You’re approaching the most exciting part about wedding planning…shopping for your wedding dress! You may have a bit of mixed emotions about the experience; excited…unnerving…or perhaps you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed as to where to start.
Contrary to what some brides may think, it’s no easy feat to find the dress of your dreams in one fitting or that that perfect dress will fall right into your lap.
Just like anything else, you need to be prepared, and being prepared means you need to plan ahead to get the best possible outcome. Don’t worry though; we’re here with 12 expert tips to help you get ready to shop for your wedding dress to make your trips enjoyable, easy and stress free!
12 Expert Tips - Shopping For Your Wedding Dress
Tip #1: Set and know your budget
This is one of the most important tips, and that is to determine how much you are willing to and can afford to pay for your wedding dress. There’s no point in picking out all the crystal beaded wedding dresses when those types of gowns may well be above your budget limitations.
There’s no shortage of beautiful wedding dresses out there and without a budget in mind it will quickly become a huge task of filtering through all the styles and stores to find your wedding dress.
Some brides have it in their mind that they will visit all the bridal boutiques and try to find their perfect wedding dress and set a budget as they go along. Unless the price tag is not an issue, then it this approach isn’t ideal. More often than not, the bride will find themselves exhausted, overwhelmed with the shopping process and over their budget.
Many bridal sales consultants will also ask what your wedding dress budget is prior to assisting you find your dress, unless you have a very specific dress in mind. There’s no point in trying on and falling in love with a beautiful wedding gown only to find out that you cannot afford the price tag.
Set your budget and it will help you be realistic as to what dresses are in your price range when you turn up to your appointments at the bridal stores.
Tip #2: Decide when to shop; not too early and not too late
If you’re planning on a longer engagement (let’s say, 24 months until you have your wedding), it’s not too early to start looking at potential wedding dress styles and ideas, but it may be a bit early to start wedding dress shopping.
You may fall in love with a wedding dress during the time you visit the bridal store and even buy it because you love it so much, or maybe the price is too good to pass up. Some brides who buy their gowns too far out from their wedding date end up falling “out of love” with their dress. During the time after the bride purchases the dress right up to several months to the wedding, she may see other bridal gown styles that she may subsequently fall in love with.
See the dilemma? You don’t want to wear a wedding dress that you don’t love on your special day but you may not be able to afford a second one.
On the other hand, you don’t want to be shopping too late. Shopping too late can create a galore of (unexpected) problems.
Most bridal stores require you to order your wedding dress 7-9 months in advance. Then when the dress arrives there is a high likelihood that you will require some form of alterations to make your dress fit you perfectly. Depending on what alterations you need done, this will also take several weeks, anywhere between 3-5 weeks. So a quick timeline calculation, you’d be looking at needing 8-10 months to receive your “completed” wedding dress.
Of course, if you do shop a lot later than this standard time frame and your wedding is let’s say, 3-5 months away, it’s not all doom and gloom . It is still very possible to get a wedding dress that you love, but you would be looking to fork out additional “rush fees”. These fees typically are applied to orders with less than 3 months lead time and this fee is a cost on top of your wedding gown.
It is important to note the rush fees vary across bridal stores and/or their designers. Some rush fees can cost as much as 30% of the total price of the wedding dress!
In short, it’s best to start organizing the purchase of your wedding dress from 10 months (that is, if your wedding date is longer than this time frame) to ensure that everything is accounted for with the wedding dress as well allow for some time wiggle space should there be any hiccups. You’d be surprised the little things that happen along the way of wedding dress ordering, fittings, alterations etc that chew up several more weeks.
Tip #3: Seek out wedding dress style inspiration online
Have you always envisaged yourself in a princess ball gown type of wedding dress? Or perhaps you want to show off your curves more and want a fitted mermaid style gown. Whatever silhouette you like, get some major style inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram. Save the ones you’d love to wear as your own wedding dress and bring this along to your appointment at the bridal stores.
Tip #4: Decide where you will shop
What your budget is will subsequently determine where you should shop for your wedding gown. The options are plentiful; small bridal boutiques, franchised bridal stores, designer houses, online or even custom made by a bridal store or seamstress. If you’re a local Perth bride, there’s a good variety of Perth bridal shops around so do some research, see what each bridal store has to offer and if it’s a good fit with your style and budget.
A word of caution about online shopping for your wedding dress, a quick Google search will pull up a whole lot of result of websites which offer some stunning designs at rock bottom prices. This wedding dresses online are located in China and a bit of further research has revealed they are websites that are either scam websites or produce incredibly poor quality. Think about it, whilst the majority of wedding dresses have an average price range of $1,000 - $3,000, so what will you get for a wedding dress online at these websites for $300 - $500?
Tip #5: Cluster your bridal shops appointments
Bridal dress shopping can be a long and exhausting day. If possible, try to schedule all of your appointments into one day or weekend. There are several benefits of shopping all in one day or weekend including;
The advantage of having a fresh recount of the dresses you tried on and for comparison. If you spread all of your appointments over several weeks and months it would be rather difficult to remember and you may likely make a wrong selection or choice.
·Many bridal stores require that you make an appointment and sometimes it’s not possible to align all of the bookings into a segregated block that would suit your time or your bridal party’s schedule. This would mean that you would have to book for different days or weekends and try to fit yours and your bridal party’s schedule over the span of several weeks (or months) if you want to take them along to all of the appointments.
