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:
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.
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?
- College Park, MD
- Graduate Student
- Wedding Date:
- May 2013
- Southern Tree Plantation in Blairsville, GA