Know These 6 Things Before Wedding Dress Shopping

A flat lay image of a lace wedding dress in a box next to a bouquet and pumps.

Wedding dress shopping might sound like a simple task, but it’s a bit more complicated than swinging by your local department store to pick up a few new pieces for your wardrobe. Plenty of brides have a good idea of the silhouette they want for their dreamy day…but that’s not all you need to know before wedding dress shopping.

This can be an emotional day of discovery and surprises, and you might end up with a dress you didn’t expect! To help make the journey as smooth and easy as possible, here are 6 things you need to know before heading out to shop for your wedding dress.

1. Research Dress Styles

While you might have endless wedding dress designs saved on your Pinterest for inspiration, that’s not quite enough research to properly prepare you for a day of wedding dress shopping. A lot of brides are so excited to get out there and find their dream dress that they might end up a little shell-shocked at their first store. Most wedding dress stores have a lot of designs and many are customizable. There are endless shapes, necklines, fabrics, and more. While the shop assistant can help you narrow down your options, it helps a lot if you know what you want, know your budget, and have a preference for some designs and fabrics.

2. Find a Favorite Designer

If you haven’t considered it yet, start looking at specific wedding dress designers to see if you have a favorite. Walking into a wedding dress boutique without any idea of what you like or what types of designs you prefer can end up making the experience overwhelming. Look through some photos online for inspiration and make note of a few designers whose work you like. This can help the shop assistant narrow down some of the designs for you to try on.

3. Research Bridal Boutiques

A woman trying on a wedding dress with friends.

While most bridal stores have a variety of designs, different bridal boutiques then have different styles of dresses. To help save time for the day of shopping, look up each store’s website before going. See if you need to set up an appointment or if you can just walk in. Create a list of boutiques that fit your style preferences and budget. Find a store with reasonable reviews, good customer service, and plenty of styles you might like.

4. Don’t Feel Bad When the Dresses Don’t Fit

A woman trying on a wedding dress with friends.

Wedding dress boutiques are full of sample sizes, so they rarely have a wide range of size options for you to try on. Don’t expect the dresses you try on to fit, regardless of your body shape. For most of your fittings, you will be pinned, tucked, or clamped into a dress that’s either too small or too large for your body. This is to help give you a preview of what it would look like if it did fit. It’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable and out of place throughout your shopping experience. The wedding dress you order will be in your size and fit much better so don’t worry about being uncomfortable throughout the fitting.

5. Alterations Are Normal

Once you find your perfect wedding dress and order your ideal size, keep in mind that alterations afterward are a normal part of the process. You want your wedding dress to fit your body uniquely, which often means tailoring it after it’s delivered to offer the best fit.

6. Don’t Be Pressured into Buying Something

Ordering a wedding dress takes time and most bridal stores will be open about the timeline of delivery. It’s normal to feel pressured to make a decision quickly to ensure your dress arrives on time, but this pressure might make you choose a dress you don’t love. Just because you’re shopping at a store doesn’t mean you need to purchase a dress you find there, and just because their timelines take months doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a dress that ships quicker somewhere else. It is best to start shopping early, but don’t let sales, timelines, or encouraging sales associates pressure you into purchasing a dress you don’t love.

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