) aka go bra less. Fun fact, strapless or plunging gowns are much more supportive than regular clothing. So for example, a strapless wedding gown is going to be more supportive than a regular strapless dress.
Everyone needs alterations, so that’s when you decide if you really want to wear a fancy bra underneath. Bring it with you to alterations to make sure it fits under the gown. Otherwise, it’s common to get cups sewn in during alterations.
Be sure to bring along heels at the height you think you will wear on your wedding day. Salons will have heels on hand, but they may not be your size, or the height you intend to wear.
10. Forget About Sizing
Wedding dress sizes are vastly different than street sizes (what you wear on a day-to-day basis) so don’t get worked up when you see your wedding dress size. In fact, when you’re at the salon, that sample you’re trying on is definitely “one-size-fits-no-one”.
Nearly everyone needs alterations, so the gown you buy will eventually be taken in and tailored to fit you perfectly – totally different from the usual “pick a size number” shopping experience
11. Be Open To Different Gowns
It’s so helpful to know what you like, to narrow the gowns pulled at your dress appointment. But don’t be afraid to try on something totally out of the box.
For example, try on a gown that’s not white – maybe ivory, champagne, nude or even rain cloud blue! You may be surprised to find out you like something different.
12. Listen To Your Bridal Stylist (& Your Gut!)
It’s true, your bride tribe knows you best. But no one knows the gowns at the shop like your bridal stylist. The person pulling gowns and jumping into the dressing room is paid to make this experience perfect for you. They’ve taken into account everything you love, and quite frankly is likely a more objective opinion than your family or friends. They are thinking of what you like, not what they like.
But ultimately, block out all the noise and listen to your gut. If you know deep down you don’t love something, it’s not your gown, no matter how “pretty” your bride tribe says you look. And if you, in your heart, know you prefer something different, listen! You’re the one who’s going to be wearing the gown, you make the ultimate choice.
13. Don’t Try On Dresses Out Of Budget & Factor Extra Costs
As a wedding professional, my bridal salons were happy to let me try on any dress in the shop just for fun, but I heeded the warnings of everyone in the industry: never try on a gown you can’t afford.
Two very unfortunate things could happen: 1) you may end up spending thousands more (that maybe you don’t have) putting serious strains on your wedding budget and giving you incredible guilt, or 2) you may fall in love with the gown and no cheaper dress will be able to match the luxury you now have the taste for, leaving you unable to find “the perfect dress”.
And remember, if your budget is $2000, plan for extra costs like alterations and accessories.
14. Don’t Be Afraid To Say Yes To The First Dress You Love
Bridal stylists are super smart, and if they can tell you have a serious favorite during your salon walk through, they’ll likely put it on you first. Our experts say often brides think they are being too quick to decide, but then they come back to buy the first gown they loved anyway.
15. Save Contracts, Delivery Dates & Schedule Alterations
Once you’ve made your purchase, keep a copy of your contract on hand (in case you ever need to double check the timeline and your measurements), keep a calendar with all your tentative delivery dates, and schedule alterations in a timely fashion – as they may take time and a few fittings.