Getting engaged is an exciting moment in anyone’s life. For those of us who have been dreaming of that moment our whole lives, picking out a wedding dress is an absolute dream come true! Here’s how to successfully go through the wedding dress shopping process and find the dress of your dreams.
- When Should You Start Wedding Dress Shopping?
- How Do I Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping?
- How Much is the Average Wedding Dress?
- How Many Wedding Dresses Should I Try On?
- Can I Wear a Thong to Try on Wedding Dresses?
- How Long Do Bridal Appointments Usually Last?
- What Should I Wear to a Wedding Dress Appointment?
- Does the Mother in Law Go Wedding Dress Shopping?
- Can You Take Your Fiancee Wedding Dress Shopping?
- How Do I Choose a Wedding Dress for My Body Type?
- Veil or No Veil?
- What Were My 27 Dresses?
When Should You Start Wedding Dress Shopping?
It’s common to start looking at least 1 year in advance. If you want to look sooner, get it girl!
The timeframe you should start looking at your dress really depends on the store that you plan to purchase from (or who you plan to have make your dress). Most stores have sample sizes for you to try on in-store, then they order your dress, which can take about 6 months or more, based on the season.
Then, you want to factor in any alteration time. You definitely don’t want to be messing around with rushing to get alterations ready in the nick of time – that’s where you may run into some wardrobe faux pas or seriously high rush charges.
I am having my dress custom made, so I started looking about 16 months in advance (and it took me 3 weeks and 3 different appointments to figure it all out – so make time for skipping around stores, too).
How Do I Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping?
There’s not too much you need to prepare physically as much as emotionally when shopping for your perfect dress.
- Be prepared to try on all variations of dresses. Change up the color, shape, material, etc. You’d be surprised at what you fall in love with. I initially wanted a champagne mermaid with lace and wound up falling in love with a stark-white lace a-line.
- Keep your group SIMPLE. The more people you have, the more opinions you are going to have and the less likely you are to find the dress you are looking for. If you KNOW Grandma Jean is going to hate a fitted dress and you want a fitted dress, don’t bring her. It’s going to be more hassle than it’s worth.
- Know your budget. The two major questions they always ask is, “what is your budget? and “when are you getting married?” This is so that they know when you would need a dress by to pull dresses that can be ordered in time, as well as making sure they don’t put you in an out of budget dress that you may fall in love with.
- If you already have the shoes, GREAT! Bring them. You don’t want them to clash with your dress, so this would be a great way to see the whole picture. If you don’t have shoes, don’t worry – but bringing or wearing a pair of small heels does help with the overall look of the dress. A lot of bridal stores also have shoes that they may be able to lend you for the appointment.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t cry on the first one (or 8). It took me 3 stores and about 10 dresses at each store before I found one that made me emotional. Just know that your dress is out there – you just have to find it. Be sure to give yourself time to do so.
- Go into your appointment with some ideas of what you’d like to try. Your consultant will start by pulling similar dresses then should be able to pull other dresses for you based on your feedback while trying them on.
How Much is the Average Wedding Dress?
Your average wedding dress costs around $800 – $2,000, but this is definitely going to vary based on location.
I am personally having mine custom made for about $2,000 by Jill Monroe Couture Bridal.
*Please note that if you are having a custom dress made, cost will vary based on what you are looking for, your seamstress, material, alterations needed, etc.
How Many Wedding Dresses Should I Try On?
Honey, try on as many as you need to. If you start to feel overwhelmed, stop the appointment, go home, sit on it and try again another day.
I tried on a good 10 dresses at each of my 3 appointments, and it wasn’t until the very LAST dress at appointment number 3 that I found a dress that had me reaching for the tissue box.
You won’t know which one is the right one until you put it on, so try on as many as your heart desires. Having a great consultant pulling dresses for you based on what you’re looking for, your feedback, and your body type helps a TON, too!
Can I Wear a Thong to Try on Wedding Dresses?
