Finding the perfect wedding dress is at the top of the wedding planning to-do list for a lot of brides, if not ALL brides; I know it was for me. Weeks after my wonderful fiancé proposed to me (best day ever BTW…well, second to the birth of my Little A), I remember thinking where do I begin? What next…what now? I had a lot of questions and thanks to my amazing best friend and MOH, she said I had to set a date first. Lol, I was like duh, that is so obvious but I was not even thinking about that.
Anyway, with my mom’s help we picked a wedding date and for some reason from that moment on the entire process felt more real and helped put me in a mindset of planning and most importantly, picking out a wedding dress… thus began the hunt for my perfect wedding dress. In this post, I’ll be sharing some of my personal snaps from my wedding dress shopping and 10 tips for wedding dress shopping that worked for me. Hopefully, you will find some of these helpful / useful!
- Determine your wedding dress budget– before even going into a bridal dress shop you must have a budget in mind; otherwise you’ll set yourself up for disappointment if you end up loving a dress outside of your budget. Now, I had a budget in mind of what I wanted to pay for my dress so I tried on dresses in the $2500 – $5000 range.
- Pay attention to the type of wedding you’re having – this is so important because you don’t want to wear a super fancy, black tie wedding dress to a vintage inspired casual wedding or vice versa. So, determine what kind of wedding you and your spouse want then go from there.
- Shop online first – shopping for wedding dress online is a time saver, seriously; it’s completely pressure and stress free! With online shopping, you can shop different styles and price points to determine what styles you love. I did a lot of online shopping on the weekends with my mom. We had a lot of Skype calls where we would exchange a lot of links to dresses we loved, (including those dresses she loved more than I did).
- Start Shopping early! – shopping early in the process gives you plenty of time to focus on other aspects of the wedding planning and complete peace of mind. For me I felt so much better once I had a dress, photographer, ceremony and reception locations selected. With those key components in mind, I could focus on fun things like food, drinks, DJ, etc.…so my advice, start early!
- Go shopping alone – that’s right—go shopping alone! Think about it when you are going to a party or a special event you go shopping alone and not with your friends, aunts, mom, etc. …you go alone. So, that’s the same idea here, by going alone it will give you a chance to just take it all in and get a general feel for your style, budget, and an idea of what you are looking for. This was huge for me—I knew I wanted to do it alone first then go with friends separately then together. Everyone’s opinions can get overwhelming and really drown out your own opinion and what you want in a wedding gown.
- Bring your friends, separately – if you start early, you will have plenty of time to go multiple times to the shop to try on dresses. So, what I did was went alone twice, went with one of my best friends, then with another best friend, then went with two friends. This allowed me to get everyone’s perspective separately and not be pressured into selecting a dress that I did not want, especially if the dress is out of my budget.
- Speak your mind – I honestly think that this should be at the top of the list. It is important to not just go with the flow on this very important process in your wedding. Your dress should reflect YOU; you want to feel and look your best so don’t settle for a dress that you don’t like even if the price is right. I almost made that mistake but I’m so glad my friend did not let me. She talked me into going to David’s Bridal where I found the dress of my dreams!
- Be prepared to decide when you find the dress of your dreams. I’m a very decisive person so I knew right away the type of dress that I wanted so that helped a lot. Don’t let the consultant talk you into a dress you do not like. It’s okay to say no to a few dresses, in fact, you will probably say no to a lot of dresses; that’s just part of the process. You are making a huge investment in a dress and it’s only right to make sure your dress is exactly what you want. So, when you find a dress, you’ll know because to be honest your dress will pick you—once you put it on, you’ll know immediately that’s THE dress!
- Pay attention to the order + payment details – paying for a wedding dress is not like going to H&M or Forever 21 to buy a dress. You’re spending thousands and thousands of dollars so you want to make sure you pay attention to every little detail–including the fine prints. Your sales rep should be able to walk you through everything, from the price, any discounts/sales, color selection—ivory or white—style, and name of designer, store policies on alterations, order date, delivery date, deposit, alterations fee, and cancellation policy, etc. These are all very important details that you want to be familiar with before it’s too late.
- Don’t focus so much on the size of the dress – I know this may seem counter-intuitive but it is crucial. Try on dresses in the size that fit you right now not what size you want to fit into on your wedding day. I tried on several dresses in every size from sample to plus size wedding dress (more fabric for alterations). In the end, I ordered a dress that fit me right now. It takes the pressure off trying to lose weight to fit into a dress. The dress should fit you and not you trying to fit into a dress!
So there you have it you, brides to be! Wedding dress shopping is fun especially when you share the experience with family and friends, but don’t get stuck with a specific style and don’t forgot to step outside of your comfort zone to try on different styles and cuts and colors (white vs. ivory). You just never know which dress is going to pick you! So, whatever you have seen on Say Yes to The Dress, that’s all TV, yes, but the experience + feeling of finding the dress that you know is your dress is the same and when you find that one dress, you’ll KNOW!
What other tips or advice would you add to the list in terms of finding the perfect dress?
P.S. these are some of the photos my friends took of me while I was trying on my dresses and none of these is my dress…you’ll have to wait until fall to see which dress I picked! 🙂