Wedding Planning 101

Yay, you’re engaged! Now what? Dress shopping

Congrats you’re engaged! Now what? This post is dedicated to finding the perfect wedding dress! It’s such an exciting time in your life, but it can also be stressful.

If you’re like me, you’ve been dreaming about your dress since you were little. You’ve probably browsed and saved a ton of options on Pinterest. And now the time has come to pick one!

Here are some tips I found helpful and a couple of things I wish I did differently:

Research online and find your style

Look at Pinterest for ideas. Create a board of wedding dress styles. Take a wedding dress quiz. Find your style.

Once you find your style, research bridal boutiques online to see which ones carry your style. At some places, you can even save or favorite dresses online and they can pull the samples before you arrive at your appointment. If you are unable to save dresses online or see the full selection of dresses, bring in dress photos for inspiration. This will help your bridal stylist find you the perfect dress.

Know your budget

Wedding dresses can be very expensive. Make sure to do your research before going to a boutique. Sometimes boutiques start at a certain price range and only go up.

Communicate your budget to your bridal stylist to help you find dresses in your budget. Don’t tease yourself and try on dresses above your budget.

When you are thinking about your budget, make sure to factor in accessories, shoes, undergarments, a veil and anything else you may want on your day.

Make an appointment

This is probably a given, but you need to make an appointment at bridal boutiques. You can call or make appointments online. Some boutiques may even require a fee to book your appointment.

Take a couple of people with you that will give you their honest opinion

Wedding dress shopping should be special. You don’t want a million different opinions or someone to disagree with the dress you like. Take a couple of people with that will give their honest opinions; I only took my mom with me.

I wanted my wedding day to be the first time my bridesmaids saw me in my dress to get that real “first look” candid picture and it was so worth it! I also had 8 bridesmaids and I didn’t want to make them go to every bridal boutique I went to. It is definitely a personal preference because you may want their opinions, but prepare yourself for the possibility of different opinions.

Be open and flexible

You may have a specific style in mind, but be open and try different styles, you might be surprised at which style you like the best. Since I was little, I knew I wanted a ballgown wedding dress. When I started trying on ballgown dresses, I quickly realized it was not the style for me. Be open and flexible when trying on dresses. You may have a style in mind and walk out with something different.

Prepare yourself for bridal sizing and colors

This is definitely something I wish I was told before I went wedding dress shopping. You will not try on your exact wedding dress size and in some cases, you may not even try on the color you want. Bridal boutiques only order 1 sample of each dress (makes sense because they have so many different dresses, they wouldn’t be able to stock every size in every dress).

Your bridal stylist will clip the dress and measure you before you order, but be ready to try on a variety of sizes. Bridal dress sizes are different than regular sizing, so don’t read too much into the sizes.

For my dress, I didn’t even try it on in the color I ended up ordering (ivory). My wedding gown sample only came in Champagne and it looked so good in Champagne, I was worried to order it in ivory. My awesome bridal stylist tried to help me visualize what it would look like in ivory. I also tried to find it online, but you really have to imagine what your perfect dress will look like if you can’t try it on in your color or size. Listen to your bridal stylist’s advice. They do this all day long, all day every day, so they can definitely help.

Don’t be afraid to try on a bunch of dresses or go to different boutiques

A lot of people say the first dress you try on will be the one! Or you should only try between four and seven gowns. And while this is probably true for the majority of people, you have to do what is right for you.

I went to four different boutiques and tried on a variety of dresses. I definitely tried on more than seven gowns, but I knew my dress was the one because nothing could compare to it and my mind kept going back to it. It was not the first dress I tried on.

Don’t be afraid to keep looking. You’re paying a lot of money for your dress, it is okay to keep searching to make sure it’s the one. It’s even good to sleep on your decision before you buy it.

Plan ahead and find your dress 8-10 months in advance.

Experts say to estimate 6-8 months for your wedding dress to come in after you order it. Some dresses can take up to 6 months and then you may need 1-2 months for alterations. If you have less than 5 months, don’t sweat it, you can expedite your dress. Bridal stylists may stress you out about the delivery time frame, but take your time. Feel confident and order when you know it’s the one. Pay the rush fee if you need to, but you need to decide what is best for you.

However, you should definitely plan ahead. My dress actually came within 4 months, but there was an issue with it and it had to be sent back to the designer. Luckily, it came early enough so it wasn’t an issue and they returned it a month later.

Plan for alterations

Alterations could cost 1/2 or 1/3 of the price of your dress! Factor this into your budget and plan ahead for it. This is also something I wish I knew ahead of time.

You do not have to get alterations at the same place you bought your dress. It might be encouraged, but if you want to take it to another place, do it. You know what’s best for you. I felt pressure to have alterations at the same place I bought my dress and I do wish I thought about this more as I would’ve gone to a different place for alterations.

For alterations, you will try on your dress 2-3 times after the boutique receives it back from the designer. Don’t delay the first try on. Coming from experience that there was something wrong with my dress, try it on as soon as possible.

Take your shoes to alterations and the undergarments you will wear on your wedding day. I took my shoes to my alteration appointments, but somehow my wedding dress was still too long after it was bustled. During my reception, I had to keep kicking it from under my feet during dancing.

Take your undergarments to every fitting appointment as well. This was another mistake I made. I was waited for my undergarments to come in from the shop and they didn’t until the week of my wedding, so I never tried on my actual undergarments with my dress. Moral of the story, alterations are so expensive, make sure you are happy with them before you leave.

Veil or no veil

That is the question! Did y’all know the veil can take as much time as the dress? Just kidding, but it can take a couple of months so you may feel pressure to buy your veil and dress at the same time. I loved my veil, but I do wish I waited and had more time to think about it. I had a short veil with the prettiest detail. I didn’t want a long veil so that you could still see the detail on the back of my dress. Half of my friends didn’t wear veils and half wore long princess veils. I didn’t wear my veil during my reception, I only wore it for my ceremony. Think about this ahead of time so it doesn’t ruin your hair. Personal preference, but plan ahead for budget (it can be pricey as well) and time if you’re thinking of wearing a veil.

Heels or no heels

Very similar to my engagement photo post, will guests be able to see your heels? Will you be able to walk in a big long dress and heels? It’s such an exciting day, you want the best of everything, but definitely plan ahead and wear heels to alteration fittings if you plan to wear them on the big day.

I was planning to wear high heels and then change my shoes at the reception, but my alterations stylist told me to wear the same heels for the ceremony and reception because they can’t make the dress length different sizes. I found the cutest sparkly heels from David’s Bridal with a low heel and they were only $50! Win-win. I also treated myself to fun sparkly shoes to get ready in. You can see the tip of my shoes and my toe color in some pictures, but they were great to wear the whole night.

Hope this helps, happy wedding dress shopping!


Sparkling in Style

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