Dress shopping is probably one of the funnest parts about planning a wedding but it can also be a bit overwhelming if you don't do your homework beforehand. And no, I don't mean watching Say Yes to the Dress. After going through the whole process, I'm so thankful it was a relatively stress-free experience and I cannot WAIT to wear it on the big day!!! Unfortunately I can't share any details on my exact wedding dress here quite yet since I'm keeping it a surprise from the groom, but I DID want to share some great advice I learned along the way.
DO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE BEFORE YOU WALK INTO THE STORE
Wedding dresses have their own language, and it's important you understand the terms before you talk to a stylist or sales lady. Look on Pinterest and pin some dresses you like! Then ask yourself - what are some patterns you see? What do you like about these dresses? Then figure out what all of those elements are called. Learning the terminology will help you eliminate so much miscommunication in the long run.
DO BE SPECIFIC
When I first went dress shopping, I had no idea there were so many different options out there. All I knew was that I wanted it to be white, strapless, and pretty. You can imagine the frustration that the stylist had when I expressed my preferences. Even if you don't know exactly what you want, tell them what you don't want. Here is a cheat sheet you can use to get started!
DON'T WATCH SAY YES TO THE DRESS
I know it sounds like it would be great research to see all of the different types of dress on different women, but in actuality it really does not help you. Most of the women on the show do not have realistic budgets or expectations. You don't need to spend $$$ on your wedding dress. You don't need to cry to know that it is the one. You don't need to buy a designer label. You don't need all of your friends and their mom's approval before you buy it. Which brings me to my next point...
DON'T BRING AN ARMY
It sounds super glamorous to bring a whole group of your friends with you to try on dresses. Of course it does! Imagine sitting on a luxury couch, sipping on champagne, and having a total Carrie Bradshaw moment. However, the more is not the merrier in this case. More people mean more room for clashing preferences and chaos. I was advised to only bring a couple of trusted girlfriends, and I am glad I followed that rule. You definitely do need someone to be your sound board and take photos for you, but you don't want so many voices to cloud our judgement. You can also show pictures to friends and family if you need additional opinions later on!
DO BE OPEN MINDED
As all clothing does, dresses look different when hanging on the hanger versus hanging on your body. So don't judge a dress by what is on the hanger! Even if it is not quite the style or look you are going for, don't immediately cross it off. Just try it on (I mean how often does a girl get to try on wedding dresses? Embrace the moment!) If you still don't like it, now you know. Your stylist may offer many dresses that you probably wouldn't pick for yourself, be open-minded and give it a shot.
DON'T GO ON A WEEKEND
This was one lesson I had to learn the hard way. I went to a chain bridal shop on a Saturday morning and it was the most awful experience. It was super crowded with no stylist to give me individual attention, multiple brides-to-be grabbing after similar dresses, and the dressing room was just a mess. Nothing about that experience felt romantic or bridal at all. So, save yourself the horror of feeling like cattle, and go on a weekday. You will not regret it. The shop will be much more stocked and organized and the stylists will be able to give you the attention you deserve.
DO STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
Make sure one of the first things you communicate with the stylist is your budget and ask them not to show you any dresses beyond a certain price range. While you should trust your stylist and their taste, at the end of their day, their goal is to sell a dress to you - preferably an expensive one. It's easy for them to swoon you over and tell you how worth it is, but you should not feel pressured into spending more than you can afford. It's easy to fall in love with a dress and justify the cost once it is on you, so do yourself a favor and don't even put it on to begin with. You can and will find a dress you love that is within your budget. Do not let any other stylist tell you differently. If they can't offer something to you, then look at a different store.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR A DEAL
I felt very uncomfortable about going into a wedding shop and asking if they could offer any discounts because I feared appearing tacky or cheap. However, after doing some research and asking around, I learned that it doesn't hurt to ask because some stores will honor a deal and there are tactful ways to approach this situation. Here are some easy ways to bring it up:
- Do you offer any specials on dresses off the rack? (These are often at a discounted rate.)
- Do you have any dresses worn in recent trunk shows? (These are often at a discounted rate.)
- Do you offer deals if I pay for the dress in full payment upfront?
- I saw this exact dress at another shop for a lower price, is there any way you can match it? (Of course, this should be an honest statement.)
- This is a bit out of my price range, do you offer any free alterations or accessories?
DO FOLLOW YOUR GUT
At the end of the day, you want to wear a dress that you feel comfortable, beautiful, and ultimately bridal in. And only you can be the one who decides that. Of course, you should consider your body type and friends, but don't let those things be your deciding factor. Even if a certain wedding style is on trend or on season, you certainly do not need to follow it! Pick a dress that suits your personality and one you can imagine yourself walking down the aisle in. When I picked out my dress, my 'aha' moment was that I couldn't stop looking at myself in the mirror and I didn't want to take it off. (I know, total vanity moment.) That's how I knew it was the one!
Good luck and I hope you find the dress you are looking for. I hope you have an 'aha' moment and find the dress that you just do not want to take off because you love it so much. One final tip is please do not stress out if you don't have that moment. Because it's okay. You will look beautiful no matter what.
Did you try any of these tips? Is there another tip you heard I did not include? Let me know in the comments below! I love learning more about the wedding planning process.
X O X O ,
J E N N Y