Unlike popular wedding dress “reality” shows, real life wedding dress shopping involves a lot more than walking into a bridal salon, trying on a few dresses, and saying yes to “the one.” Sure, those things do happen, but there is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that gets cut out. Keep reading for 7 truths and tips you should know before you start wading through heaps of chiffon and tulle.
1. Find out the best time to book an appointment.
Generally, bridal salons are booked to the max on weekends, so if it’s possible, try booking your appointment on a weekday. A weekday morning is even better. Not only will you not have to fight for space (and possibly attention) in a busy shop, but you’ll feel more at ease knowing you’re not strapped for time. Plus, you’re likely to have a more personalized experience since the consultants won’t be rushed from one client to the next. To make sure you get the best appointment possible, call the salon and ask a consultant what their quietest days and times are.
2. Don’t show up hangry.
Hunger can cause frustration and that’s the last thing you want while you’re wedding dress shopping. If your appointment is in the morning, eat a light breakfast or a snack if you have an afternoon meeting. Believe it or not, trying on gowns can be mentally and physically exhausting, and you’ll be standing on your feet quite a lot, so make sure you’re satiated and hydrated.
3. Wear comfortable undergarments.
Your consultant will help you in and out of dresses, so wear undergarments you’re comfortable with them seeing. It’s not only about that though; wearing something like a nude pair of underwear and a strapless bra will work with most dresses, so you’ll be able to see what the gown truly looks like on you (sans bra straps, for instance).
4. Shop with an open mind.
You may think you have your heart set on a ball gown with a sweetheart neckline and illusion lace back, but before you limit yourself to that style, try on a variety of styles and silhouettes. Dresses have a tendency to look completely different on the hanger than they do on a body, so it’s worth listening to your consultant if she says she thinks you might look stunning in a mermaid-style silk dress. You never really know what will work on your body until you try it on, so when wedding dress shopping give your consultant’s advice a chance. You might even want to try on the dress your mom keeps eyeing, if only just to see her smile.
5. Don’t freak out about sizes.
Just like most sizes vary between brands, there’s a variance between wedding dress and street wear sizes. You might wear a size 8 dress from your favorite store, but the wedding gown you have your eye on might be more like a size 14. The important thing to remember is that it’s just a number. It doesn’t define who you are. What matters is that you’re comfortable and feel good in the gown.
6. Sit, stand, walk around, dance.
It’s all well and good to stand in front of the mirror and admire the dress, but that’s not what you’ll be doing at your wedding. Once you have the dress on, sit down in it, walk around the salon, and do a little dance to see how it feels in motion. Is it comfortable to move around in? Are you able to sit down without the skirt getting too much in the way? Just as you would test drive a pair of shoes before buying them, do the same with your possible wedding gown. You’ll thank yourself later.
7. Ask a few last detail questions.
Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s worth it to ask your consultant about alteration costs and if there are any discounts available. Sometimes salons will offers special rates or bundle packages (for example, a discount on your dress when you purchase bridesmaids dresses from the same salon). They might even throw in an accessory or veil. You won’t know unless you ask, and the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no.
Remember, feeling comfortable and confident is the best way to know if the wedding dress is the one for you. Go wedding dress shopping feeling relaxed, open, and ready to explore all the beautiful options. And if you don’t find your dream dress the first time around, it’s okay. Start shopping as early as possible so you don’t feel rushed to make a decision.