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Bride-to-be: Wedding Dress Shopping 101

Happy New Year! Can you believe 2013 is over? Personally, I’m still in shock. However, I love January because it’s officially the start of wedding season and brides-to-be are on the prowl for that perfect dress. To recap last month, before you start shopping, you definitely want to have your date, venue, colors and budget decided on first.


If you have these items checked off your list, it makes the dress shopping process a lot easier. Wedding dress shopping can be incredibly overwhelming. With the number of options to choose from, it can be challenging to even know where to start. Don’t worry, here’s the down and dirty on what you need to know:


Do your homework and make a plan: Before you begin the process, it’s really important to have somewhat of an idea of what you’re looking for by browsing magazines, Pinterest (my favorite) or researching online. It’s useful to know the names of different types of cuts such as A-line, dropped waist or fit and flare and designers that interest you. You also need to make a plan and determine a set list of boutiques you will visit and ensure they carry the types of gowns and designers you like. You also need to make sure these boutiques have sample dresses in your size.


Shop only authorized dealers: Believe it or not, there are wedding dress stores out there that claim to sell specific designer gowns, but are not actually authorized by the designer to sell that gown. If you are looking for a specific designer, like Pronovias, you can go to the designer’s website and do a search for local stores.


Appointment vs. walk-in: Dress shops and boutiques either operate on a walk-in or appointment only system. I always recommend setting up appointments so that you can guarantee you’ll have a designated bridal consultant to work with.


Avoid the crowds: It’s no surprise that wedding dress shops are the busiest on nights and weekends. It’s likely that if you book an appointment during those times, you might receive less than stellar service because the employees are swamped with business. I recommend shopping weekdays during odd hours so that you can enjoy a more quiet and peaceful atmosphere.


Don’t bring an entourage: I know women like to travel in packs, but bringing a large crowd often results in a negative experience for the bride. If you bring too many people, it can cause arguments and many times your opinion might become overshadowed by everyone else’s. Let’s face it. Everyone has an opinion, but yours is the only one that matters! Plus, smaller boutiques, like Elegant Bride where I work, has limited seating in our dressing room area.


Dress comfortably and don’t come on an empty stomach: There’s nothing worse than a hungry bride. If your stomach is growling, you won’t be thinking about dresses, you’ll be thinking about cheeseburgers! A lot of girls avoid eating before so they don’t feel bloated when trying on gowns. We’re not saying you need to chow a steak beforehand, but fill your stomach and you will enjoy your experience much more. In addition to that, wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get in and out of.


Be open to the possibilities: Whenever I meet new brides, I often hear things like “absolutely no straps” or “I hate lace.” Then, they end up buying a strapped and head-to-toe lace gown. Why? Because nine times out of ten, brides are completely shocked by something when they try it on. Be open to new things and trust your bridal consultant.


Understand colors: Ladies, let’s get our colors straight. If you’re looking for a white gown, chances are, you’re actually looking for an ivory or off-white gown. Gowns that are truly white are much different in color from gowns that are off-white or ivory. I always see women who say they want a true white gown. Honestly, no one looks good in pure white. Ask your bridal consultant to see gowns that are white and gowns that are ivory. You will see a noticeable difference. Ivory appears white but is not so harsh against your skin washing you out.


Don’t overindulge. We all like to play dress-up, but trying on too many dresses will start to confuse you and take you off track from finding your dress.


Put it all together: Bridal consultants will always allow you to see a gown with different accessories and sashes, but sometimes you have to ask. Make sure you are able to see what your gown will look like with different veils, sashes, headpieces and more.


Bring a camera. Obviously, you’ll be taking photos and snap chatting all your girlfriends the entire time you’re in the store, but don’t forget to use your camera to take pictures of you in your dress from every angle. You’ll want to make sure everything is perfect for those wedding day photos!


Ordering versus buying off the floor: Depending on the timeline you are working with and the type of boutique you shop at, you will either do two things: order your dress, or buy it off the floor. The majority of the time, you will order your dress and the lead-time often depends on where it is coming from and the manufacture. Typically, you should plan for at least six months before your dress comes in. If you are working on a tight deadline, you should browse sample sales where shops will sale their gowns for up to 85% or more off the original price!  


If you have any questions about wedding dress shopping or anything else wedding-related, feel free to drop me a line at I’m happy to answer any questions and be a resource for you. I look forward to hearing from you!


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