I’m nowhere near the point where I need to shop for my own wedding dress, but I’ve been lucky enough to help a few ladies in my life (including Jules) hunt for their dream gowns. When my sister came for a visit last month, wedding dress shopping was one of our top priorities. Since it was her first time trying on dresses, it was definitely a learning experience! Here are some helpful tips we came up with for any bride who’s just beginning her search.
DO learn the lingo. If you’re not a die-hard fan of Say Yes to the Dress and terms like mermaid and trumpet mean nothing to you, spend some time studying a handy chart like this one to familiarize yourself with silhouettes, necklines, etc. It’s so much easier to explain what you like and don’t like when you know the proper terminology!
DO your hair and makeup before your appointment. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but if you look polished when you’re trying on dresses, it will help you visualize how the whole ensemble will look and feel on your wedding day.
DON’T rush yourself. Shopping for a wedding dress can be an overwhelming process, especially if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want. Give yourself plenty of time, not just in terms of months before your wedding, but in between appointments, too. If you schedule multiple appointments in one weekend, for instance, space them out a bit so you have time to reflect in between.
DO take plenty of pictures (if it’s allowed)! It’s super helpful to have a visual record of what you’ve tried on, especially if several similar dresses are in the running. It doesn’t take long before everything starts to blur together in your memory into one fluffy pile of ivory tulle.
DO be prepared for bridal sizing. Annoyingly, bridal sizes run smaller than street sizes – which means you’ll be offered dresses that are labelled 1-2 sizes larger than what you normally wear. A little bruising to the ego, sure, but everyone’s in the same boat.
DON’T be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Try on as many styles as you can when you’re just starting your search – you never know what you’ll end up loving! Include at least one super glamorous ball gown in the lineup, even if it’s not your jam. Hey, unless you’re marrying royalty, when else will you ever have the chance to wear one? Just try it!
DO select your entourage carefully. Whether you’re shopping with friends, family, or both, be sure to only invite people who you can count on to be both honest and supportive. Being in the spotlight during the highest-stakes shopping trip of your life puts you in a weirdly vulnerable position, and your crew needs to help you figure out what you want without being critical.
DO try on dresses outside of your budget…within reason. Obviously this is a big mistake if you have a very fixed budget, but if you have some flexibility, don’t restrict yourself too much. My sister’s budget was pretty arbitrary – she hated the idea of paying more than a few hundred dollars for any item of clothing, just on principle – but in her words, you might not know how much you want that gorgeous, more expensive gown until you try it on!
DO put on a veil. If you like a gown but you’re not sure you can necessarily see yourself walking down the aisle in it, try it with a veil. You will instantly feel like a bride, I promise. Also, this is the secret to making your friends and family cry (and isn’t that the goal?) This one delicate piece of fabric is all it takes for everything to come together.
Above all, just relax and have fun! Have you ever been wedding dress shopping? What do you wish you had known beforehand?