How to Choose the Right Wedding Dress

A bride tries on a wedding gown while a seamstress makes adjustments.

We’ve all seen that “perfect wedding dress” moment in the movies. You know the one we’re talking about: The bride-to-be is at a wedding dress shop, looks in the mirror, and knows that the dress she has on is the one she wants.

In reality, you might try on 25 dresses, decide that you hate all of them. Then you go back the next week and pick one out that you’ve already tried on. You might choose the first wedding gown you tried on. Anything is possible when you’re shopping for the dress—the one you’ve been dreaming about since you were five years old and put a napkin on your head pretending it was a veil.

Shopping for your wedding dress can feel a little overwhelming. You’ve probably never tried on a wedding dress before, or had a room full of people making comments on everything you try on. Not to mention, you’ve never heard all of the wedding dress terminology before.

When you’re ready to shop for a wedding dress, check out our wedding dress shopping tips to help you find that dress of your dreams.

Know Your Wedding Dress Budget

Whether your budget is $500 or $5,000, knowing the limits of what you can spend is crucial when shopping for a wedding dress. Of course, many dresses that are drastically out of your budget are going to look fantastic, so it’s best to not risk falling in love with something you can’t afford. Only try on dresses within your budget, and no one will get hurt.

Know What Type of Silhouette You Want

It’s a good idea to do a bit of research online or go through a few bridal magazines ahead of your wedding dress shopping appointment.

Wedding gown designs with different silhouette styles

The most common bridal gown silhouettes you’re going to see will be:

  • Ballgown: This style would what many describe as the classic “princess” dress. They have a fitted bodice and a full skirt.
  • A-line: A-line gowns are probably the most popular silhouette. They have a fitted waist and have an “A” shaped skirt that flairs out at the waistline.
  • Trumpet: Trumpet gowns are fitted from the neckline to the hips, and then flare out at the bottom.
  • Mermaid: Mermaid gowns are similar to trumpet gowns in that they are fitted, but they don’t flare out until about mid-calf.
  • Sheath: Sheath gowns have a straight shape from the neckline to the hem.
  • Tea Length: Tea-length dresses were popular in the mid-century and are now a fun, vintage silhouette for more casual, garden weddings. Most tea-length dresses are in an A-line shape but the hem ends in the middle of the calf or at the top of the ankle.

Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New

You may have always pegged yourself as a bride who would want something over-the-top and dazzling. Something that was a real show stopper. But when you walk into that dress fitting appointment, you may find yourself swooning over a simple sheath gown that fits you like a glove.

Be open minded when you go shopping for a wedding dress. You never know what you’re going to like until you try a few of them on, and you might end up choosing a dress you hadn’t considered.

Wedding gowns on display with many different silhouettes

You Have to Feel Comfortable in Your Wedding Gown

Everyone wants to look her best on her wedding day, but you should also be comfortable. You’re going to be running nonstop all day long talking to relatives, making sure things are running smoothly, dancing your little heart out, and smooching with your brand new spouse. You don’t want to be tugging at your dress, sucking in, or feeling like you have to check to make sure your bra isn’t showing. Pick a dress that’s beautiful and that moves with you.

Go With Your Instincts

You may not have that enlightened moment when you cry your eyes out and hug everyone in the store because you’ve found your perfect wedding dress. You know what looks good on you and what you envision wearing when you are walking down the aisle. Your mom may have an opinion, your sister might love you in the first dress you tried on, but go with your instincts. You know which wedding gown you really love.

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