It's happening! You're setting out to find your dream wedding dress. Dress shopping is an iconic moment in the wedding preparation process, and there's a lot that goes into it! This is an experience that could go one way or another, and you'll do well to take these 7 tips into account.
One word: budget.
Set a budget and stick to it. Don't even try gowns on if they are outside your price range, and remember that taxes are definitely a thing. You will inevitably encounter heartbreak if you try on your dream dress that is outside your budget, so don't risk it! Some bridal salons will give you a discount on your veil, for example, if you purchase a dress. Always check for deals!
Start on Pinterest and Instagram, and start early
You should be dress shopping ideally one full year before your wedding date. We know this sounds insane, but this allows for a relaxed timeline: you can take your time finding your dress, you won't have to pay rush fees, you'll have lots of time for alterations. Begin your search on Instagram and Pinterest to get an idea of what you're looking for, and bear in mind your body type. Even if you can't decide on what you do love the most, you'll be able to decide what you don't like, and that is still very useful! We recommend saving Instagram images into organized collections so you can keep track of the gowns and styles you love the most. If you want to get really excitable about it, go full Excel spreadsheet.
Make it a weekend affair, and take pictures!
It's always better, we've found, to try to do all of your shopping in one go. This isn't always possible, but imagine scheduling two appointments, weeks apart, with specific gowns you feel excited about—even if you love that first gown, you will feel obliged to wait until you've seen the second. By the time you've seen the second, you'll likely have forgotten how you felt in the first. By booking all of your gown appointments over the course of one long weekend, all of the looks will be fresh in your mind.
Whether or not you can book several appointments in one go, or you have to take them weeks apart, take photos of each dress. This way you won't have to rely on memory.
Make appointments and call ahead
Always schedule your appointments well in advance. Most bridal salons will offer 1.5 hour appointments, and will do their best to ensure that the dresses you are interested in are available for you to try on. It saves time to phone ahead with specific designers and dresses in mind to request they be set aside for you—often, salons might be able to site transfer gowns if they don't have the specific dress you are looking for. This isn't always the case, but it never hurts to ask! Dress shopping can very easily become something of an amorphous monster, so keeping a schedule is important!
Bring questions, and take notes!
Do you offer in house alterations? How long will they take? Can you recommend a seamstress for alterations if not in house? What is the timeline on my gown's production? Can I pay to rush the order? Can I bring champagne to my appointment? How many people may accompany me? Should I bring my own shoes, or do you have a pair I could borrow at the appointment? Do you have these dresses on hand in a size that will fit me? Is there anything I should know about this gown or its care or alterations? Will this dress fit the same way after alterations? Do you offer any bundles? What sort of veil would you recommend?
You get the point!
Photos from Pinterest and Junebug Weddings.
Come well equipped
Bring seamless underwear and shoes that you think will be approximately the style and height of the pair you'll wear on the day (even better if you've already chosen your shoes!). The more that you can bring along to help complete the picture, the better: accessories, shoes, veils. Also, and we cannot stress this enough: bring snacks and water. Nobody forgets the champagne, but it's not nearly so fun to bring nuts, apricots, and lots of water. Be the grown up! Everyone will thank you for it.
Bring the right people along
This is maybe the most important step. This will be an emotional experience, and you want the people with you to take good care of you and give you honest feedback! No bad vibes allowed. What this looks like is very personal: you might have your mum and best friends, only your siblings, one great best friend, or no one. There's no rule against going alone. So much of weddings wind up being for other people—let's be honest about that—so making dress shopping into a fun experience that is just about making you happy is important.
What else would you recommend? What tip saved your shopping experience?