Before: Dress Shopping

9 Jul

Tips and tricks for how to (wedding dress) shop ’til you drop

Now that you’re starting to narrow down the style for your wedding dress (and if not, check out my previous post on the topic) it’s time to hit those bridal stores! Here are some tips from my personal experience on how to make it a productive, stress-free and (most importantly!) fun shopping experience.

First things first: make sure you go dress shopping quite soon into your wedding plans. Dresses take a long time to order in; the first bridal store I visited said it could take up to six months for the gown of my dreams to arrive after ordering. I personally know one bride who was stressed out of her mind waiting for her gown to arrive (and it just scraped in two weeks before), and another bride whose dress in fact did not arrive on time – so she was forced to hurriedly buy a second-hand dress from classified ads two days before her wedding. Yikes! Learn from those brides: skip the stress and get in early with shopping!

Ready now to descend on those bridal stores? Here are my Reflective tips for getting the most out of your wedding dress shopping:
•    Choose your bridal store entourage carefully. You might love to involve your mother (for example) in the process, but if you know she is likely to criticize, let her rain on someone else’s parade for the day. Bring someone who’ll be your cheerleader instead!
•    Before you drag yourself and your BFFs across town to a bridal store, check the store’s website to see if there are any gowns there that you’re actually interested in. If you don’t think their entire inventory is online, call to check. Picking up the phone is quicker than the trip out there.
•    If you’re hoping to actually try on wedding dresses rather than just browse the racks, make an appointment in advance to make sure there’s a store assistant ready and willing to help you into the gowns.
•    Everyone has different tastes in wedding dresses (that’s why there are so very many different styles, duh!), so let your entourage know that you’re not seeking their opinion so much on whether they like the dress, but more so on whether they think the dress you like suits you. For example, whether it make your hips look wide or chest look flat, if there are crooked hemlines, and all that jazz.
•    Cleanse off any make-up you’re wearing before hitting the dress stores. Some gowns may need to go on over your head, and you don’t want to risk being financially liable for staining an expensive gown with lippie and foundation.
•    Similarly, keep your trying-on-dresses hairstyle simple, as it will soon be wrecked from pulling so many gowns on and off. (Also, skip bulky hairclips or you’ll risk getting snagged on the dress and stuck… as happened to me on more occasions than I care to admit!)

Champagne, anyone? Don’t count on it for your wedding dress shopping!

•    Ask the salesperson when you arrive if you are able to take photos of the dresses, especially while you’re wearing them. Some stores do not allow snaps, apparently in case someone steals the intellectual property of the designer (odd, considering the fact that designers put pictures of the gowns from multiple angles on their own websites). If you aren’t able to take pictures of yourself in the gown, you probably won’t remember how it looks on you.
•    Don’t expect you and your entourage to be served champagne as you browse frocks. I went to eight wedding dress shops, and the whole champagne thang seems to be something reserved for the movies. (Sad face.)
•    If you’re having difficulty getting into a wedding dress, wait for assistance (and really yell for it if you need to). At one bridal store I ripped a dress seam trying to get into one gown unassisted, and I was terrified I would be charged for the cost. (I wasn’t ,luckily.) Dressing without help is another good way to get stuck in a gown.
•    After you’ve tried on all the dresses in the store that you wish to see, make a top list of one to three dresses to try on again before you leave the store. That way you can better remember how they look (especially if you can’t take photos), and not get so mixed up with the original, longer list of sartorial contenders.
•    Going to a massive dress expo or sale? The changing rooms might be full to the brim with brides, or if the store has hired out a warehouse or other room there might be no changing facilities at all. If you’re not a fan of public nudity, wear shorts and a strapless top, or at least underwear that you don’t mind being on display.

I hope these tips help you in your wedding gown shopping! Be prepared, but mostly get out there and have fun. Best of luck shopping for your dream dress! Got more tips? Add ‘em below in the comments!

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3 Responses to “Before: Dress Shopping”

  1. reflectivebride July 24, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Just read this great article on The Knot, for more wedding dress shopping tips!


  1. Before: Buying the Second-hand Dress « The Reflective Bride - July 24, 2012

    […] In last week’s thrilling episode, you found out why I went for a pre-loved wedding dress. I have found very few guides online about how to go about buying a second-hand bridal gown, so I thought it would be great to share what I learned from the process, with other brides looking at the same option for their dream dress. (Also, check out this earlier post for general tips on shopping for your wedding dress.) […]

  2. Kitty Chen Trunk Show « Premier Bride's Perfect Dress - August 31, 2012

    […] Before: Dress Shopping ( […]

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