Welcome to one of many “lifestyle” posts to be featured on the blog. Familiar readers may associate this blog as primarily a travel blog. However, I will be adding more content beyond travel that create the “lifestyle” portion of my life and this blog. Currently I’m wedding planning, so expect many posts about the Big Day. Today – lets talk about wedding dress shopping tips I wish I knew before I went shopping.
Wedding Dress Shopping
The question I’ve been asking myself is where was this post before I went Wedding Dress Shopping? To be fair there are probably millions of posts detailing tips I wished I knew beforehand, however I never thought to google them. I quickly learned there is so much more to trying on wedding dresses when you go shopping. Like how AWKWARD it is trying on dresses with the consultants! Eeeeek.
Tips I Wish I Knew Before Wedding Dress Shopping: Before You Go
Tip #1: Don’t Shop Too Early!
Okay first and foremost – do not go wedding dress shopping until you are ready to buy. I initially thought I would go early on, to see what types of dresses I liked, and buy a couple months later. However, this is seriously advised against.
You may fall head over heels in love with a dress and may not be able to 1)afford it or 2)willing to buy yet. That’s all good and dandy, but I quickly learned that a dress currently sold now, could easily be discontinued in 6 months. If you can manage to find one of the rack that fits you perfectly – not a big deal. However, if that doesn’t work and you need to order in another size, color, or customize it you may be out of luck. Now you have your heart set on a dress you can’t feasibly have, and you may have to “settle” on another dress. Is that really how you want to feel about your wedding dress?
Tip #2: But DO Start Shopping Early.
Based on Tip #1 early may seem like a bad thing, but I think only “too-early” can be a bad thing. Wedding Dresses can take roughly six months to be delivered to your bridal salon once it has been ordered. Alterations, fittings, and customizations can easily add another three months onto your timeline. I would say anywhere between nine-12 months is the ideal window to start looking for a Wedding Dress.
Tip #3: Appointments are Key.
Make an appointment. Most Bridal Salons are by appointment only, don’t just assume you can walk in, or call in and be seen that day.
On that same note – try and make appointments close together. Make a day out of it with your Bride Squad.
I had two appointments separated by a week, and the week in between was too long. I eventually had to return to the first Bridal Salon to try on my favorite dress so I could freshly compare it to another dress.
Tip #4: SET A BUDGET!
Please – for the love of God and for the sake of your wedding budget, set a budget before you go. Whatever your budget is, stick to it! If you know you can’t spend more than $2,000 – don’t visit a salon where dresses start at $5,000. Imagine explaining to your Future Husband that you fell in love with a dress three times outside your budget. Had you never visited a salon outside of your price range this conversation and headache would never need to happen!
Remember – your budget shouldn’t only cover your dress, but taxes, alterations, and accessories. Those hidden costs add up!
BONUS TIP: If you live (or nearby) in a tax free state, or have a tax free weekend coming up, consider shopping there/then.
Tip #5: Know Your Salon.
As stated previously, some salons start at certain price ranges and on the flip-side some cap at price ranges. I knew I couldn’t justify spending more than $2,000 on a dress for one day. I only visited Bridal Salons that sold dresses within my price-range. The most expensive dresses capped at $3,000 and I was 100% not planning to look at them.
Also – if you KNOW you want to try on a certain designer or even a certain wedding dress, call ahead. Make sure the Bridal Salon you’re planning to visit around the corner even has that wedding dress in stock. If they don’t have it – they may be able to call in that sample gown for you, but only if you let them know ahead of time.
Also – learn the lingo. It helps TREMENDOUSLY if you know what your consultant is saying. It also helps you to better communicate what type of dress you like.
Tips I Wish I Knew Before Wedding Dress Shopping: At the Salon
Tip #6: Bring pictures of your Dream Wedding Dress.
If you know you like a certain style, or design, or dress – bring pictures! It only helps your consultant narrow down types of wedding dresses for you to try.
Tip #7: Be Open to Different Wedding Dresses.
In my experience – the dresses that I loved on other people, on Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook, were not the ones I loved on me. I thought I would and it would be a quick an easy, but I ended up picking a style that I never considered because my consultant suggested trying different styles. Let the professionals make recommendations! It’s 100% possible to fall for a dress you didn’t think you would love.
On another note – try on that dress Mom likes (as long as its in the budget). You may be surprised and you may love it! Or she may surprise you and equally hate it on you as much as you do. At the end of the day, you did it for your momma.
Tip #8: BE HONEST.
If you say every dress is beautiful and you love every dress – you’re not helping the consultant help you. If she thinks you like every dress, then she will keep showing you things you may not actually like. Their feelings will not be hurt by you saying you don’t like a wedding dress. They’re not the designer, but they are there to help you find what you like.
Tip #9: Get ready for the awkward.
