Last month, I had my very first wedding dress shopping experience.
I had the most wonderful experience at Crème Couture in Guelph, Ontario. Seriously, southern Ontario brides… you have to check out this boutique.
To say I had a blast is a total understatement!
At the end of my first-ever appointment, I not only said “yes” to the dress… But I actually chose the first dress I tried on, if you can believe it. Only after trying on several dresses did I come to this decision, mind you.
In my experience preparing and attending my appointment, I learned A LOT about the process. Despite being super nervous about the whole ordeal, I ended up feeling completely at ease during my appointment.
With that being said, I thought I’d share some tips I learned that worked for me, so that other future brides can have a smooth experience!
Keep reading to find out how you can have a stress-free wedding dress shopping experience!
Do your research beforehand
Choosing a wedding dress is a huge decision. It’s a lot of money and a majorly symbolic piece of the puzzle. The last thing anyone wants is to feel unprepared and overwhelmed when picking out their dress.
To avoid the stress, make sure to do your research before shopping. You don’t need to go into your appointment with your dress already picked out or anything crazy.
Instead, try to determine which style you prefer and what you think will make you feel happy, comfortable, and confident on your big day. Browse online collections of wedding gowns and narrow down what you like and dislike about each.
After you’ve done this, you should have a general idea and possibly know what specific silhouettes you are interested in. For instance, you might know that you prefer A-line gowns or that you feel most comfortable wearing sleeves.
If you find it difficult to communicate what you like (there’s a LOT of terminology!), Pinterest is your BFF! It will help you easily find wedding gown inspiration which you can save to boards or directly to your phone, and later share with your bridal consultant.
Make sure to dress for the occasion
Though it may not cross your mind, there’s a lot to consider when dressing for your bridal appointment. Depending on the styles you try on, certain undergarments might leave visible panty lines or bra straps that ruin the silhouette. Nobody wants that!
To create as “seamless” (pun-intended) an experience as possible, brides-to-be should try to wear all-nude undergarments to their try-on appointment. That way, you won’t have bright colours seeping through the fabric of your gown.
Seamless panties are the way to go. Personally, I recommend Aerie’s No Show Cheeky Underwear—they were a lifesaver for me at my appointment! For a bra, a strapless bra will do just fine.
Keep in mind that when you’re slipping in and out of the gowns, you will be accompanied by a bridal consultant in the dressing room. That’s right, you two are about to get very close! Make sure to dress accordingly so that you feel comfortable during your appointment when you’re changing.
When in doubt, you can reach out to the boutique and ask them for advice on how to prepare for your appointment. The experts always know best!
Give yourself plenty of time to browse
I cannot stress this next point enough… Leave yourself PLENTY of time to do your dress shopping. Don’t rush the process. This will lead you to make hasty decisions that you might later regret.
Not to mention, since most dresses are made-to-order, you’ll want to leave plenty of time for your dress to be made and altered in time for your wedding.
On average, it’s recommended that you buy your dress about 9 to 12 months before your big day. If you plan to shop around a bit before choosing “the one”, you should aim for 12 months to stay on the safe side.
In general, I would suggest reaching out to the bridal boutiques you plan to visit and inquiring about their timeline. COVID delays and supply issues necessitate extra breathing room on that time frame.
As I said earlier, you might be considering visiting multiple shops to find your dream dress. This is a great option, especially for those who aren’t totally sure about what dress they’re looking for.
Even if you don’t plan to visit multiple shops, you might end up needing to. Not everyone finds their dream dress on their first attempt! And you don’t want to get stuck having to make a quick decision because you didn’t leave yourself extra time to shop around after your initial try-on appointment.
Choose your shopping entourage carefully
Dress shopping can be one of the most exciting events of the wedding planning process. Of course, you’ll want to share the day with some of the most important gals in your life!
However, when you’re sending out invites, make sure to carefully consider who you want to be surrounded by on this special day.
COVID-19 restrictions have forced boutiques to place some limitations on guests for bridal appointments. Before you start planning, contact your boutique to find out how many guests you are able to invite.
Once you have a number, consider who should realistically be in attendance. While you might initially want to invite as many of your loved ones as possible, be cautious.
Your guests should be the people in your life that will be most honest with you, without being overly critical or downright mean. If you love your aunt but she can be a bit judgy, maybe find a different way to include her in your plans!
For me, I was only able to invite three guests due to restrictions. I decided to invite my mum, future mother-in-law, and best friend (AKA Maid of Honour). I knew I could count on each of them to tell me the truth while also being super encouraging and positive during the experience!
Be willing to try new things
If you’re like me, you may be a Type A planner who hates to “wing it” and always does a ton (or maybe even too much) research prior to doing anything.
Often, this is great! As I mentioned earlier, it’s always good to have an idea of what you like before going dress shopping.
That being said, you don’t want to be too rigid either. Sure, maybe you envision yourself wearing a beautiful, ivory princess-style gown on your big day.
But there are a ton of options out there that you may love even more. And holding onto the idea of the princess gown may hold you back from trying something new.
When I went shopping, I said “yes” to the first dress I tried on. However, I didn’t actually say “yes” until I tried on over a dozen dresses.
Going in with a clear idea of what I liked and didn’t like, but also the flexibility to try on other styles outside of my immediate comfort zone. While I ended up going with something close to what I imagined, I was super glad to have tried everything, as I knew for sure that I made the right choice in the end!
Don’t be disappointed if you don’t find “The One” right away
Most will know that it’s very rare that a bride-to-be finds her dream dress at the first boutique she visits. But after a few try-on appointments without any luck, you might be thinking, “What gives?”
It might seem discouraging, but remember that you’re making a big decision. And there’s nothing wrong with taking time to find the dress that looks and feels perfect for you.
With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to visit every bridal boutique feeling confident and excited. Above all, remember that this is an exciting time! Feeling a bit of stress is totally normal, but make sure to have fun, too.
Can you hear the bells ringing? Make sure to check out my other wedding-related content here!
And if you have tips for brides-to-be who are buying their wedding dress, make sure to drop them in the comments below!