Searching for a bridal gown is an extraordinary event that occurs only once in a lifetime. However, the vast array of dresses available can make the process daunting. To help you navigate through the options and find the perfect style for your special day, here are some useful tips.
Ideally, you should begin your search approximately nine months to a year before your wedding day
Designer gowns usually require a six- to nine-month ordering period to allow for delivery and alterations. If you intend to personalize your dress with embellishments, lace, or alterations to the neckline or train, you may need even more time, so plan accordingly. If you're short on time, consult with your dress consultant to explore options for rush delivery with an additional fee. You can also consider attending a sample sale where you can find off-the-rack styles at discounts of up to 80%.
Establish a realistic budget by considering all associated costs
Take into account taxes, shipping (if not buying off-the-rack), and alterations. Some salons limit alteration costs, while others charge a flat fee. It is recommended to make the deposit payment for your gown using a credit card as most salons typically require a deposit of 50% of the gown's ticket price. Paying with a credit card provides a reliable record of your payment transaction. It is important to plan ahead financially to avoid missing out on your dream gown due to insufficient funds.
Prior to dress shopping, familiarize yourself with different wedding gown silhouettes
I suggest considering the basic outline of the dress before diving into specific terms. There are six broad categories: ball gown, empire, A-line, sheath, fit-and-flare, and mermaid. When shopping, try on a dress from each silhouette to determine which one flatters your body shape best. Choosing a silhouette will help narrow down your options, allowing you to focus on secondary criteria like neckline, sleeves, and embellishments.
Create a private Pinterest board to narrow down your favorite wedding dresses.
Browse through the extensive gown gallery and pin your preferred styles. Step back and look for commonalities among the dresses. You'll notice recurring elements that capture your attention, such as the designer, silhouette, or fabric.
Consider scheduling your gown shopping appointment on a weekday to avoid crowds and receive more attentive service.
If you have a personal day or half-day available, it might be worth taking time off work to go dress shopping during off-peak hours. This way, you can visit bridal salons that fit your budget and carry your preferred designer.
Keep the size of your shopping entourage limited.
While it may be tempting to bring along numerous opinions, having too many people can lead to overwhelm or confusion. Bridal consultants recommend selecting two or three loved ones (up to five at most) who will provide honest feedback and have your best interests in mind. I suggest saving the larger group for fittings instead.
Envision how your dress will make you feel on your wedding day.
Consider whether you want to feel sexy, understated, modern, chic, traditional, or have a vintage vibe. Communicate your vision to your gown consultant, who can help select styles that align with the desired mood for your special day.
Keep an open mind when trying on gowns.
A dress that appears unremarkable on the hanger may surprise you with its beauty when you put it on. Conversely, a gown you've obsessively sought online might not meet your expectations in person. Many brides enter with preconceived notions but end up falling in love with unexpected styles. Be open to possibilities and explore different options.
Provide constructive feedback to your gown consultant throughout the dress-shopping experience.
Share your thoughts openly rather than keeping them to yourself out of fear of hurting their feelings. Your stylist needs to know if you have specific preferences or if certain styles don't resonate with you. This will help them choose dresses that align better with your style.
Test the comfort of prospective gowns by moving around in them.
Sit down, dance, and walk up and down the store aisles to gauge how comfortable and manageable the dress is. Trust your instincts and select a gown that flatters your body instead of chasing trends. If you find yourself constantly adjusting the dress or feeling constricted, it's best to move on. I advise against compromising comfort on your wedding day, as it can hinder your enjoyment and relaxation.
Don't fixate on the dress size, which may differ from your everyday clothing size.
Bridal sizing tends to run small, so it's wise to order based on your current measurements rather than hoping to slim down before the wedding day. It is important to order a dress closest to your current bust, waist, and hip measurements, as alterations or customizations can be made later.
"Your love story is not defined by a dress size. Embrace the beauty of your present, and order a gown that celebrates your unique measurements. Let alterations shape the dress to fit your dreams, as you radiate confidence and elegance on your wedding day."
Ultimately, choose the dress that feels right for you, disregarding others' opinions
I advise against succumbing to the pressure of selecting a dress based on others' preferences. It's your day and your dress should make you feel beautiful and confident. If you're unsure whether a dress is "The One," try envisioning yourself walking down the aisle with a veil and see if it aligns with your wedding-day vision. If it resonates with you and you're reluctant to take it off, that's a strong indication that your search has come to an end.
Shopping for a wedding dress is an unforgettable experience, but it can also be overwhelming. By following these essential tips, you can navigate the process with confidence and find the perfect gown for your big day. Ultimately, choose a dress that makes you feel beautiful and confident, reflecting your personal style and wedding-day vision. With these guidelines in mind, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your wedding dress journey and find the gown of your dreams.