How to Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping
You’ll want to make the most of your wedding dress appointment and you want to have the best experience possible when trying on wedding dresses for the first time, right? So what should you bring? Who should you bring? How should you prepare? We’ve got everything you need to prepare for this experience in a nice little cheat sheet for you.
What to bring
Photos of gowns you love from Pinterest or Bridal Magazines.
Research beforehand to get an idea of what kind of dress you’re looking for. Do you like a lot of beading or a more vintage lace? Do you like a tight bodice, or loose-flowing? What type of materials are you drawn to? Is there a designer you absolutely love? Coming to your appointment with details like these can help narrow down your selection quickly and make it easier to find your gown. Use this blog to find the perfect silhouette for your body type!
An open mind.
While you should have an idea of what you like as a starting-off point, it’s important to keep an open mind. Doreen Leaf Designs says, “Try on a variety of styles and learn something each time you try a dress on.” You should trust your consultant to know what styles will look good on you. If they bring a dress that you never would’ve imagined loving in a million years, try it on anyway! You never know what you might fall in love with, and it won’t hurt your consultant’s feelings if you hate it. You should be open to trying on a range of silhouettes and styles to see what fits your theme, body, and vision best. Lori from David’s Bridal encourages brides to “try on a range of silhouettes to see what they feel most comfortable in and decide what they want to flaunt or downplay. Give yourself the chance to try on different shapes and styles to see what makes you feel like the utmost beautiful version of you.” When you are open to different possibilities you may not have considered, you will learn what looks good on you and what features you love most.
Heels similar in height to your wedding shoes.
If you find the dress, the consultant and alterations staff will take your measurements to order your custom gown. It’s important to wear shoes similar in height to your wedding shoes so there are minimal alteration changes to be made when the dress arrives.
What not to bring
You and your party should avoid bringing in any snacks or beverages to the consultation. Accidents can easily happen, and an accidental coffee spill onto the hem of a dress can ruin the entire gown. “We feel bad when we have to ask you to leave your fresh cup of coffee in your car,” Doreen Leaf Designs says, so skip the coffee run beforehand.
Your entire entourage.
If there’s one thing you should know going into your dress appointment, it’s this: do not bring your entire family, wedding party, or a large group of friends. Limit your support team to 3-4 people at the most. When you bring too many people, you’ll have to deal with too many opinions, which “will only confuse you and sometimes encourage you to choose their taste instead of yours,” says Doreen Leaf Designs. You never want to settle for a dress because everyone in your entourage loves it. Having too many voices can easily overwhelm and confuse you, making the decision process that much harder.
Who to bring
Only your closest group of confidants. Those whose opinions you trust most.
We suggest only bringing a small group of your closest friends and family with you – about 3-4 people. This group should be your support team. Don’t bring people who you know their opinion’s won’t match the image you’re looking to achieve. For example, if you want a colorful gown but your mother-in-law thinks you should wear the traditional white, consider bringing her to the first fitting rather than your shopping experience. Of course you want honest opinions, but you don’t want to find the gown and then have your vision of it tainted because everyone hates it or thinks it’s ugly. Lori from David’s Bridal advises that you “make sure that whoever accompanies you on your appointments are there to support you and your decision. Your style squad (whether it’s your mom, friends, sisters) should be there to give honest feedback while still honoring your likes and dislikes.” However, this group should consist of those who’s opinions you value most. If that same mother-in-law is very important to you and you want her to be happy with your choice and support you, her opinion clearly matters to you and should be included in the process. Establish a team of people who will be honest and give you their opinions, but will be there to support your decision and make sure you feel and look beautiful.
Tips and Suggestions
Start looking 6+ months before your wedding day.
“It generally takes 3-4 months to produce your gown and you should allow for at least two fittings to ensure the fit is perfect,” advises Lori from David’s Bridal. Though you can start shopping before the six month mark, allowing too much time between falling in love with your gown and walking down the aisle in it can lead to questioning your decision, FOMO, and nerves about it fitting properly. Six months will allow for enough time to find the gown, have it ordered and shipped, and fitted to you properly.
Include alterations in your budget.
You should absolutely have an idea of how much you want to spend before going to your first appointment. One hidden cost that most brides don’t account for when coming up with their wedding dress budget is the cost of alterations. Alterations can cost anywhere between $300-$600, and if you don’t account for that within your dress estimate, you’ll end up going over budget because of the alterations. Before meeting with your consultant, subtract around $500 from your dress budget and give her that number, instead. That way, you can find your dream dress and stay in budget.
Don’t lose too much weight or order your dress in a size too small.
A lot of brides have the idea that they’ll lose weight for their wedding day, and end up ordering a dress in a smaller size to motivate their fitness and nutrition regime. However, this can be a tricky and risky move. It’s a lot easier to remove fabric than it is to add more fabric in, so it’s smarter to order a dress in your current size and fit it to your new body after weight-loss than it is to order a dress three sizes smaller than you currently are and having to add fabric to the gown or reorder. However, it can also be scary to lose too much weight and end up with a dress that’s too big only weeks before your wedding. Have a realistic goal of how much you want to lose, and talk to your consultant and alterations team to decide what size would be best to order.
Wear nude underwear and a strapless bra.
Remember, you will have a consultant who will help you get dressed and undressed. If you don’t want to be completely exposed, we recommend not wearing a thong and bringing or wearing a bra. Strapless or sticky bras are the best, as you’ll be trying on countless strapless gowns. They also have the least amount of padding, and since some of the dresses come with built-in padding, it will give you the best idea of how it will feel and look on your wedding day. Avoid wearing any bright colors or a push-up bra of any kind.
Trust your consultant.
Believe it or not, your consultant actually does know what they’re doing and may even know what will look best on you better than you do. Trust your consultant. She knows her stock, and “if she has a feeling about a gown you should try…try it on,” Doreen Leaf Designs encourages. You may hate it – and that’s okay! You won’t hurt their feelings. But you could also completely fall head-over-heels for it.
Limit your store selection to 2-3.
If you try to stop by every bridal shop in the area, you’ll end up forgetting what dresses you tried on, what dresses you loved, which store the dress you loved the most was at, where you want to return, who you worked with, etc. Having too many options makes things too confusing, so limit your selections to two or three bridal shops in the area. Do research beforehand to choose shops that offer different designers which will make it easier to remember which store had the dress you loved and will allow you to see different styles rather than the same dress again and again.
When you have your “bridal moment,” stop. Don’t keep looking for something better.
Shopping is addicting, and it’s hard to not imagine there being something better out there just waiting for you to find it. FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – is a real struggle during the wedding dress shopping process, but it’s an urge that needs to be repressed if you want to stay sane. Trust that the dress you love is everything you’ve ever imagined and more and that you’ll look beautiful in it walking down the aisle. Is there a dress out there that you’d love more? Probably. But as long as this dress makes you feel absolutely perfect and gorgeous, stop looking for something better. Otherwise, you’ll never stop shopping.
If you haven’t yet found your dress, enter our current contest – The Celebrity Status Experience! You and three friends will have exclusive access to Brides by Maria after the store closes, champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and a free wedding planning consultation!