Shopping Tips

Tips For Shopping Wedding Gowns, From A Bride-To-Be Who Wanted To Avoid This Entire Process

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I was on top of my shit when it came to planning my wedding. I had all my ducks in a row a year before my wedding date. Except for one teeny tiny detail: my wedding dress.

For some reason, trying on dresses and hunting for my perfect gown was the one part of the engagement and wedding planning process that I was not stoked about [read about my experience here]. I avoided dress shopping like the plague, and became focused on the most minuscule of details for our wedding in order to not have to deal with the dreaded dress debacle. But, unlike the other pieces of the wedding puzzle, finding the dress is not something that can be thrown together last minute [at least not if you buy from a wedding dress boutique where your dress has to be made-to-order]. So, this January, I had no choice but to finally restart the process of finding “the one.” If you’re newly engaged, it can take anywhere from four to nine months to have your dress made and fitted for your body. Better to have more time than less!

Before I’d ever even gone to try on a dress, every bride I’d spoken to couldn’t stop gushing about how that was their favorite part of planning their wedding. They loved trying on dress after dress, even the ones they knew they’d never buy. And nearly every single one said they found their dress at the first place they ever went. And it was love at first sight. When I didn’t have the same experience, and actually ended up feeling like a complete let-down and failure of a bride [because who doesn’t find their dream dress at the first store they ever go to?!], I realized that I couldn’t be the only person out there that had had a not-so-exciting experience hunting wedding gowns. Because of this, I wanted to share my tips to you newly engaged gals out there who may be just beginning that whole process.

My first bit of advice to you is, don’t go to your first appointment with the expectation that you’re going to find your dream dress. You may actually find it, but if you don’t have the expectation, you won’t feel so let down if you don’t happen to find it that day. I made the mistake of imagining myself finding my dress the first day at the first shop; and when I didn’t find it, it gave me all the wrong emotions about finding my wedding dress.

Even if you know what your style is day-to-day [I believe this is referred to as “street style”], I would still be sure to try on all different styles of wedding gowns. I never imagined myself being drawn to poufy ball gowns [in fact, I believe I deemed them “cupcake dresses” prior to getting engaged], and yet, I ended up falling in love with that very style.

Although I wanted to be organized and get my gown shopping done earlier rather than later in the planning process, it was a blessing in disguise that I didn’t find my dress right away. My style and what I wanted actually morphed and changed from what I originally had in mind. My advice to you is to wait as long as possible before you choose your gown. Even if you find your dream dress, don’t put the deposit down or purchase it until you absolutely have to. Unless for whatever reason the gown will be discontinued, the store should still carry it. When I started looking at dresses in July, I wanted a long-sleeved ball gown, which then changed to a ball gown with a plain and simple bodice, which ended up being completely different from what I ended up choosing.

Don’t feel pressured to invite your entire bridal party and all the women in your family to try on dresses with you. A lot of women like to be the center of attention and feel like their experience wouldn’t be complete without all of the wonderful ladies in their life around them. I, however, am the opposite. I want my dress to be a surprise for everyone at the wedding, including my bridal party.

On the flip side, if you are a gal who wants your future sister-in-law, both grandmothers, your aunt, your bridal party, your mom, your step-mom, your soon-to-be mother-in-law, and any other females in the family with you while you’re trying on gowns, just remember to hold your ground on what you want. This is your wedding day and your wedding gown, not theirs. Your mom may be helping you purchase your gown, but that doesn’t mean she gets to choose it. If you feel beautiful in a gown that other people don’t love, who cares?! It’s not about them, it’s about YOU. And everybody’s tastes and styles are different. While I personally don’t love the mermaid-style gowns for myself, there are some beautiful ones out there and all of my friends who have worn that style of dress have looked absolutely gorgeous. Oh, and if you don’t think the women in your life are opinionated – just you wait..

If you find a designer you love that’s out of your price range, just do a little research on Instagram and Pinterest to see if you find a comparable designer without the staggering price tag. Believe it or not, there are some incredible gowns out there that aren’t exorbitantly expensive [I fell in love with a designer whose gowns run in the $3000 range]. I was in a wedding several years ago where the bride wore a $10k dollar gown. Oh yeah, it was beautiful, but I tried on an identical gown from a different designer and it was $2000. I mean, yeah, you may not be wearing your dream designer, but truth-be-told, if you find a gown you feel sexy and like a princess in, who gives a flying EFF who the designer is?

And speaking of price tags, know your dress budget before you go shopping. All professional bridal stores will ask you this when you arrive for your appointment, and they will easily be able to find you 10 dresses in your price range in the style that you like.

You know the girls on “Say Yes to the Dress” who break down in tears and hyperventilate when they find their dream dress? I was expecting that reaction and I did not have it. If you don’t have a radical reaction when you find your dress, it’s okay! I fell in love with my dress when I tried it on but I didn’t shed a single tear over it. You’ll know in your heart when you find the right dress, and whatever your reaction, it’s okay but it’s yours.

Finding your dress should be an amazing and magical experience and the last thing you want is to feel like I did – dejected, depressed and let-down. I hope these tips help you to have a better experience than I did the first couple of times I tried on gowns [after using my own tips on myself, I was able to have a fun and amazing time at the appointment where I actually found my dress].

Want to see my dream dress and the one I chose? We’re getting married on September 29, 2018  so keep an eye out for photos after that ;)