The wedding day is one of the most special days in a woman’s life. There are a lot of preparations to be done and decisions to be made for the wedding day, but choosing the bridal dress is what worries every bride the most. And being the biggest highlight of every wedding, the bride has to look as stunning as possible and the wedding dress plays a very big role in making this possible. No one can argue that its pristine white hue and delicate detailing has made it a fashion icon. There is no doubt that shopping for your wedding dress can be very exciting, but it can also be equally stressful especially if you have other preparations for your wedding at hand. After all, you most likely have never tried fitting one before, and it’s one of the most expensive garments you will own, so you might feel pressured while shopping for your wedding dress. No matter what you like, your budget, personal preferences, or timeline these shopping tips should help you find your dream wedding dress.
Set a budget
It is known that a wedding dress is one of the most expensive pieces of clothing you will ever buy. And yes, it might be uncomfortable to talk about budget, but it will save you time and spare you from being disappointed later on. With that said, the price range for wedding dresses are widely varied, so it is highly important to tell every store you visit how much you are willing to spend on your wedding dress (1,2). This way you will only try on wedding dresses within your price range and this will save you from the heartache of not being able to try on a dress you can’t afford. Try to consider as many options as you can when looking for a wedding dress. We recommend three main options when you are shopping for your wedding dress:
- Try renting a wedding dress from a wedding boutique
- Buy a ready-to-wear wedding dress
- Buying a custom-made wedding dress for you
Renting a wedding dress is the option that will help you save the most - and sometimes you will find a really good find in one of these to-rent wedding dresses. Buying a ready-to-wear wedding dress is the second least expensive option you can try. And getting a custom-made wedding dress is the most expensive option you can take.
Occasionally, the bride’s family or the groom will pay for the wedding dress, and sometimes the bride themselves get their wedding dresses at their own expense. But no matter who pays for the wedding dress, it is highly important that you pick an option that would best fit your budget. Avoid buying dresses that exceed your budget, and if you are willing to rent one that would be the most cost-efficient option. While we understand that a wedding is very special for you and you would rather buy a wedding dress that is specially made for you, but we should also face the fact that you will only use this dress once in your lifetime so it would make sense to buy what you can afford.
Do your research
Skim through dozens of magazines, scroll through bridal boutiques online, search for wedding dresses on Pinterest, and check out what celebrities are wearing in their weddings to compile a visual file of what you want. It’s not every day that you encounter the terms you will hear or read when looking for a wedding dress or even differentiate between similar-looking shades of white. Then look for a general theme in these chosen wedding dresses - find a common style within these dresses and bring those ideas with you every time you walk into a wedding boutique. So it is highly important to pour your attention into doing research. Learn about silhouettes, fabrics, and the terms or lexicons so you can better communicate with the clerks in the boutiques. Bring a folder with you where you have compiled all the wedding dresses you found while you were doing your research.
Pick a silhouette and choose according to your body shape
Brides commonly make a mistake by committing to a dress that they really like but do not fit. Each bride has a different body type and shape and a wedding dress might look good on another person and will not exactly look the same on everyone (1,3). While we do understand that it is really easy to fall in love with that gorgeous dress that you saw online, it is crucial that you find out what your body type and shape is and choose a dress that will highlight your best features. Try skimming the outfits you have in your wardrobe to help you find the shapes that look best on you, you are most comfortable with, and the one that best flatters your figure. Other factors such as the style you like, the venue, and the theme of your wedding should also be taken into consideration.
Don’t quickly choose the ‘trendy dress’
Never pick a trendy dress, aside from the fact that a lot of brides will have the same dress as you, trendy doesn’t always mean it will look good on you - remember the tip above. And these trendy dresses are also expensive and impractical to wear. They also generally do not stand the test of time - flip through some old wedding photos and you’ll see what we mean. Choose something that will make you feel sexy, glamorous, and the best version of yourself with a touch of traditional and modern style - then you will have found a timeless gown that will never go out of style.
Do not be afraid to ask questions about the dress
Trying on wedding dresses will leave you speechless and in awe but this is also a great time to inquire about the dress to the boutique. You might want to ask about the specific arrangements and alterations you would want to make on the dress. You need to ask questions so you wouldn’t regret wearing an uncomfortable dress just because you didn’t inquire more about the dress.
Not only do you ask the boutique but you also ask questions to yourself. Questions like “Does this make me look spectacular but is also functional for the activities?", "Do I feel beautiful?”, “Do I feel comfortable?”, “Do I feel confident?”, “Can I dance with it?”, “Can I sit down?”. Functionality is as important as how the wedding dress looks on you.
Keep an open mind
Keeping an open mind is essential in looking for a wedding dress - do not get fixated on that gorgeous wedding dress that you found on Pinterest. This is something bridal consultants and wedding planners will tell you over and over. These consultants have seen countless brides share their ideas of what they want only to be disappointed when they try it on and instead, fall for something completely different and unexpected. So take their advice. Even if what they want you to try on doesn’t seem like your style. Some dresses don’t look gorgeous on a hanger, but can completely transform when you put them on.
Keeping an open mind will help you find your dream wedding dress that you never expected.
Start shopping early
Shopping early for a wedding dress will take some stress off your back when planning your wedding. Once you have decided on a wedding date, begin shopping around nine months before your actual wedding day(1,2). This will spare you from the horrors of shopping at the last minute. Dresses take about four months to be manufactured and another two months for any alterations - if you are looking to have a custom made wedding dress. Custom and very elaborate gowns will take up more time. But if you are short on time, many boutiques do offer rush orders for an additional fee, but this will limit your choices.
You can also shop for pre-made wedding dresses if you are pressed on time and have a limited budget. Nowadays, a lot of wedding boutiques offer tailor-made dresses that fit your size and shave, even with customized sizes, colors, and styles.
Bring backup … but choose wisely
Take everything you need to complete your wedding look when doing a fitting. Things like your undergarments, a special necklace, shoes, or even your veil. You will also need the opinion of a few trusted confidants, but not too many. You know how difficult it is to agree on where to eat dinner with just a couple of people, you can only imagine how hard it will be to decide on a wedding dress. Invite one or two people who know your taste, will be honest with you, and whose judgment you truly trust.
Try on as many wedding dresses as you need
As we’ve said before, almost every wedding dress can look stunning (or terrible) on a hanger, but it can take on a different shape and look on a woman’s body (5,6). Do not make hasty judgments. This means that you should try on as many dresses as you would like. Just as it took a long time to find your “the one”, it also takes time to find the perfect wedding dress.
… But not too much
This is not to confuse you, this is to remind you that you should not feel obliged to try on at least twenty dresses in every boutique you visit. Having too many places and choices will only add stress and confusion.
Trust your instincts
In this process, you will have tried on hundreds of dresses before you find the perfect one. But once you’ve found the dream wedding dress for you, you’ll know. So do not rush the process and take your time. And most importantly, don't give in to other people’s opinions - only your own.