White, ivory, ball gown, princess cut, every bride-to-be has a mental image (or Pinterest photo) of the wedding dress of her dreams. But how do you translate your vision and the hundreds of dress photos on your phone into your dream wedding gown?
Here are some tips to help you find "the one" for your big day.
Do Your Homework
OK, so not everyone has been dreaming of the perfect wedding dress since age 12. Even if you have, chances are your taste in fashion has changed. Browse dresses online and pin some of your favorites. Familiarize yourself with the different gown silhouettes: ball gown, empire, A-line, sheath, fit-and-flare, and mermaid. Then, take a look at the gowns you’ve selected. Identify what they have in common. This might help you narrow down the selection of dresses.
Envision how you want your dream wedding dress to make you feel. You could also come up with three adjectives to describe your dream dress like “formal, romantic, and vintage.” Different style dresses convey different feelings. For example, pure white dresses tend to feel more formal and traditional, and lace dresses are more romantic.
We know you have the preferred style of dress in mind and several photos to share with your consultant, but there are some logistical things you'll want to remember.
- Wear the appropriate undergarments to your appointment.
- Bring your wedding shoes. If you don't have your wedding shoes yet, and it's likely you won't, bring shoes that match in height with what you plan to wear on your wedding day. (i.e. Chuck Taylors, flats, or 3-inch heels)
- Bring accessories. If you have a hair clip your mom wore on her wedding day, or a pair of grandma's pearl earrings that you know you'll want to wear on your special day, bring them to your dress fitting. All other jewelry can be found to match your dress later.
- Be prepared to size up. We know you may be thinking of dieting and hitting the gym to be in the best shape for your big day, but dresses are much easier to alter down than up. You can actually shop for dresses two sizes bigger than your regular size and still have it altered to fit.
- Note: many wedding dresses have UK sizes. So, don't panic if you're typically a size 6 shopping for a size 8. UK sizes have higher numbers than those in the U.S.
Start Shopping Early
If there's one thing we know about wedding dress shopping, it's that you should start early — typically nine months to one year before your wedding date. This will allow your dress to be made and delivered, as well as time for fittings and finding the right accessories.
If you've planned a short engagement or just happen to be less than nine months away from your wedding, don't panic. Dresses can be rush ordered or you could find a beautiful dress in mint condition at a local consignment, have it altered, and personalized to fit your style.
For the brides-to-be with plenty of time to scour every boutique if need be, make sure to call ahead and schedule an appointment. Some stores require an appointment. At the very least, a reservation ensures you will have a consultant dedicated to helping you find the perfect dress. If possible, schedule one on a weekday. That way the boutique might not be so busy, you won’t be as rushed, and you’ll receive more attention from your consultant.
Before visiting any local bridal boutique, do your research. You don’t want to waste time on a place with poor customer service. Look online or ask friends and family for recommendations. You’ll want a boutique with a great reputation and, ultimately, somewhere you'll feel comfortable.
Be Budget Conscious
Determine how much you can spend. Who’s paying for your wedding dress? If it’s someone else, figure out their limit in advance. It’ll keep you from falling in love with a dress you can’t afford and save you some heartbreak in the end.
It’s always better to start out on the lower end and work your way up the pricing scale. Also, keep alteration costs in mind. Depending on the work that needs to be done, alterations can cost several hundred dollars. These are less obvious expenditures, but ones you’ll definitely want to factor into your budget.
Keep an Open Mind
Maybe you’re thinking, “I’ve been picturing my wedding dress as long as I can remember! I know exactly what I want.” But it’s important to keep an open mind when trying on dresses. We recommend trying on all different styles of dresses in several different shades of colors. Let me repeat that.
We recommend trying on all different styles of dresses in several different shades of colors.
I know, you might be thinking we're crazy. "I've always wanted a pure white, poofy ball gown dress." That's great! But you could get to the boutique and find that an off-white mermaid dress is more flattering to your figure and feels more "you."
Now is not the time to sugar coat your opinion. If you hate a dress, don't bother leaving your dressing room. Just move to the next one. This is your wedding, and at the end of the day, your opinion is all that matters.
Each time you try on a dress, tell your consultant what you like and dislike about it. This will help her in choosing the next dress to try.
You'll probably have an entourage of people there to help you decide and celebrate this experience. While they can be great for providing insight into your decision, your thoughts remain most important. Pay attention to the thoughts running through your mind. If you have a gorgeous sheath dress on, but you can't stop thinking about the mermaid dress you just took off, chances are, the sheath dress isn't "the one."
Limit Your Entourage
Speaking of your entourage, the larger the group you bring dress shopping, the more opinions you'll get. This can be confusing, sometimes even frustrating, when trying to pick your perfect dress. We recommend bringing two to three of your closest friends and family — five, at the most.
Remember, it’s your day and your dress. No matter what your entourage says, you should choose the dress that feels right for you and no one else!
We know it seems like a lot to think about when shopping for your wedding dress, but the good news is, there's no wrong answer. Whatever style or color of dress you pick will be perfect for your wedding day! Good luck on your dress hunt, and have fun!