Finding the perfect wedding dress can seem like an overwhelming task. What if you can’t find the dress of your dreams? How do you even narrow down the best options? Should you follow the latest fashion trends in bridal gowns or follow your heart?
We understand how maddening one wedding-related task (on top of all the others) can get. So, here’s a narrowed-down list of dos and don’ts to help make dress shopping and planning a little less hectic. These tips should give you a better idea of where to start and what to avoid. Focus on these steps, and you should experience less stress and more breathing room as you prepare for the big day.
Do: Account for the Right Accessories
The dress is the main star of your ensemble, but your accessories—including your veil, tights or hosiery, and shoes—complement and complete the whole look. So, keep these pieces in mind as you try on each wedding dress.
Here are some quick tips for each accessory:
- Veil: Will a long veil distract from the length of the dress or accentuate it from the back? Brides who want to wear short veils can go for a dress with back design details.
- Shoes: Make sure to pick a pair that looks fashionable but is easy to walk around in. If you already have them, bring the shoes to your fitting. That way, you’ll feel and see how your footwear looks when paired with each dress option.
- Tights or hosiery: Tights can keep you warm if you’re planning to have a fall or winter wedding. If you’re going for a shorter wedding dress, these garments can also help cover up any imperfections on your legs.
Do: Find a Dress Silhouette That Suits Your Figure
Don’t be swayed by trends or go for a dress because it looks good on another model. Find out what type of figure you have and research the different types of dress silhouettes. Then, go for the one with a length and flare that will enhance your figure.
Here’s a list of common dress silhouettes and which body types they suit best:
- A-line silhouette: This complements most body types. In particular, it can make a petite bride appear taller.
- Mermaid dress: This highlights your waist and hips. As such, it best suits apple-shaped figures.
- Trumpet: This fits throughout the body until it flairs out at the mid-thigh, making it a silhouette that’s perfect for hourglass figures or petite, slender women.
Do: Set Clear Expectations
It pays to have a clear picture of the type of dress you want. If you’ve researched your figure and the appropriate silhouette, inform your dress shop of choice shop that you want pre-selected shapes specific to your body type. Also communicate other concerns, like how much you’ll be moving in the dress and the design details you want on the gown. If you have photos of the accessories you plan to match with it, show them to the wedding dress shop staff so that they can make any adjustments to the gown as necessary.
Do: Schedule Your Dress Appointment in the Morning
You want to arrive at the bridal dress shop while the staff is wide awake and energetic, not when they’re exhausted after dealing with other brides all day. Schedule an early morning appointment so that you have the shop’s full attention. You also avoid crowds and can have the entire space to yourself.
Do: Start Shopping as Early as Possible
In terms of timing, you want to start shopping three to six months before the scheduled wedding date. Anything shorter than three months is cutting it too close and won’t give you enough time for alterations.
Also, note that luxury dresses take between four to 10 months to make. Hence, those with a bigger budget should start looking for high-end wedding dresses at least nine to 12 months before the big day.
Do: Take Pictures of All Your Fitted Dresses
If possible, have your shopping companion take pictures of how you look in each dress. Make sure that you take photos from all angles. The images will help you review and decide which looks best for the big day. Try to take videos, too, as you move around and experience how the dress feels. After all, you also want to be comfortable and enjoy wearing the dress as you dance, greet guests, and celebrate.
That said, you can’t just do this without permission. Make sure to call the store before scheduling your visit to ask if they allow for photo-taking. Some stores may allow it on the condition that the pictures not be posted online. Just to be on the safe side, don’t publish any of the images, whether or not the store explicitly requested you to refrain from it. Besides, an advanced post will spoil the big surprise for everyone.
Don’t: Bring Too Many People When You Shop for Dresses
While it’s exciting to share the experience with five of your girlfriends, having too many opinions on what to wear will complicate the decision-making process. So, it’s best to bring only one, two, or three of your loved ones to your dress shopping trip.
When choosing who exactly to take with you, pick individuals whose opinions you trust and who you know will be honest about their feedback. Apart from your mother and maid of honor, you can bring one bridesmaid along, for example. Alternatively, you can also bring your mother, maid of honor, and your sister.
Don’t: Try on Too Many Wedding Dresses at Once
Don’t spend the whole day at the bridal shop. You want to explore your options but not exhaust yourself. If you try on too many, you’ll become confused and may not be able to decide on the final dress on time. So, avoid choice paralysis and do your best to narrow down the best two to five fits from each store.
Additionally, spending too long at the store won’t just affect you, but the people you bring along as well. You want to keep the bridal party’s attention on you as you try on different dresses. If you fit too many at once, your companions will be so tired that they may end up picking whatever just to end the shopping trip.
Don’t: Forget That Your Dress and Accessories Are a Final Decision
While trying on every dress is like living out a movie montage, remember that the dress you eventually do choose is final. It will be memorialized in every photo and video recorded on your wedding day. Apart from the dress itself, your choice of accessories will also go down in history.
Yes, that’s a lot of pressure. That said, understanding the magnitude of this decision reminds you to be careful with the choice you make.
So, take your time when deciding on your gown. You also shouldn’t impulse buy a pair of stilettos that will hurt your feet or pick a fascinator you just saw by chance. Always refer back to your plan and consider what you want when finalizing your wedding look.
Don’t: Judge a Dress While It’s on the Hanger
A wedding dress may not appeal to you while it’s on the hanger. That said, most dress details are hard to appreciate or even notice unless you try the piece on. Additionally, you can’t properly assess how the dress will work with your body type while it’s hung up. Given this, try on all the gowns that call your attention, and don’t just assume what they’ll look like without at least taking them to the fitting room.
Also, should the shop consultant recommend a dress on a hanger, give it a try. The shop consultant is the expert in knowing which shape and design best suit your overall shape. You may just find that an unexpected option will make the cut.
Like the decision to get married, you need to take your time and be smart about finding the best wedding dress. It may seem difficult at first, but keeping all the tips above in mind should help you focus on the task at hand.
Above all, don’t forget that this is a choice you’re making for yourself, so you’ll want it to be one of the best decisions you ever make in your lifetime. Don’t give in to external pressure, and go with a wedding dress that makes you look and feel good. Follow all these tips and you’ll eventually find an amazing dress that everyone is sure to remember!