The best shopping day of your life is about to commence—and the excitement of trying on beautiful dresses all day while drinking champagne with your friends is almost too much to bear. But before you even walk into the bridal shop, it’s important to keep a few things in mind so that your shopping experience is fun and, most importantly, that you walk away with a wedding dress you absolutely love. Here are our best tips of what to know about your first bridal appointment.
1. Start Your Research Early
You may not know exactly which dress you want to buy, but having a general idea of the style, cut, and color you want will help your bridal stylist get a better idea of what to pick out for you to try on and what to completely avoid. When you envision yourself walking down the aisle, do you picture a princess gown or do you see yourself more in a sheath? The venue, wedding date, and aesthetic you’d like to achieve in your ceremony and reception will also play a role in what kind of dresses you’ll have your eye on. To gain inspiration, check out Instagram, magazines, and Pinterest to see what catches your eye and decide what you wouldn’t be caught dead in.
2. Have a Budget Set
Before you even research what store you want to shop at, it’s a good idea to have a solid budget set. This is for your own protection—because of course the dress that’s $1,000 more than your original budget is going to be absolutely perfect and gorgeous. Know what your budget is and be firm with your dress consultant. Trust us on this one.
3. Be Open Minded
While it’s great to have an idea of what you want before you walk in the store, don’t be so closed minded on one type or one specific dress, which can prevent you from being open minded to try on other styles you might not have ever thought to look at. The best mindset to be in before you try on wedding gowns is to know what you want, but to be prepared to be unexpectedly surprised.
4. Wear (or Bring) the Right Bra
Depending on what kind of wedding dress you choose, you may need a very specific bra or you might not need one at all, but as you’re trying on dresses it’ll be annoying to see your black or pink bra straps as you envision what you’ll look like on your wedding day. At the very least, bring a strapless, neutral colored bra so that it won’t look as clunky or out of place as you try different styles of dresses on.
5. Keep Your Entourage Small
We’ve all seen those episodes of Say Yes to the Dress where the bride brings in 20 family members and each of them has a different (and very loud) opinion on what dresses the bride tries on. You can avoid this testy situation by keeping your dress entourage small—either sticking with just your maid of honor and your mom, or just choosing to take along your in-town bridesmaids and a couple of family members. The less people that are in the audience, the less opinions you’ll have to deal with—because the most important one is yours, after all.
6. Don’t Be Disappointed if You don’t Find “The One”
Just like searching for a partner, shopping for a wedding dress isn’t always successful on the first try. It may be difficult, but if you’re not feeling any of the dresses you tried on during your first shopping session, it’s okay to leave without purchasing one. Whether you need to look at another store, try a new style, or get a new consultant, sometimes going in on another day can completely change your mindset and help you get over that indecision. The right dress may take time to find, but it’s worth the search!
7. The Dress Should Fit You—Not the Other Way Around
Many brides use their wedding as an opportunity as motivation to get fit—and that’s great. But if you go into your bridal appointment with the idea of squeezing or fitting into a wedding dress that’s a smaller size than you currently are, it’s not going to be a positive experience for you.
Your wedding dress should work to fit you—not the other way around. If you plan on losing a little bit of weight before the big day, hold off on buying your dress until then. Whatever you do, don’t buy a dress too small and then get emergency alterations at the last minute. Buy the dress that makes you feel beautiful, no matter what your size.
8. Have Fun!
The most important tip that we can give you about looking for a wedding dress is to remember to have fun. Wedding planning can get stressful, but shopping for a dress should be fun and a bonding experience with your mom, sisters, and bridesmaids. Besides, the complimentary champagne will likely contribute to the fun, anyway!