Congratulations on your engagement or if your just making sure you’re prepared for when that engagement does come these 10 tips are guaranteed to help you to find the perfect dress!
#1: Create a Theme & a Feel.
First off you must decide on an overall theme and feel. A theme for your dress and how you would like to feel wearing it, just like all the other parts of organizing and planning for your big day. Are you having a formal wedding? An outdoor wedding? Are you going to be in a house of worship where their could be rules like you are not permitted to show your shoulders. Your dress should reflect or at least compliment your wedding’s overall style. But that being said you are the bride and this is your day so you can bend the rules slightly when it comes to your ensemble. Think about how you would like your dress to make you feel and what you want the style to say to your guests. Their are all types of themes or styles you could choose from here are a few more popular styles: sexy, understated, modern, chic, traditional or maybe even vintage. Remember to keep in mind the location of your event. You don’t want to be wearing a big gown to an outdoor wedding it’s like being caught in a summer dress in the winter.
#2 Big Bad Budget $$$$
With the cost of wedding gowns averaging around $900 and prices going into the thousands at some boutiques, it is important that you establish a budget before you start your search. Once you have set your gown budget lock it into place! There is always that chance though that the dress that makes you say “this is the one” is over your budget, can you re-evaluate and borrow money from other parts of your wedding? Yes as long as you stay within your overall wedding budget you can cut back on something not as important and apply it to your dress fund, besides having the right dress is what makes the whole fairy tale a reality!
Shopping for a wedding gown is not like shopping at a regular clothing store, if you change your mind you cant simply return it. Most bridal boutiques won’t take dresses back and if they do you are lucky to get 50% of the total cost of the dress back so don’t be too quick to whip out the Gold Card ladies.
#3 Picture Perfect Gowns
Once you have established a theme and a budget for your dress it’s time to start looking, for ideas that is. What better place to get wedding dress ideas then bridal magazines. When you make your appointment at the boutiques and salons always make sure to have visuals on hand, this is very important because at many bridal salons you don’t have the chance to actually look through the racks of dresses, there are just too many. You must rely on your sales consultant to bring you options that suit your body, theme, style and budget. The more you can tell, show or present to your sales consultant the better results you will get. Also remember to be very open-minded just because it’s what you like and the theme suites your wedding it doesn’t mean it is the best style for your body type, be sure to try on at least one dress that is outside of your “comfort zone” or different then all the others you have selected, you never know you could surprise yourself. The dress you “say yes to” may surprise you and you won’t have a chance to discover it if you only stick within your “comfort zone.”
#4 All Shapes and Sizes
You cannot define your body to a list of shapes and you can’t preplan what type or size of wedding dress will suit you best, the only way to really know is to try it on! Every wedding dress will fit differently on each person. It is meant to be fitted snug right to every curve of your body. Wedding dress sizes advance very quickly to leave less room between each size, its not about the size its about the silhouette and proportion. Don’t get caught up in what size you are wearing or trying on, the guests will be looking at you not your tags. Remember as well that dresses in the store are just samples and that they are not meant to fit exactly it is just to give you an idea, your sales person though should do everything possible like pinning the dress to make it look as close to the real thing as possible.
#5 Which White is Right?
If you have ever had to purchase white paint for your walls you know there are many shades of white and wedding dresses come in just about every shade there is. Knowing which flatters your skin tone the best will help when choosing a dress. You want a color that will enhance you skin tones, not wash you out. In general the most common and most flattering white tones are diamond white and silk white, these colors are not in the stark white category or the pure white but also don’t fit in the ivory category. They fall ideally right in-between. Keep this in mind when trying on gowns and remember if you don’t like the shade of white on the dress most gowns come in a variety of pale hues like rum pink, champagne and other pastel colors. Another trick that can enhance your skin tones is piping on a dress, having a colored piping can add a burst of color to an all white dress helping to enhance your features.
#6 Google it!
Make sure you do some research on any of the boutiques, salons, department stores, bridal emporiums etc. you would like to go to and make sure they have a good reputation what types of services they provide. When you find a dress you like check for the name of the manufacturer on the tag. If the tag is ripped out (an illegal but not so uncommon practice) ask your salesperson the name of the manufacture. Once you have the manufacturer and the model of the dress you can go home and research the credibility of the manufacturer as well as any versions of your dress that may be available.
#7 Oh Where Oh Where Could the Perfect Dress Be?
The average dress order takes about six to eight months and then delivered to the salon, not including any alterations you may do once you receive the dress. When considering what types of stores to look for your dress at consider your regular shopping preferences.
Do you like shopping at small boutiques? Do you love it when a salesperson waits on you hand and foot? Do you prefer to do your own thing? Do you like shopping at vintage or used clothing stores? Keep things like that in mind when you are considering locations to shop for your gown, here are a few shopping options and a brief description on what they may offer.
Bridal salons and boutiques:
You will be waited on hand and foot but you will also pay for this service.
They can have bridal departments but usually limited selection with big prices, keep your eyes open for trunk or discount sales and don’t forget to take a look in the evening wear section!
Lots of space and lots of gowns, this is usually a buy right off the rack so you will have to rummage through the good and the not so good on your own. Make sure you check for any damage. Finding a dress this way will save you a substantial amount of money but make sure to factor in any alterations that may be needed.
Theses are big warehouses where only some of the stock is on sale and you don’t get to go through the racks yourself. Occasionally you can get a good deal but make sure you bring in a lot of ideas to help your salesperson find that perfect dress.
You have found your gown and you know the size, model and the manufacturer but you found it online for 20 to 40% cheaper, it may save you money but remember that all online companies are not reputable. Do your research, read blogs from other brides about the site and only do it if the company is completely reputable. This can be risky but if you know your make and model of your dress it could save you money, again don’t forget to factor in alterations.
There is no one person you MUST take to your shopping appointments unless they’re paying for the dress. You can shop alone but it is nice to have someone to banter with and someone who really understands your situation, they know your budget, your theme, they have an idea of your style and they are willing to be totally honest with you. If you do have someone paying for the dress invite them along or find the dress and bring them back for a private viewing, but make sure they are willing to respect your wishes. There is nothing more annoying then bringing 8 to 10 people to an appointment; too many people, too many opinions and it can just get crowded! Most places will tell you in advance but do not bring young children to your appointment either, the dresses are expensive and so are other items in the salon or boutique you don’t want a child running around while all your attention is somewhere else.
#9 Alter It
The price and the need for alterations should be accounted for in every dress you try on, some salons and boutiques have a seamstress on site others get you to find your own. Again make sure you do all your research before hand and ask around to find out who is reputable and who you can trust. Do not skimp on your alterations. Your gown must fit to a “T”. It will be the most fitted garment you will ever wear besides a swimsuit. There is nothing worse then watching a bride tugging at her strapless dress to keep it from falling down or a bride tripping on a hem that is too long. When making any changes to your dress no matter where or what it may be, make sure that you get all changes in writing. Make sure all changes are discussed, timelines are set, take pictures and be sure the price has been agreed to.
#10 The Cherry On Top
No matter what type of wedding you may be having many brides will admit that until they place that veil on their head they just feel like a pretty girl in a white dress, the veil is the finishing touch. There are many shapes, types and sizes of veils to choose from, try to book your trial hair appointment before your first fitting that way you know what the veil will look like with your hair.
And One More For Good Measure
Once you have found the perfect dress STOP SHOPPING! If your not sure go home and sleep on it maybe try on a few others, do not commit to ordering until you know for sure that that is your dress!
Remember this is all about you and is meant to be a fun experience so don’t bring anyone who may bring you down and be open-minded to suggestions you never know what you will find!