YAY! You’re engaged! You and your Pinterest have been dreaming of this day since… well… forever practically! And, you are ready to dive in! Here are my best tips and advice for your wedding gown shopping journey:
Don’t start until you’re ready to make that purchase:
You’re excited, and we totally get it! We’re excited for you! But if you’re planning a long engagement, and aren’t getting married for three years after he pops the question don’t run straight to your local bridal store. Here’s why: First, styles change a lot in three years. Second, you could change a lot in that time. Babies, families, sickness, a new healthier lifestyle, a lot can change in three years! Third, what happens when you do fall in love with a gown and you’re not ready to make that purchase? Chances are, by the time you come back for it, it will be long gone. What you don’t want is to fall in love and let that be the gown that got away. Fourth, if it’s a smaller boutique that runs on an appointment based schedule, you’re taking that appointment potentially from a bride who needs a gown! If you’ve got a while, start really honing in on your style online with tools like the knot, Zola, and Pinterest and researching shops in your area (or within your travel range) that fit the look, timeline, and budget you have in mind!
Don’t wait too long to come in:
On the flip side of the aforementioned too-early bride, do NOT wait until the last minute to start your hunt for the gown. Gowns typically take 4-6 months to come in depending on the designer! I know, I know that seems like forever away and you’re planning on losing another 10 pounds but trust me on this one… You will want to have your gown purchased 8-10 months prior to your wedding. Then, you’ll have ample time for alterations and there wont be any last minute anxiety attacks about your gown arriving on time!
Do look through your various local bridal stores’ social media beforehand
Don’t waste you and your bridal party’s time scheduling 137 appointments across the continent without looking at their social media and selection online first. You’ll learn a lot about the store, their gowns, their vibe from their online presence. If you’re wanting a glittering, sparkling, dazzler or lacey bohemian moment, or an angular ultra contemporary piece and you book at a niche boutique that specializes in vintage all satin gowns because you assumed all bridal shops carry all styles… you, your guests, and your stylist will be locked in the world’s longest, most awkward-eye-contact-stare-off until your appointment is over leaving you all feeling defeated because no one will no what to pull since the shop and your style do not align. Okay that might be slightly dramatic, but it does get overwhelming for all involved when you have something in mind, that’s not what that store carries or specializes in, couldn’t find something to try that you actually liked and were looking for, and are just now exhausted and quite possibly hangry. You can make your search a lot easier and more fun, your stylists job a lot easier and more fun, and it’ll be a lot easier and more fun for your most special people to be present for trips to a few pre-vetted shops to find THE dress vs. a month long parade around the continental US.
Do ask what forms of payment are accepted/price range of gowns before you go if budgeting could be an issue
If you’re boutique shopping, it is not uncommon to have to pay the entirety of the gown up front. Some larger stores do have payment plans or have actual loan programs to borrow the full or partial amount of your gown. Typically, most stores take cash (in the exact amount as most boutiques do not have cash registers because this is the least common form of payment), check (if it is a sample gown they will likely hold the gown until the check clears), or card! Don’t start shopping until you have the funds to purchase your gown. If you find a sample gown that you love, but don’t have the money to buy it that day, chances are they will not hold it for you and it will be gone by the time you get back in. If you’re a bride on a tighter budget do ask the price range of gowns before coming in. The average amount spent on a wedding gown in the USA as reported by The Knot is approximately $1900, not including alterations. If you schedule a bridal appointment at a boutique who’s price range is $3000-$5000, but have a budget of $1500 it could end up being an honestly hurtful experience. It is better to know upfront what to expect. Also, be honest about your budget while shopping! There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a budget savvy bride! Just don’t tell your consultant more than what you actually want to spend or they will pull in that full range of what you had told them and you run the risk of either over extending yourself financially for your dream dress or falling in love with a gown you cannot purchase.
Do be selective when choosing your “I DO CREW”
On your journey to the perfect gown, you’ll want your most supportive people in your life there that day. I know you may want everyone you’ve ever met to see how gorgeous you are in that shimmery floral Madi Lane gown you’ve been stalking… but there is such thing as too many opinions. Having too large a group or the wrong mix of people can make the happiest bride the most miserable bride when it turns into a squabble-fest instead of a celebration of you and your SO’s love. Same goes for your bridesmaids. Select the people who will only be there to make your day better. No ulterior motives here.
Don’t be afraid to say Yaaaaas to the dress on your very first trip (but don’t get pressured into it)
Okay so your best friend for life Becky is with you. You love Becky. We love Becky. Becky is fine. She’s awesome. Buuuuuuut…. your wedding is starting to become Becky’s wedding. And you’ve found the dress. It makes you feel the way you felt the first time your soon to be hubby or wife told you that they love you. You love the gown. But Becky went to 8 million stores to try on gowns before she bought her gown. Well that’s all well and good for Becky, but you are not Becky. You are you. Do NOT let your friends or family push you into show-ponying for them. It’s like when you found your partner; when you find the right one, you need to stop looking. Especially if you are someone who is easily overwhelmed. This should be a fun joyous experience for you. Also, don’t let your consultant push you into buying that gown if you didn’t get that feeling. Your consultant should have your best interest at heart, they should want you in whatever gown gives you THAT feeling even if it’s not one of theirs. So, if you’re a bride who tends to lean on the people pleasing side, this is the time that the only person you should be concerned about pleasing is you.