Buying a wedding dress is one of the most important things about any wedding day, and it is the bride’s moment to shine. It is also the one time when it’s perfectly acceptable to spend thousands of dollars on a dress which you will probably only wear once (and be guilt-free about that decision). But knowing that you have to find the perfect dress, one that will have you looking and feeling beautiful, can come with a lot of pressure, especially when you’re not sure where, or how, to start the dress shopping process.
There are so many things to remember when planning a wedding, and even the most enjoyable decisions, like dress shopping, can feel stressful if you’re unprepared. Of course, a little research hurt no one, and there are certain things that every woman should know before saying 'yes' to the dress; from who you should bring with you to your bridal appointment, to what research you should do beforehand and just how important certain little details (like the right underwear) are, that you may have completely overlooked.
Below are 20 things every bride should consider, that could make your wedding dress shopping so much easier and more enjoyable.
20 Think Practically About The Setting Of Your Wedding
You may want to walk down the aisle wearing a beautiful dress with an incredibly long and detailed lace train, but your wedding is going to be celebrated in the middle of a forest, and your dress will be caught on a number of things before you finally get the chance to say “I do.” Similarly, as National Wedding Show notes, some styles are more suited to a beach wedding, while others really won’t work and will leave you uncomfortable. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to pay close attention to the location of your wedding before choosing a dress.
19 What Looks Good On The Model, Doesn’t Always Look Good On You
Women come in different shapes and sizes, and what looks good on the model who is photographed wearing your dream wedding dress may not necessarily look good on you. Before buying a wedding dress you should analyze your own body shape and be open to new ideas and suggestions from the bridal consultant, who knows how to better dress your body.
According to Brides, certain styles suit different body shapes, for example, if you are petite, a sheath dress or structured trumpet style will look great, whereas if you’re a plus-sized girl you either want a dress that shows off your curves or flatters them.
18 Keep An Open Mind, You Could Be Pleasantly Surprised
This point sort of leads on from the above point and that is not to get too hung up on one dress, or one particular style. You may have fallen in love with a dress style before even going into the bridal boutique, but as Brides notes, you should trust your consultant and not be afraid to listen to their suggestions about what would look good on you, even if it’s not something you would not typically choose.
You may have completely ruled out a certain style or missed a dress that didn’t look amazing on the hanger, but when you try it on, it could be the one. The takeaway; keep an open mind when dress shopping.
17 If You Don’t Have That ‘Say Yes To The Dress Moment,’ It’s OK
Choosing a wedding dress has become such a big moment in a woman’s life that there are even television shows dedicated to finding the perfect dress, but if you don’t have that crying moment where you are blown away by your choice, then that’s OK, too. There are many forums about brides discussing this “wow” moment, including one on You and Your Wedding, and it may be comforting to know that not everyone feels this way.
One bride shared her thoughts, writing, “I didn't have the WOW moment that people talk about - a lot of brides don't so please don't be put off if you don't!” And she’s right.
16 You Won’t Always Try On Dresses In Your Size, But Don’t Be Disheartened
It can be very difficult choosing a dress that is meant to be the best dress you will ever buy, but then not being able to try it on in your size. The problem is that bridal shops only stock certain sizes and these sizes are quite limited, so, the dress is not going to fit the way it should and you’re sort of forced to imagine how it will look in the future. But don’t let this leave you disheartened, also, don’t spend too much time worrying about the sizing -- more on this later.
But if you are a plus-size woman then it’s best to do research beforehand and ensure that you’re visiting a boutique that stocks your sizes.
15 Don’t Take Too Many People With You For Dress Shopping
When you go dress shopping it can be overwhelming having a big crew of your nearest and dearest with you, because as much as you love them, you have to listen to so many different opinions. For the first appointment, it’s best to go with one or two people and minimize the feedback and avoid confusion.
According to Hitched, Say Yes To The Dress UK's David has this to say about who you bring: "Think carefully about how many people you bring shopping with you. Don’t take everyone with you just to keep them all happy, take one or two people who you can trust and will give you honest feedback."
