Are you about to start your search for your perfect wedding dress? It’s both a fun and very overwhelming process and often you have zero idea of where to even start.
That’s part of the reason I started Love Find Co, to help soon-to-be brides and grooms navigate all things wedding, and that’s why here I’ve listed our top 10 tips to ensure your wedding dress shopping experience is fun and stress free.
1. Do your research
You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing what car you wanted to test drive or buy a house without seeing inside so make sure you do some research before stepping foot into bridal store.
Pick up some amazing bridal magazines (we love Cosmo Bride and Hello May) and hop onto Pinterest and pin all the wedding gowns, designers and style details you like. From there you should start to see common elements which are great to use as references to share with bridal stylists or boutiques.
2. Sort out your calendar
Most bridal designers and boutiques work via appointment only, and weekends are usually booked out weeks in advance. It’s very rare to be able to make appointments last minute so make sure you plan far enough ahead.
When booking your appointments, don’t book more than three to four boutiques in any one day. You’ll probably try on four or five gowns in each appointment, so only scheduling in a couple of appointments won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed.
3. Chose your bridal entourage wisely
It might be a fun idea to invite your mum, sisters, best friends, bridesmaids, aunts and mother-in-law-to-be because they are all excited about the prospect of seeing you in a wedding dress, but bringing too many people could lead to a lot of opinions. We recommend you take two people whose opinion you trust and who you're able to be honest with.
4. Be honest and upfront
This is one of the most important points - you are not going to like every gown you try on, so don’t feel bad telling the bridal stylist that.
They are there to help you, and a good stylist won’t take offence. The stylist should know there is a possibility your perfect gown may not be in their boutique, so be honest about what you like and don’t like so they can work out if your perfect wedding gown is in their store.
5. Know your budget
There is nothing more depressing than trying on the dress of your dreams only to be told that is worth more than your car.
As part of your wedding budget, work out how much you want to allocate on your wedding day look. Make sure you are upfront with telling the stylist or boutique your price range before you start your consultation.
If you do find the dress of your dreams that is over budget, consider rethinking another aspect of your wedding - perhaps you could DIY some elements to re-coup the costs.
6. Factor in the extra costs
In addition to the actual dress you have to make sure your budget includes alterations and accessories to complete your wedding day look.
Most boutiques will offer an in-house service for alterations so make sure you grab a copy of this or ask so you can get an idea of these costs. As for veils and jewellery, you may want to keep this to your ‘something borrowed’ if you have gone over budget for your gown.
7. Don't take photos
Oftentimes photos are not allowed anyway, but if they are, consider if you really need to take photos. We understand that this may be hard with all the gowns you are trying on, however the reality is that it could leave you open for regret later on.
You may look back on the images and think the gown was awful when in reality it t was just the curtains and lights, or the fact that you didn't have your hair or makeup done. The best thing to do is book a return appointment to look at yourself in real time.
8. Come to your appointment prepared
Besides the obvious, you may want to consider:
- Doing your hair and wearing light makeup.
- Bringing your own heels.
- Underwear. Yes, we are stating the obvious, but choosing something nude and seamless is best.
- Don’t wear fake tan!
9. Keep an open mind
Wedding dress shopping isn’t like regular clothes shopping so whilst we recommend doing your research, we also recommend having an open mind.
Try on gowns that catch your eye, but also be open to the opinion of from the stylist. It is so common that a gown may not have ‘hanger appeal’ but once it’s on it gives the WOW factor and you may be surprised.
Is it appropriate to outsource the writing of your wedding vows? We discuss, on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after audio.
10. Read the fine print
You have found your dream dress - Congrats!
However before you sign on the dotted line make sure you read over the contract. Given the long lead time with designers and most designers working with made to order gowns, there is no refunds so be prepared.
Also most stores offer alternations at an additional cost, so make sure you are aware of this and factor that into your wedding budget.
Sophie Westley is the Founder and Style Director of Love Find Co, a bridal destination featuring Australian and international bridal designers. You can see more of her work on the Love Find Co Instagram account.