Feb 4, 2021

Wedding Dress Shopping Guide

Wedding dress shopping is different than dress shopping. Sizing is different, trying dresses on is different, even looking at what’s available is different. It can be a bit off-putting if you don’t know what you’re walking into. So, this is our 10 point guide on having the most pleasant and successful dress shopping experience possible!

1. Book Shop Appointments

Pick a Shop that fits your style and carries the designers or types of dresses you want to wear. Schedule 2-3 appointments at nearby salons on the same day. You do need to get appointments. The are almost always required and even more so with shops trying to keep you safe by implementing extra sanitizing and social distancing.

2. Look & Feel Good

Start your health and beauty routine as soon as you get engaged. After you have that going a few weeks is the best time to schedule your dress shopping day. Go the extra mile and get a manicure and pedicure. Schedule your next hair appointment the day before shopping. Update your makeup routine, search YouTube, and watch a few tutorials. Beyond the wedding day, you’ll be attending lots of events and it’s a great time to feel and look your best! Drink lots of water the day before and have a light breakfast the morning of. You will feel your best and it will be easier to imagine how you’ll look and feel on wedding day.

3. Undergarments and Shoes

Wear nude undies. If you expect to wear a bra and Spanx on wedding day, wear those too. Also wear shoes that are similar to the heel height you might wear on wedding day. Some shops have shoes you can wear, but they probably won’t have the right size and/or height for you.

4. Be in the Know

There are a few things to know before you walk in the door so you won’t feel disappointed. First, most dress shops carry sample sizes around size 8 or 10. They’ll use clips to fit the dress to you and secure it in the back. This will help you get an idea of how the dress will fit in your size. Next, you may or may not be able to browse the dresses yourself. Instead, a stylist may select dresses that fit the description of what you are looking for. And last, just because the shop carries a certain designer, does not mean they’ll have the exact dress you want in that designer for you to try on. Though they can likely order it if you want to purchase it anyway.

5. It takes time

Dress shopping should happen 9-12 months before the wedding. Believe it or not, it could take 6-8 months for your dress to come in after you have ordered it! Then you’ll still need time for alterations.

6. Keep the Date of your Bridals in Mind

If you are taking bridal photos before the wedding, remember to allocate time for the alterations. When the dress shop asks when you need the dress, let them know when you are taking bridals.

7. Save Contracts and Receipts

If you already have a file folder or organization system for wedding contracts, make no exception for the dress. Keep the contract and get a copy of the tentative delivery date. If you are using a payment plan, get those dates too. Lastly, get any information you need to schedule alterations when the dress comes in. Keep all that together in your wedding documents.

8. Know the Lingo

Here’s some dress terminology so you feel like you are speaking the same language as your stylist.

Some retailers sell dresses right out of the store, these are called Off the Rack. Those are different than Sample Dresses which are those displayed in the shop for you to try on. Sample dresses cannot be purchased off the rack. If you ask for a specific dress, the stylist may say she doesn’t have it exactly, but instead, she has a Sister Style that you can try on. This is a gown by the same designer in a style similar to the one you want that will give you a good idea about the general fit.

9. Pick a Crew that is Right for You

Depending on your personality, choose a group that is a good size for your comfort level. Generally, 2-3 is a perfect number. You’ll have lots of chances to celebrate with the entire wedding party, don’t feel pressured to invite them all dress shopping. Also, designate one of those you invite to take pictures. Try to get the same 3-4 pictures of all the dresses you love. Then you can refer back to them when you move dress to dress and shop to shop.

10. Step Away Before Purchasing

Last, when you do find that perfect dress. Feel free to step outside the shop, grab a coffee and look at pictures before purchasing. I’ve even known brides who wanted to sleep on it before purchasing. Take your time to think it over and settle on THE dress for YOU.

I hope you’ll finish the day with an early dinner and your favorite cocktail alongside your favorite people. It’s just one of the many fun memories to be made during your engagement! Thank you for reading and happy wedding planning!

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