My grandma told me to find the dress that sings to me. That was one piece of advice that always stuck with me. And when I found my dress, it did sing to me. I just didn’t recognize it at first… Because even though dress shopping is super fun, it can also be very overwhelming! I was so worried about making the wrong decision, I doubted myself. After a very long and drawn out dress shopping extravaganza, though, I finally realized it was singing to me. Loudly, too! So, first and foremost, listen for the dress that sings to you :)
That being said, there are definitely a few things I wish I would have known when I started looking! Here are a few do’s and don’ts that, in my humble opinion, can help you have a wonderful experience and find the perfect dress for you:
- Do make appointments. Some dress shops require an appointment, some don’t. Either way, it is best if you call ahead and make an appointment. That way you are guaranteed to have one on one attention from a consultant and they are able to give you the best service possible! And if you are going to more than one dress shop in a day, just be sure to make the appointments far enough apart that you have plenty of time to try on dresses at each place, as well as taking travel time into account.
- Don’t invite everyone and their mom to come. Ok, clearly a bit of a hyperbole, but the less people you have, the better! While it might seem like a fun idea to invite your mom, and your fiance’s sister, and all your bridesmaids, and your favorite cousin, and your mom’s best friend who is a like a second mom, etc., that is a WHOLE lot of different opinions all in one room. And while it’s nice to have a second or third opinion, ultimately the decision comes down to YOU. Sometimes a group of people that large can sway your decision, even though they mean well. Simply having, for example, your mom and 2-3 of your closest girlfriends plenty of people. Invite a few people who will give honest feedback, but will also respect your decision.
- Do try on all different styles of dresses. Yes, even ones you would never think you’d wear to your wedding. Why? Well first of all, because it’s fun! When else do you get to try on crazy extravagant dresses!? Even if you could never see yourself walking down the aisle in a big, poofy ball gown, or a silky, sexy number, they’re still fun to try on. Second, you might surprise yourself! I’ve known brides who had selected what they thought was THE dress, but they just tried on a few others for fun, and ended up falling in love with something they never thought they would. And they never would have known if they hadn’t tried it on! And third, if you do have an idea in your head of what you want, it could confirm that even more for you. Maybe you will dislike everything else you try on, but hey, at least you now know there was nothing else better!
- Don’t try on dresses over your budget. If you have a strict budget in mind, it’s not worth putting on a dress you can’t have. Honestly, it’s just teasing yourself. Chances are you’ll love it (things we want but can’t have definitely have a tendency of doing that…), and then you’ll just be wishing for that dress when you try on other dresses. It’s better to not go there!
- Do get an understanding of different fabrics and dress shades. Varying fabrics (lace, silk, oragnza, taffeta, chiffon, tulle, etc.) and shades of the dress (stark white, diamond white, natural white, ivory, champagne, etc.) play a big role in how the dress looks on you, and how it photographs. For instance, stark white has tendency to look almost blue, while ivory usually has yellow overtones. Tulle usually looks light and airy, while organza has a soft, organic feel. If you go into your dress shopping with a decent understanding of the fabrics and shades, it can really help your decision! Start looking at photos of dresses that you like (as if you haven’t already been doing that), and take note of how they look in the photograph. This can help you figure out what you like (and what you don’t like), so you know what to expect when you try on different dresses.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative. If you’ve found a dress that is almost perfect except for that one little thing…. change it! Most dresses can be altered without much trouble, and if you alter a bit or even just a little, it totally customizes it and makes it personal to you and your wedding! I loved everything about my wedding dress except that the neck and back line went straight across. So I had it altered to be a sweetheart neckline and dipped it down in the back down and viola! It was perfect. So don’t rule out a dress if there are a few little changes you would want. They can probably be done!
- Do think about comfort. We all know the saying “beauty is pain,” buuuuuut when it comes to your wedding day, I have to disagree! You are going to be wearing that dress ALL DAY LONG. So just consider how comfortable it is! Think about how heavy it is (if you’re getting married in the summer that can be HOT!), think about how tight it is (will you be able to dance freely, bend to hug people, get in and out of car?), think about if it itches or rubs anywhere (no one wants red marks in their photos!), think about the fit (are you going to be hiking it up all day because it doesn’t stay on well?). I’m not saying you can’t buy a dress unless it’s perfectly comfortable, just take those things into consideration when you are trying on.
- Don’t buy the first dress you try on. There’s something about the first time you see yourself in a wedding dress, any wedding dress, that really hits you. It’s an exciting, emotional time and can make you think somewhat irrationally. Ha. Now, I’m not saying the first dress you try on can’t be the one you end up with. But if it is the one, it will still be there after you try on other dresses! And if you’re indecisive like me, trying on lots of dresses but coming back to that one will get rid of the “what if” factor.
- Do sleep on it. Not everyone will agree with this, but I don’t think you should buy a dress right then and there, the day you tried it on. Even if you think for sure it’s the one, sleep on it. Wait a few days. Try on a few other dresses, even. If after all of that you’re still dreaming about it and can’t stop thinking about that one, then you REALLY know. After all, the dress is a BIG deal, not to mention investment, and in my opinion it’s not a decision that needs to be made quickly. I was THIS CLOSE to buying a dress I tried on my first day shopping. My mom even loved it. But we called me dad, and he told us we needed to sleep on it. It would still be there in the morning. So we waited, and then did a little more shopping, and I am SO GLAD we did! I look back at that dress now, and while it was still a nice dress, I know I would have regretted it.
- Do HAVE FUN! The most important thing is to have fun! If you’re worried about what other people want or stressing that you won’t find the right one, take a deep breath, and remember that you are getting ready to marry the man of your dreams. And he is going to love you in whatever gown you choose :)