Some of us have been dreaming of a white wedding since we first saw Cinderella. Others have only just started to imagine their big day. Either way, don’t worry— I got you.
Here’s 10 tips for wedding dress shopping to alleviate some of that wedding-planning anxiety.
- Visit both the chain stores and smaller, independently-owned boutiques. Whereas big chain stores offer a greater variety of styles and designers, boutiques offer that personal touch. In a small boutique you’re often the only bride present, which means all the attention is on you—it’s good practice for the big day. If it turns out you don’t like the consultant you’re paired with, don’t be afraid to request someone else—or just go to another shop!
- Contact these shops ahead of time to book an appointment. And while you’re at it, make sure they have options within your budget and ask a few questions. Do you need to bring anything (i.e. shoes)? Do they carry anything else: lingerie, accessories, veils, options for your partner, little white dresses for your dress rehearsal / bridal shower / bachelorette, etc.? Do they have enough space and seating for your party?
- Don’t be afraid to have a talk with any members of the party who may be notoriously opinionated and controlling (cough cough—looking at you, sis). Oh—if you’re not that traditional, you could invite your partner to come with you! They could give you feedback on the first round of outfits you try on, and you could keep the final decision a secret if you still really want that ~first look~.
- Have an idea of the overall style for your wedding (classic and elegant, whimsical and bohemian, etc.)—you might even have a specific theme in mind (e.g. garden oasis, old-world cinema). Prepare a small collection of Instagram or Pinterest posts (10-15) that reflect your aesthetic. These will give the consultant an idea for the styles they’ll pull for you.
- Wear a strapless bra—or better yet, no bra—to your appointment. Most dresses have support built in, and the consultant is used to it—trust me. Also, bring a hair-tie or clip to test what certain dresses look like with your hair up and/or down. Veils are also easier to try on with your hair up, especially if you have thin or straight hair.
- At the start of your appointment, tell your consultant your budget, and be firm. And don’t forget to factor in sales tax! Let them know what you’re looking for or have been gravitating towards but be open to suggestions and other styles. The women in the photos you’ve been saving aren’t you—and you might find that those styles aren’t as great in person. For example, you might have been dreaming of Cinderella’s ball gown, but find that when you try one on, all that extra tulle can make it quite heavy.
- If you find yourself getting overwhelmed after trying on too many dresses, take a week-long breather. Don’t even look at any Pinterest posts—if you can resist! Then make a note of the dresses you really liked, and try them on again, or look for similar styles. Don’t be afraid to pull a Kaley Cuoco and try on some jumpsuits, too! Ask if a dress comes in other shades of white, or non-white colors. Or try another shop.
- When you find your dress—and rest assured, you will—take your time to inspect it from all angles. Is there anything you want to change? Do you want to add flutter sleeves, or adjust the neck- and/or back-line? Ask the consultant what the designer can change for you (and for what price) and what will be easy for the tailor to adjust. Try sitting in your dress, and make sure you can do so comfortably. Ditto goes for your fittings!
- Don’t order a size too small. You might have a great fitness and nutrition plan in place, but in the end it’s so much easier for the tailor to take a few inches in than to let a few out. Do yourself a favor and order the size that actually fits well and offers a bit of wiggle room. Save yourself the inevitable physical and mental breakdown that will result from a last-ditch effort to “shed those last few pounds.” You don’t need to lose them, anyway. It’s better to leave room for a midnight pizza—fuel all that dancing!
- A few last notes. Take a breath. Go to a yoga and/or meditation class. Drink some tea. Do all the self-care things. You have time, and you’ve got a great partner at your side. Anytime you feel overwhelmed, remind yourself of the big picture. And congratulations on your engagement, girl.