You Got the Ring, Now You Need the Dress
Congrats, you are engaged! Now that you’re a bride-to-be, you have to start wedding dress shopping, right? It almost feels like you are in a movie scene because it’s kind of surreal to think you are actually going to be trying on wedding dresses! I was never the girl who planned my wedding when I was little, I’m not even sure if people really do that or not…but it’s a crazy feeling driving to try on your future wedding dress.
Before you go in blind to try on wedding dresses, check out these ten tips for finding the perfect dress for your big day!
Be Prepared to Talk Numbers and Details
You walk into the first store and immediately your fist instinct is to start looking and trying on dresses ASAP. Make sure to have an appointment, otherwise, most bridal shops won’t be able to give you their full attention. Some bridal shops may require you to have an appointment before trying on dresses.
If you do have an appointment, you start off most everywhere filling out a questionnaire with your name, wedding date, wedding theme (I had NO IDEA at this point, so don’t panic), colors, contact info, and the dreaded question: BUDGET.
It’s important to know your budget before going in whether you or a family member is helping you pay for it. This way you don’t have to awkwardly start talking numbers in front of the store employee. I suggest making sure you know this so it doesn’t put a burden on your day as you’re trying on dresses.
Forget everything you know about Say Yes To The Dress because you really don’t need a $5,000 dress. There are PLENTY of dresses that are stunning for under $1,500. Don’t let a cheaper price tag on a dress turn you away thinking you need to spend a particular dollar amount for your wedding day. In all honesty, nobody attending your wedding will know the name of the designer of your wedding dress unless you tell them or unless they are some sort of wedding ninja.
By knowing your budget, the store employee can help find your perfect dress that won’t put you in debt and make your shopping trip much more enjoyable! There is nothing worse than trying on a dress and loving it, only to find out that it is way out of your price range, so be prepared!
Don’t Book All Your Appointments in One Day
I wouldn’t book all your appointments in one day unless you absolutely have to. I was in that type of situation since my mom was only down for a limited amount of time to shop with me. We tried to space them out as much as possible, but inevitably we had to visit multiple shops in a day.
You will LOVE some of the bridal shops you go into and others not so much. However, when you are having a great time trying dresses on, you really don’t want to feel like you are on a time crunch by trying to stay on track with your appointments.
Don’t put yourself on a schedule or limit yourself to how many dresses you need to try on. Trying on dresses is part of the whole wedding experience, so don’t let it stress you out. Have fun and soak in little memories along the way.
It’s also the closest feeling to walking a runway. It’s pretty fun (and I LOATHE trying on clothes) – work it!
Don’t Look in the Dressing Room Mirror
I went to a couple bridal shops before finding my perfect dress. All of these stores had mirrors in the dressing rooms – just like any other store you would try on clothes. It made me feel just like that: like I was trying on clothes. I would pull or adjust the dress or immediately say NO. Some I didn’t even bother walking out in because I knew it wasn’t the one.
However, when I went shopping at The Perfect Dress I literally found my perfect dress! I seriously think there’s something magical about walking out on a platform with a big mirror, in front of the people who are with you watching. It really makes you feel like a bride!
When I tried on my dress I had no idea what it looked like, but I had a pretty good feeling. I opened the curtain to the dressing room and made my walk to the platform. I felt like everyone’s eye turned to me and stopped. It’s almost like everyone wanted to say “that’s the one,” but before they could even say anything, I already knew. All eyes were on me and I felt like a blushing bride for once! It was a very memorable moment taking that first look in the mirror and realizing this is the dress I’ll wear when I marry Andy.
It was the dream dress I envisioned. It had everything I wanted. Life felt complete!
I suggest using this trick (not looking in the dressing room mirror) to see if you get that WOW moment once you walk out. I think it made the dress shopping experience complete! Don’t get too crazy overthinking your dress in pictures once you decide on it because you will drive yourself nuts. Photos in the store don’t give dresses their full potential compared to your wedding day!
(This picture does not do this dress justice, and I promise it is not this stark white as it appears in the photo.)
Try Different Dress Styles
I knew I had envisioned a strapless ivory dress, with pretty lace (why lace? – NO IDEA. It just felt right.). However, I still tried on mermaid, ball gown, plain, beaded, pretty much any wedding dress ever made.
It’s very important to know you tried on different styles so you don’t second guess yourself later on. Most brides I have talked to have had even the smallest question of doubt – “Did I choose the right dress?” Who knows what dresses will flatter you most until you try them on!
Remember: every wedding dress can be altered or changed in some way. If you want to make something tighter here, add buttons to the back, change the train – it is all doable for a price. This is important to remember so you don’t get hung up on a small detail your dress does or does not have.
This pressure of wanting your wedding day to be perfect can make you a little crazy. Take a breath, have fun, and try on a bunch of different dresses like Carrie Bradshaw did in Sex in the City. Oh and make sure you sip on that complimentary champagne!
