Advice: How to Make the Most Out of Your Dress Shopping Experience

Shopping for a wedding dress can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many options, and you might not even know where to start! So I’m going to get you started in the right direction with my top 10 tips for wedding dress shopping:

1: Bring pictures of dresses you like with you when you go shopping. It will help your consultant understand what you’re into, and they can help to pull some dresses for you to try, based on your preferences. It’s okay if your taste is all over the place. It’s good to try on different styles and shapes to see how they make you feel.

2: Try on everything once, then narrow it down to your top 3 favorites. Then try on those favorites again, with a veil. The veil can make or break the dress. You might also want to try some accessories, such as earrings, a bracelet, or even a satin sash or a rhinestone belt, even if the dress wasn’t originally designed to have one. Every time you try on a dress ask yourself, “Is this pretty enough to be MY dress?” It’s remarkable how easily you can narrow down your selections by asking yourself that simple question.

3: Do your hair and makeup. I’m not talking about professional up-do’s and false eyelashes. I’m just talking about elevating your look just a bit so you don’t look out of place in the dress. Having hair styled and makeup applied can completely change the way you feel about how you look, and can alter the entire experience of looking for a dress.


4: Sit down in the dress, and dance in it a little. You might want to wait until your first fitting to do this if the sample is nowhere near your actual size. But you definitely want to make sure you’ll be able to move in your dress.

5: Your shopping experience is not a party. Don’t bring an entourage, and don’t bring booze. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen both of these “don’ts.” First of all, having too many people with you means too many opinions. Chances are, you’re not going to make everyone happy, so just bring one or two people whose opinions you trust, and let them support you through the process. Second of all, please be respectful to the shop and avoid bringing the bubbly. It’s risky to have beverages around all the gorgeous dresses. Not to mention, if someone over-indulges, it could get a little dicey.

6: Be honest. Tell the truth to your consultant who is helping you find the dress. Be honest about your budget, and your preferences. The entire process will be much less painful if they know what they’re working with up front. Also, tell the truth to your seamstress. There are some things she might need to know about you. If you wear an insulin pump, and it needs to fit inside your dress, this is something your seamstress should know. If your body is crooked (perhaps due to a car accident,) that’s something your seamstress should know, so they can account for natural asymmetry that your dress requires. If this advice sounds too specific, it’s because I’ve seen this become an issue more than once.

7: Finding the right dress is like finding the love of your life: Once you find it, you’ll just know. And, once you find it, you stop looking! Are there other options out there? Sure. But do you need to consider them if you’ve already found “the one?” Nope! Save yourself the second guessing and avoid the extra shopping.

8: Dress appropriately. Bring a strapless bra, or check to make sure the shop has bras you can use when you try the dress on. And please wear underwear.

Wear shoes that are the height you plan to wear on your wedding day. Many dresses need to be ordered for a specific length, even before any alterations are made. This is particularly true for lace dresses.

9: Save money by checking out a sample sale. If you know the designer you like, contact dress shops to see if they’ll have a sample sale or a trunk show for that designer. You can get your ideal dress at a fraction of the cost!

10: Shop where you live. You’ll most likely need to do 2-4 fittings. This means you could be going to your dress shop up to a half a dozen times, including the shopping trip itself, and picking the dress up. Your dress could end up breaking the budget if you account for all the traveling.

One of my former clients lived on the west coast, got married in Virginia, and bought her dress in Maryland, where she was originally from. She ordered her dress during a visit home to Maryland, when she was in her peak physical shape. (She has a seasonal job that is physically demanding, so her weight fluctuates quite a bit throughout the year.) A few months later, she returned to Maryland for her first fitting, which was just a couple months before the wedding. She couldn’t get the dress on. They weren’t able to proceed with the fitting. She hired a personal trainer and spent a month on the west coast working on getting back into shape. She bought another plane ticket to Baltimore and had the fitting at the end of the month. Her trip east was just for the fitting. Yikes!

Don’t let the experience overwhelm you.

Trust your consultants and trust your gut. And to make the experience fabulous, guaranteed, check out one of my favorite shops:

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