The Dress Hunt Continues”¦Be Prepared!

I could write about four million posts about shopping for wedding dresses! It was so much fun!! But even though it was awesome, I probably could have made the experience a teensy bit better if I had done a few things differently. But since I’ll never be going wedding dress shopping again, I need to share all the knowledge I gained with someone. Who better than you guys!

Who should you shop with?

One of the things that made dress shopping so fun for me was that I didn’t take any people who were stressful. If you’ve watched Say Yes to the Dress, you know that there are inevitably those people who make the bride so sad, because they don’t like the dress that she clearly loves. I always wonder, “Are these people always like this? Why did she bring them? Did she bring a bunch of people because they all wanted to be on TV?”

I am somewhat particular about my shopping partners. I’m perfectly happy to shop with another person when they want to look for something. But when I’m searching for something for me, there are only a few people I feel totally comfortable being with. My favorite shopping partner is my mom. She’s incredibly patient, and unless something looks horrible, she’s not going to force her opinion on me. Plus, she’s hilarious. We always have a blast together. Right up there with my mom is her sister, my aunt. My aunt doesn’t have kids of her own, so she loves to pretend I’m her daughter. She is also a ton of fun. Next in line are my bridesmaids. We all enjoy shopping together, so they definitely make the list of people I’m comfortable shopping with. So let’s recap. My shopping buddies: Mom, Aunt, Four Bridesmaids.

One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give any bride who is shopping for a dress is to choose your “entourage” carefully. It’s a super fun time, but there’s still a tiny bit of anxiety that comes along for the ride. You want people who are patient, easy-going, and have your interests at heart. If you’ve got a bridesmaid that you think might have a twinge of jealousy, don’t bring her. If your aunt hates your sense of style, don’t bring her. In fact, if you want to try on dresses by yourself once, do it! I did! Honestly, it wasn’t as much fun as when I had my people with me, but for some girls, going solo might be the best way to do it.

All in all, I visited eight bridal shops on five different trips spread out over four months. Two trips were only with my mom. One trip was by myself. One trip was with my maid of honor. And one trip was with my mom and aunt. I never had more than two people with me, and that was perfect.

What do you need?

Dress shopping is not exactly like normal shopping. Unless you are an experienced marathon shopper (like, you’re a Black Friday ninja), you’ll probably want to do a little extra physical and mental preparation for wedding dress shopping.

First, the physical preparation. Bring a strapless bra if you have one. If you don’t have one, anything could happen. One girl just told me to take off my bra and I spent the entire appointment half naked. For some of you ladies, that may be fine. I personally would rather not have been running around all morning showing my girls to a random sales person. At another appointment, I just tucked my straps in. Another place gave me a strapless bra (David’s Bridal always does this). At the end of the day, dresses look better when you’re wearing somewhat appropriate undergarments. So bring a bra if you’ve got one.

Speaking of undergarments, you may also want to pay attention to your britches, lest you end up like me in this photo:

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Not only can you see a line, I’m actually wearing black underwear. That was stupid of me. If you’re thinking about getting a form-fitting gown, invest in some Spanx. And even if you’re not going to get a form-fitting gown, try and wear some nice underwear on the day you go dress shopping. Remember how your mom always told you to wear clean underwear in case you were in a car accident and someone saw them? Well, the sales girl is definitely going to see your underwear when you go shopping. And you don’t want to be worried about it. So get your laundry done and have some pretty underwear ready to go!

Once you’ve got the right underwear on, it’s time for the rest of you. You may be inclined to get all gussied up because it’s a big special day. Fight that urge! Even if you’re only going to a few stores, the last thing you want to do at the end of trying on wedding dresses is try to squeeze into your skinny jeans and then hobble around trying to get your cute boots back on. I advise comfort. You’ll hardly be in the clothes at all!

