1) Rank what parts of the wedding planning are in order of importance to you. Your wedding date and reception location can greatly impact the style dress you wear. Usually you will want to have these main items checked off your list before you begin gown shopping, but if you have been dreaming of your gown since you were a little girl then you can go out and shop for your dress immediately. It will set the tone for the rest your wedding. Having some kind of inspiration will help focus you through all of the different wedding styles (and Pinterest pages!) available to brides' right now.
2) Make an appointment. Bridal shopping is a full service experience. Bridal stylists are assigned to each group to help you navigate through the hundreds of dresses and will help you narrow down your selections to the perfect dress. You will also be spending around 1-2 hours shopping. Due to this, most salons run on set time frames of when rooms or stylists are available. To make sure a visit doesn't end in disappointment, call ahead to see if an appointment is available.
3) Limit the number of people you bring with you shopping. It's a big decision, so if this process makes you nervous, bring your most trusted friends or family members. Just remember; the more people, the more opinions. The only opinion that REALLY matters is your own. Bringing a large group also makes it more difficult to have a prosperous experience. We often find guests go off in between dresses and start pulling styles the bride says she doesn't want, price points that are out of her comfort range, or sizes that won't give her an accurate depiction of the style. This can derail from the bride focusing on her needs.
4) Come with inspirational pictures when going dress shopping! Every person interprets words differently. Having 'rustic' inspiration can mean anything from light weight, flowy chiffon styles to lace and beyond. Having a picture to get you and your stylist on the same page will streamline and help remove frustrations from your shopping experience .
"We encourage you to try on all silhouettes your first time out to really help you see what styles you like on your body, you might surprise yourself."
5) Keep an open mind! Gowns may look glamorous in magazines or online with the 6' models and the professionally photo shopped images . What you like in a photo and what you like on your body may be two totally different things. We encourage you to try on all silhouettes your first time out to really help you see what styles you like on your body, you might surprise yourself.
6) Trust your stylist! We are trained on what silhouettes fit different body shapes. Size really doesn't affect the equation. Whether a bride was a 6, 16, or a 26, we would make the same style recommendations based on her shape, not her size. We may see you in something you may never have thought you could wear. We also have thick skin, if you don't like it, you can be honest and tell us. We are all about expanding your dress horizons.
7) Tell your stylist what assets you want to highlight (or downplay.) No one can be in your skin but you. Even if everyone thinks a bride looks dynamite in a fitted mermaid gown, if she is focused on her hipline then it's not the dress for her. Be conscious of what you like and don't like and voice your opinion. It doesn't matter if your Maid of Honor loves the gown if you won't be comfortable and will hate how you look in your wedding pictures.
"Whether a bride was a 6, 16,
or a 26, we would make the same style recommendation based on her shape, not her size."
8) Shop early! Wedding gowns are made to order. Most designers have cutting schedules for each style dress and, on average, gowns take around six months. You will also want to leave wiggle room for any potential unknowns (shipping delays, weather related issues, etc) and alterations. It is recommended to order your wedding gown 9-12 months out from the wedding. Shopping early will allow you to take advantage of payment plans, if your salon offers one. It also sets the tone for your wedding, so once you buy your dress, the rest of the wedding planning can fall into place. Don't have that much time? Don't stress! Most salons will sell you gowns right off the showroom floor or many designers offer select styles on expedited cutting schedules to get you a dress in a quicker turn around.
9) Don't forget the extras! You can drastically change the look of your ensemble by chosing different headpieces, veils, belts, sleeves, or jewelry. Chose items that fit with your theme and work well against your dress. You can change your look just by adding or subtracting your accessories between the service and the reception. Less can sometimes be more. I've seen brides that didn't budget for a veil, so they purchased something inexpensive online that clashed against the wedding gown. Sometimes it's better to ditch the veil entirely than to try and add something that didn't coordinate.
10) Don't try to completely change before the wedding. We all want to look good in our wedding photos, but some brides put a lot of pressure to drastically change their look before the wedding. We've seen girls get tans, hair extensions, work out hard core and then say after the wedding that they don't even recognize who they are in the pictures. Since gowns also need to be ordered well in advance, it is recommended that you order your gown to fit your body as it is when you order. Fluctuating your weight too much can alter the way the gown will look on you. You can order the gown smaller or larger, but then that is a lot of pressure to hit your goal. There are also always going to be factors that you cannot plan for, such as accidents/surgery, thyroid, medications, that can take that control out of your hands. Your fiancé asked you to marry them the way you are. Do what makes you happy for your wedding, but don't go too crazy.
"Having open conversations BEFORE the situation arises can alleviate wedding stress."
11) Set a budget and expectations. How important is the dress to you in the overall scheme of your wedding? Not every bride has had a dream board of their wedding since they were a little girl. You may be happy buying a simple dress and going all out on food and the reception ambiance. Some want a gown that will wow their guests and they can look fondly back on in their wedding pictures for years to come. The beauty of wedding gowns is that you are typically shopping earlier than your other wedding "To Do" list items, and you can fluctuate up or down based on your needs. The average wedding gown costs around $1500, so you can use that information to base what you want to set your budget around. Also keep in mind who is paying. Plan ahead for scenarios like if the person paying for the dress has a different vision than you. Having open conversations BEFORE the situation arises can alleviate wedding stress.
12) Know how you shop. If you are a 'plan it' kind of person, it's okay to say Yes to the Dress at the first shop. Sometimes your friends and family don't want the fun to end, but this day is about you and if going to a bunch of shops and trying on dresses all day doesn't sound good to you, then don't do it. On the other end, if you are the type of person who has anxiety over making big decisions, don't let your group get caught up in the emotion of the shopping experience and pressure you in to saying Yes! Saying Yes to a Dress and not buying it is like saying Yes to the Proposal and then walking away without the ring. It's okay to say, "I have to think about it".
13) Once you found the gown, stop looking! Just like there will always be other people out in the world, once you have found your fiancé, you stop dating. The same goes with wedding gowns. There will always be pretty gowns out there, but there will only ever be one perfect dress for you.