Shopping for your wedding gown is one of the most wonderful but potentially stressful moments in your preparation for a wedding. Before hitting the wedding gown shops, it will be good for you to be aware of some crucial things, and by knowing these few tips, you should feel more confident of what you want as you begin the wedding gown search.
Know your timeline
You may notice in many wedding planning checklists that you’re supposed to purchase your wedding dress six-eight months before the wedding. This may seem like an unnecessarily early date, but know that it typically takes 16-20 weeks to create your dress, and that doesn’t include the fittings you will need before. Not only do you want to have plenty of time to find The One, but all of the people who make your dress perfect need enough time to do so.
When you begin your search, keep in mind that alterations can take one to two months. Don’t delay your wedding dress shopping!
2. Know your budget
One of the top mistakes brides make is not knowing the budget for their wedding gown before trying on dresses. Having at least a range that you are comfortable spending will help both you and your consultant when picking a dress.
Discuss your budget with your partner, with your parents, with anyone who might be involved in the purchase of your dress. Planning out your wedding budget ahead of time will help you know what you realistically know what you can afford. If someone else has offered to pay for it, ask what range they would be most comfortable with.
Don’t forget to leave room in the budget for shoes, veil, accessories and alterations.
3. Know your wedding
Before booking your bridal salon appointments, make sure you know the type of wedding you’re planning, when and where. This means the season, type of venue, and your wedding theme, if you have one. Yes, you can wear whatever you want, but if you purchase a low-key gown and you end up booking something really fancy, you may wish you went bigger and bolder.
The sleeves, skin exposure, train length and fabric could all depend on your ceremony space, wedding reception venue and the time of the year. In addition to bringing in images of dresses you like, having a mood board for your wedding décor can be a helpful tool for your consultant. If you’re getting married in a forest with rustic decor leading up to the altar, a traditional princess gown may not be the most cohesive fit.
4. Know your body
Be aware of what dress silhouette flatters your shape the most. Remember that not every style dress flatters every figure. Gowns where the bodice and skirt don’t transition smoothly can visually cut the body in unflattering ways. Likewise, thin fabrics such as silk or chiffon skim the body and tend to magnify every little detail.
5. Know your habits
Don’t buy a wedding dress too small because you want to lose weight before the wedding. Avoid that stress by buying the dress of your dreams that fits comfortably. Fit now, adjust later – a professional seamstress will be able to adjust the dress as much as 2 dress sizes down or up, if necessary.
You fiancé proposed to you as you are, and he will marry you as you are. Don’t stress too much about your weight, rather focus on sanity and wellbeing. There will be enough things to think about as it is – don’t push yourself over the limit.
6. Know your personal style
Unless you frequently don evening gowns in your every day life, it’s likely that you’re not sure what dress shape will look best on you. Instead of focusing on the silhouette you think will be most flattering, hone in on how you want to look on your wedding day. One of the most important factors here is the vibe of your wedding. It can be helpful to have a few guide words like “classic,” “boho,” “glamorous,” or “vintage” to share with your bridal consultant, who will have a better idea of the look and feel of your day. Bringing along images of gown styles and silhouettes that interest you can also be helpful.
In order to best know your style – just look at the dresses in your wardrobe. What do you feel most fabulous in? It’s a good idea to have a list of things that you love and don’t love, but be open to trying some things that might surprise you.
Although all that looks great in a magazine might be a different story in reality, many dresses can be altered to fit your vision.
7. Know your local shops and designers
One of the most helpful pieces of advice we can give is to research the stores in your area before booking your first bridal appointment. Not every store carries the same gowns or even the same designers. Different salons tend to have a slightly different style or bridal clientèle, much like any other boutique.
When you look for your dress, go with your own instinct. Don’t let your entourage mislead you with their own personal opinions. Most importantly, choose with your personal style and comfort in mind. If you feel great when you wear it, then you know this might be the one!
8. Know your options
Going to a bridal dress shop is not the only way of buying dress. You actually have plenty of options should you not find your dream dress on the well trodden path. If you find the dresses in the high street shop too ordinary, in the bridal boutique too expensive, you also have the option of buying a dress second hand via portals such as Still White or Preowned Dresses, or even your local online classifieds such as Gumtree.
Try Etsy for an unique and artisan dress, or online fashion wholesalers such as Luulla. be cautious when ordering online though – rather buy a dress that you know is a bit big and then have it adjusted locally. If I were you I’d definitely avoid the Chinese wholesalers altogether – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
You could look in vintage shops for unique wedding dresses and tailor it to suit your personal style. Likewise, ask around in your network for a family members or friends wedding dress, either buy it and have it remade or borrow and wear as it is.
Another viable option if you can’t find what you are looking for, is to find a pattern maker and seamstress that will create the dress of your dreams, where you get to choose the shape, details and fabric entirely on your own.
Some more tools (to use as a guideline only) is the fun Wedding dress style quiz to gauge what dress style might suit you, and this handy chart of what silhouette would suit your body shape:
This is a very exciting journey – best of luck!