I know from experience that the time period where you just got engaged and are starting to plan the wedding is one of the most joyful and exciting times you’ll get to experience! It’s here that you’re starting to picture how the day is going to look and you and your groom are beginning to make some big and fun planning decisions. One of the most anticipated parts of this is, of course, finding the perfect dress! It truly is one of the most magical days during engagement, but it can also create small amounts of stress or feeling overwhelmed. You’ve probably had thoughts on what your wedding dress will look like since you were a little girl, and you want the dress to live up to what I call, “the little girl hype.” Here are some tips and advice to make sure the day is as carefree as possible and that you walk away with YOUR perfect dress:
Schedule Your Appointment ASAP
It’s always wise to try and schedule an appointment (or appointments if you’d like to check out more than one place!) as soon as you can after engagement. Typically, it can take up to 6 months from the time that you pick out your dress to it being finished with alterations. You want to make sure that you give yourself enough time to be able to choose from as many dresses as possible! Now, if you have a shorter engagement, I don’t want you to stress about this! And definitely don’t feel like you need to lengthen your engagement to accommodate a dress. A salesperson should always ask you when the wedding is, and won’t let you fall in love with any dresses that wouldn’t be done in time. All that to say, scheduling a dress shopping appointment should be one of the first items on your to-do list!
Do Your Research but Come In With an Open Mind
I came into my dress shopping appointment having looked at hundreds of dresses online, and I left with something completely different than what I pictured! It’s important to look at pictures and figure out what type of dress or fit you think you’d like to wear. This will help the salesperson know what to pull out for you and will hopefully make you feel less overwhelmed than if you came in with no ideas! Normally they will also let you walk around and pick out dresses you’d like to try on, and if you come with ideas, this should help you narrow down what to try. The flip side of this, is that sometimes you’ll try something on that’s completely different than what you pictured and you’ll fall in love with it! Let your friends or salesperson pick out some options for you as well, because you never know what you’re going to love when you’re actually wearing it versus looking at photos. I thought that I was going to have a column fit dress with long lace sleeves and I didn’t love how they looked when they were on. Instead, I walked out with an A-line dress with capped sleeves and I wouldn’t change a thing!
Pick Your Favorite People (and People Who Will Celebrate You!)
I highly recommend bringing some of your best ladies with you when you’re shopping for the dress! However, it’s important to be mindful of who you’re bringing and how many people you’re bringing. You want people who will be honest with you about how you look, but if you have that friend who can be overly critical, it’s okay for her to not come along! You want to make sure that the people you’re bringing are going to make you feel confident and beautiful and excited about the dresses you’re trying on! This doesn’t mean that they’re going to love whatever dress you try on, or are going to lie if they don’t think a dress is right for you. But the goal of this is that you feel celebrated, not insecure! I would also recommend not bringing too many people. When you have too many opinions it can get overwhelming and ultimately you need to pick the dress that you like the most and feel most beautiful in! Make sure that the ladies you have with you are only going to elevate your voice, not quiet it!
Maybe I’m the only who was really worried about this before my appointment, but if it helps, here’s what I learned! In order to get the full picture of what the dress will look like, I would recommend a strapless bra and thin underwear (a thong may even be best!). Making sure your underwear isn’t thick will help when trying on tighter dresses and making sure it doesn’t change how the dress fits. A strapless bra is helpful so you don’t see the straps when you’re looking at the dress in the mirror. It’s likely that you won’t need a bra at all when the dress is fitted for you, but until then it will be helpful to wear a bra so it doesn’t create a huge gap and/or an uncomfortable situation in the store! As a side note: be ready for the saleslady to see a lot of you! They will help you get in and out of the dresses and therefore will probably see you with very little clothing on. I promise it doesn’t feel weird in the moment, but it’s something I wish I had a heads up on!
To be fair, this is advice I give for just about any situation because I firmly believe that snacks should always be close by. But if you know that you’re going to be out shopping for a long time, make sure that you avoid becoming hangry and have snacks along! You don’t want to rush to a decision just because you’re ready for a lunch break! And you want to make sure that you’re able to think clearly and are enjoying the process free of the discomfort of feeling hungry.
The phrase, “when you know you know” not only applies to the man you’re marrying, but also to your wedding dress! If you know that you want to say yes to a dress, don’t continue to try on a lot of other dresses! This will only confuse you and make the decision harder and potentially more emotional. I had appointments set at two different stores and when I found a dress at the first one, my friends and sisters encouraged me to cancel the second appointment all together to avoid complicating my decision. If you love a dress, don’t feel the pressure to try on more of them to enhance the experience! The goal is to find a dress and there’s no shame in doing that quickly!
When trying on dresses, try to keep in mind how many hours you’ll need to be wearing that dress. From the time you get ready in the morning until after the reception, you’ll have that dress on! Some may say, “you only have to wear it for one day!” but I would argue that it’s one of the most important days of your life and you want to be comfortable and confident for all of it! A dress may be stunning, but it might be too tight or poking into the wrong places. Some of this can be fixed with alterations, and it’s worth asking your saleslady about that! But some dresses just may not be comfortable and therefore may be worth passing on. Again, I say this from experience. I absolutely loved my dress and loved how I looked in it! But by the end of the night, I took it off only to show my husband big red welts all down my back from where the dress was cutting into my skin. Maybe that’s too much information, but I want you to learn from my mistake!
Be Excited, Even if You’re Nervous!
It’s normal to feel a little nervous about going dress shopping. There’s a lot of pressure to pick the right dress and maybe you’re like me and struggle with insecurity and are fearful of how the dresses will look on you! But I promise you, once you get there and start trying on dresses, those fears begin to fade away! The salespeople who work in these stores know a ton about dresses and what will look best on different body types. They’re not going to pull out anything that would make you look bad! Once you start trying on dresses, you will begin to feel so confident and hopefully will get to feel celebrated by the people who came with you! It truly is a really fun experience and something worth looking forward to!
All in all, picking out a wedding dress is a really cool and unique experience! Take lots of pictures, plan to go out for lunch in between, pop champagne to celebrate! Do what makes you feel most excited and HAVE FUN! You’ll remember this day for a long time!
If you’re engaged, about to be engaged, or anywhere in the wedding planning process, make sure to check out the blog for more Wedding Wednesday tips! Click here to see the rest of the posts!