There’s a lot people don’t tell you before shopping for your wedding dress. Most people picture a “Say Yes to the Dress” type fairytale — what could be better than trying on thousands of dollars of drop dead gorgeous wedding dresses, right?!
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly fun, but it doesn’t come without stress and emotion. My expectations for how I thought choosing a dress would go, made it difficult for me to make a decision when it came time for my appointment day. This is everything I wish I knew going into wedding shopping:
1. Your budget matters
Before you go into your appointment, make sure to decide on a budget and include that decision with whoever is going with you or whoever is helping you pay for it, if necessary. Most bridal shops ask you your price range when you arrive, so knowing this ahead of time will allow you to look at only the dresses within your budget.
I promise you, there will be a dress within your price range that you love. I can also promise you that there will be many dresses above your price range that you will love. Do yourself a favor and limit yourself to trying on only dresses in your price range.
Remember, it’s YOU in the dress that makes guests tear up when you walk down the aisle. Not the designer label.
2. Choose your party selectively
Most boutiques have a pre-set limit of how many guests you can bring, but I just want to reinforce: less is more. You may feel tempted to invite your whole bridal party or extended family, but 1-4 guests is really ideal.
On a practical note, most shops just don’t have the space for more people than this. But it will also be less stressful for you in the long run!
Less people means less opinions to take into account. Whose opinion really matters to you? Who could you not imagine shopping for your dress without?
You’ll have plenty of people to show off your dress to on your wedding day. In this circumstance, an intimate crew is best.
3. Plan your venue first
There are SO many beautiful dresses out there. I thought it would be easier to narrow down to my favorite because, in my head, I knew what I wanted.
However, it got to the point where I kept trying on dresses that were all beautiful, so I had to make my decision off of more than the dress itself.
Knowing your venue can help you choose a dress that makes sense for that location. For example, if you are having a beach wedding, you may not want a long train and tons of heavy fabric. But if you’re tying the knot in a ballroom, you may want something much more dramatic.
The important thing here is to know your style and know what will fit best with your theme on the day.
*Note: This is just to help narrow down your decision. I’m also one to encourage breaking the rules, so don’t worry about practicality too much. It’s your wedding for goodness sakes. If you want a dress with long sleeves and your wedding is in the peak of summer, I say, wear the long sleeves.
4. Only schedule 2-3 appointments
Personally, I would never schedule more than 2 appointments in the same day, but you know yourself best. We heard from one of the boutiques we visited that one of their customers had gone to 5 appointments in one day. (That sounds like a nightmare to me.)
No matter your stamina, you’ll hit a point in the day, when it just becomes a lot of white dresses. Do yourself a favor and spread it out so that you are able to make a confident decision.
I only visited 3 different shops total, but each one had completely different styles. It’s worth trying out a few to see what style fits you best!
5. Sleep on your decision
My most important piece of advice is to go in with the expectation that you are not going to decide on the first day. A good financial strategy in general is to never make impulse purchases — the same is true with your wedding dress.
You don’t need to decide right away, even if you think it’s the one. Try one more store, make sure nothing else compares. Sleep on it and make sure you’re still dreaming about it the next day – or a week later! The dress will still be there and the bridal store will still be more than happy with your business when you take your time to make a decision.
I changed my mind on “THE dress” 3 times before I made my final decision. Maybe I’m just indecisive, but especially if you are easily swept up in emotion like me, it’s worth sleeping on your decision to know for certain.
6. Remember what your wedding dress is for
I’m not talking about a wedding (well, of course that too), I’m talking about marriage! You are getting married! Weddings are fun and beautiful and in my opinion, the best celebration of such an incredible commitment.
Sometimes, taking a step back from the details, the lace and sequins, gives perspective on what this is all about. Your wedding day is going to be amazing not because you have the perfect dress (that’s a bonus). It will be incredible because you are saying yes to forever with your best friend.
When you’re trying dresses on, think of him. Which dress do you imagine wearing as you are standing beside your man? Which dress do you imagine him seeing you in for the first time on your wedding day? That’s the dress you should choose.