Though I’m not engaged (see Monday’s post) I like to think I’ve learned quite a bit about wedding planning from working with brides on a daily basis. The dress shop I recently started working at is a small, appointment only boutique meaning we really get a lot of one on one time with the brides and their families. I love that I am able to spend a bit of one on one time with each bride and learn about what it is they are looking for in a dress. So many brides share the story of how they met their fiance, how he (or she) proposed and many of the detailed plans for the ceremony and reception.
Needless to say weddings have been on my mind. After I meet with a bride her wedding stays in my mind for the following hours, I think about the dress I would choose, the song she should walk down the aisle to, the colors that work well with her theme, etc. Wedding planning is hard work and for now I’m really enjoying the no pressure planning of other people’s weddings that goes on in my mind. So what if the bridesmaid dresses clash with the centerpieces? It’s all in my head anyway! That being said I know wedding planning can be stressful and as a bride you sometimes need all the help you can get. From an “inside perspective” I want to share a few tips I have for wedding dress shopping.
Finding your Wedding Dress:
Give Yourself a Deadline
Finding the dress for your big day starts off as exciting, after five boutiques, two months and about a billion photos the process can become too overwhelming. Extending your search for so long can make you more confused than anything else. It’s hard to remember the dresses you liked at the beginning when you’ve tried on five hundred gowns since. Your wedding dress is a big deal but at the end of the day it still is just a dress for one day. Rather than overwhelming yourself narrow down your search and put yourself on a timeline. Start shopping for your gown first thing (some dresses take up to 6 months to order and then additional time for alterations). Pick 2-4 shops you know you want to shop at and set up all appointments in one weekend if possible. Some boutiques give discounts to brides who are able to make their decision the same day or within 48 hours of their appointment. Go into your search looking for your dress not just looking to play dress up.
Stop looking for a “Pretty” dress & look for YOUR dress
One of the comments I hear from brides most often is “All of the dresses are so pretty, I don’t know how I’ll ever pick one” and trust me, I get it. All of the gowns are gorgeous but you aren’t just looking for a gorgeous gown, you’re looking for YOUR gown. Initially it is great to try on many different styles, fabrics, and designers. You never know what you will absoloutely love until you try it. However, after you narrow down your search refine your taste! Does the dress do your body favors? Does it highlight your best features? Remember your dress will be a piece you remember forever. Do you really see yourself in a low back Katie May? Are you certain you’re a ball gown girl? By looking for a “pretty dress” you’ll never find the dress. Be honest with yourself about what you want and take a moment to visualize your wedding day. If you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle and saying “I do” in the gown, it isn’t the right wedding dress for you.
Let your Personality Shine
Though most of us don’t wear formal gowns on a regular basis it is important to choose a wedding dress that feels like you. It used to be that all wedding dresses were big and stiff and impossible to walk in, now brides have more options than ever before. You can still opt for an a-line ball gown with boning and beading if that traditional fit is what you want, however, brides can opt for new styles and fits as well. If you’re a laid back tomboy there is a dress (or jumpsuit or pant suit) out there for you. If you embrace fashion trends you can find a dress that offers a combination of edge and timelessness. If you’re a boho bride who wants to get married barefoot with twigs and flowers in your hair there are gowns meant for you. If you embrace the princess style of so many traditional wedding gowns but still crave comfort and movability there are wedding dresses you will love. On your wedding day you may be a bride (a role many of us haven’t played before) but you are still supposed to feel like you. The gown you choose shouldn’t make you feel like you’re playing bride or pretending to be someone else, your style and taste can translate to your wedding day.
Go Alone (and come back with your entourage)
Wedding dress shopping tends to draw flocks of friends and family carrying along mimosa making essentials, photography equipment and overly loud opinions. If I could I would urge all brides to shop alone, however, I know it can be a lot of fun to share part of the wedding dress shopping process with those closest to you. To make the most of your bridal appointment you should remind your guests of your personal style, likes and dislikes before arriving at the store. Pushier guests may be tempted to pull gowns brides just are not interested in (and less assertive brides feel pressured to try every dress their guests pull). Don’t be afraid to tell your entourage “no”, most appointments are only an hour or two long so wasting time on too many gowns you hate can use up your time slot quickly. Better yet, hit up your favorite boutique alone and try on a variety of gowns. After you have narrowed down your search to a few top dresses come back with your friends and family to show off your choices. With this method you still get to include your family and friends in the shopping process but you assure they help you choose a dress you love rather than pushing you towards styles you never wanted anyway.
Remember you don’t need EVERYONE’S Approval
Perhaps most importantly, brides should remember not to try and choose everyone’s favorite gown. Just as you don’t seek your mother’s, bff’s and sister’s approval on every outfit you wear you should understand you can’t pick everyone’s favorite gown for your wedding. Your Mom may be a voice of reasoning reminding you that your traditional in-laws won’t love tons of cleavage or that sheer Galia Lahav. Your best friend might be able to tell you what feels like you and what doesn’t. Yet, no one can understand what makes you feel most confident, happy and ready to marry the love of your life except for you. Remember that in the shopping process your guests are looking to critique (this isn’t bad, they are actually trying to help) but on your big day those you love won’t be looking to critique and help you eliminate a gown, they’ll be staring at how stunning you are. Choose a dress that you love and remind yourself to be okay with some people not loving it. The more you think about individual styles and how you don’t love every outfit your best friend, grandma, aunt, and sister choose the more okay you will be with choosing a gown that you will love forever (even if your bestie likes option two better).
Have you been wedding dress shopping before (either for yourself or with a loved one)? What tips would you give soon to be brides about the shopping process?