You’re engaged! It’s a big step towards your future, so, you’ve been enthusiastically planning your wedding ever since in your head (and maybe, you’ve even started officially planning -- good for you!) It’s an exciting time, and we can’t blame you!
One of the things most brides want to do right away is go try on dresses. It’s one of the most fun experiences of your early wedding planning, and with all the TV shows out there, we totally get it. You’ve probably spent months going through wedding magazines, pinning on Pinterest and researching the styles of wedding dresses that suit your body type - and all these things are great ideas, in fact, you should be doing this. But before you bring all your ideas to the wedding gown store, there are a couple things you should consider that you probably didn’t think about until now. If you’re wondering what to do at a wedding dress store, we have you covered. Keep these gown shopping tips in mind when you’re looking for your wedding dress and your appointment will flow smoothly.
#1 // Know your budget
There is an endless amount of wedding dresses, so, don’t worry, you’re going to find one. The only thing you need to know (trust us on this) is your budget. There’s no point wasting your appointment trying on dresses that you can’t afford. So, before entering the store, when you are not running with emotions over the dress you just picked out, you should sit down with your partner and discuss the budget for your dress.
When you are clear up front with the consultant at the store about what you can afford, you risk running into that super-awkward situation of falling in love with a dress you can’t take home. Instead, that consultant is better equipped to show you options within your budget that you’ll love. And, remember that your budget doesn’t include gown alterations, shipping and accessories. You’ll want to keep that in mind!
#2 // Pick your entourage carefully
You may think bringing a large group of family and friends to the salon is a good idea, but it’s actually not. This isn’t a party -- you can have a bridal shower and bachelorette party later! It’s gown shopping, and bringing a huge entourage is actually a don’t.
You want to only include a couple close friends and/or family members to support you and give you their honest opinions while gown shopping. The more people you have, the more opinions you have to listen to and this can throw you off focus resulting in you getting overwhelmed and not finding the dress.
#3 // Know the dress code for your wedding
This will help you greatly when it comes to choosing a dress or asking for specific alterations. You might be thinking: “Dress code? What does my wedding being black tie have anything to do with how I look?” Well, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about here.
You need to consider things like religious restrictions when you’re shopping for your gown. Depending on where you’re getting married, you may have guidelines which you’ll have to follow such as covering your showers and/or arms. You might not know at this point exactly the location you’ll be getting married, but you may have an idea of the type of venue. If you’re getting married on a beach, you have way more freedom in dress shopping than, for example, a conservative church. You’ll need to inform your wedding dress consultant prior, that way they’ll look for dresses which can be altered in a specific way.
#4 // Pro undergarments are optional
You may be wondering what the best undergarment for wedding dress shopping is, and whether you should bring it along. Should you wear a specific type of underwear or bring different types of bras? No worries -- Wedding dress salons are well equipped with various types of bras and corsets in the fitting rooms, and for your first fitting/try-on, any panty will do. Of course, if you’re certain about the style of dress you’d like and have a special bra or body shaper you’re going to wear, then bring it with you. But for most cases, if you don’t need specific undergarments, the shop will provide you with undergarments for your fitting.
#5 // If you have a dress in mind, tell them in advance
You’ve fallen in love with a wedding dress you’ve seen in a magazine - great! You did some research and found out the wedding store you’re going to carries that designer. However, though the wedding store may carry a designer you really like, it doesn’t mean that they’ll have the dress in stock, or in your size. If you already have a dress in mind, then you need to call in advance and let the shop know. By requesting the dress, they’ll be able to prepare a sample of that gown for you to try on, as well as other similar designs you might realize you love better!
#6 // Be specific about what you like and don’t like
It’s your appointment and you only have so much time, so, if you’ve found out the styles of dresses you like, make sure you tell the wedding dress consultant. Don’t be afraid to be specific. When you have a dress on, let them know exactly what you love about it and what you don’t.
Nothing is off limits. Maybe you don’t love the belt, but let them know you love how this dress makes your waist look cinched, for example -- that’s helpful for them to think about in other potential designs to have you try! Let him/her know the types of fabrics and silhouettes that you are drawn to. That way, you don’t have to waste your time trying on dresses you don’t like, instead, it’ll help narrow down your search.
#7 // Choose a dress that suits your body
When you’re trying on a wedding dress, don’t focus on your weight, instead, you should be focusing on the shape of your body in that dress. Listen, you may add or lose weight throughout the upcoming months - that’s life and it happens to everyone! So, instead, you need to see how the dress accentuates you, the features that you love, and, most importantly, makes you feel like a queen.
#8 // Listen to your wedding dress consultant
Bridal salons usually require multiple years of experience for someone to be hired as a try-on consultant, so you can trust that whoever is guiding your appointment has been doing this for a long time, have seen many brides go through this process, and they know what they’re doing.
Of course, ultimately, it’s your decision on the dress you choose, but let the consultant make some recommendations. If they bring out a dress and tell you to try it on, even if you don’t like it just looking at it, just try it on. Not every dress looks amazing on a hanger. It’s very often that the wedding dress the consultant chooses ends up being the wedding gown you walk down the aisle with.
#9 // Buy a dress that fits you now
Many brides make the mistake of buying a dress that’s a couple sizes too small in hopes of losing weight before the wedding. When you think about it, it’s not a bad idea, but what if you don’t lose the weight in time? This could easily happen (and it happens ALOT.)
So, it’s better if you buy a dress that fits you now, that way, if you do lose weight, it’ll be much easier and also less expensive to take the gown in.
We Talked About this! // Listen to Ep. 002 of Brides on the Go: If The Dress Don’t Fit
#10 // Bring your accessories
If you’ve already chosen the accessories for your wedding day and are 100% sure about them, bring them along with you. It’s good to see how a dress will pair with your grandmother’s earrings that you’ve been dreaming about wearing since you were a little girl, or to find out that hey, the bangle you intend to wear gets caught in lace!
If you haven’t made any decisions on accessories just year, it’s not a big deal. Most salons do have shoes, slips, and veils for you to try on with your dress.
#11 // Follow your gut
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT: At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is yours when it comes to the wedding dress you’re going to wear. Of course, the consultant and your entourage are going to have thoughts and opinions which you’ll take into consideration. But, you’re the one making the final call. If there’s a dress which really speaks to you and makes you feel complete, then that’s the dress. You will know when it’s the one.
Wedding dress shopping should be a fun and exciting experience, you’re finding the dress that you’ll be wearing on your big day. Of course, you want your appointment to go as smoothly as possible. If you follow these tips and prepare yourself in advance, then you shouldn’t have any problems finding your perfect dress.
Natasha Ivanovic is a writer at Broomstick! Other than her love of writing, she loves reading, getting lost in nature and drinking a good cappuccino (it's not as easy to find as it sounds). She recently finished her post-graduate degree in forensic psychology but decided to stick with writing as her imagination always seems to get the best of her. Join Natasha and apply to be a Broomstick contributing writer here.