Tips for Your First Bridal Gown Shopping Adventure

One of the biggest and most exciting parts of planning your wedding is choosing your wedding dress. It can seem like a daunting task, even if you’ve been dreaming of your wedding day since you were five years old. There are several factors to consider when selecting your perfect gown, and you want your first trip to the bridal salon to not only be efficient, but also fun. Each shop, salon, and boutique is different, but when venturing out on your first dress adventure, there are some common things to expect. Follow these tips and be prepared to shop ‘til you drop!

1. Be prepared. Cut out and compile pictures of styles and types of dresses you like on an inspiration board. If you seem to be gravitating towards a certain designer or brand, do some research to see if any bridal salons in your area carry their line. It’s also important to set a budget before you go shopping so you can easily narrow down your choices. Keep in mind that alterations can cost anywhere from 50 to a few hundred dollars, and therefore should be factored into your dress price range. 

2. Schedule appointments. Once you have a rough idea of what you are looking for, call the stores in your area and set up a few appointments. Starting at a larger store with many varieties can help you narrow down your preferences, and then move on to smaller boutiques. Some salons will ask you questions over the phone, so they can have some specific styles pulled out in advance. Saturdays are usually the most coveted times, so if you are looking for a weekend appointment, be sure to book early. Some stores will have one or two nights a week with extended hours to accommodate working brides. Ask how long you can expect the appointment to last, and if they have any special preceding requirements. If you must miss an appointment, be sure to call and reschedule as soon as possible.

3. Bring friends and family along. Shopping for a wedding dress is exciting, and you will surely want to share it with your closest friends and family members. However tempted you are to bring along all of your bridesmaids, best friends, and your mother, however, it is usually recommended to keep your company limited to three companions. Bring the few people whose opinions you trust the most. You already may have conflicting ideas on what you should choose, and adding too many opinions to the pot could cause even more frustration. Having your mother there isn’t a golden rule. If your mother doesn’t make the first round of dress shopping, you can bring her to the store to see the final contenders (after you have narrowed them down) in order to keep her feeling involved.

4. Bring all your accoutrements. There are some key items to bring along to the bridal salon to make your experience run smoothly. While most stores will have bras and panties on hand, you will feel and look much better in the wedding lingerie of your choice. Neutral-colored, thin underwear and a strapless bra are, functionally, the best choices. The sales associate helping you will likely be in the dressing room with you, so, if you tend to be modest, a full coverage slip or body suit may make you feel more comfortable. If you have shoes that you like or if you think you will wear pantyhose, bring those too.

5. Help your consultant help you. When you arrive at the salon, you will be greeted by the sales associate who will assist you during your appointment. She is likely to ask questions about your favorite styles, the theme and décor you have chosen for your wedding, and your preferred price range. Having pictures on hand, color swatches, and any other pertinent information (i.e.; the time of year, ceremony location, etc) will help her choose dresses that suit you and blend in with the setting and feeling you hope to inspire.

6. Stay open-minded. How many times have you seen a dress that looks amazing on the rack, but awful on yourself? What about the time your friend coaxed you into trying on something you thought you hated, and it looked amazing? Wedding dresses work exactly the same way. Resign yourself to the truth that not every dress you try on is going to look the way you hoped it would, and that the sales associate might suggest a dress you don’t exactly fancy. The whole point of dress shopping is to narrow down your choices and see what feels and looks best on your body.

7. Trust yourself. While allowing the sales consultant to do her job, don’t feel pressured into buying a dress the first time you visit a store, and, more importantly, don’t get talked into splurging above your budget. If you know you hate a dress, be direct and say so. If you fall in love with a dress you can imagine yourself walking down the aisle wearing, go with your gut. 

Buying a wedding dress doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful when you know what to expect and plan accordingly. Happy shopping!