I also recommend ballet flats (or flip-flops if that’s your thing). Some stores refused to let me walk around without shoes on (that was a bit weird to be honest, but it can happen). At other stores, they would only let me try on one or two dresses and then they would let me browse again and find more that I liked. You may find yourself wanting shoes. And let me tell you. Those cute boots do not look so cute when you’re wearing them with a robe. Plus, they take too long to get back on. So in short, wear an outfit that is comfy and easy to get on and off.

Pinned Image

If you’ve got to be cute, aim for something like this. Layers in case a shop is too warm or too cold. Shoes that are easy to get on and off! (Image from Yellow Me Daisy and Polyvore)

Next item of importance: food! Dress shopping makes you hungry! Make sure you eat a good healthy meal before you head out the door. Don’t be worry that it’s going to make you look fat. Most dresses have so much structure that you will not notice! (Plus, you’ll have on your Spanx.) You will also be thirsty! Bring a bottle of water or soda or whatever makes you happy. And most importantly, plan for a meal break. You may think, “Oh, I’m not going to be ready for lunch yet at 11:30 because we had breakfast at 9:30.” Um. Get ready to be starving. After every dress shopping outing, I was ready to eat a horse. When my Maid of Honor came to visit, we had a nice dinner all planned out for the end of the day. But when we ended our shopping at about 3:00, I said, “Let’s get a little snack.” And we ended up getting a full meal and then getting frozen yogurt. The dinner reservation was promptly cancelled. We probably wouldn’t have gorged if we had just planned a little better for lunch in between our appointments.

Must. Eat. Everything. (Image from User Experience Design)

Once you’ve got the physical preparation taken care of, you may also want to do a little mental prep. Hopefully, you will have a delightful consultant who is nothing but helpful. But, experience dictates that you will likely have at least one less-than-perfect shopping experience. Mine comes to mind easily.

Rose declared herself to be, “A nice person who never says anything bad about anyone.” And she also reminded me that she has been selling wedding dresses for over 15 years, so she is an “expert in what the bride wants.” And yet, Rose would not let me try on several dresses, because, “They are too heavy for an outdoor wedding.” Fine. Maybe she was right. She also pushed me to buy a sample that I wasn’t in love with. When I told her that I wasn’t sold on the sample because there was another dress I was pretty sure I loved but that they didn’t have in stock, she asked where I had found this dress. I informed her, and she responded, “Well, I never say anything bad about anyone, but I have to tell you that ____ Boutique is not a nice place. They do not run a good business.” And then something else came up and she said again, “I never say anything bad, but blah blah blah”. Rose was a bit sketchy. She made me a bit uncomfortable, which is not how dress shopping should go.

Be prepared to stick to your guns! Don’t let a consultant or a family member talk you into something you don’t want. You’re going to be tired. Your brain will be all fuzzy, and you can’t think straight. Which is why I end with the following recommendation:

Don’t buy a dress the day you try it on! Dresses don’t “sell out.” You order them. It’s not going to be discontinued in one day. Go home. Get a good night’s sleep. And if, in the morning, you just can’t wait to go to the boutique and order your dress, you made the right choice. If, on the other hand, you find yourself wanting to look around a little bit more, the dress may not be the right one for you. But trust me, you’ll find it!

Phew! So many tips! Did I leave anything out? Does anyone agree or disagree?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Blue Whale

Location:
College Park, MD
Wedding Date:
May 2013
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comments

  1. Member
    RapunzelRapunzel 812 posts, Busy bee @ 10:38 am

    I love that example of a “cute shopping” outfit: especially the cardigan (I’m cardigan-obsessed). I never went dress shopping (my mom made my dress) but these seem like really great tips!!

  2. Member
    thatredheadedbride 791 posts, Busy bee @ 10:47 am

    Thank you for this post! I’m going dress shopping on Black Friday, but I figure there will be less people there because they’re still in line at Walmart (ha!). I already bought some Spanx, some new undies, and a new strapless bra, too. Good to know that I will actually use them!

