Wedding Dress Shopping Guide
Every bride is always super excited to say YES to the Dress! However, there are several things that nobody tells you about before you begin your quest for the dress.
You've done the research and you've looked through the magazines. However, you have to realize that the wedding dress you end up getting will probably look nothing like the one you’ve always dreamed about. You may have always imagined yourself saying “I Do” in a poufy, beautiful ballgown-style wedding dress. Your "dream" dress type will probably be all you will want to try on when you attend your first wedding dress appointment. But when you try on your dream style, keep in mind it might actually be unflattering on your body type. It may even just feel blah or even put you ill at ease. We dare you to try on a variety of styles...Trumpet and A-line wedding dresses for example and see what looks and feels best on you and don't be surprised if you actually find it the first time you go looking...especially if you try on one of the gorgeous one-of-a-kind gowns at our favorite local boutique, Fabulous Frocks.
When shopping, be open to trying on any and all dresses.
If the salesperson brings in a dress that she thinks will look gorgeous on you, but you think it looks ugly on the hanger…all we have to say is don’t judge a book by its’ cover! We’ve seen SO many brides try on dresses they initially scoffed at only to love them as soon as they put them on.
"Sometimes the dress you dislike most on the hanger are the ones that are most flattering when worn," said Amy Grooms, owner of Fabulous Frocks.
Wedding dress shopping is exhausting
If you are planning 10 appointments in one day please don’t! We always advise our brides to keep it to around 3 appointments a day at most. This way you can give yourself at least an hour at each of bridal shops and that last appointment won’t feel like you’re rushing through it because you’re tired, hangry, and ready to go home. We also strongly suggest this to brides because not every wedding dress boutique is going to shower you with champagne. In fact, most won't even allow water to cross their threshold as liquids, even clear ones, can easily stain more delicate fabrics.
In the movies bride-to-bes walk into a wedding dress boutique and are immediately given a gorgeous velvet couch to sit on along with a glass (or two) or champagne. Their friends are all laughing and there’s usually no other brides around them trying on dresses. We hate to ruin the fantasy for you, but that is Hollywood...not reality! While some boutiques will absolutely cater to your every whim, there are plenty others that feel more like a sale at Macy's. And this isn’t just at the sample sales which can get pretty crazy. We took a bride wedding dress shopping at a famous bridal salon in New York City and she was shocked to find that the experience she had imagined was not all it was cracked up to be. She confided in us that she felt rushed, confused, and honestly couldn’t wait to get out of there because of the sales pressure. We also caution our brides that at some shops you will have to sift through racks yourself, and you might have to wait in line for a fitting room. If you are looking for a more personalized experience with honest one-on-one time with formal ware experts, weekday appointments are always best. They are far easier to obtain and you are almost guaranteed to be the only bride in the boutique so it really can be all about YOU. Most bridal salons, for good reason, require appointments, but even then it doesn’t guarantee you a stellar experience. Hiccups and annoying things are bound to happen, so just mentally prepare yourself and call Fabulous Frocks for a fabulous experience!
It is important that you feel beautiful in your dress at all angles. If the wedding dress shop you’re in allows it, have a friend take a photo of you in the dress from the front, side, and back. If they do not permit photos, and many don't, bring someone who's opinion you trust who will tell you honestly if something doesn't look quite right in the way its fitting. If the dress looks flawless in the front but fits you weird in the back, move on.
Don’t buy a dress that makes you self-conscious. If you find yourself sucking in your stomach or constantly pushing up your boobs to make yourself feel good in the wedding dress you are trying on, just move on. We had a bride who tried on a gorgeous silk, flowy, Gatsby-inspired halter dress and while everyone loved it, she was paranoid about her stomach bulge the entire time she was wearing it. Not a good sign, so we advised her to try on something in a similar fabric with a different cut which she ended up being much happier in.
Don’t buy a wedding dress you have to talk yourself into either. “I like that dress a lot but I’m not sure how I feel about the color. I’m sure at night it will look fine.” “The cut of that dress is nice but the beading is not really my style. Maybe I won’t even notice once I get it.” We do not want to hear you saying ANY of these things. Nobody is forcing you to buy a wedding dress you’re not crazy about, so don’t make yourself do something you’re not totally on board with. Keep trying on dresses until you find something you love. Trust us, it’s out there.
Your opinion is the only one that matters.
Now, before you schedule your appointment it is always best to determine your budget. It doesn't have to be an exact number, but having a ballpark idea is always helpful not only for you, but for the formal ware experts who will be assisting you. They can pull dresses for you to try on based on your general budget so you can find the dress of your dreams without having to stress. Keep in mind, this number doesn't have to include accessories or alterations since such things are often difficult to estimate prior to finding your perfect gown, but it can be helpful if you wanted to pad your dress budget a bit for safety's sake.
Who should come with me when I go shopping is a question we are often asked. "We always suggest taking as few people as possible with you to your wedding dress appointments," suggests Amy Grooms owner of Fabulous Frocks. "It is always best to limit the number of conflicting opinions." Even though not hearing an honest opinion on a wedding dress can be just as frustrating, not being able to figure out your own amongst the noise of others’ can be worse. Realize at the end of the day you are the one wearing the wedding dress, not your family and friends.
Truthfully, the fewer people you take with you, the better. Honestly, this one is tough for a lot of people, but try not to take more than 3 people with you wedding dress shopping. We believe the REAL sweet spot is 1-2 people but understand that can’t always happen. When you invite too many people it becomes an ordeal to not only travel from one appointment to another, but a lot of boutiques aren’t equipped to handle a large group. The focus should be on you, not on being able to accommodate an entourage. And trust us, you’ll appreciate not having to worry about whether or not everybody is doing alright. It’s far better to concentrate on a smaller number of trusted individuals, which means more time for you!
Also, know that you don’t have to buy all your accessories at once. While it is easier to just buy the wedding shoes and veil the store brings out for you, we highly recommend that you take some time to shop around after you buy your wedding dress. Most importantly, when you make an accessories appointment ALWAYS bring your dress with you so you can make the best selection for your dress.
You might not find “the one” until you’ve almost given up. You would be surprised at how many brides end up looking at 5 or 6 wedding dress boutiques. Don't get discouraged. It is often more than not the first place that you looked where your dream dress awaits. If that isn't the case, however, always remember that just when you think you’re never going to find it, the right one finds it’s way to you…kind of like your spouse! Funny how that happens.
"I’ve yet to meet a bride who wasn’t smitten with her wedding dress almost as soon as she tries it on," confided Amy Grooms of Fabulous Frocks "There’s a smile that comes across her face that’s a mix of relief and excitement." We've seen brides SO giddy when they first try on their wedding dress…it is love at first sight! Do they always cry? No. But that's ok. Everybody tells you you will, but everybody is different. And hey, you might not even get that rush of excitement. But if you do, just minus the tears, know that it’s perfectly ok!