Post by Amy Plass
Even if you consider yourself a pro in the department stores, shopping for your wedding dress can be a bit of a daunting task. Here are my top 10 tips for how to make the best out of your shopping experience.
1) Shop early. If your dress needs to be ordered, it might take 6-8 months to get it in. The last thing you want to be worrying about in the weeks before your wedding is whether or not your dress will come in on time, or if it will be fitted correctly. Put your mind at ease, and get your shopping done early.
2) Have a budget. If you’ve already got a few seasons of “Say Yes to the Dress” on TiVo, you know that it’s important to have a set budget. Having this in place will help consultants to select dresses that are in your price range for you to try on. It’s no fun to fall in love with a dress that you can’t afford, and there are plenty of beautiful dresses in every price range, so don’t be afraid to say “no” to trying on a dress that just isn’t in the cards.
3) Think about location and season. If you are having an outdoor wedding in early spring or in the fall, it might be okay to have lots of layers under that dress. If you are getting married in the heat of summer, remember to think about how comfortable the dress will be when the temperature is not so kind. Additionally, think about the style of your venue. You want your dress to match the formality of the venue you’ll be in. If you are getting married in a place of worship, make sure you know if there are any guidelines on modesty that you’ll want to keep in mind.
4) Come up with a few key words to describe your style. Classic, elegant, fashion forward? To figure out what style best suits you, think about your every day style. Are your every day clothes well fitted and a bit preppy? Are you a fashionista who is always on top of the latest trends? Or are you more comfortable in jeans? Your everyday look can be a great indicator of the style of dress that will flatter you most.
5) Make an appointment. You want to have the consultant’s full attention while you are there, so make sure to book their time. If there is a dress that you love from a designer that they carry, they might not have it on the racks. Booking early may give them time to search for a sample so that you can try it on at your appointment! The best time to book an appointment is during the week, so that the store is less crowded and quieter. This makes the experience much more personal.
6) Bring the right people. If you’ve got a friend who can be a negative nancy, don’t bring her with to your appointment. If it’s really important to you to have an entourage there to admire you, then by all means, go for it. But if you are at all nervous about what other people will have to say, then only bring people who you know will be supportive of you, whatever you choose. Relax, and have that glass of champagne if they offer. You’re among friends.
7) Bring a lookbook with you, but don’t be afraid to try new things. Dresses can look different in person than they do on models in magazines. You never really know for sure until you try it on. I was smitten with lace when I was shopping for my wedding dress, and all the pictures I brought in were of lace gowns. But when I tried on several lace styles, something about it just didn’t work on me. I tried something completely different and fell head over heels for it. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try on something unexpected (as long as it’s within your price range).
8) Don’t overload yourself. Trying on dresses can be exhausting and stressful. Don’t book more than 3 appointments in a day; it’s just too much. If your get to a point where your gals are acting more like the judges on Project Runway than your pals, it might be time to (politely) call it a day, and come back later with just one or two friends who you trust not only to be honest, but to be kind.
9) Sleep on it. If at all possible, don’t buy the dress the same day you try it on. Go home, think it over, and if necessary come in and try it on one more time, just to make sure. Many bridal retailers have a no-return policy, so you want to do your research and thinking before getting out the plastic. Make sure to educate yourself about the shop’s policies before placing your order.
10) The dress should never outshine the bride. Period. This is the best advice you will receive about shopping for “the one”. You want your guests to be talking about how beautiful YOU are, not how beautiful the dress is. It can be easy to get caught up in all the tulle and beading, but if you dress very simply on a regular basis, it’s easy for a dress with a lot of embellishment to outshine your natural beauty. When you walk down the aisle you don’t want people to be looking at your dress, you want them to be looking at YOU!