Congratulations on your engagement!
There are so many exciting things swirling in your mind right know, aren’t there?
Wedding dress hunting is usually a huge part of your journey as a bride, and with the number of styles, colours, shapes and designers out there, make sure to take enough time to figure it out.
Some brides walk in to their first dress shop and choose one of the first dresses they tried – and that is remarkable and admirable. If you feel great, love the dress and feel like a bride, then of course it’s the one! If you know, you know, and there is no necessity to carry on looking. In many cases, the more you try, the harder it is to buy.
Others (like me) don’t know at all what they are looking for, what styles are out there and which ones would fit right. On top of so much beautiful inspiration, there is also a well of information to absorb. When to begin? Where do I begin? How do I know that I found it?
This post is not about how to choose your dress – because we have posted a few on that already here, here, here and here – today we are posting about how to best prepare yourself for your initial wedding dress shopping trip and some practicalities of coming for your first dress appointment. Because if you arrive well informed of what to expect, your can focus 100% of your attention on the dresses and use your time at the salon better.
Essential things to ask yourself before you start
How much money do I want to spend?
It is not about how much you can afford – but what you think is reasonable to spend on a garment you will wear once. Consider the fact that there is a normal and long life after the wedding, where you might have other longer-lasting investment you would like to make. A more expensive price tag doesn’t automatically mean it it a better match.
When do I start?
When is your wedding? Most dresses will take six to eight months to arrive once you have chosen it. So if you think you will be a choosy dress shopper or have no idea what you want when you start – start early! Perhaps even as soon as you have your venue more or less confirmed, or shortly after you have announced you engagement even.
Wedding dress shopping is a joy! Take your time, enjoy every moment and give yourself enough time to mull over the options.
If you can avoid it – don’t buy the dress feeling panicked by time constraint.
On the contrary, don’t buy your dress too early either, in case there is a change of heart or wedding plan.
Is there a dress code at my ceremony or reception?
It is good to be aware of the dress fitting in to the atmosphere of your venues, so you don’t feel inappropriately dressed. It is also good to have the weather in mind so you are not too hot or cold.
This day and age there are lots of wedding dress separates that will increase your options : detachable sleeves, capes, removable trains or ball gowns. So with a little bit of ingenuity, you can have any dress of your choosing, then modify it accordingly with detachable pieces.
What would I like to try?
You might not be completely aware of what you want, but as you begin your hunt it is going to be very useful to have some kind of starting point.
What fabric do you like? What silhouette? Any specific colour? Sleeves? Neckline? Must-have feature such as Open back, Lace, embellishments? Traditional or trendy? Sexy or demure? You don’t have to pin it all down of course, but try to develop at least a basic idea.
Draw ideas from your venue, other brides and wedding publications, and bring an initial vision along. (On the other hand – don’t be too set in your first idea either, as it could end up constrict your reasoning!)
Once you are in that kind of dress at the appointment, you will realize what is right about it and what isn’t, and so your consultant will have a better idea of what to try next.
Where do I start?
Living in a big city, you will have a bigger range of salons to choose from than if you are in a smaller town. It could be worth travelling out of town to find the right dress , as opposed to settling for what just happens to be available.
If you have developed a strong idea of the style or designer you yearn for, do some research of where you might find the dress. Not all bridal salons will stock ever kind of dress, so call ahead and make sure that you won’t be disappointed or waste time. Book 2 or 3 appointments with bridal salons that you genuinely believe could have something that you want, which is also in your budget.
Most bridal shops have a catalog of their collections on their website, so researching shouldn’t take too long. It is always worth calling ahead anyway, because they might not have listed everything, or perhaps got an exciting trunk show coming up.
Good things to know before your appointment
Ideally wear nude or neutral well fitting pieces, and a strapless bra. Very bright or dark underwear might show through some dresses. Avoid knickers that creates lines, revealing thongs or underwear you don’t feel comfortable in showing for others.
The best is obviously to wear the lingerie you are planning to wear on your Wedding Day, if you know what those are already.
Remember that well fitting shapewear can make a huge difference in how a dress looks and feels.
If your desired design is backless, or has a sheer back or low back, a stick-on bra could be a solution, which will give shape and some support.
What hair and makeup shall I wear at my appointment?
Come fairly‘done up’ so you get a true sense of what you might look like on your wedding day – however little or much makeup you intend to wear.
Likewise with your hair – you don’t need a full hairdo of course, a nice bun or DIY chignon is sufficient.
A note on makeup – most wedding dress shops will appreciate if you leave the red lipstick off.
Why do I need a consultant?
OK – you might have looked at a few dresses already or online – but even if you have a strong sense of fashion, you are not likely to be a wedding dress expert. A wedding dress consultant is trained in wedding and occasional wear and work with brides everyday.
She or he will know your bridal style before you know it, just by listening to your reactions to the first few dresses you try on. Give your consultant the keyword description of what you have in mind, and you will probably be surprised of how well they were able to interpret that.
You might think that the best would be if you could rummage through the stock room yourself, but only the consultant knows the stock well enough to know what fits your shape, budget and size (and how easily it is to become confused when presented with too many options…)
Let her pick out dresses for you to begin with at least, because she has the expertize of what is going to look great on your body. If you trust her, she might even find a dress that you didnt even know existed, that turns out to feel a million times better than the initial dress you had in mind!
What time shall I go for my appointment?
The most popular day for dress shopping is Saturdays, especially the afternoons, and therefore this will be a naturally busy and chaotic time. It is better to – if you can – take half a day off work during the week and shop at your own leisure, with the consultant being able to give you his or her undivided attention.
How do I know it is the One?
If you don’t know if it is the one when you wear it, it is not the one. If you don’t want to take it off or try something else, it might well be Your Dress.
Your guest or consultant might agree in jubilation that a particular dress looks great on or that is so you – but you must always listen to your own instinct first.
Practically speaking, the dress should flatter your figure, feel comfortable too, and fit with your wedding vision. (Some brides buy their dresses only thinking practically – personally I am not one of them, even though I wish I was)
Emotionally speaking, You should love what you see in the mirror from all angles. If the dress makes you look and feel beautiful, you might even be able to visualize yourself walking down the aisle.
The description “feel like a bride”is hard to define, but it is somewhere along the lines of regal, divine, or just damn good. Maybe its none of those for you, but at least you would have some sort of tingle in your stomach area and a giggle wanting to spring out. A bit like falling in love with someone, or feeling a bit tipsy.
Other people should be able to tell from the look of your face or the twinkle in your eyes.
Contrary to popular belief, you or your family or best friend don’t need to tear up for the dress to be Your Dress – it can still be your perfect wedding dress even if nobody cried.
Furthermore, just because your mother shed a tear when you had that particular dress on doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Maybe she just had a happy memory from her own wedding?
It is an emotional garment and so it should be – but it is good to think sensibly too. There are many, many dresses that could be “the one” for you – so have an open mind whilst shopping.
When you are in Your Dress, you will feel proud of who you are, and you will think about your groom immediately, and how exciting it will be to see him at the end of the aisle.
If you think this is maybe the one because it it the best you have tried so far, but you have trouble knowing for sure because you tried too many at the same time – it is always possible to sleep on it and come back another day!
Did you find these tips useful, and how is your wedding dress shopping? Let us know by sharing your experience in the comments field below.
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