What to Expect When Shopping for a Wedding Dress

Shopping for a wedding dress should be fun, right?  Absolutely!  But, there a few things that will help make it more enjoyable if you know in advance what to expect.  

Let’s start with the dress shops themselves.  Most bridal boutiques prefer, if not require, that all brides make an appointment.  Some stores allow you to browse dresses on your own, while others keep all the dresses in back and will only bring out the styles you ask for.  There are pros and cons to both methods.  Getting to browse dresses on your own can help give you an idea of what may be in your price range, but might also distract you from what you are looking for. Whether you are looking through the dresses, or they are being brought out to you, keep in mind how a dress looks on the hanger is no indication of how it will look when it is on.  

You might have found the perfect style in a magazine, or on a rack, but when you try it on, find that it doesn’t work for you.  If you are disappointed when trying on your dream style then listen to the bridal consultants.  Most consultants will push you to try a dress on that is totally out of your comfort zone or out-of-the-box.  This can seem annoying to the bride that knows what she wants, but bridal consultants are good at what they do.  If you are struggling to find the perfect dress, try dresses on you think you may never go for.  Too many brides have said they were dead-set on having a lace dress but ended up choosing satin instead, or wanted a mermaid style but went with a ball gown, and vice versa.  Sometimes it takes trying on several dresses before you find “the one.”

Trying on wedding dresses is different than trying on any other clothes.  A large percentage of stores will send a bridal consultant in the dressing room with you.  They prefer helping you try them on rather than your mom or a friend.  These dresses are often heavy, delicate, and expensive.  Be prepared to strip down in front of a stranger.  If you are shy, we suggest wearing undergarments that are full coverage.  If you’re not shy, consultants are used to brides being in their underwear or even sometime their birthday suits.  Though for sanitary reasons we prefer at least underwear.  But, let’s be honest, some dresses don’t allow any undergarments to be worn.  If you are completely against having anyone help you but your mom, some stores will be understanding if you explain your concerns in advance.

Trying on wedding dresses is also different from regular clothes because the dress you are trying on is most likely not the same dress you will walk out with.  That means the dress you try on is most likely a sample and not in your size.  This is a major drawback to designer dresses because, in some cases, you have to use your imagination on what a properly fitted dress will look like.  The bridal consultants have tricks they use (see above picture) to help it feel and look fitted, but you still have to use some imagination.  If you are the type of bride that plans to lose weight for your wedding, don’t worry about not hitting your fitness goals before shopping.  Hitting your fitness goals before shopping can be a major confidence boost and help you feel great in any dress, but it’s not necessary for shopping.  Again, the dresses are mostly sample dresses and not the correct size. 

Once you find the perfect dress for you, if it is a designer dress, it will need to be ordered.  Waiting for your dress to come in can take anywhere from three to seven months, so make sure you will have your dress far enough in advance of the wedding to allow for alterations.  Your bridal consultant will have the answers on how long a particular designer takes and the amount of time needed for alterations.  We have seen brides  have to scramble because they waited too long to go shopping and the dress couldn’t be ordered in time for their wedding date or came in too close to their date and they needed emergency alterations.  Emergency alterations will cost you a fortune compared to nonexpedited alterations.  Complete overhaul alterations are expensive as well, so listen to your consultant on what size of dress to order.  If you plan on losing weight, don’t order the smaller dress as motivation.  The risk of not fitting in your dress and/or not having enough fabric to make the dress fit is far too great.  Don’t put that stress on yourself and just order the correct size of dress.  If you do lose the weight it is easier to take the dress in, than to let it out. 

Last, but not least, who to take with you when shopping for your dress.  This is a very personal decision and no one should make this decision other than you, the bride.  Having your entire bridal party sounds like a fun idea, but most boutiques are not equipped to handle large groups and the more people you have the more opinions you will get whether wanted or not.  If you know you need them all there, than just be prepared for possibly unwanted opinions and tight spaces.  For the bride who tries to please everyone but herself, keep the audience to the bare minimum.  Finding your wedding dress should be your decision and your decision only.  Find the dress that makes you happy, not one that will please others.  Even if you think you can invite someone knowing they won’t insert an unwanted opinion, you will most likely be reading your audience and nonverbals can commmunicate volumes.  If this concerns you, keep the audience to a minimum until you find your dress, and then invite more people to a fitting appointment instead.  You can still include them without risking your mind on choosing your dress.

Keep this information in mind when you start your shopping experience and wedding dress shopping should be fun!  Let the champagne flow and enjoy your turn in the lights in front of the mirror. 

Happy shopping,

MacKenzie 

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