Depending on how large your bridal party is, it may be quite difficult to get everyone’s schedule to align on one day. Therefore, it’s best to schedule as many bookings with your top pick bridal stores consecutively, if possible.
Tip #6: Choose your entourage wisely
While it may seem like a fun idea to bring to your wedding dress appointments your bridal party, your siblings, your relatives and some friends, it really isn’t the best thing to do. You will be overwhelmed with all commentaries thrown your way by everyone. Some may like it, some probably won’t. This will make it really difficult to have a clear headspace to make any decisions about your dress above all the noise and opinions.
Not only those, many bridal stores can only accommodate for 2-3 additional people in addition to the bride due to space limitations and also makes it much easier for the bridal consultant to manage the group.
Your best bet is to take your mother and another person you truly trust and value their opinion such as your maid of honour or top bridesmaid.
Tip #7: Have an open mind to different wedding dress styles
You’d be surprised at how many brides love a different wedding dress style to what they were anticipating to walk away with. If you were thinking that you only suit A line silhouette dresses but the bridal consultant suggests you also try a mermaid style gown, really, go ahead and taker her suggestion. You may very well be pleasantly surprised at just how amazing you will look and feel in it.
Bridal consultants see a vast variety of different brides, their body shapes and preferences so give it a shot, you really have nothing to lose, besides the fact that it may be your total dream dress, despite it being unexpected!
Tip #8: Trust your bridal consultant
Most bridal consultants are qualified in bridal sales and will likely have had several years under their belt in serving brides. Therefore, they’ve seen many brides and what different dresses look like on different body shapes and styling. A good consultant will always start off asking what your preferences are (i.e dress silhouette, fabric type etc) and she will go from there helping to select the dresses that fits your preference. She will also likely throw in a couple of different designs that she feels may be a good fit for you. Be open to take upon her suggestion because it really doesn’t cost you anything.
Most of the time bridal consultants have your best interest at heart and she will do her very best to help you find a beautiful wedding dress. In the instance where you don’t fully agree with her recommendations, it’s OK to voice up. Just have an open mind and give it a try, but in the end if you’re really uncomfortable, that’s perfectly fine, stick to your original guns.
Tip #9: Wear appropriate undergarments
Plan ahead and pick the appropriate underclothing when you go to your bridal appointments as this will better prepare you to look and feel your best when you are trying on the dresses. Wear a strapless bra if you plan to try on styles that are strapless, strappy styles or have illusion style.
Also consider suitable undergarments such as nude or seamless underwear as well as spanx (if you do decide to). These little details actually do make a difference as to how you will look and feel when you are trying on the dress dresses.
Also be aware that you’ll be stripping down to your underwear and the bridal consultant will most likely see your entire undergarments when she is helping you step into and fit into the dress properly. So choose underwear that you’ll be comfortable to be seen in. If it makes you extremely uncomfortable, mention this to the consultants at the start of the appointment.
Tip #10: Don’t be hung up about the sizing on the label
Some brides might be alarmed when the bridal consultant hands them over a wedding gown and the size tag does not correspond to their usual clothing size. So while you might be a size 8 in regular retail clothing, chances are, your size may run a size up or two in wedding gowns. Wedding gowns generally run a lot smaller than regular clothing size, especially those with low stretch type.
Tip #11: Shop around at several bridal boutiques
It’s a good idea to shop around at different bridal stores to see the different store’s range and pricing. That said, it’s probably not such a great idea to try to see and visit every single store as it will become quite overwhelming and not every store will be able to cater to your requirements completely.
It’s best to first determine your budget and dress style that you like, and then look around for stores that fall within your budget range. Typically, visiting 5-6 stores would suffice to give you an idea of what kind of dress styles suit you and what falls within your price range.
That said, if you happen to fall absolutely in love with a dress in let’s say, your first, second or even third bridal appointment, don’t be afraid to say yes to the dress. Sometimes going with your instinct is not a bad idea and if you do push ahead to explore all your other options, it may in the end get a bit perplexing and overwhelming.
Furthermore, you may find a beautiful wedding gown that you may love and it is being offered at a fantastic price (i.e sample sale), again, don’t hesitate to say yes to the dress. You can save a significant amount of money this way and it will likely only require you to do some alterations to fit you perfectly.
Tip #12: Prepare to pay half of your dress’s cost upfront
When you do start shopping for your wedding dress, it’s a good idea to ensure you will have at least half of what you have budgeted for your dress available in cash or via card in case you do find “the one”.
There’s no point in shopping around for your dress when you don’t have the money ready because that means you will have to come back again in the future and by then, the dress may have been discontinued or sold out.
Depending on the individual bridal boutique, expect to pay between 30-50% of the dress cost up front as a deposit to secure your dress purchase.
This is a special time of your life and shopping for your wedding dress is an amazing (well it should be) process as part of the whole wedding experience. Ensuring you do a bit of planning ahead of time, armed with the above tips, you’re bound to love shopping for your wedding gown!
If you’re a bride that has a particular budget that you need to adhere to, or perhaps you’re needing a wedding dress in a short time frame, or even if you have been searching and shopping around but can’t find exactly what you’re after…give us a call and see what we can do to help you out.
We have a range of wedding gowns that is available off the rack to purchase at amazing prices or you can order a gown with customization to get exactly what you that another designer may not offer. We can help provide you with different options to suit your price and style so that you will get a dress that is truly and uniquely you.
Don’t know what styles you want yet? Check out our exclusive bridal gown collection to start your style inspiration today.
Get in touch with us now to discuss your individual wedding dress shopping questions!