Wedding Dress Shopping - what you need to know before you shop!

With the holidays in high gear and discounts running wild, most soon-to-be brides are getting ready to start their wedding dress shopping.

And with dress shopping comes mixed emotions:








and the list goes on…

As a bride-to-be, you will experience a rollercoaster of emotions from the day you get engaged to the day you say ‘I do’. It is quite literally inevitable. That is what I am here for, right?

Today we are going to chat about your wedding dress shopping experience and how you can prepare for the experience so that you aren’t caught off guard if something doesn’t go as planned, if someone’s negative opinion is expressed, and if you can’t seem to find ‘the dress’.

First and foremost,

Set a budget.

Always go into your dress shopping experience with a budget. Any shop you visit will ask you a variety of questions to help hone in on the dress you are looking for and that is the biggest question.

Below are the questions you should expect to answer:

  1. What is your budget?

  2. What style are you looking for?

  3. Do you have any inspirational images?

Factor in additional costs. Don’t try on gowns out of your budget. The tag price for a gown is exactly that; for that gown and that gown only. You need to also consider additional costs for alterations and your veil.

So while your gown itself may cost $1,000.00, be prepared for a $200.00 expense for alterations and a $100.00 expense for the veil.

If your budget is $2,000.00 for the wedding gown, select a gown in the $1,000.00 range to allow for the additional costs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts. You are on a budget. Most places will give a discount, but not unless you ask for it. They may not provide a discount on the gown, but they may throw in your accessories at no charge or give you discounts on the wedding party attire. Always ask. The worse they could say is ‘no’.

Do your research.

Before you go into any dress shop, do some research. Start that Pinterest board and start saving inspirational photos so you know what to look for before you start shopping. That said, dresses will always look different on you than how they look on someone else.

So while having a general idea of the style you are looking for, realize that when you put on the same style, it will look different on you. Be open to different styles.

Style will also depend on your wedding locations climate. If you are having a destination wedding under the sun, I would not recommend a gown with sleeves. Remember, you want to be comfortable and beautiful. If you are sweating in your gown on your wedding day, you will be miserable. Select styles wisely.

When doing research on wedding gowns, make sure to note keywords that you can share with your stylist. This will help them find gowns that you are seeking.

Keywords include: Cathedral, Ivory, Lace, Pearl, etc.

Make bridal salon appointments.

I can’t stress this enough. Most bridal salons require appointments. The likelihood of you randomly walking into a bridal salon to try on gowns is slim. With appointments also comes personalized experiences and one-on-one assistance.

When making a bridal appointment, it is almost always guaranteed that you will have a personal stylist to walk through the store with you and try on gowns. When you make your appointment, the receptionist will also ask you what styles you are seeking so that your stylist can have some options ready for you upon arrival.

Always shop prepared.

Choose your tribe wisely.

I say this in the sweetest way possible. Make sure your bride tribe understands you. You want to go into this experience with people who love you, understand you, and want what you want.

Remember: this day is about you and your SO (significant other). Nobody else.

When picking out gowns and trying them on, remember that it is about what you feel comfortable in and what makes you feel beautiful. Nobody else’s opinion matters but your own.

You want to ensure you have a supportive tribe and people you get along with.


Go to every bridal appointment with questions. You don’t want to leave a salon and start asking yourself questions because you didn’t ask any in your appointment. That is what the personal stylist is for. To help you and to guide you.

Questions can include:

  1. Do you ship the gown or do I have to personally pick it up?

  2. Will you offer discounts on bridesmaid gowns and groomsmen attire?

  3. What is the best way to transport the gown?

  4. How do you suggest steaming the gown and best time day-of to steam the gown?

  5. How do you bustle the gown?

This also includes wearing and/or bringing the proper undergarments to your appointments. You don’t want to wear hot pink undies if you’ll be trying on white gowns. It’s important that you wear what you plan on wearing day-of so you have a clear understanding of what everything will look like. This includes your shoes. If you don’t have your wedding day shoes, you can bring a pair of shoes that have a similar height to see how they look with the gown.

Don’t worry about sizing.

Dress sizes are completely different than everyday wear. You may be a size 4 in jeans but your gown could be a size 10. When you see the tag, disregard it. The sizing for clothes is drastically different. This is the last thing you need to worry about.

Also, the gowns you will try on in store are show gowns. This is not the gown you will wear on your wedding day. Almost every bride needs alterations when ordering their gown. And remember, they are custom making this gown for you. It’s not just stocked out back. It could take up to 6 months for you to receive your gown. When you receive your gown is when you have alterations done. So patience is key.

Trust your gut.

You should always listen to your stylist. They do this professionally and have experience styling. But as much as you should trust your stylist, you should also trust your gut. If you are on the fence about one specific gown, move on. You want to know that the dress feels ‘right’. If you are hesitant, it is not the gown for you.

And don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to the first dress. If you love it, and it feels right, than it just might be ‘the one’. Don’t feel like you need to try on more dresses to see if it actually is the one. If it feels right and your gut tells you it’s right, than it might be ‘the one’.

Track everything.

Once the dress is ordered, keep your contracts and note all delivery dates, payment schedules, etc. If you have a wedding planner, they will assist you with this. You don’t want to miss any payments on the gown and you’ll want to pick up the gown as soon as it arrives so the alteration process can begin.


Most importantly, breathe. This experience only happens once (hopefully) and you want it to be a joyous experience. Not an experience full of stress and anxiety.

Remember, this is about you, and no one else.

Happy shopping!