[Note from author: this article has been updated for 2018. Therefore, some images has been revised due to the dress no longer being available. If you discover that the dress you are looking for is missing, please contact us and we will help you find the original image]
Shopping for your wedding gown is one of the most wonderful but potentially difficult parts in your preparation to become a Bride. This is an incredibly exciting journey – but when did you go shopping for a ridiculously expensive and profound garment like this before? Never?
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when you hit the shops, so before you try on any gowns, make sure you have read our list below with all the things to be aware of. By doing so you will feel more confident as you begin the search…
Know your timeline
You might have already noticed that in many wedding guides, you’re supposed to purchase your wedding dress eight to ten months before the wedding. This may seem like crazily early date, but as your dress will be made from scratch, adorned, finished and shipped, plus the fittings you will need. So, not only do you need to have plenty of time to find the right dress, once you’ve found it all of the people who make your dress need enough time to do so.
Be advised to not cut it too fine, or you might end up with some really stressful weeks before the wedding. It is not worth it, so if you are engaged there is no time like now to start dress researching!
Set a budget which includes everything
One of the mistakes many brides make is not having a budget for their wedding gown before trying on dresses. The classic nightmare scenario is that you are at the salon in the dress of your dreams, only to realize that you would need to sell your car to afford it. Avoid this buy only trying dresses in your price bracket.
Planning your wedding budget ahead of time will help you know what price range of dresses to look at. Establish maximum number that you are comfortable with – it will make the process of elimination quicker when your consultant picks dresses for you. Don’t forget to leave room in the budget for shoes, veil, accessories, undergarments and alterations, so having a total budget is going to help you a lot when searching for a dress.
Discuss your budget with your partner, with your parents, with anyone who might be involved in the purchase of your dress. If someone else has offered to pay for it, ask what they are happy contributing with. Before you try that wonderful gown in the window, check the price of it, and make sure you can afford it without having to compromise on other important parts of your wedding such as the photographer and inviting all the people you want.
Know your wedding venue (and theme)
Ideally have an idea of the type of wedding you’re planning and where it is going to be already when booking bridal salon appointments. Although it’s not essential, you will find it much easier to establish the dress style you are looking for.
Knowing your venue and theme will define the criteria of dresses that suit the occasion best. Of course you can wear whatever you want where ever you want, but if you’re getting married in a forest with rustic decor leading up to the altar, a tightly fitted sequin mermaid gown may not be the most cohesive fit. Or if you bought a poufy ball gown and end up eloping to Malta in July, it will save you from having to replace the dress for a more climate friendly design. You get it!
Additionally, it is not a bad idea to share your décor ideas (Rustc, Glam, Elegant etc) as it can be just as helpful tool for your consultant to “get your vibe” just as sharing images of dresses you like.
Know your wedding date (or at least season)
The sleeves, skin exposure, skirt volume and type of fabric could all depend the time of the year. An outdoors summer wedding dress has very different properties that one which is better suited for winter, so before you purchase a minimal boho frock for an early summer wedding, and your dream venue turns out only to be available in late autumn, you might find that wish you went for something more cozy. (Although if you find yourself in this situaton this can always solved this with a gorgeous cape or bridal jacket!)
If your date is not set yet -which it might not be if you went dress shopping right after being engaged (we all did) – it is at least helpful to know which season, at least.
Know your silhouette
Wedding dresses come in many different shapes and designs, and the reason why there are so many is because there are many, many different female bodies that each have their own assets. Knowing how to dress for your shape is perhaps not anything we are concerned about on a daily basis, but when it comes to wedding dresses there is formulas that will help you look (and feel) your very best.
Not every style of dress looks great on everyone, but it is also not solely about looks but more importantly your confidence in the dress. Finding what waistlines and silhouette you prefer is as easy as taking a look in your wardrobe to try to assess what shapes you favor. Learning the “science” behind bridal fashion is good information to know as it can be otherwise hard to figure why certain dresses look better than others.
Having some awareness of which dress silhouettes works for shape will help you reduce the number of unflattering dresses you have to try on before finding the perfect fit.
