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Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Updated on October 29, 2016

Shopping for your wedding dress does not have to be, and should not be, stressful. For me, wedding dress shopping was one of the most exciting days of our engagement/wedding planning process and one of those defining moments where I realized 'Oh my gosh - I'm getting married!' Shopping for your wedding dress should be a day (or days) you enjoy and remember fondly.

Today, I thought I would share some tips that I found helpful when shopping for my wedding dress back in October 2014.

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1) Start shopping early.

I went wedding dress shopping nine months before my wedding, and even though I was determined to find my dress that day, it was comforting to know that, if needed, I had plenty of time for a second appointment or to find another bridal salon.

2) Have an idea of what you want, but keep an open mind.

As important as it is to have an idea of what you are looking for and know what styles you like, you must prepare yourself for the possibility that the style you like, may not be the most flattering on you. Rather than filling your dressing room with every mermaid style in stock at the beginning of your appointment, ask your consultant to pull a few different styles. Once you have determined a style, you can move onto individual dresses.

Be open to suggestions made by your bridal consultant, friends and family. Worst case scenario, you try on a dress your grandmother found on sale, you see yourself in the mirror, laugh it off and keep looking.

3) Consider your venue.

When shopping for your wedding dress, consider your venue. Not only are some dresses more suited for certain types of venues, but some venues have dress codes that even the bride must follow.

Of course, if at the end of the day, if your dress isn't necessarily the most fitting for your venue but you are happy and you feel beautiful, you should still consider it a success.

4) If possible, book your appointment during the week.

Appointments are mandatory at some bridal salons and ensure a consultant will be available to assist you during your visit. I recommend booking your appointment for a weekday, rather than a weekend. Weekends tend to be busier, and sometimes this means that consultants have to juggle two or three brides at a time or the appointments are rushed.

5) Be particular about who you bring with you.

As tempting as it may be to arrive at the bridal salon with a massive entourage of your closest family members and friends, try to limit the number of people you bring with you. Prior to going wedding dress shopping, I heard that a bride should never bring more than two people with her and I know some salons limit the number of people you can bring. I ended up bringing three people with me when I went dress shopping - my mother, my grandmother and my maid of honour - and for me, it was perfect.

6) Arrive early.

Unless your salon has strict rules against this, arrive early for your appointment. You can start looking around on your own, or if a consultant is free, you may be able to get a longer appointment.

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7) Have a budget... and stick with it.

Do not try on dresses that are outside of your budget unless you are absolutely prepared and able to spend the additional money. Trying on a dress that you cannot afford is only asking for heartbreak.

Be sure to factor in things such as taxes, alterations and shipping into the total cost.

8) Do your hair and makeup.

Some dresses will actually look more flattering with certain hairstyles, so if you plan on wearing your hair up on your wedding day, wear it up when you go dress shopping. Similarly, if you plan on wearing your hair down for your wedding, wear it down when you go wedding dress shopping. If you haven't decided yet, that's fine but you may want to consider bringing a hair tie or a headband so that you can play around with your hair if needed.

When I went wedding dress shopping, I noticed makeup stains on at least two of the gowns. Fortunately, I was not wearing any red or purple pigments, so I knew I wasn't at fault. Regardless of how you will be doing your makeup for your wedding day, keep your makeup simple and waterproof for dress shopping.

9) Bring the right accessories.

Before going wedding dress shopping, give some serious thought to your shoes and accessories. Do you know what kind of shoes you want to wear? Do you have shoes picked out? Do you have any 'must-wear' accessories (ex: your grandmother's veil, your mother's necklace)? If so, bring those with you when you go wedding dress shopping.

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10) Inspect the sample.

If you are considering buying a sample gown, be sure to inspect it thoroughly. Sample gowns are typically sold 'as is', so look for things such as stains, missing beads and buttons, broken zippers, tiny rips, etc...

11) Once you find your dress, stop shopping!

You stopped looking when you found your groom, didn't you?


What are your tips for wedding dress shopping?

© 2015 Marley

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