Many women dream of the dress they will wear on their wedding day for years. When you combine these emotional expectations with practical considerations like the budget, the wedding date, and your body shape, a shopping trip that’s meant to be fun and exciting can feel incredibly stressful. So before you head to the bridal salon, relax and review these tips for wedding dress shopping. With a little preparation, you can find the dress of your dreams – and have fun while doing it!
How to Shop for a Wedding Dress
When to shop for your wedding dress?
Start early. Did you know that bridal gowns can take up to six months to arrive once ordered? And after that, they typically require alterations for a perfect fit. So if possible, try to begin shopping for a wedding dress 8 to 12 months prior to your wedding day. This is one of our most important tips for wedding dress shopping, because if you wait until your wedding is right around the corner, your options will be extremely limited.
Figure out what you like.
Before you enter a bridal salon, do a little research on your own to figure out what you like. You can flip through magazines, check out the website of your preferred bridal salon, or scroll through Pinterest. Consider your personal style and body shape as you contemplate dress details like the following:
- Neckline (sweetheart, v-neck, asymmetric, off-the-shoulder, boat neck, halter, etc.)
- Sleeves (strapless, sleeveless, cap sleeves, short sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, long sleeves, etc.)
- Length (floor length, ankle length, tea length, knee length, etc.)
- Silhouette (ball gown, mermaid, sheath, A-line, etc.)
- Fabric (chiffon, lace, satin, organza, taffeta, etc.)
- Color (pure white, diamond white, light ivory, dark ivory, blush, etc.)
- Detailing (beading, sequins, embroidery, a belt or sash, etc.)
- Overall feel (romantic, chic, beachy, vintage, bohemian, traditional, etc.)
In addition, consider the season and the venue to ensure your dress matches the vibe of your wedding. An elaborate, regal gown with a long train may be hard to manage at a beach wedding, and an unadorned sheath dress might be overwhelmed by the architecture of an ornate cathedral. Try to match the dress to the setting (or vice versa) if possible.
Finally, once you decide what you like, bring your research to the appointment (in the form of magazine tear-outs, pictures on your smartphone, a Pinterest board on your tablet, etc.) to help your consultant select gowns for you.
Know your budget.
Before you try on dresses, figure out how much money you would like to spend on your wedding dress. Then, at your appointment, stick to this budget so that you don’t waste time (or perhaps even fall in love) with dresses out of your price range. Remember to factor in the cost of shipping and sales tax, as these can significantly increase the total price. Though not as fun to mull over, this is one of the most important tips for wedding dress shopping.
Limit your entourage.
We know you adore your family and friends, and it can be tempting to invite a big group of people to shop with you. But if your entourage is too large, you may feel overwhelmed by their opinions. Try to limit your group to two or three people, and feel free to come alone! Many brides find that they are more focused and productive when they visit a bridal salon on their own. If you can’t imagine not including certain people, consider inviting them to your final fitting instead. And for a more relaxing appointment, visit the bridal salon when it will be the quietest: on a weekday morning or afternoon.
Although most bridal salons use flattering lighting and undistorted mirrors to ensure that brides feel their best, it doesn’t hurt to do a little primping beforehand. You want to feel confident, so consider styling your hair and makeup in the way you like best. If you’re focusing on your bedhead or under-eye circles during the appointment, you won’t be able to appreciate how lovely you look in the dresses. Finally, wear nude underwear (a strapless bra is typically preferred), and remember that you will be changing in front of a sales associate. This is one of our best tips for wedding dress shopping because it will help you visualize the final look.
Keep an open mind.
Even if you think you know exactly what you want, keep an open mind. Many brides select a gown that looks nothing like the dream dress they initially described. In addition, remember that many dresses don’t look good on hangers due to their layers, linings, and shapes. Try a dress on before you refuse it, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. Looking at pictures of dresses is very different from trying on dresses yourself. Finally, trust your sales associate, because she knows the store’s inventory far better than you do, and she might surprise you with some wild cards. Even if you dreamt of a simple lace gown, you might find that a ball gown is “the one!”
Read the fine print.
Finally, before you hand over your credit card and sign the receipt, read the fine print. Your sales associate should walk you through all of the details: price, color, style number and name, size, delivery date, deposit, cancellation policy, etc. Be sure that you understand all of these practical details before you make your purchase.
Now that you’ve reviewed our tips for wedding dress shopping, are you ready to begin your search? If you live in southern Missouri or northern Arkansas, stop by Normans Bridal, a full-service bridal salon. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can provide recommendations regarding style, fabric, and color, and we will assist you with zippers, laces, and buttons to ensure that the appointment runs smoothly. In addition, we would be happy to offer honest feedback to help you narrow down your choices. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with our helpful consultants at our bridal shop in Springfield, MO, please give us a call at 417-866-9800. With our wide selection of gowns, including modern white long dresses and affordable wedding dresses, you’re sure to enjoy shopping for your wedding dress at Normans Bridal.
P.S. Stop by on October 14th, 2023, from 8:00am to 6:00pm for our 11th Annual Dash for the Dress Sale! Bridal gowns will be 40%-80% off. No appointment is needed, and the dresses are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. You won’t want to miss this once-a-year sale!