Same Advice Goes for Veils
Some veils will surprise you. Just like dresses, I wanted to try all different style of veils: sparkle, lace, short length, medium, no veil. I think it’s important to see how much a veil can change the dramatic and look of your wedding dress. Again, have fun and try on different veils so you don’t start to second guess yourself.
The difference a veil or headband can make could really change the style or look that you are going for. So be creative and have fun!
I fell in love with love with a cathedral length veil that made for some GORGEOUS wedding sunset shots that we wrapped around us. One of these photos is even in my house because I love it so much. The veil even had a gold beaded trim and was just stunning. So if you go with a long veil, I totally recommend using the dramatic length for some memorable wedding pictures. You won’t regret them (a post on this later)!
Go with Your Gut
Even after you have found your perfect dress, you’ll still have a small bit of doubt if you chose the right one. Some people may have bigger doubts than others and that is okay!
It’s so important during the wedding planning process to go with your gut. You chose the dress for the reason and it will be perfect!
Don’t get caught up in trying too many dresses that you start to confuse yourself and wonder if this one is better than that one. You do not want to get caught in a dead-locked decision where you can’t pick.
If I would have tried on more dresses, I’m sure at one point I could have found a dress I might have liked even more than the one I chose, because there are endless amounts of dresses to try on. Or I might have had a mental breakdown trying to decide. Moral of this – don’t try on so many dresses that you drive yourself crazy!
Don’t second guess yourself ladies!
Don’t Go Off Pictures on Pinterest
My wedding dress looks different in the designer’s picture than it does on me. Why? I’m 5’2 not 5’11. I am petite not tall and lengthy.
I think Pinterest is a great tool to get ideas of what type of different styles are out there before you go to try on dresses, however, I suggest having an open mind once you walk in the bridal shop.
Listen to the store employees (they do this for a living and most of the time they have great suggestions). Worst case, you don’t like the dress they picked. I loved hearing what they thought would look good because it was an unbiased opinion.
See what your eye catches and enjoy every little moment. Even though I wanted a strapless dress, I still tried dresses with straps or short sleeves just because I could! Never say never and don’t pigeonhole yourself to a certain dress style, because until you try on a particular style with your own body type, it could look completely different than you thought.
Style Your Hair and Do Your Makeup When You Go
I’m a big fan of the messy bun, but I think it’s important to style your hair and have a little makeup on when you try on dresses. It helps play the part of the bride-to-be and you won’t feel as if the dress is wearing you.
You want to feel complete and by looking ready it helps you envision what you will feel and look like on your big day! When trying on dresses you want to feel somewhat stunning and what better way to boost your confidence than feeling like you own it.
Just Bring Your Mom
All my bridesmaids including my sister were out of state, so it was just me and my mom when we went dress shopping. At first, I was a little worried – will I still feel like I am getting the whole wedding dress shopping experience? Will I feel jealous seeing brides with all their girlfriends cheering them on?
BEST THING EVERRRRRRRRRR.
It was a great memory just shopping with my mom. It was much easier to form my own opinions with other people commenting or on their phones.
At the end of the day, if you like your dress – that’s all that matters. I know my mom would never steer me wrong and I had an awesome bridal shop employee giving me a ton of help and direction.
By not having a large entourage with me, I felt like not only did I get a quality experience, but also a very personal and memorable one. I liked that I could try on as many dresses as I wanted without inconveniencing anyone.
If you do this, you will really got to be the star of the day and take your time as you try on dresses. It’s also a special bonding moment that you and your mom will share together.
What I really loved about not trying on my dress in front of my bridesbabes was getting a first look with them on my wedding day. They got to see me for the first time in my perfect dress on my wedding day. It was ALL THE FEELS.
If you choose to have your bridesmaids there – I’m sure it will be awesome. This advice is for brides who are a little unsure who to bring or are in a situation similar to mine where their bridesmaids weren’t able to attend.
It’s Okay If You Don’t Cry
For some reason, television has made us feel as women that we need to cry once we find the perfect dress.
I’m sure this totally happens. But it didn’t for me and some other brides I know, so don’t feel like you need to be crying your mascara off in order to find your perfect dress. When you know, you just know! I was more excited than anything! I could not stop smiling. Seeing my mom get emotional made me a little misty-eyed.
For me, it was that glowing feeling like everything I envisioned came to life and I thought “I will be marrying Andy in this dress.”
I knew I found the perfect dress because I could see myself walking down the aisle with my dad in this dress to my soon-to-be husband.
I did tear up at my final fitting because I became pretty close to the girl at the store who helped me along the way. It was so surreal going in for my last fitting knowing later that week would be my wedding day.
You will have enough tears on your wedding day, so just know it’s 100% okay to not cry when you find your perfect dress.
Bubbly Wife Tip: Don’t forget to bring a hair tie with you for trying on dresses! You can put it up in a high or low bun to try to get a better idea of how you envision styling your hair with a particular dress style. Wear something that is easy to change in and out of quickly – so no button blouses that take a year to change out of.
I am so excited for you brides to be to find your perfect dress. I wish y’all the best wedding shopping trip!
Happy wedding planning!