When Should You Start Looking?
Based on my experience, the search for the wedding dress begins right after booking the venue BUT if there is hesitation in purchasing right away then I would recommend looking AND purchasing the wedding dress at least EIGHT to TEN months before the wedding date.
A rundown of things to know when searching for a wedding dress...
1. Never buy the dress before you book the venue. NEVER, why? Well..let’s say you buy a princess gown and you have an outdoor ceremony, guess how much grass is going to end up in all of the tulle material of the dress? I am sure you can imagine A LOT.
2. Best way of going about wedding dress shopping is finding a date that works for the wedding party (mom, Maid of Honor, bridesmaids, cousins) either during the week or weekend. I recommend a week day if possible so it’s not too crowded in the store which will somewhat ruin that bridal dress shopping experience.
3. I suggest booking 2-3 wedding dress shop visits in one day and THAT’S IT, they will all look the same after your 30th dress so don’t drive yourself too crazy and keep it to the top 3 stores in one day.
4. Do the research before going to the shop of what could potentially work for the preferred style of the wedding dress AND also be sure to keep an open mind. Also, KNOW YOUR BUDGET for wedding dress before walking through those doors.
Remember that the budget for the wedding dress should include: alterations (typically 2-3 and ranges of $100-$250 per visit), veil, and possibly shoes/ accessories.
5. Be sure to bring heels and nude undergarments on shopping day so there isn’t a hot pink bra or undies in all of your photos.
6. Please keep an open mind to dress styles, try on the dress that won’t “work” just so there’s a peace of mind. Sometimes those are the dresses you least expect loving AND TRY ON THE VEIL!
7. Make sure the attendees of the wedding dress shopping day are on photo taking duty, make sure to study facial expressions after the shopping to see which dress truly showed joy on your face and have that little glimmer in your eye (it’s real, I’ve seen it).
8. Keep in mind any religious ceremony details. Like does the religious entity require the shoulders to be covered? A Blusher Veil?
9. White is typically thought of as a wedding dress color but honestly, most people go for the “off white” / ivory color because stark white is really hard to pull off on a lot of skin tones.
10. Don’t forget to consider the wedding venue when picking a wedding dress. If there’s a lot of tulle and there’s a first look out in the grassy areas, is it likely to get the dress dirty earlier than the wedding ceremony? When there is a long train (back of the dress), will it catch onto a lot of things while walking? If considering a long Cathedral veil, is the venue in a very windy spot where it might potentially rip out hair?
11. Always try on a veil when trying on wedding dresses, ALWAYS, sometimes seeing it all together brings that AHA moment.
When considering a veil, consider wanting a blusher too and the length of said veil. Sure that long veil has a great dramatic effect but will the wind rip out the hair? Will grass get stuck? Will it pick up the rose petals on the floor?
12. If there is beading on the dress or any embellishments, try to do the sitting test during the fittings. The sitting test is important especially during fittings because there will be times to sit and being comfortable is very important.
Items to Consider
Remember that when trying on the wedding dress, it will not fit perfectly because they are store sizes (typically a bigger size) and they will be long. Wedding dresses typically have a “train” aka the material on the BACK of the dress.
You might be wondering, what do you do with that train after the ceremony?
You “bustle” it. Bustling means lifting the dress with buttons, ties, and magic in the back and it’s typically created by the wedding dress seamstress. But be wary, most bustles I’ve seen don’t last throughout the whole night so always be prepared mentally (because it is a shocker) and physically with safety pins, sewing kit, and a maid of honor (or day of coordinator/planner).
How do you find the right fitting/alterations person? Go with what the bridal shop recommends because that is their most trusted source..
Be sure to bring these items during your first or even second fitting: (see page 5 for checklist)
Should I have an "After Party" Dress?
If you feel like you have this beautiful wedding dress but you don’t know if you can wear it for a solid 10 hours without feeling like something shorter and spicier...then que the “after party” dress and store it away in a wedding room to change into during the wedding reception. Be sure to inform your venue coordinator/planner of this change of clothing and they will suggest when it’s best to change into it... I recommend changing after the formalities are done meaning cake cutting/garter/bouquet toss.