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Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Updated on July 5, 2023

Your wedding day is a big deal—it's one of those days you'll remember forever. And finding the perfect wedding dress? Well, that's a key ingredient in making it extra special. But let's be real here: wedding dress shopping can be a bit of a roller coaster. With so many styles, designs, and options out there, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Don't worry, though! We're here to help you navigate the process and find that dream dress without all the stress. So, grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine—no judgment here) and check out these essential tips for wedding dress shopping.

Start Shopping Early

Wedding dress shopping is not something you should leave until the last minute. Start your search at least six to nine months before your wedding day. This will give you ample time to explore different boutiques, try on various styles, and have alterations done if needed. Starting early ensures that you won't feel rushed or pressured into making a hasty decision.

I went wedding dress shopping nine months before my wedding, and even though I was determined to find my dress that day, I felt much more relaxed knowing that if I didn't have any luck that day, I still had plenty of time to book a second appointment or find a different store.

Keep An Open Mind

While it's essential to have an idea of what you like, don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try on dresses that you may not have considered. Wedding dress shopping is an opportunity to explore different styles and silhouettes, and you may be pleasantly surprised by what looks stunning on you. Keep an open mind and trust the expertise of the bridal consultants. And if you've brought family and friends with you, be open to their suggestions as well. 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.

Do Your Research

While I stand by my last tip, which was keeping an open mind, before diving into the world of wedding dress shopping, do some research to get an idea of the styles and designs that you like. Look through bridal magazines, browse online bridal boutiques, and save images of dresses that catch your eye. This will help you communicate your preferences to the bridal consultants and narrow down your options and give your bridal consultant a starting point.

Go 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.

Be Particular About Who You Bring With You

Now, when it comes to who should tag along for your wedding dress shopping spree, less is more. Sure, it's tempting to gather a whole squad of friends and family to cheer you on. But here's the thing: too many opinions can actually make things more complicated. Trust me, you don't want to be drowning in a sea of conflicting suggestions. Instead, opt for a small and intimate group of your closest peeps - those who truly get your personal style and wedding vision. Stick with the trusted few whose opinions you value the most - for me, it was my lifelong best friend/maid of honour, my mother and my grandmother and it was perfect. Bringing the right people will make the decision-making process a whole lot easier, promise!

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.

Set a Budget

Wedding dresses can vary greatly in price, so it's crucial to set a realistic budget before you start shopping. Be clear about how much you are willing to spend on your dress and communicate this to the bridal consultants. They will then show you options that fall within your price range, saving you from falling in love with a dress that is way beyond your budget.

Remember, do not try on dresses that are outside of your budget unless you are absolutely prepared and able to spend that 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.


Bring the Right Under Garments and Accessories

To get an accurate sense of how a wedding dress will look and fit, wear appropriate undergarments to your appointments. Nude seamless underwear and a strapless bra are ideal, as they will give you a smooth silhouette and won't interfere with the overall look of the dress. Additionally, bring along any shape-wear or accessories you plan to wear on your wedding day to see how they work with different dress styles. Don't panic if you don't have anything that will work, your bridal salon will likely sell some.

For accessories, give some serious thought to what you want before you go dress shopping. 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 to make sure any sentimental items work with the dress.

And, on a similar note, if you know you're going to be doing your hair a certain way on your wedding day, wear it a similar way when you try on wedding dresses.

Consider the Venue and Season

It's crucial to think about the venue and the season when picking out that perfect dress. Picture this: a grand ballroom in the middle of winter. A heavy ball gown with fancy beading? Absolutely stunning! But hold on a second, imagine a beach wedding in the sizzling summer heat. Suddenly, that ball gown seems like a recipe for a sweaty disaster, right? So, here's the deal: consider the location, the weather conditions, and the overall vibe of your wedding. You want a dress that not only looks amazing but also feels comfortable and fits the occasion like a glove. Trust me, you'll thank yourself later for choosing something suitable for the venue and season.


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...

Trust Your Instincts and Don't Settle

When it comes to finding your dream wedding dress, trust your instincts. If you put on a dress and instantly feel like a bride, it's likely a strong contender. Pay attention to how you feel when you try on different dresses. Trust your gut and choose the dress that makes you feel the most beautiful, confident, and comfortable. Don't let others' opinions sway you if it doesn't align with your own vision and personal style and don't settle for a dress that you feel lukewarm about or that doesn't make you feel like the best version of yourself. Keep searching until you find "the one" that ticks all the boxes and makes your heart skip a beat.

Wedding dress shopping should be a fun and memorable experience. By following these ten tips, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your journey to find the perfect dress. Start early, do your research, set a budget, bring a supportive entourage, stay open-minded, and trust your instincts. Remember to book appointments in advance, wear the right undergarments, consider the venue and season, and most importantly, don't settle. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to finding the wedding dress of your dreams and making your wedding day truly magical.

And don't forget, once you've said yes to your dress, stop looking! You stopped looking after you found your groom, didn't you?

What are your tips for wedding dress shopping?

© 2015 Marley


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