Learn everything you need to know about dress silhouettes here
Know your style preferences
Unless you frequently rock glamorous gowns in your every day life, it’s likely that you’re not sure what style of wedding dress will look best on you. This concerns not only the silhouette but also what look you want to exude on your wedding day. A guideline could be honing in on the atmosphere for your wedding day, for example elegant, rustic, etc.
If you are unsure, a good place to start is asking yourself what do you feel most fabulous in? Next, ask yourself what you have always been dreaming of wearing that you didn’t yet get a chance to? It can be helpful to have a few key words like “princess,” “glamorous,” or “rock and roll” to share with your bridal consultant, who will have a better idea of the dress which will bring on that look.
Be realistic about your lifestyle to avoid disappointments
Many Brides are hoping to get into their best shape ever for their wedding day. This means that if this is what you intend to do, the dress you try now might not fit later on. But the key to a stress-free dress shopping experience (and a more sane engagement) is to never buy a wedding dress too small because you want to lose weight before the wedding.
It is much easier to adjust the dress down than up, so avoid the stress of it not fitting and buy the dress of your dreams in the size that fits comfortably NOW. Closer to the wedding a seamstress will adjust the seams to a perfectly fitted dress.
A lace up back dress will give you flexibility to get the perfectly snug dress ft no matter if you lose or gain weight.
A note on Bridal diets: You fiancé proposed to you as you are, and he will marry you as you are. So please don’t worry too much about your weight, but rather focus on your wellbeing. Wedding day preparations are stressful enough as it is, so don’t push yourself over the limit when it comes to diet and exercise. Your wellbeing is important to your Groom and your wedding in this precious time of your life.
Be true to yourself
When you look for your dress, go with your own instinct. Don’t let your entourage mislead you with their own personal opinions. Most importantly, choose with your personal style and comfort in mind. If you feel great when you wear it, then you know this might be the one!
Remember that your wedding day is the perfect opportunity to live out your wildest dreams, and if you are normally a sensibly dressed person, you have no better excuse to wear a ball gown worthy of Belle in beauty and the Beast, be covered in sparkles like a diamond or go for something completely bold and sexy. In other words, you can be as flamboyant or understated as you want.
I often hear entourages say things like “this dress is so YOU” or “this is not your style” etc. But how can they know what is your Bridal style? Because the two can be worlds apart.
Don’t let anybody else dictate your style for you – stay true to your inner Bride because nobody else but you knows her – not even your bestie or mum!
Check your options
Research all the stores in your area before booking. Not every salon stocks the same gowns or designers. Different salons tend to have a slightly different niché, so don’t waste time going to places that won’t fit your criteria. If you see a dress you like on their website, phone ahead before you book an appointment to make sure it is in stock.
Maybe you found the dresses in the high street shop too generic, in the bridal boutique too expensive? Going to a bridal dress shop is not the only way of buying dress. Should you not find your dream dress on the well trodden path, you have plenty of alternatives. You also have the option of buying a dress second hand via portals such as Still White or Preowned Dresses, or even your local online classifieds.
Try Etsy for an unique and artisan dress, or reputable fashion wholesalers such as Davids Bridal. Always be cautious when ordering online and leave plenty of time to make sure your dress arrives in time and is as expected. Definitely avoid the Asian discount dress market altogether – if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely isn’t true!
Another viable option if you can’t find what you are looking for, is to find a pattern maker and seamstress that will create the dress of your dreams, where you get to choose the shape, details and fabric entirely on your own. It is really crucial that you find a credible and professional dressmaker, as you are putting a great deal of trust in them.
LAST: Trust the process
Unless you got married before, your Bridal you is yet to be discovered! As you start dreaming about dresses, you might find that it is really hard to know what is the best dress for you. Spend a few weeks looking and saving dresses from Pinterest and your favorite wedding blogs to get a grasp of what is out there. But try to not form too strong opinions until you have actually worn a few dresses!
It’s a good idea to have a list of dresses and design aspects that you love, and being aware of what you don’t. But always remain open to styles that you initially didn’t have in mind – they might surprise you.
Showing images of gown styles and silhouettes that have interested you will be helpful, but once you are at the salon, hand control over to the consultant and trust the process!
Another article you will find beneficial in the search for your perfect gown is 15 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Must Never Be Ignored