So with an afternoon of wedding dress shopping under my belt I may not be an expert--but I can certainly share a few tips and tidbits I learned!
1. Do your research. Maybe this goes without saying since we are all women of the Pinterest generation and
more than likely definitely have our dream day planned to the nines, but seriously. Do your research on pricing and styles--especially styles that are flattering for your body type. Save photos of your favorite looks on your phone or print them out (okay, so I am personally recommending you save them on your phone and save some trees!) to show your consultant and the special guests you bring that day.
2. Set a budget..and stick to it. Setting a budget is hard. And sticking to that set budget is even harder. But you certainly don't want to have a certain budget, try on a dress that's double that (not including those pesky alterations costs), fall in love, and have to turn it down. You will compare every dress to that one and find yourself perpetually disappointed. Look for ways to save money--shop for a used gown, try the gown with less additions (beadwork and layers), or even try out a sample sale.
3. Shop early. This is one of those things (like most, actually) on your wedding planning checklist that you really cannot and should not wait until the last minute for. This day can end up being really fun and bring you and those in your wedding party just that much closer in time for the big day. Giving yourself enough time to make appointments, shop around, order, and get custom-fitted your gown will bring you a peace of mind like no other.
4. Bring supportive company. Wedding dress shopping can be slightly stressful, even with all of the stars aligning for your special day. Trust me, I was stress sweating (this is a real thing, ya know) on my way to the first bridal boutique. Stressed about what, you ask? Not a clue--just a natural reaction, I suppose. Bring the girls (and guys?) and family that will be honest with you, but in the nicest possible way. You don't need to go home from shopping with a brand-new body-hating complex because of a comment your snarky future sister-in-law made (psst..this is not personal experience--my future sister-in-law is quite sweet!). Limit your entourage to just a few, if possible. If everyone wants to be included, let them know you'll bring them back for one final look once you've chosen your top dress contenders.
5. Decide on dress code and theme. Before you go to your first appointment and your brain becomes fuzzy and clouded by all the chiffon and satin, be sure you know the formality of your dream day. Are you getting married outside beside a converted rustic barn? If so, a tulle ballgown or dress with a cathedral train may not be the best option for your location. What time of the year is your wedding? If your wedding is in the dog days of Summer, it may not be the wise choice to go for a layered dress with a high lace neck. Your perfectly perfumed self may not smell so flowery after an hour of dancing the night away under all that weight..
6. Schedule an appointment. Depending on your bridal salon of choice, most have consultants ready and waiting to spend a strategically planned hour with you finding the dress of your wedding fairytale. If you want the attention (let's be honest, who doesn't?) of a salesperson for your visit, then be sure to book ahead. In fact, you may want to take some of that vacation you have been banking to go during the week. Shopping during the week versus weekends can make all the difference--especially when it comes to mirror space. Just be sure to save some of that vacation time for the honeymoon!
7. Bring the details. Details, details, details. Aren't those the very things that make you and your day of love and commitment the most special and unique? Most of us don't have the shoes or the jeweled headpiece we plan on wearing down the aisle, but you can bring some similar pieces that you fancy. If you know you'll be wearing flats, then bring your trustiest pair, but if you know you want to wear heels, go ahead and bring your favorites. From my experience, you definitely want to bring nude undies and a strapless bra, and, believe it or not, a light robe. There will be plenty of time between the bunches of dresses your consultants bring where you'll want to be comfortable and chat with your guests. And if you are shopping at a discount store, you may be on your own looking through the rows and rows of white, so wearing an easy robe may be the perfect go-to instead of changing back and forth into your clothes.
8. Trust yourself and be true to you. First of all, try on more than one. The first dress may fit like a glove and be just what you were looking for (and under budget, hey!), but try on a few more just for good measure. And just because your bridesmaids, mother, and mother-in-law love the silky mermaid gown you tried on, that doesn't make it "the one". Your vision may be more in line with the lace sheath you tried on three dresses ago. So stick with your number one because you are ultimately the one that needs to love it.
Any tips you might have on wedding dress shopping? I'd love to hear!