Expect to be in a small dressing room, half-naked, helped into dress after dress. At first I was totally thrown off by this, especially when my consultant said it was my choice if I wanted to try dresses on with/without a bra. UHM WHAT?!
After some thinking I quickly realized, this is their job. Nothing weird about it, just unfamiliar. Once I thought about the necklines I was trying on, it totally made sense to go sans bra.
Tip #10: Trying on the Dress(es).
Don’t try on a million dresses. You may just end up overwhelming yourselves if you have to pick between 15 favorites versus two favorites!
Remember your venue – if you’re planning to have a boho theme, you’re dress should be cohesive with your theme.
Think about the climate: is it going to be the dead of winter, or the middle of summer?
If you know you’re going to wear certain undergarments / body-shapers, wear them when searching for your dress! If you’re very *developed* consider bring a nude strapless bra.
Bring a hair tie. If you’re like me and notoriously always have one on your wrist you should be good. If not, bring one! Especially if you think you’ll be wearing your hair up, it helps to better envision what you will look like.
Tip #11: Don’t freak out about the sizes!
Wedding dress sizes are significantly smaller than regular clothing sizes (street size). A size four in street size can equate to a size ten in some wedding dress designers.
They run small – size is just a number!
The main reason I bring this up is because it’s important not to insist on purchasing a certain size. You’re more likely than not going to need to size up a size or two in order to fit a Wedding Dress Size.
Tip: #12: Bring the Right Squad.
Be true to you. I am a big believer in being unforgivably me. While I value the input of everyone around me, at the end of the day I purchased a dress that I loved. If someone else didn’t – well its a good thing they’re not wearing it then. I ended up bringing my future MIL because she lived an hour from me, and some of my bridesmaids that were in town for my Engagement Party!
If you’re someone who can be easily swayed by others – then bringing too many people might not be the best idea. Remember, everyone has different tastes and preferences and they’re more likely than not going to express them. In this case, sometimes more is not always better.
Tips I Wish I Knew Before Wedding Dress Shopping: Saying Yes To The Dress
Tip #13: Buy based on your largest measurement.
The best tip that my Bridal Consultant gave me was to purchase a Wedding Dress based on your largest measurement. It’s always easier for alterations to take in, rather than to let out. If your hips are larger than your bust then get a dress that fits your hips comfortably and take the rest in.
Also – don’t order a size assuming you’re going to lose 30 pounds. Unless you really think you will. Most brides that aim to diet and lose weight, go down on average a dress size. Not 3! Something to consider when ordering your Wedding Dress.
Tip #14: Have Questions Ready for your Consultant.
It helps to have questions ready to help you decide which dress to buy. My consultant provided so much information on which dresses would cost more to alter, based on hemlines, applique and design.
Ask if they will hold the gown for you (often insured) until you’re ready to start alterations. Do they have a seamstress, or one they recommend? How to care for your gown and the best way to treat it on your Big Day. Is steaming the best strategy?
How about bustling – can they show you, or better yet the MOH, how to properly bustle your gown? Destination Wedding? What’s the best way to travel with the gown?
Estimated alteration timeline, dress-delivery timeline etc. Ask them all!
Tip #15: Say Yes To The Dress
When it comes to that “AH” moment – I learned not every bride has one. Every dress that I tried on, I either liked or disliked. I don’t think I wore any dress for more than 5 minutes.
The dress I ultimately purchased I tried on during my first appointment. I didn’t cry, or say this is the one, or even laugh. I just knew I loved it. Still, I did the practical thing and tried on other dresses in similar styles to ensure I didn’t love anything more.
It’s okay if you don’t have that “magical” moment, everyone is different. Just go with your gut. You may need one appointment or ten appointments till you find the one, and that is okay!
Tip #16: Move Around!
The first thing I did when I knew my dress was the one – was sit down. I needed to make sure I could comfortably sit, and eat on my Big Day. You will be standing, sitting, dancing, and more so make sure you can do that all comfortably in your Wedding Dress!
Tip #17: Payment
Ask about payment plans? Do they accept Credit Cards and if so are there fees?
When it comes to deposits the golden rule is 50%. Expect to pay for half of your dress in order for the Bridal Salon to order it from the designer.
Tip #18: Ask about Discounts!
Does your salon offer 10% off if you purchase on the first day trying dresses? Will they offer you a discount if you buy a gown of the rack? How about if you offer to also buy your veil and Mother of the Bride Dress? It doesn’t hurt to ask and worst they can say is no.
At the end of the day, I didn’t know half of these things when I went shopping the first time. The second time however, I was prepared. I definitely wish I knew these wedding shopping tips before I went shopping the first time, but I managed nevertheless.
Stay tuned for further wedding posts, and at some point I’ll share what wedding dress I ultimately bought, (NOT pictured) xx