Are you overwhelmed with the whole wedding experience? Or simply confused by the number of choices for formal wear? Let me help! With 18 years of experience owning and operating a full service bridal salon, I like to think I have seen or heard just about everything! Now I have a place to forward all that information to future brides.
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Friday, September 26, 2014
10 Things You Must Know Before Shopping for a Wedding Gown
Here is an article from Bustle with my recommendations included.
WEDDING DRESS SHOPPING: 10 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK OF HITTING THE STORE
Finding the perfect dress isn’t always what it seems — and it certainly isn’t like a scene from Bride Wars (pre-Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway girl fight at The Plaza). Don’t stress, though. With a few ground rules to follow, a budget established, and expectations managed, your wedding dress shopping experience should be smooth sailing from here on out.
1. SET YOUR BUDGET
Establish the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on your wedding dress — and stick to it. The total budget should include the dress, as well as the estimated costs of alterations, veil or headpiece, and belt. Those “hidden” costs add up. To avoid any financial surprises later on, make sure to cover all the fashion bases from the beginning.
This can definitely make a great experience go bad quickly. With no budget, brides feel free to try on anything. Then once she has selected THE gown and someone else is holding the purse strings, makes for a terrible situation for everyone.
The only change I would suggest is to set separate budgets for each item. This way if your gown is a little over budget but you don't need a belt with your gown, you can move around some of your money. Just keep in mind to not go over on all the items and be left with nothing for the last minute items.
2. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START LOOKING
As soon as the ring is on your finger, it’s pretty much go-time on the dress shopping front. I’m not advocating for crazed behavior, but from a logistics standpoint, starting the process at least eight to nine months out is a good idea. Allow yourself time to actually find it, then allow time for fittings, alterations, and having it shipped or delivered to you.
This is spot on!! Although it says 8-9 months, 12-14 months is not unreasonable. Keeping in mind that most brides do not purchase on the first store visit, there may be 2-3 weeks between your first shopping experience and placing your order. If you feel rushed to make the purchase, there is a bigger chance of having buyer's remorse.
As a side note, don't let any salon or consultant push you into something you are not sure of. Feel free to ask for the manager or owner or go to another store to confirm what you are being told.
3. HAVE A PLAN
Like all good plans, research and appointment-making go a long way. To the former point, peruse bridal magazines (Martha Stewart Real Weddingsis a great resource!), put in some time on Pinterest, and check out your favorite bridal designers (Vera Wang, Marchesa, Oscar de la Renta, etc.) for design inspiration and styling reference. To the latter point, most bridal salons, specialty shops, and department stores don’t operate on a walk-in schedule. Make sure they’re expecting you upon arrival.
This is the first one I will have to disagree. If you fall in love with the $10,000 gown online and your budget is only $1000, you probably will not be happy with any gown you try on. You can definitely check out sources online, but without prices available, be very careful. And remember that what looks good in a picture may be totally different on you.
You’ll most likely want a second and third opinion. Outside perspective and honest feedback are welcome, but too much “noise” can cloud your gut judgment. The most important thing is that you love the dress, even if that ultimately means going against the popular vote.
I have seen this go in many directions. Some brides come with no one and complete the purchase by themselves. Others want to come back with help. Some brides will bring only 2-3 and still want others to see the gown. Of course, I have seen the big parties fight over which gown the bride should select and she finally leaves with nothing. My suggestions is to start with the smaller group to keep stress levels lower. This is not a time for added stress. Then if you feel the 2-3 you brought didn't give the feedback you wanted, try again with a different 2-3.
BUT--ultimately the decision is YOURS as the bride. You know the groom the best and you know what is comfortable and looks good on you. Don't be afraid to tell anyone in your entourage that it is NOT their wedding!! (I really want those words printed over the large mirrors in my store so I can just tell some to read the writing on the wall.)
5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Here’s an (obvious) shocker: You may actually look good in styles you didn’t think would flatter you. Perhaps you thought an A-line strapless gown was the shoo-in, only to discover a lace cap-sleeve mermaid gown was the clear winner. Don’t be disappointed by dashed expectations — go in with an open mind, and remember to try on a variety of silhouettes. At the very least, it serves as added context.
Good advice again except don't try on too many gowns. Once you have tried on 5-6 gowns, you should have a good idea of the general style you are looking for. If you have tried on 40-50 (or more) gowns, you are too mind-boggled to make a decision or you're not ready to make a decision (that's a whole other issue).
6. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
Is this the wedding dress you can stun in at the ceremony? Sit in during the toasts? And dance your ass off in on the dance floor? If you can’t envision all three scenarios while narrowing down the options, put the dress on the back burner. You want to look beautiful, feel beautiful, and let’s be honest, you want to be comfortable, too.
Yes, we often want to please mom, grandma, dad, sister, groom, whoever but remember it is your day. And it will be a LONG day! Your gown should be your best friend for the day not the nuisance you are glad to get rid of as soon as possible.
7. NO TEARS, NO PROBLEM
Despite the fact that every reality TV show and rom-com have led you (and everyone around you) to believe you will shed tears as soon as you come out clad in “the one,” this isn’t always the case. And that’s OK. It’s totally cool if you do cry — it is a happy occasion, after all! — but don’t let the absence of tears make you think it’s a sign that you don’t absolutely love what you’re wearing. The waterworks just aren’t for everyone.
All brides are different and your timing will be different from others. Last week, I had a bride I have known for many years and she is not a crier. But once all her alterations were done and the gown was pressed and ready for the aisle, she cried! That I did not expect! Just be yourself and enjoy the whole experience.
8. SOMETIMES THE FIRST DRESS IS “THE ONE”
Shopping for a wedding dress doesn’t always require countless try-ons. Sometimes it really is love at first sight. There’s nothing wrong with finding “the one” right out of the gate — it certainly frees you up to focus your time and energy on things like stationery design, floral arrangements, and securing the best photographer.
In 18 years of owning a bridal store, I will always remember the one bride who tried on nothing and ordered a gown from a picture in a catalog. It scared me to death but it worked out beautifully. She loved the gown and looked great! So buying the first one you try on is also reasonable. Actually, I did that! I did go to 2 other stores to try on some different styles but came back to the first store and ordered the first gown I tried on.
9. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE GREAT SHAPEWEAR
Don’t underestimate the power of great shapewear. The gown of your dreams may not be perfect yet. It may need alterations and it may need a little more shape, but you can work with that. Especially if you have a well-made corset or bustier to help you with those problem areas.
Although shapewear can be wonderful, it can also be uncomfortable. So put some time and thought into purchasing those items as well.
I would have titled #9 as Don't Underestimate Great Alterations! Most people do not usually alter their everyday clothing and sometimes not even special occasion clothing. But alterations for a wedding gown are a must. Just remember in #1 to budget for those charges. As with regular clothing, alterations are not included in the price of the gown.
10. DRESS UP (JUST A LITTLE)
It might be difficult to imagine yourself walking down the aisle if you’re trying on dresses with post-yoga hair and no makeup. You don’t need to look your Sunday best, but a spot of mascara and your hair styled in the way you’re thinking of wearing it on the “big day” could make all the difference when you’re envisioning the entire look.
Your appointment day will include lots of pictures. Even if the salon will not allow pictures, there will be pictures outside the store or on the way there.
You will also be changing clothing with a consultant in the dressing room with you. Don't embarrass her or yourself by wearing the wrong undergarments (or worse, no undergarments!)