14 Your Undergarments Matter More Than You Think They Do
Whether you plan on wearing beautiful lingerie, or you think it’s best to opt for shapewear, your underwear matters more than you think. First, it’s best to have a neutral, nude shade of underwear, as you’re trying on white dresses, and a strapless bra will benefit you if you’re trying on a number of different styles.
And try not to bring something too revealing because the bridal consultant is going to be seeing you in your underwear. Hitched also notes that despite this, you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable because these consultants see many women of different shapes and sizes and they’re not focusing on your body, but rather how the dress looks on it.
13 There Is No Rule That Says Your Dress Has To Be White
Sarah Jessica Parker wore black on her wedding day, and so did Girls star Zosia Mamet, while Gwen Stefani and Jessica Biel opted for pink, what this proves is that there is a bit of a trend leaning towards non-traditional gowns. There are many brides who have decided to ditch the crisp white hue in favor of something that better represented who they were, and this is an option available to you on your wedding day, too.
Bustle offers up some helpful tips for those not ready to go all out and wear black, by suggesting that you opt for pale colors or ombre detailed gowns. You can also still have a bridal look, by simply choosing a traditional silhouette, but this time in a color of your choice.
12 Don’t Shop For What You Hope You Will Look Like, But What You Do Now
Many women are not completely happy with what their bodies look like at the time of the dress shopping, and may want to lose weight. The fact is, you cannot shop for a dress thinking that your body will be different in the future, but rather need to be comfortable with how it looks at your current measurements (this will also avoid future disappointment). A bride shared her experience with Today and explained how the dress she wanted only had two sizes left, and she was convinced she could do a super cleanse and lose the weight she needed before the big day. She didn’t.
The takeaway is not to make the same mistake!
11 It Helps To Do A Little Research Beforehand…
While it’s useful to keep an open mind and be willing to listen to the bridal consultant's suggestions, it’s also useful to come prepared. This means doing some research beforehand on what you like, and what you don’t like. You can start by reading through wedding magazines and ripping out the pages of your favorite, or browse on the internet to get some sort of idea what you think you will want for your wedding day.
Brides has helpful advice, informing brides-to-be that they should look at these images they have collected and see if there is a connecting theme. For example, are all the dresses you love ball gowns? Or is there a specific neckline or fabric?
10 … But Don’t Go Overboard With Your Inspirations And Picture Boards
Going into a bridal boutique with some idea in mind about what you like is useful, but it can also overwhelm your decision. For this reason, it’s best not to go overboard on the inspiration and don’t spend time making picture boards and obsessing over the perfect dress. Oftentimes, what you think looks amazing in an image may not look as great on your body shape, so be willing to keep an open mind.
Another issue is that by looking at too many dresses, and later trying on too multiple styles, could lead to even more confusion. Bridal Guide reports that most brides try on between four to seven dresses, and shouldn't try more than ten.
9 Know Your Budget, And Try To Stick To It
Weddings are expensive affairs, and the average couple spends way too much on this one-time event. The same can be said for the dress, and those with a smaller budget will obviously be limited in the styles that they can choose. But you have to be realistic about how much you can spend, and when going into a boutique you should have a clear idea of this so that you don’t feel disappointed trying on dresses you fall in love with but can never afford.
Also, a small budget does not mean you won’t find a great dress, and financial planner Adele Martin told Business Insider: "Think about buying a second-hand wedding dress, or look for sales.”
8 Not Every Dress And Every Designer Needs A Year's Notice In Advance, But It Helps
Just about every bridal boutique and consultant will stress how you need a year, or at least eight months before your wedding to choose a dress. But this is not entirely true. Yes, it’s recommended to not have the stress and to have a choice of all designers, but there are some designers who can do a rush order, and there are dresses that you can buy samples of and get altered.
When choosing a wedding dress, consider your own needs. If you are indecisive and think you’ll fluctuate in weight or change your mind if you get your dress too early, then wait. Just remember (via Today) that if you order within six months or less, you may have to pay a rush order fee.
