Wedding dress shopping is so important and so special. Finding the perfect dress isn’t always what it seems — and it certainly isn’t like an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. Don’t stress, though. With a few ground rules you will be able to set an action plan and find the dress of your dreams! The Twirl Girls are always here to help.
1. SET YOUR BUDGET
Establish the maximum amount you’re willing to spend on your wedding dress — and stick to it. The total budget should include the dress, as well as the estimated costs of alterations, veil or headpiece, and belt. Those “hidden” costs add up. Also, make sure you are upfront and honest about your budget with your consultant. Tell her your budget at the beginning of your appointment. She wants to help you find the perfect dress, but she doesn't want to put you in a gown you can't afford. If you fall in love with something out of your price range, heartbreak is inevitable. Sticker shock is an absolute real thing, so make sure you are firm on price. So, be honest so your consultant can help you out the best she can. Call ahead to bridal shops and ask what their price range is. They will be happy to give you that information. Most shops aren't going to price specific dresses over the phone, but they will be willing to give you a price range. Budget is important to everyone so make sure you know what yours is.
2. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START LOOKING
As soon as the ring is on your finger, it’s pretty much time to go look at dresses. From a logistics standpoint, starting the process at least eight to nine months out is a good idea. Some brides even start looking a year before their wedding. Allow yourself time to actually find it, then allow time for fittings, alterations, and having it delivered from the designer. Most wedding dresses are in production 5-6 months before they even think about shipping from the designer to the store. Some bridal shops will have dresses you can purchase off the rack, but most places are going to have to do a custom order, so be prepared for that. Having the dress taken care of and bought will also make the other details of the wedding come together more easily. Here at Twirl, we would rather you start looking and buying sooner rather than later. Give yourself all the options. Start early!
3. HAVE A PLAN
Like all good plans, research and appointment-making is essential to buying a wedding dress. Subscribe to some bridal magazines or pick up a few, put in some time on Pinterest, browse local vendors websites, read reviews and check out your favorite bridal designers for inspiration. Most bridal salons, specialty shops, and department stores don’t operate on a walk-in schedule. Make sure they’re expecting you upon arrival. It is always better to have an appointment. That way a salon can make sure you have a consultant to work with you the entire time, and open space in the store. It never hurts to call ahead. Especially on a Saturday, most stores cannot accommodate walk-ins. Making an appointment also prepares you for going to the store. Browse the designers listed on the store's website and get an idea for the each designer's style. Having a plan when you walk in to the store is also a good tip. Make sure you have researched enough to know what styles and silhouettes you like.
4. LIMIT YOUR ENTOURAGE
You’ll most likely want a second and third opinion. Outside perspective and honest feedback is welcome, but too many opinions can cloud your gut judgment. The say you can never have too many friends....except when you are shopping for your wedding dress! Bringing every single bridesmaid and every single family member is not always as fun as it sounds. And it sometimes is not very effective in the decision making process. We recommend no more than 3 or 4 people coming with you. It's hard to hear a bunch of different opinions and brides sometimes stress out trying to make sure everyone likes it. The most important thing is that YOU love the dress, even if it means going against the popular vote. Also, we recommend bringing anyone with you to your appointment whose judgment you cannot make a decision without. Shopping with just your girlfriends can be fun, but if you need Mom's ultimate say, make sure she is at the appointment with you.
5. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Here’s a a pretty obvious shocker: You may actually look good in styles you didn’t think would flatter you. Perhaps you thought an A-line strapless gown with lots of beading was the only thing you would be willing to get married in, only to discover a lace cap-sleeve mermaid gown was the clear winner. Having an open mind is essential. You may discover that what looks good in a magazine, doesn't necessarily look great on your body type. But don’t be disappointed by dashed expectations — go in with an open mind, and remember to try on a variety of silhouettes. At the very least, it will give you an idea at what to look for (and what not to look for) in the future.
6. DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BIG PICTURE
Is this the wedding dress you can walk down the aisle in? Can you sit in at dinner? And dance your heart out on the dance floor? If you can’t envision lots of different scenarios while narrowing down the options, put the dress on the back burner. You want to look beautiful, feel beautiful, and let’s be honest, you want to be comfortable, too. Your dress should reflect your personality. Your groom wants to see the person he fell in love with! So when you can see yourself actually getting married in a dress, put that one in your top choices.
7. NO TEARS, NO PROBLEM
Despite the fact that every reality TV show and romantic comedy have made you (and everyone around you) believe you will shed tears as soon as you come out in “the one,” this isn’t always the case. And that’s okay. It’s totally okay if you do cry — it is an emotional and special moment — but don’t let the absence of tears make you think it’s a sign that you don’t absolutely love what you’re wearing. The waterworks just aren’t for everyone. You might be less emotional about it because it most likely wont fit properly. More realistically, girls cry when they are in their first fitting of the dress actually made for them. That is the first time it seems more real. So don't worry if there are no tears! Also, don't be worried if the people in your entourage don't cry either. They obviously think you look beautiful! It doesn't have to be tearful to be magical and special.
8. SOMETIMES THE FIRST DRESS IS “THE ONE”
Shopping for a wedding dress doesn’t always require countless try-ons. Sometimes it really is love at first sight. There’s nothing wrong with finding “the one” right out of the gate — it certainly frees you up to focus your time and energy on things like venue, cakes, floral arrangements, and securing the best photographer. You would be surprised how many girls actually choose the first one they pick. You know your style and you know what looks good on you. Trust yourself! If it happens to be the first one, that's okay!
9. LIMIT THE NUMBER
Once you start getting up there in numbers with how many dresses you have tried on, you are only going to start confusing yourself. Limit the number of dresses you try on. You do not need to try on 50 dresses to find "the one". That is almost like giving yourself too many options. Limit your search. That is the best way to find the absolute perfect dress.
10. DRESS UP (JUST A LITTLE)
It might be difficult to imagine yourself walking down the aisle if you’re trying on dresses with post-yoga hair and no makeup. You don’t need to look your Sunday best, but a little mascara and your hair styled in the way you’re thinking of wearing it on the “big day” could make all the difference when you’re envisioning the entire look.