Picking out a wedding dress is one of the most common American wedding traditions, especially if the dress is white. Have you been dreaming about your dress since you were little? Even if you know the style you want, you might be unaware of all the work that goes into a wedding dress search.
We’ve broken down the process of finding your dream wedding dress into the eight most important tips. Whether you’re looking for the epitome of elegance and tradition or want to challenge tradition, you can find what you’re looking for.
1. Start Early
Finding your wedding dress should be one of the first things you do after setting a date and theme. Starting your search up to a year before the wedding gives you plenty of time. However, if you’re getting married within a few months, you’ll still have some options.
Here’s what to consider when starting your search:
- How long do you want to browse? Two to three months is common.
- How long will it take to ship? If you’re ordering online, especially if you’re getting a custom dress, it could take four to six months.
- How easily can you tailor it for a custom fit? This depends on how busy your tailor is and how much work the dress needs.
If you’re planning a spontaneous wedding, you’ll still have your option of wedding dresses. However, you won’t have time to order it or get a custom fit. Start as early as possible so you can focus on the rest of the planning without worrying about the dress.
2. Make an Appointment
Some wedding dress stores and salons only take appointments. Even if they allow walk-ins, calling ahead can ensure that you have a dedicated sales consultant to help with your wedding dress search.
One of the best times to shop is during the workday. You’ll likely have to take time off work, but it’ll be worth it. The stores are less busy at this time, and you’ll have access to the best salespeople.
Don’t worry if you don’t find the dress of your dreams in the first, second, or even third appointment. Try to go at least once a week until you find the perfect dress.
3. Pre-Choose a Style
Throughout the history of the wedding dress, there have been countless styles. Whether you have your eye on traditional floor-length white wedding gowns or vintage-chic dresses in a different color, research your options:
- Silhouette: A-line, ball gown, sheath, mermaid, etc.
- Neckline: Strapless, scoop neck, halter, sweetheart, etc.
You can go on a store’s website or look at a catalog. Pick one style you like and a few other styles you’re interested in. Look primarily at the type of dress you know you like but be open to something new that may surprise you!
4. Set a Firm Budget
Some wedding dresses can cost more than a yearly salary! Set an “ideal budget” and a “firm budget” so you know your price range. Prioritize looking at dresses within your ideal budget, starting with the cheapest and working up from there.
Never look at a dress that costs more than your firm budget. You’ll be tempted to break the bank and may spend years paying it off. Remember: The dress is just one part of your special day.
Don’t be shy about trying on used wedding dresses if they’re in good shape. You should also look for sales. These two tips are great ways to find a dress that would normally be above your budget.
Make sure to factor in unseen costs like shipping and tailoring.
5. Be Honest About Your Size
Many brides think they’ll lose weight to fit into that perfect dress. But the truth is that most can’t lose that weight and remain healthy. Don’t starve yourself for your wedding.
Look at dresses that are your realistic size. It’s easier to take a dress in than to fit in one that’s too tight.
6. Bring Your People
It’s important to have other opinions when you shop. Depending on the store, you can’t always count on the sales consultant to be honest. Bring at least one other person you trust — your mom, maid of honor, or best friend — to give you honest opinions about the dresses you try.
What’s the best part about bringing others? It’s fun! You can make a day of it, and some salons offer snacks and drinks.
As a rule of thumb, don’t bring more than three people. Some salons are small, and too many opinions can hurt more than help.
7. Prepare for the Shopping
The day you shop, make sure you’re ready to have the best experience possible.
- Wear nude-colored undergarments that aren’t too big. If you have an idea of what type of shoes you’ll wear, bring those as well. Carry the shoes with you; don’t kill your feet by wearing them all day.
- Keep your makeup minimal. You don’t want to risk damaging a dress with makeup stains if you start crying. Keep it simple but beautiful.
- Eat before you go. It could be a long day, and being hungry could negatively affect your decisions.
8. Be Open to Surprise
Sometimes the dress of your dreams is one you’d never expect. You’ve done your research, you know your theme, and you have your go-to style. But don’t rule out a dress that doesn’t fit your criteria.
Your sales consultant has worked with hundreds or thousands of brides in your position. They may have some ideas you’ve never considered. Being open to their suggestions can help you find something unconventional for you and avoids potential conflict in the store.
You might also end up not loving the style you researched. When shopping for your wedding dress, make sure to enjoy the process as much as the results!
At City Hall Wedding, we can answer your wedding-day questions and offer tips to make finding groom suits just as much fun as the wedding dress search. Do you have more questions? Can we help you with another part of the planning process? We’d love to hear from you.