You’re engaged?! Congrats! You’re a supportive MOH, Bridesmaid or MOB reading this in hopes to prep your Bride-To-Be?! That’s sweet of you! Either way, wedding dress shopping is in your near future and you’re looking for some assistance for how all this is supposed to go down. You’re in luck! Take a deep breath and soak it all in!
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m extremely indecisive and a big lover of fashion..the two coupled together proved to be a bit tough when it came to picking out my wedding dress. I went to six shops and tried on 100+ dresses. Consultants would ask me what I didn’t like about certain dresses and I couldn’t pin point it, I just knew it wasn’t mine. Then finally, I found the dress I couldn’t take off. It was beautiful and completely different than anything I imagined I’d wear or pick out. Naturally, before my first appointment, I googled how to have a successful wedding shopping experience. I didn’t come up with much and a lot of what I read online or saw on TV about how a wedding dress appointment should go ended up not even working for me. That being said, here are 15 tips I’ve learned along the way that I wish I’d heard beforehand!
1. You Don’t Need to Know What You’re Looking For
While it’s fun to think you have an idea of what you’re looking for in a wedding dress; just keep in mind, there’s a very big possibility you end up with something completely different. Before my first appointment, I spent days printing photos and style numbers of dresses I wanted to try on and organizing them in a pretty little white wedding binder, to basically have it ignored for the most part. Consultants are going to ask for some key words and then basically have you try on dresses and gauge what you like/don’t like from there. Don’t waste your time printing out millions of photos, have an idea in your head, but keep an open mind.
2. Bring As Many Guests As You Deem Appropriate
When I started making appointments at shops, I received shocked responses when I told them I would be bringing 4-6 people with me. A few even said they couldn’t accommodate me if I brought more than 2 people (red flag, IMO – this is a special time for you that you want to share with people, a stranger shouldn’t be dictating that – their loss anyway). Like I said, I am extremely indecisive, I NEED opinions from the people important to me. The places I ended up having the most fun at, were when I brought 6 of my ladies, we brought champagne and we just had fun! It took so much pressure off and I felt much more comfortable in my skin.
3. It’s Okay to Be Indecisive
While many bride-to-be’s get a lot of flack for being indecisive, I say when it comes to your wedding dress, why not be? This is the most important dress you’ll ever wear and on a day when all eyes are on you! If time allows, be indecisive! If you aren’t happy about something with the dress, but you can’t pin point it, don’t get frustrated, just take it off and move on to the next. I dealt with one consultant who made me feel so uncomfortable when I couldn’t specify what it was that I didn’t like and it was a terrible experience. I ended up just saying I liked dresses so that she would stop pressuring me (needless to say, I didn’t return).
4. Take Pictures
Before my first appointment, I didn’t even think about not being able to take pictures, I figured that was a given, but to my surprise most of the shops I went to did not allow photography. However, pictures are necessary! There are so many dresses I either wouldn’t have remembered or realized how I felt about them without being able to see a photo after and process it. I told all of the consultants that my Grandmother couldn’t be there and she was the one paying for the dress (which was 90% true) and that she needed to see it before I made a decision. Luckily, this worked. Ultimately, the consultant wants the bride to be happy, so hopefully if you have a good one, they’ll work with you. Try not to take no for an answer; trust me, the pictures are important. Bonus: you can print off the pictures of the dresses that weren’t the one and save them in a journal to remember and show your fiancé after the wedding!
5. Try EVERYTHING On
Okay, maybe not everything, but this is the only time you’ll get to try on wedding dresses in your life, why not make the most of it! There were a few times where I was nervous that maybe I’d just never find anything, but I also had a ton of fun in the interim. Your consultant asks if you want to try on more, if you’re up for it, why not! Your mom picks out a hideous number that you could never see yourself in, give it a shot! You may end up falling in love with something you would have never chosen. Which brings me to my next tip….
6. Know When to Put Your Foot Down
If you’re no longer having fun and no longer ‘up for it,’ then say No. You may be worried you’ll hurt feelings, but again, this is the time to be somewhat selfish. I agree with trying on the gown your future MIL fell in love with to be nice, but you don’t need to keep it on and you don’t need to try on any others. The consultant is pulling the appointment into an entirely different direction than what you’re liking, then ask her to take a detour, it will save everyone time.
