Saying “Yes to the Dress” is one of the most exciting parts about the wedding planning process. So many brides have grown up watching the show and seeing all the emotion that floods the room when the bride finally finds the perfect one. I remember finally finding mine and looking around the room and seeing all of the eyes of my family and friends fill with tears.
It is the craziest feeling, but when you know, you know!
It’s best to have a plan of action when you start your dress shopping experience. To help explain the best steps to take as you get ready for finding the dress of your dreams and answer some of the biggest burning questions brides have when it comes to dress shopping, I have invited Tiffany, the owner of Tiffany’s Bridal Boutique, onto the blog today. She is one of the most caring and sweetest people I know and loves to give back to the community. I am so blessed to have her share some incredible insight with you all so that you can be prepared and ready to make wedding dress shopping stress-free and a memorable moment in the planning process. Enjoy!!
XOXO ~ Heather Marie
1. Have a Price in Mind
First and foremost, determine what you are going to spend. If you know you’re not going to spend $2,000 on your dress, don’t waste time trying on a bunch of wedding dresses out of your range. You’re better off zeroing in on your realistic price point so you can spend more time editing down the amazing options you can actually buy.
If you are unsure of what wedding dresses cost, do some research.
The average cost of wedding dresses is around $1,200-$1,500. Call the shops you are looking to visit and ask for the price range of their gowns. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to factor in the cost of alterations, taxes, veil/headpieces, shoes, and jewelry, which can add up to $500 or more altogether.
2. Start Wedding Dress Shopping Early
This is one of the things that surprises everyone. You really need at least six months, on average, to get your wedding dress—and that’s if you’re really decisive. If you’re a picky shopper or don’t really know what you want, start looking about a year prior before your wedding. Give yourself plenty of time; if you put it off for too long, your selection of dresses could be limited or you might make a quick decision you may regret later.
Once you’ve found your wedding dress, give yourself at least 3 months to allow alterations to occur. Do not skip alterations. Unless it is a custom made dress-everyone needs alterations. In total- we suggest to start looking for your wedding dress no earlier than a year away. Have it purchased no later than 9 months if possible. If it’s sooner than that- ask if they can sell off the rack or if there is a “Priority Gown” option. Priority gowns are typically stocked in several sizes and colors. They do not cost extra to ship either, where as some stores will have a rush fee. Not all stores carry these dresses -so call ahead!
We do not suggest shopping much earlier than a year from your wedding date. This is due to styles changing. Most bridal stores will suggest you wait if your wedding date is a year and a half away or longer. Many bridal designers come out with new lines twice a year, every Spring and Fall. You do not want to purchase your gown too soon and then have buyers remorse when you see the newer gowns being released.
3. Determine the Dress Code for Your Wedding
You may need to consider religious restrictions when shopping for your wedding dress. If your ceremony is in a house of worship, find out whether there are any attire guidelines you’re required to follow, such as covering your shoulders.
4. Figure Out What You Like
Take cues from your venue, the season and the time of day you’re getting married to help narrow down your dress style. Rule out fabrics and silhouettes that won’t work (a bulky ball gown is probably not the best fit for a midday beach affair) and consider what styles will flatter your shape. To help you search, for example, Maggie Sottero has a quiz for brides to take. This is to help you narrow your wedding dress search and also shows you local retailers that have the ones you like. Maggie Sottero’s website can also help you find which bridal salons near you carry the actual dress you want to try on.
Also, our Lancaster Bridal Shop currently has all our gowns listed on our website. All of our brides can preview our inventory ahead of time. Keep in mind you are not limited to those. Some designers offer gowns through a “Loaner Program”. If there is a particular gown you think could be “The One”, but the store doesn’t have it available to try on- ask if there is a loaner program. Often times it can be brought in for a set period of time and all you have to cover is the shipping( this may even be reimbursed to you if you end up purchasing the dress).
Lastly, if you love a particular designer, find out if they’re having a trunk show in your area—you’ll see a larger range of their collection and you might even get a discount or a free accessory with gown purchase. We list our trunk shows/special events under our “In The Community” Tab.
5. Call in Advance
While you may get lucky and snag a salesperson just by walking in, scheduling an appointment guarantees you’ll get a full hour of undivided attention. Plus, many salons require you to book an appointment in order to try on gowns, so you’ll want to call/schedule ahead. Do not get mad if you decide to go into a store on a busy Saturday and expect to be seen without and appointment. Also, please be courteous as well, always arrive on time. Do not no-show to an appointment! Even if you found your dress, call and let the next shop know you no longer need the appointment.
Here at Tiffany’s Bridal, we do strongly recommend an appointment. Walk-Ins can only be taken if an appointment is not already in progress. It’s just Tiffany and her pooch and she does her absolute best to accommodate everyone, but she is only one person. It is best to call or fill out the appointment request form. She will often come in early and stays late so she can accommodate as many brides as possible
6. Let the Consultant make Recommendations
Don’t eliminate anything at first glance. If the salesperson brings you something she says you should try, try it—even if you don’t initially love it or think it’s totally “you.” It’s possible to fall for a wedding dress you didn’t think you’d like or want. Not every dress looks great on a hanger. You might have to let go of some preconceived notions and keep an open mind.
We cannot stress this tip enough!
7. Shop at the Right Time
Taking a half day off to shop on, say, a Tuesday morning is absolutely worth it. Saturday’s are the most requested day—which actually makes them the worst. A calm store means a more personalized shopping experience. If you’re shopping for a sample sale, do yourself a favor and skip the first day. Call ahead to ask how many days the sale will run, then go a little later—there will still be plenty of inventory.
Another shopping trick: Don’t bring an entourage. It may be tempting to include all your friends in this experience; but, any more than one or two adds up to too many clashing opinions.
8. Buy a Wedding Dress that Fits Now
Even if you’re planning on dropping 15 pounds before your wedding, your body type isn’t going to completely change. Besides, it’s a lot easier (not to mention less expensive) to take a gown in than to try and make a too-small dress work.
9. Read the Fine Print
When you order your wedding dress from a bridal shop, it’s important to triple-check the contract. Read it carefully, so you don’t end up with the wrong size or color; and get the designer, style number, measurements, estimated delivery date, the price of the gown and number of fittings, as well as the deposit amount, all in writing.
Once the gown is ordered- that it is.
10. Come Prepared
While most bridal shops may have shoes and a slip on hand for you to try on with your gown, you should still come prepared with a nude bra and underwear for the fittings. And try on your other day-of accessories (if you have them); like your veil or cover-up, to get an idea of how your whole look will come together.
11. Trust your Instincts
If you have to be reassured that the dress looks great on you, it’s probably not “the one.” If you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle in it, move on. If you want to make major changes to it; like adding a full sleeve, then it may not be your dress. Find a dress that has everything you LOVE and you desire to make no major changes too. When you find the right dress, you’ll know—you won’t want to put on anything else. You will no longer desire to see what else is out there- you found it.
Do not let the bridal store pressure you into purchasing a gown you do not really love. If you feel at all pressured- just leave. You do not want to get talked into a dress and later regret it.
Check out a shoot with one of Tiffany’s Bridal Boutique’s beautiful dresses: