1. Shop Earlier Than You Think
Many brides are surprised when they hear that the wait time for their ordered wedding gown may be as long as six months until its arrival. In addition to the wait time, you also have to factor in enough time for alternations. Let’s say it takes a full six months for your gown, plus the ideal two months for alterations, that’s a total of eight months before your dress is aisle ready! To be on the safe side you want to try to go bridal shopping as early as you can.
2. Phone Ahead
More often than not bridal salons require an appointment. Try phoning the salons you’re interested in ahead of time and make your arrangements. This may save you and your entourage from making an unproductive trip to the salon. We know that not all brides want a consultant, so if this is the case we’ll fill you in on which salons to visit.
3. Know Your Price
No matter who is paying for the gown, it is important to know your ideal budget, as well as whether or not you’re willing to be flexible. If you are set on a maximum, you get into dangerous territory if you start trying gowns that go beyond your limit. Once you fall in head over heels in love with a dress, no matter what the price tag may be, nothing else will measure up. Try to stay where you feel comfortable, and don’t succumb to pressure from your consultant or entourage.
4. Figure Out What You Like
Time for Pinterest! Check out our Pinterest board and bridal magazines for bridal fashion ideas, and think about what you do and don’t like. Feel free to bring pictures to your appointment and let your consultant know right at the beginning of the appointment if there is anything you specifically want or don’t want.
5. Have A Small Entourage
Many brides want their family members, friends, and bridal party to feel included and will invite them to gown shopping. This may work for some, but to be honest I have seen large entourages unintentionally sabotage this experience for so many brides. Too many opinions may be overwhelming and not everyone has the same taste or shares the same opinions. I’ve seen brides becomes overwhelmed, discouraged, or confused and leave shops without a gown. I’d recommend keeping your entourage on the smaller side. Aim for three people max. Some brides even go solo to find their gown or narrow down the potentials. Instead, invite the larger group to your gown arrival at the bridal salon, or even one of your fittings. This will still be special!
6. Communicate With Your Consultant
Don’t worry about offending your consultant if you don’t like a dress or a certain aspect of it. Your consultant didn’t design the dresses, so you shouldn’t offend them by letting them know if you dislike something. In fact, providing open and honest feedback will help your consultant to help you.
7. Keep an Open Mind
Although it’s good to know your style, it doesn’t hurt to keep an open mind. Time and time again I’ve seen brides go into the salon thinking they want one thing and leave with the exact opposite. If you’re trying on dress after dress that you like but are not getting the “this is the one!” feeling, you might want to try something completely different and see how you feel. You may be pleasantly surprised!
8. Trust Your Instincts
Many brides experience a special feeling when they try on “the one”. When this happens no other dress will do. Trust your gut and remember that if you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle in it then it probably isn’t the gown for you.
9. Go With Your Current Measurements
Many brides have the goal of shedding a few pounds before their wedding. When you buy your dress I recommend going with your current size with alterations in mind. It is MUCH easier to take a wedding dress in than to let it out. A wedding dress is normally easy to take in at least two dress sizes. For example, a size 10 dress should be easily made into a size 6. Letting out is difficult because most gowns come with little to no extra fabric. This may leave you in a bit of a pickle.
Be aware ladies, wedding dresses typically fit smaller than regular dress sizes. Many women are skeptical or discouraged when they are measured up for their dress because the size the consultant recommends is a little (or much) larger than they expect. Don’t panic. I am typically a size 0, but there was one designer’s gowns I fit a size 6! My dear brides, you aren’t alone in this! Just be aware that when your consultant tells you your closest size they are most likely correct, even if it seems unusually for you.
10. Bring Your Accessories
We’ve all heard “the accessories make the dress”. Sometimes accessories are as or even more meaningful to a bride than their dress. If you have any accessories chosen prior to gown shopping (i.e. your grandmother’s wedding veil, a necklace that was handed down generation to generation, a stunning pair of drop dead gorgeous Monolo pumps, etc.) bring them with you to your appointment. It may help you select the right dress and will help you to visualize the big picture.
11. You’ll Need Alterations
Almost every bride will require at least one or two alterations on their wedding dress. The reason for this is because most wedding dresses are made according to the size you are closest to rather than custom measurements. It’s important to remember that when you think about your budget as well as your dress timeline. The price of altering your wedding gown may be $500 if not more. This may seem excessive, but think about the layers and layers of delicate fabrics, lace, and/or beading or crystals. It takes far more time and effort than many of us realize. Time wise alterations may be quick and easy, but remember that the more you want done, the longer it will take. It may also take longer depending on the time of year, as seamstresses are busy with other wedding gowns or grad gowns.
12. Have Fun!
Gown shopping is meant to be exciting! It may be easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed, but try to enjoy and savor the moment. Remember, you are approaching one of life’s greatest milestones!