  3. Member
    clumsylawyer 1351 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:31 am

    My main tip would be to really overdo the antiperspirant. I don’t usually sweat much, but getting in and out of dresses all day is hot, sticky work. I use roll on, and (overshare here!) I even used some on my thighs on my second dress shopping trip, because I was so hot at the first one!

  4. Member
    pumpkin-bunny 28 posts, Newbee @ 1:18 pm

    Don’t forget to shave your legs! The consultants get pretty close and personal with adjusting the dress, crinoline, etc.

  5. Member
    Mrs. Mink 3151 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:52 pm

    I agree with limiting the entourage. I had fun shopping with friends, but working one-on-one with a consultant meant I got to move quickly and try on more dresses. I didn’t have to parade out of the dressing room in every dress when I was alone.

    I usually wore a dress or dressy paints and a tunic for my appointments and always a better bag and shoes. Dressing nicely can sometimes get you a better consultant and better service.

  6. Member
    lealorali 4420 posts, Honey bee @ 1:53 pm

    Wear full makeup except foundation!! You don’t want to ruin those dresses but you need to feel your best aka, put your pretty face on so you get the whole picture of what the dress looks like. I wore quite heavy makeup and was glad I did, because when I got pics taken of me in “the dress” I didn’t looked washed out or fugly.
    Bring only your absolute best, non-critical family and friends.
    Wear cute undies. You will be almost butt naked.
    And yes, shave your legs! I also nixed deodorant (I don’t sweat or smell really… but actually.. I was sweating trying them on! So nerve wracking!

  7. Member
    Mrs. Panda 1329 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:12 pm

    I love this list of tips. I wish I had it when I went shopping. I tried going shopping with a huge entourage, and ugh, it was pretty chaotic. I definitely wish I limited the people who were coming so I could really focus on what dress I wanted.

  8. Guest
    rebecca, Guest @ 4:22 pm

    @lealorali: “I didn’t look washed out or fugly.” hahah this made me laugh…it’s very true though.

  9. Member
    cicijapan 263 posts, Helper bee @ 5:13 pm

    Great tips! Thank you!

  10. Member
    missgemini 566 posts, Busy bee @ 9:10 am

    This list is GREAT and totally recommended. I agree with you on each point, I actually already had my heels and earrings picked out so I brought those along as well and they seriously helped me see the whole “vision” of what I wanted to look like. I also made sure to have fun with the whole day and look my very best, hair was curled, makeup was on. SO many girls don’t give a damn when they try on dresses and I personally think it kind of ruins the experience, if I’m going to be staring at myself in the mirror all afternoon, I want my hair & makeup looking nice!

  11. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:26 am

    I took a full entourage for my first dress-shopping day, and for the other days, just one of my MOHs. I am a very stubborn/opinionated person though, so I knew that other people’s opinions wouldn’t change my mind whether or not I liked a dress, but taking many people is definitely not for everyone! Also, make sure you designate someone to take a pic of each dress and take notes on the pros/cons and the details of the dress (especially the manufacturer/style number) so that you can remember later. Because I don’t care what anyone says, you DO NOT remember everything about each dress, and it also helps to assign that role so that someone is asking about the details for each as well, since you may not think to if you’re caught up in one dress or another!

  12. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 11:35 am

    I went dress shopping with my entire wedding party – a total of six girls. We specifically scheduled this day so that everyone, including the out-of-towners, could attend and we made a weekend out of it. I cannot imagine not having a single one of them there. It was honestly one of the best experiences imaginable and my ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ moment will be one I remember forever.

  13. Member
    stephk527 987 posts, Busy bee @ 11:36 am

    Our appointment also took forever (I’m pretty sure I tried on nine dresses, actually) and we could’ve eaten each other by the time it was over. . .we pretty much ended up inhaling our dinner at Chili’s.

  14. Member
    Mrs. Pain au Chocolat 2298 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:02 pm

    Agree especially on eating and underwear! (I wore black underwear on an appointment and it didn’t show up, but after that I wore nude.)

  15. Guest
    Signature Weddings, Guest @ 8:18 pm

    Very good tips !! Thank you .

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