7 Don’t Obsess Over The Photos Of You In Your Dress Before The Big Day
Not all bridal boutiques allow a bride to take photos in her chosen gown, and then some do (which does make the decision easier when you look back), but if you are taking photos, don’t get hung up on them. The reason for this is that you’re going to look a hundred times better on the day, when your hair and makeup is done, and when the dress has been altered perfectly to fit your body. So, don’t obsess over the photos and start second-guessing your decision. If you were happy in the shop, you will probably be happy on the day.
6 It Doesn’t Have To Be A Dress At All… Pantsuits And Two Pieces Are Gaining Popularity
Twenty or even ten years ago, the thought of a woman wearing a pantsuit to her wedding may have been frowned upon, but in more modern times it’s perfectly acceptable to ditch the traditional gown in favor of something that’s more your style. Not everyone likes dresses, so why wear one on your big day?
The Knot reports that there are some questions you should ask yourself before deciding if the non-traditional route is for you, and this includes whether you will regret not wearing a dress, the costs involved, and if a pantsuit will be flattering on your body shape.
5 Bring Shoes With You To The Boutiques To Check Out The Hemlines
When shopping for your dress there are some things that you should bring with you, and your shoes are one of them so that you can check the hemline of your dress with your preferred footwear. Pack a heeled shoe with you, it doesn’t have to be the exact wedding shoe, but around the same height you are hoping to wear on the day, and Southern Protocol reports that these shoes should be comfortable. They also suggest bringing neutral underwear, any jewelry that you are certain you will be wearing on the day, and to avoid wearing too much makeup or fake tan which could potentially ruin the dresses you are trying on.
4 Think About The Location Of The Boutique, And The Location Of Your Home
You don’t need to shop for a dress that’s located at a boutique that’s just down the road from you, but it does help not choosing somewhere that it hard to get to because you will have to be traveling to and from this location multiple times for fittings.
Also, consider the boutique you’re visiting beforehand to ensure that it has dresses that are stocked by your favorite designers, or that they offer your size, especially if you are a plus-size bride. According to Bridal Guide, not all boutiques offer a sizeable amount of plus-size samples, so choose one that does!
3 The Sizes Are Always Way Smaller Than Regular Clothing
Perhaps one of the worst things about trying on a wedding dress is that the sizing is so off! If you are normally a size 10, you may be a size 14 in a bridal dress. Brides reports that you can be two sizes bigger in your wedding dress, while Bridal Guide reminds brides not to get hung up on the sizing.
Don’t obsess over how the specific designer’s size chart differs from your everyday dress size, and it’s also best to be realistic when it comes to sizes and not choose a size smaller, thinking you’re going to lose weight.
2 Sample Sales Could Be The Answer, But Don’t Make Them Your Last Resort
If you have a smaller budget for your wedding dress, then sample sales could really be the answer, but there are other things to consider if you’re going this route. When buying a sample dress, you need to check carefully that there is no damage to the dress, because it will be your responsibility to fix this.
Another thing to consider is sizing, and although it may seem appealing to buy a dress that’s either too big or too small (most dresses can only be let out around one size), the design can be lost if you’re changing it too much. Corporate manager of a bridal shop, Cassandra Quinn, told Brides that women should not buy dresses that are more than two sizes bigger than they measure.
1 Always Factor In Added Costs, Like Alterations
You may go into a boutique and try on your dream dress and then think that’s it, but you always need to factor in the cost of alterations, and a good seamstress is everything. It’s easier to get a dress from a bridal boutique that already has an in-house seamstress, but if they don’t, as Today notes, then find a good one, and don’t feel guilty about splurging. Bear in mind that the cheaper seamstress may not be the better option just because of the cost factor, and it always helps to do research and read reviews about their work beforehand.
References: National Wedding Show, Brides, Brides, You And Your Wedding, Hitched, Hitched, Vogue, Bustle, Today, Brides, Bridal Guide, Business Insider, Today, The Knot, Southern Protocol, Bridal Guide, Brides, Bridal Guide, Brides, Today.
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