Amongst all the clothing shopping you’ve experienced in your lifetime, you can’t deny the fact that shopping for a wedding dress will be the most special of all. It’s the dress you’ll wear and say I do to your lover, partner and best-friend. It’s the dress where all eyes will fixate on. And the only dress you’ll wear once in your lifetime (unless you decide to refashion your wedding dress!).
There’s no doubt that the day after your engagement will be spent looking for a wedding dress. All brides-to-be are like that. Imagined the excitement and giddy feeling, ah! For most women, wedding dress purchase will most probably be the most expensive clothing you’ll ever buy. Choosing a wedding dress will no doubt take most of your time. It’s quite a scary yet exhilarating experience. We want to share our tips with you on what you should know when choosing a wedding dress.
Read on these 20 most important tips on how to choose a wedding dress:
1. Do your research.
Some form of wedding dress knowledge is a good idea when it comes to shopping for a wedding dress. Get to know the basic wedding dress lingo like silhouette, necklines, waistline, sleeves, trains, fabrics, dress length, embellishment, etc. With this knowledge you will be able to convey better to the bridal shop consultant on the style you like and so on. You can also start a notebook project with pictures and information of your preference and taste and bring it together when you shop.
You can do your research from bridal magazines, bridal books and the many bridal websites available online. Wedding infographics is a convenient way to learn about wedding lexicon. Pinterest is also another cool way to find ideas for your wedding dress.
2. Set a budget.
Have a target on how much you want to spend on your wedding dress so that you don’t go over budget. It’s a nice way to keep you grounded and also not waste your time looking at dresses beyond your expense. Have a range you can target on for e.g. between $500-$1,000 or $1,000-$2,000 and so on. Set 10%-12% of your overall budget for wedding dress and its accessories like veil, gloves, undergarments, jewelry, shoes, etc. Remember to factor in the cost of alterations too.
3. Start looking for wedding dress early.
You think giving yourself a year ahead in wedding dress shopping is too early? Well, think again. It takes four to six months to special order and receive a wedding dress. The more elaborate the dress, the more time it’s needed. If you’re lucky and they have your size, then you can receive your dress in few weeks. If your dress needs alternations, add in another 2 months. If your wedding is not until 2 years, it’s not wise to start wedding shopping yet since trend will change and new bridal season will bring in new style. It’s wise to start wedding dress shopping at least a year from your wedding day. And if you’re short for time, bridal shop can definitely rush your order but for an additional fee and most likely you will have less choice as well.
4. Shop for less.
Normally bridal shop carry only few dresses from each different designers. Bridal trunk show is the place to go see the designer’s large selections of new collections on display. Not only that, sometimes you will be offered discount between 10%-20% if you place order on the spot. Trunk shows seasons are usually between January to May. Ask the bridal shop when they are held and make appointment with them.
Sale racks and sample sale are other great alternative to save on a wedding gown. Normally they are dresses that brides tried on at the store or discontinued samples. They may contain some imperfection and therefore alteration is needed. However with reduced prices of up to 50%-75% it’s too hard not to miss it. Dresses on sample sale are usually between size 6 to size 12 and larger sizes are available too sometimes. To find out when there is sample sale, call the bridal shop, sign up mailing lists or visit the designer’s website.
5. Schedule bridal shop appointment early in the day.
When scheduling for an appointment at the bridal shop, go as early as you can. During this time, the sales consultants are still fresh and active since they have not dealt with many customers yet so their focus will be more on you. If possible visit on weekdays since weekends are surely to attract lots of prospective customers at the bridal shops. Avoid lunch hour visit on working days since you will feel rushed. Remember to bring your notebook and write down what’s important. Also try to limit yourself to at least 2 shops per day. Too many and you’ll feel too much and overwhelmed.
6. Wear well-fitted undergarments.
A well-fitted undergarments will lift your bust and define your waistline. That is the one reason why that dress look so good on you when you wear a well-fitted undergarment. If you don’t have one, go to the department store to get fitted for a new bra or two. It’s wise to bring a well-fitted strapless bra along when going wedding dress shopping as you may try on strapless wedding gowns too. You want an uninterrupted view of the dress.
7. Decide on your wedding dress silhouette.
Don’t look at what’s trendy this year, instead look at which wedding dress silhouette is suitable for you. Focus on the style that will flatter you the most. For example, A-line dress suit all body types. Ball gown with its big skirt is not for petite and short brides. Mermaid and trumpet are style that will accentuate your torso and hips while empire dress with waistline below the bust will make you look taller and is also perfect for pregnant brides.
8. Be an open mind bride.
Even though by theory and in your mind, you feel this particular dress will look good on you, don’t quickly discount off the advice given by bridal shop consultant. That particular dress may not be your style but do give it a chance and try it on. Some dresses may look different when it’s on a hanger and when it drapes on a woman’s body. So be open minded when going wedding dress shopping but not too open until you believe every words by the consultant. Remember they need to make a sale too. In the end, it’s you who will decide which dress is best for you.
9. Consider formality, tradition, season and location/venue of wedding.
Don’t just think about what suit your personal style, think about the wedding occasion so that you can choose a dress that’s appropriate. The most important thing here is to make sure the dress you chooses reflect the tone and mood of the wedding as well as your style.