You sure can! (I did). Just keep in mind that there’s typically a consultant in there with you helping you in and out of the gowns, so wear undergarments that you are comfortable with someone else seeing.
They will typically have you put on a slip before putting you into dresses, so they likely won’t see what underwear you’re wearing anyway.
How Long Do Bridal Appointments Usually Last?
Your typical bridal appointment is anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours, but you can stop the appointment at any time.
Don’t feel like you need to keep trying on dresses for that entire time if you’ve found the dress you want or are feeling overwhelmed.
What Should I Wear to a Wedding Dress Appointment?
Someone will be in the room helping you in and out of dresses, so wear what you’re comfortable in.
Make sure you wear undergarments that will work well under form-fitting dresses. Even if you aren’t looking for a form-fitting dress, you may try one on and bunched up panties do not help in that situation.
Depending on what type of dress you’re looking for up top, a strapless bra may also be a good option. Personally, my goal was to go braless in my wedding dress and I wanted more form-fitting so I did not wear a bra and I wore a thong.
If you have your shoes already picked out, be sure to bring those, as well. This way, you can make sure they don’t clash with your dress.
Does the Mother in Law Go Wedding Dress Shopping?
Anyone you’d like can go wedding dress shopping with you. There are no laws or rules on who or who can’t come with you.
Keep in mind your Mother in Law’s opinions and overall attitude when deciding, as well. Is she going to give you a hard time with every dress? or is she going to be super supportive and give positive feedback based on your vibes with the dress?
That can make or break an appointment, so make sure she’s going to contribute to your session, not take away from it before making your decision.
Can You Take Your Fiancee Wedding Dress Shopping?
YES! This is always a big debate because of the superstition that it’s bad luck for a groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the wedding, but so many people don’t believe in that either. It goes either way, so do whatever makes you happy.
Personally, I do believe the superstition – HOWEVER, my dress is being custom made, so I did have my fiancee at two of my three wedding dress appointments to help me decide what I want in my custom dress, because his fashion sense when it comes to me is seriously ON POINT.
How Do I Choose a Wedding Dress for My Body Type?
Honestly, the best way to choose is by trying them on. You may think you want a mermaid because you have a mermaid gown at home that looks great, but then you try on an A-line or ballgown and absolutely fall in love.
Just because you look good in a dress style, doesn’t mean you won’t look stunning in another one. Try on all types at your appointment so you feel 100% confident in knowing which works best for you.
Here’s an example of the style of dress I was initially looking for:
Versus the dress I that made me cry when I put it on.
Both dresses look amazing! I was hunting for a mermaid dress all 3 appointments until my fiancee told me to put on an A-Line (actually, he picked out this specific dress) – and turns out it’s exactly what I was envisioning for myself and – BONUS! – It’s more comfortable.
Veil or No Veil?
This is another big debate and is entirely personal choice. Personally, I fell like it depends on the style of dress and how traditional you want to go with your wedding.
I found that when trying on dresses, I loved the veil on some, but not on others – and I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a veil to begin with since our wedding is so non-traditional throughout.
You also want to keep in mind how you plan to wear your hair on the big day. This can seriously alter how a veil will look, or whether it will have a place.
If you do go with a veil, then you need to decide what length you want it to be. Do you want it to have sequins? Lace? Glitter?
Don’t knock it until you try it. Definitely try one on when you think you’ve found the dress you’ve been hunting for to see if it completes the look for you, or if you want to go without.
Here’s one dress I tried on without a veil:
And then with a veil:
I think with this dress and my hair up, the veil looks stunning – but I want my hair down (or half-up) and I don’t know if a veil will go with the dress I chose in the end, so I’m waiting until my first alteration appointment to make that final decision.
Don’t feel like you have to make that decision right away. Feel out your dress and go from there.
What Were My 27 Dresses?
Here are all the dresses that I tried on (and liked something about). There were at least 10 that I put on and didn’t even walk out in (or take pictures of) – and that’s okay, too!