Congratulations, you’re engaged. Now what? Gown shopping, of course! Most people don’t step foot into a bridal shop until they’re engaged. It’s a whole new world for them and it can be difficult knowing what to expect. Wedding gowns, veils and tiaras are things we don’t typically wear in our day-to day life, well most of us don’t anyway. You can pin a million pictures on Pinterest, flip through dozens of brides’ magazines, or pull out that ‘dream wedding’ binder you made when you were seven, and still feel lost and confused when you finally attend your first appointment. It’s really happening now, you’re getting married, and you are going to look absolutely beautiful in your dream wedding gown. All that’s left to do is find it. Since, no one attends a class teaching you what wedding gown shopping is like, think of this as a crash course in:
What you need to know before wedding gown shopping.
1. Set a date, then start shopping: One thing a lot of people aren’t aware of is the length of time it takes for wedding gowns to arrive. From the day you order, it could be up to seven months before the wedding gown arrives, longer for some designers. That is why it is important to have a set date, or at least a tentative idea of the wedding date. And always leave time for alterations.
2. Have a budget: Before booking any appointments call around to find the shops that can accommodate your budget. Be open and honest with your sales consultant. If you are on a strict budget, make that clear from the get-go, so they can direct you through their inventory of options. Same goes for vice-versa, if you say your budget is $1500 but there’s wiggly room, make your consultant aware, so they can fully serve you. And never be afraid to ask for the price before trying gowns on. No one wants to fall in love with a gown and then find out it’s over budget. Brides don’t want that and consultants don’t want that either.
3. Be open minded: It’s a good idea to come to your first appointment with a tentative idea of what you think you like, that may be a verbal description, actual photos, magazine ads or your wedding Pinterest board. Keep in mind, chances are those ideas won’t be what you like once you start trying gowns on. Wedding gowns look different on everybody, a wedding gown from an advertisement might look completely different on you than it does on the model. You might be totally against fitted wedding gowns, but you’ve never tried one on before, so how do you really know? Don’t be so quick to eliminate before trying on. What looks ‘not so good’ on the hanger may look gorgeous on you. However, having an idea going in is a good stating point. It gives your consultant insight into you and your personality. Which leads into #4.
4. Trust your feelings: Your personality is the most important thing your wedding gown needs to match. Forget about your venue, your wedding theme, the time of year. Focus on how the dress makes you feel. You can put on dozens of beautiful gowns and look stunning in all of them, but if you don’t feel like yourself then they aren’t ‘The One’. If a gown doesn’t feel like you then you won’t feel completely comfortable in it and on the day of your wedding you won’t be excited to put it on.
5. Be wise in selecting your entourage: There’s no need to bring a ton of people. They aren’t helping you in the dressing room with the gowns. That’s what your consultant is for. Four to five guests max. if you feel you must bring more then you might as well invite your whole wedding guest list as your gown will no longer be a surprise at that point. Sarcasm aside, there is something wonderful about everyone seeing your gown for the first time when you walk down the aisle. That moment is so exciting for the bride, so keep your gown a surprise. The more people you bring to your appointments the more opinions there will be, and your voice may get lost. We don’t want that. Your voice needs to be heard above all others. Bring with you the people who are most important to you; who’s opinions you respect and trust.
6. Don’t take photos of every dress: Or no photos at all, if you can help it. Your wedding gown will be brand new and fitted to you. Store samples don’t fit the same as an altered gown. If you take photos of a gown that is clipped on you it will plant an unrealistic image of how the gown fits in your head. If photos help you come to a decision then only take photos of your favorites, but keep in mind the photos won’t do the gowns justice. Also remember, a photo on an iPhone is not equivalent to a photo by a professional photographer.
7. Don’t keep trying: Once you have found a silhouette and details you like, stick to that vision. The more gowns you try the more confusing it can get. There are thousands of the silhouette you like, and you can’t expect yourself to try every single one. Eventually, as you keep trying and trying your brain is just going to mix all the dresses together and it’ll become harder to differentiate between the ones you actually like and the others. It’s true, trying on wedding gowns is fun, but there comes a point when you have to stop and commit.
8. Bridal sizing is weird: Most designers’ sizing runs two sizes smaller than regular sizing. This means if you typically wear an 8, you’ll probably measure close to a 12. Don’t freak out, it’s just a meaningless number. It just represents the gown fitting you well.
9. Hold out for love: Don’t settle for a gown just because there are specific details you like. You have to like the dress as a whole. Brides will have a gown on and like it but would like it more if there could be significant changes made. The more you change the design of a gown the more it is no longer that gown. You are trying to turn one gown into another, you’re trying to make a dress work that just isn’t working. But when you find yourself comparing everything back to a previous dress, that’s a sure sign you’ve found ‘The One’.
10. Don’t go into shopping expecting a specific outcome: Some brides cry, some don’t. Some brides feel a wave of emotion, some don’t. The first dress might be ‘The One’ or it might be the twentieth. Don’t base finding your dream dress on how friends or family describe finding it. Every brides’ experience is different. One thing is for sure, when you put a gown on and you can’t help but smile and you don’t want to take it off, well, I think you just fell in love.
All in all, wedding gown shopping should be enjoyable.
Hopefully, this list will help you push aside any nerves you may be having and dive into dress shopping with a little more ease.