- For formal wedding, long gown with/without train is the way to go. For informal wedding, a cute knee-length dress is a nice choice.
- Will you incorporate traditions in the ceremony? If yes, you will need to choose a white gown for Western traditions, red qipao for the Chinese, sari for the Indians, hanboks for the Koreans and so on. If you’re not going to include traditions, modern bride nowadays choose ivory, champagne and other colors such as pink, blue and red as their wedding dress color.
- Which season is your wedding? For summer wedding, you’re going to need lightweight and thin airy fabric to keep you from feeling sticky and hot. For winter, satin, brocade and velvet are more suitable. You might want to include a stylish wrap too.
- Think about the venue of the wedding ceremony and reception. If you’re going to have a black-tie ceremony, you can go for a dramatic wedding dress. For beach wedding, gown with train will be inappropriate while for garden wedding, you can choose between a short or long gown.
10. Do not panic when you found out your wedding dress size.
Say you’re a regular 12 but for your wedding dress trial you panicked why you’re wearing a size 16. Did you just gained weight overnight? The answer is no. The thing you need to know about wedding dress is they usually run 2 to 3 sizes larger. Don’t even think of losing weight so that you can fit into your regular size. The headache is not worth it. Forget the number and concentrate on the fit and how it looks on you.
11. Bring your best confidante.
Bring a truckload of girlfriends, aunts, cousins and neighbors and I’ll guarantee you’ll have the biggest headache of your life. Different opinions, thoughts and surely negativity will make you more pressured in searching for your wedding dress. Instead bring your best confidante (e.g. your mom or your best friend) who knows your style and whose opinion you can trust. Or if you’re confident of yourself, you can go alone and select your own dress. We think going with a few of your trusted confidante will make your wedding dress searching a fab experience.
12. Bring accessories.
If you have your grandmother’s necklace, a wedding headpiece, shoes or a special veil you’re going to wear on your wedding day, do bring them along so you can find a dress that compliment them nicely.
13. Take plenty of photos.
Most often than not bridal shop doesn’t allow you to take photos of the wedding dress. Ask beforehand if you’re allowed to take photos for decision-making purpose and if they allow, bring along your camera or your camera phone. Take photos of you wearing the dress in different angles so you know how you look like in photos. Is that angle flattering? Does that embellishment make you look heavy? Does the fabric look good on photos? and so on. Sometimes what you see in the mirror differ very much from photos. You want to look good in photos as well as in reality because photos are what you’ll see from years to come. If you’re not allowed to take photos, make sure you bring your notebook to write down the important points of the wedding dresses you’ve tried out.
14. Upper half of your wedding dress is most important.
Between a gorgeous neckline dress and a to-die-for cathedral train gown, which one would you choose? The truth is the majority of your wedding photos will be from waist-up. Therefore choosing the dress with gorgeous neckline is the best answer. Most wedding guests will look at your upper half and that’s also how a majority of your photos will turn out. Therefore when choosing a wedding dress, focus more on finding a wedding dress that is flattering at the upper half.
15. Move around in the wedding dress.
When trying on a wedding dress, don’t just stand still. Move around, walk, sit, squat, dance, raise your arm above your head, etc. Make sure the fabric doesn’t prick you and make sure you don’t feel uncomfortable in any of the actions. Because you know? You aren’t just going to stand still on your wedding day. Feel the comfort of the gown and fit.
16. Don’t pick on-trends wedding dress just because it’s trendy.
Sure on-trends wedding dresses may be the most popular choice at this particular period but will it look good in years to come? You want to be able to look back at your wedding photos without cringing at the sight of your gown. Pick a style that will make you look glamourous and one that fit you like a glove. A dress that brings out the best in you is the one worth keeping.
17. Ask your fiance what he doesn’t like.
You might want to keep the wedding dress from your fiance’s eyes until the wedding day itself but have you ever thought if he would like it? You don’t choose a wedding dress for yourself or your wedding guests or photographer to see, you should dress for your fiance ultimately. He should like the dress you’ve chosen. And how do you do it without revealing your wedding dress? Simple. Ask him what he doesn’t like instead. If he said he doesn’t like embroideries, then don’t choose a wedding gown with embroideries.
18. Ask plenty of questions.
When trying on dresses at bridal shop, ask plenty of questions to the salesperson whatever you’re not sure about. It’s better to find out now then after you’ve sign the contract. Also do ask questions to yourself too such as “Is this dress suitable for the ceremony?”, “Am I comfortable in this dress?”, “Is the skirt too flowy?”.
19. Read the contract.
Have everything outline in the contract before putting down your deposit (usually 50%). The contract should include your dress descriptions (size, color, manufacturer name, style number), price, deposit, balance amount, alternation description (if any), special request (if any), cancellation policy, return policy and estimated delivery date.
20. That gut-feeling!
Remember that gut-feeling that he’s the one for you? When it comes to choosing a wedding dress, we swear you’ll have that gut-feeling too when you look at yourself in the mirror.
Do you have additional tips to share with our readers about choosing a wedding dress? Please leave your comment below.
What about choosing bridesmaid dress? Here’s what you need to consider for bridesmaid dress.
Photo source: Pinterest