7. Do Your Hair and Makeup
You are trying on a dress that you plan to wear on a day when you’ll be the most beautiful gal at the ball. You might as well give the dresses a fair shot by at least primping your face a bit. I found that I felt so much more beautiful in dresses when I actually looked put together vs. rolling out of bed, no makeup, hair a mess. Trust me, it makes a difference.
8. Extend the Invitation
I worried about inviting my bridesmaids and Mom and my fiance’s family to multiple appointments because I didn’t want them to feel obligated to attend, but I also didn’t know who would be free when and if everyone’s schedules would align. As expected, schedules did not align (in the slightest), so I ended up just making the appointments and sending an email with the dates and locations and allowed them to decide which one’s they’d like to attend (if any). It ended up working out and I think everyone who attended genuinely enjoyed themselves.
9. Don’t Stress if You Don’t Have Your Wedding Shoes
People started asking me what my wedding shoes looked like and if I was bringing them to my appointments so they could measure and I just sat there thinking how am I supposed to pick my shoes when I don’t even have my dress and I’m 14 months away. You don’t need to bring shoes to try on your dress, most places will have shoes in a couple different sizes. If you’re worried about this or you’re worried they’ll need them to measure you correctly (incase you say yes) then give the shop a call and see what they recommend. If they do say to bring shoes, just bring a pair of similar height that you could see yourself wearing.
10. Bring a Male Figure
My Dad is very important to me, I value his opinion, but he’s also the furthest thing from a fashion guru that you could imagine. However, I didn’t bring him along for his fashion advice, I brought him for his support and the experience. He came to two of my appointments, after which he said he didn’t want to come to anymore because he wanted to be surprised on the wedding day. He questioned things I never would have and provided male insight that may be similar to that of my fiancé. So if you have a male someone who’s important to you, don’t hesitate thinking it’s out of their swim lane, invite them along!
11. It’s Okay to Get ‘The Feeling’ & Still Not Commit
I found the dress I loved that I knew was ‘the one,’ but I couldn’t pull the trigger that day. I questioned every minor detail about it. I had an appointment the next day at another location, tried on the same dress and still couldn’t do it (mainly because it was in a different location, but still). It took me 2 weeks to call up the shop and make the appointment to officially say yes. There were 2 there that I loved so I decided to put them both on. I almost left again without a dress because I loved them both. But then I again, stared at myself and couldn’t take it off, and knew it was it. I knew it was the one (again).
If you have the tiniest thought that this dress could be it, then ask to be accessorized! Put on a veil, a necklace, a hairpiece; try to envision yourself as a dream. Never feel like you are taking up too much time, the consultant will inform you of this as you go. The accessories make a huge difference, but don’t feel married (no pun intended) to them. You normally don’t have to make decisions like that until a few months out. And you aren’t limited to just the shop you find your dress at; Etsy has a huge online marketplace of unique wedding accessories!
13. Verify What They Have Online
Like I mentioned, I spent countless hours researching dresses, mainly on The Knot Look Book App, which gets very very addicting. But I must warn you, not everything they show a shop having online is in store and they also have many many more than what is available online. If there was a specific dress I knew I had to try on from a specific designer, I pulled the style code and called or emailed the shop to see if they had it, they were usually very helpful. No sense in going to a shop for one gown to find out they carry the designer, but not that dress. One time, I sent roughly 40 style codes to a shop and the consultant got back to me within 2 hours and informed me they only had 7 of the styles I inquired about, another reason why spending so much time researching photos isn’t all that necessary.
14. Don’t Be Afraid of The Off-White’s
When the consultant brought in the dress I ended up choosing, I originally thought ‘this is cream, there is no way I can get married in cream.’ I was later informed it was in fact ivory, just a more champagne-colored ivory. Either way, it looked tanner to me than I ever expected my wedding dress to be; however, the consultant pointed out, most people are not going to be wearing shades close to white or ivory, so my dress will look white in comparison. She assured me that if the dress is too white, it could wash me out or negatively impact lighting for pictures.
15. Google Your Dress + ‘Real Weddings’
If you are in between a few dresses because you’re unsure how they may look at your wedding, google the name of your dress along with ‘real weddings’ and you will see pictures of the dress from (you guessed it!) real weddings! It reaffirmed my love for the dress when I was being indecisive and gave me some ideas of how to style it that I would have never thought of!