Congratulations to all you couples out there that just got engaged over the holidays!! We live for the energy and love that’s in the air around the holidays. The feeling that truth and love are all that matter and that anything can happen. The reminder that our loved ones, our family, are why we do anything. The holidays just have a way of clarifying what matters. So we LOVE when the holidays come around, and couples see so clearly how they don’t want to waste another day on this earth without promising to love and cherish one another for the rest of their days. Oh! The romance!! It just gets us in allll the feels. But, once you get engaged, comes all the planning and wedding work! And one of the first few things you should start doing after you get engaged? Wedding dress shopping!! So for all you gals out there about to start your wedding dress shopping journey, we have some helpful tips — some things you’ll need to know before your first wedding dress appointment! Let’s dive in.
If you are going the made to order route (which is how most bridal shops work), dresses will take 4-6 months for the designers to make them once you’ve placed your order. On top of that you will still need your alterations done once the dress arrives, which on average takes about 1-2 months. So, you’re looking at a 8 month process just from the time you say “Yes!” to the dress. Adding in extra time to look and shop around, you should start about 1 year to 10 months out from your wedding.
Do Your Research
Not all bridal shops are the same! Even if you haven’t been shopping before, most women have some general ideas of what their personal style is or perhaps what they don’t want for a wedding dress. For example: if you only know you don’t want a ball gown, don’t go to a bridal shop that only carries traditional ball gowns. Every shop will have a “personality” or niche in the market or a speciality style. For example: some are very traditional, some carry only independent designers, some specialize in boho styles, etc. If you know your style is not boho at all, rather you tend to love classic silhouettes and fabrics, you probably won’t find anything you love at a shop that boasts itself as “non-traditional bridal”. While you could spend every weekend dragging all your besties to hit every single bridal shop in town, that tends to become exhausting and can feel discouraging when you’ve gone to 3 places in a row that don’t carry anything you are looking for. Instead, do your research in advance. Look up the shops in town and prioritize the ones that match your style.
Nail Down Your Budget
Just as bridal shops all carry different styles, they also all have different price ranges. Before you go shopping, really try to nail down your budget for your dress. Nothing sucks more than trying on and falling in love with a dress you can’t afford. It will break your heart and nothing will compare after. So don’t do this to yourself. Figure out your budget, and find shops that carry styles in your price points. If they don’t list it on their website, give them a call. Today, in the world of bridal, there is a larger range than ever before! Generally, most dresses fall anywhere from $800 - $10,000. So narrow down what you are looking to spend, and let your stylist know when you make your appointment (putting it in your appointment notes will help them to help you!).
Alterations Are Inevitable
Know that alterations will be a must. Whether you buy a sample sale dress or go the made to order route, you will still need alterations. As we mentioned above, most bridal gowns are made to order. What that means, is that once you find the dress and place your order, your stylist will take your measurements and cross reference your measurements against the designers sizing chart. They will be ordering a size, instead of having a dress made custom to your measurements. Also, every woman is shaped differently. It’s rare for someone to be a “perfect” size, meaning their measurements come up a size 8 on bust, waist, and hip measurements. If you are a little more pear shaped, your booty might be a size larger than your bust would be. So when you are ordering a size for your wedding dress, if you are a little more hippy for example, you might order a size that fits your hips perfectly and then plan to have your seamstress bring the bust down to fit your bust perfectly. This way, the dress doesn’t come too tight on your booty and you can’t zip it up! So, keep in mind when you are shopping that alterations will be inevitable. You want this dress to fit YOUR body perfectly, not just fit like a general size 8, but fit like it was made to fit YOU. Also—all made to order dresses will come pretty long in length, as the designers don’t know if you are 5’2 or 6’2 and you probbaly won’t know for months in you plan on wearing heels or what size heel, etc. So the dresses will come long, and are expected to be hemmed by your seamstress in alterations. So don’t forget to add in alterations costs into your budget. While the prices can vary based one the materials in your dress, what you choose to have done, and where you choose to go, the average bride in American spends $500 on alterations.
Wear Nude Undergarments
When you go shopping, plan on wearing nude undergarments. While you more than likely won’t need a bra while trying on the dresses, do plan on wearing a seamless nude thong so that you can get a good idea of how the dress will look without being distracted by any undergarments. It’s also a good idea to bring a pair of spanx if you are planning on wearing them on the big day. Even if you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to bring it.
Who To Bring
Be thoughtful with who you bring shopping with you! While it is such a special time in your life and so fun to share with all your special people, remember that at the end of the day this is your dress and your decision! Bring friends or family who love you and support you and your choices. This may sound obvious, but sadly the opposite happens far more often. And keep in mind that oftentimes too many opinions can quickly become overwhelming. Protect your “moment” (where you want to say “Yes!”) from others’ opinions who may not align with yours, and remember that whoever you choose to bring should be there to support YOU! Some folks may have different opinions. Your dress may not be a dress they would wear — and that’s OKAY! That’s what makes each of us special and uniquely us. Additionally, most shops have a limit on guest count, so be sure to look into that as well before you tell all your folks to come with you.
We hope these tips help you as you begin your dress shopping journey! Let us know below in the comments if these tips helped you! We are so excited for you and hope you find the perfect one that makes your heart flutter! Cheers to an exciting new year!