Wedding Dress Shopping 101
This past weekend, I went wedding dress shopping.
In the days leading up to it, I was incredibly anxious. I know a lot of girls are excited to go wedding dress shopping, but I was not one of them. First of all, the pressure on what dress the bride will be wearing is ridiculously high. Secondly, even the experience of finding the dress and “saying yes” to it has been romanticized and has its own set of pressure. Finally, you can say I’ve had some really bad experiences when it comes to shopping with my mom and her honesty about how everything looks on me.
Needless to say, I was not looking forward to wedding dress shopping.
With that being said, I knew it had to be done. I wanted to make wedding dress shopping as efficient as possible, so I booked 3 appointments back to back all in one day. It was an extremely tiring day, but I had much more fun than I expected and I even found my dress at the end of it all!
Here are a few tips I’d like to share when it comes to wedding dress shopping:
Who to Bring
Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress where the bride brings her mom, future mother-in-law, all her bridesmaids, and even just a bunch of friends. The salon is crowded with an audience and everyone has an opinion on every single detail.
As much as I’d like to think bringing my entire entourage would have been a good idea, I just had to be realistic. The more people you bring, the more opinions are going to be thrown at you. I don’t know about you, but I would get overwhelmed when many voices all have something to say about a dress that you, and only you, are going to wear.
I decided to keep it small – I brought my mom, my auntie, one of my maids of honor, and my bestie. When you think about who you should bring when you go wedding dress shopping, think about the ones who really know you best and will support you but will also tell you honestly how you look.
What to Wear
Be comfortable, but look nice. To be honest, when I rolled out of bed that morning, I wanted to wear sweats and a T-shirt. Heck, I wanted to be comfortable! But instead, I opted for a simple dress and some tights. Dresses are super easy to pull on and off, and the tights give you a sense of cover-up while some stranger helps you get into and out of dresses that you’re trying on.
Go easy on the makeup. Personally, I didn’t wear makeup at all, and I’m glad I did. As I was putting on the sample dresses, I would see smudged foundation on the insides of the dresses and it was kind of gross. I understand some girls just “need” to have their face on, but I urge you to hold back for this one day. It will get wiped off by the dresses, and if it doesn’t, it will melt because you’ll be sweating after standing under those lights for so long.
How Much to Spend
Now, this is entirely up to you. When I used to watch Say Yes to the Dress religiously, I would think that their budgets were insane! $3,000 – $6,000 on a dress you’ll wear once??? Heck, I remember a girl spending over $10,000 on her dress and I almost fainted for her.
I knew that I did not want to spend that much on my dress and I was afraid that it would hold me back in terms of options. But I set my budget to under $1,500 and there was a ton of variety in the price range. Don’t be afraid to look at the “lower end”, because you might find something you love. I did!
But I will say – do your research before you go shopping. When searching for salons to go to, I would go on Yelp and only select places that were 1 or 2 dollar signs. I did not step foot into a place that was 3 dollar signs or over. You don’t want to get tempted to spend more than you want to.
My dress ended up costing about $1,100. We got a 10% discount thrown in, as well, which pretty much covered tax. But I’ll be honest with y’all – I spent $0 on my wedding dress. My mom graciously paid for my wedding dress. Now, I want to be clear – I did not ask her to pay for anything. I was fully prepared to pay for this expense myself. But she offered to pay for my wedding dress as her gift to me. I am so thankful!
Where to Start
If it’s your first time wedding dress shopping, I suggest you try on dresses in different silhouettes. Even though you saw a style of dress you like on Pinterest, it can look completely different on you than it does on the model. Trying on different silhouettes can really give you a feel for what looks good on your body type.
Going in to my appointments, I knew I didn’t want a ball gown because I actually already wore one on my cotillion day when I turned 18. But other than that, I was open to any shape.
I would also say to trust your wedding dress stylist. I thought I didn’t want a sweetheart neckline because I’m kind of busty and didn’t want to be all out there. But one of the stylists asked me to reconsider and pulled some nice dresses with a sweetheart neckline that actually looked great on me, as well as modest! You never know until you step out of you comfort zone.
Last but not least, I’d say know when to stop shopping. Honestly, I usually hate dress shopping, but if you get a really good stylist (I got two of them), they’ll keep pulling dresses that will look great on you and you’ll end up overwhelmed and not sure which dress to pick.
Each dress up until I found “the one” had me thinking “Oh, this looks great! But…” But when I tried on that last dress, there were no “buts”. I actually found the dress that I really pictured myself walking down the aisle to, so I stopped looking.
Wedding dress shopping ended up being so much fun! No, I didn’t cry when I found “the dress”. At the end of the day, it’s just a dress! Yes, I’m getting married in it. But the most important thing to me wasn’t what I was wearing as I walked down the aisle – it’s who I’m marrying after I’ve walked down the aisle.
What was your experience wedding dress shopping? How much did you spend?