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Wedding Dress Shopping Guide for Brides-To-Be

You only get to one wedding, and you want every part of the experience to be magical. Take some wedding dress shopping tips from people that have been there, so that you can make the most of your wedding dress shopping experience!

Keep an open mind and you are sure to fall in love with a dress that makes you feel beautiful! Learn everything you need to know about shopping for wedding gowns.

Before You Go Dress Shopping

Before you start trying on dresses, there are a few things that you need to consider. We’ve highlighted the questions you need to answer below! Once you’ve answered all the questions, it’s time to go shopping!

Research What You Like

wedding gown stored

There are hundreds of styles out there. If you go to buy your dress and you don’t have a clue what you’re looking for, it’s going to take you a lot longer. Even worse, you might not find precisely what you’re looking for!


Set a Budget

It might be your wedding day, but finances are still a thing. Set a budget before you start looking at dresses. One thing to consider when setting your budget – make sure your budget is realistic. If you want a top-notch dress with custom alterations, a 100-dollar budget isn’t going to cut it.

You get what you pay for, so make sure you’re getting enough money aside for your dress, but don’t spend money you don’t have! Try on dresses in your wedding budget so that you don’t get your heart set on a dream dress you can’t afford.


Give Yourself Enough Time

getting wedding gown fitted

Perhaps one of the most underrated wedding dress shopping tips is to take your time. You only get to go dress shopping once. Make sure nothing is rushing you through the process.

Set aside a day for nothing but dress shopping and enjoy the experience. The last thing you want is to settle for a dress you don’t really want because you ran out of time.


Decide Where to Shop

There are tons of different places you can find a wedding dress. Your budget will have an enormous impact on where you decide to shop, but so will your own personal preference. Made to order dresses and certain wedding dress styles are more expensive, while there are usually discounted dresses at shops like David’s Bridal.

Below we’ve broken down the five most popular places to shop for wedding dresses for you to consider.

Bridal Salon

buying a wedding dress

Bridal salons are the most expensive option, but they also give you the most traditional experience. They have tons of wedding dresses available and can take care of all the necessary alterations for you. They often have separate showrooms for you, your bridal group, and the store’s bridal expert.

If you’re looking for the classic wedding shopping experience, this is what you want.

Trunk Shows

wedding dress rack

If you’ve found a particular designer you love, then a trunk show is precisely what you need. Bridal salons handpick wedding dresses from a wide variety of designers, giving them a more expansive selection overall.

However, this means that they aren’t picking up all the dresses that any one particular designer offers. These designers put on trunk shows to highlight their entire collection. You’ll get more options from a particular line, but you’ll have a bit less variety than bridal salons offer.

Keep in mind that trunk shows aren’t cheap – you’re purchasing a designer wedding dress, and designer dresses typically cost more. Keep your price range in mind if you check this option out.



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If you’re looking to save a bit of money on your wedding dress but don’t want to settle on a lower-quality dress, consignment shops are a great option.

Consignment shops sell dresses second hand, which means that you can get a top-notch designer dress for a fraction of the cost. The tradeoff is that consignment shops don’t have the same selection to choose from compared to trunk shows or traditional bridal salons.

Furthermore, consignment shops typically don’t offer alterations on the gown, so you’ll need to take it somewhere else to get a proper fitting. If you’re planning to shop at consignment shops for your wedding dress, plan to visit more than one shop and leave plenty of time before your wedding to start shopping.

Sample Sales

When you go to a traditional bridal salon, you’re not trying on the exact wedding dress you’ll be wearing down the aisle. Instead, you’re trying on a dress that the store uses for appointments. When you pick a dress, they select that exact dress from the back and make the necessary alterations for you.

However, the dress that you tried on goes back on the rack for the next appointment. These dresses end up with a little wear and tear, and if you’re looking to save a little money, you can try to purchase one of these appointment dresses.

They often have minimal wear and tear, and you won’t have as great of a selection, but it’s often a great way to save a little money. Sample sizes are often on the smaller end, so this may not be the most inclusive option for every body type.


shopping on laptop

There are online options for everything, including wedding dress shopping. We have a few tips for you to consider if you decide to do your wedding dress shopping online. First, always buy from a reputable store and make sure they have a decent return policy.

The dress you love online might not fit you the way you want in person, or you might not like it after you try it on. Don’t purchase a dress online that you can’t return if you don’t like it after you try it on. Also, keep in mind that your dress will need alterations after you buy it.


Decide When to Shop

wedding dress shopping

Shop too early for a wedding dress, and it might not fit the way you want it to on your wedding day. Wait too long, and you might end up rushing to find a wedding dress before the big day!

If you’re shopping at bridal salons or trunk sales, it’s typically ok to wait a little closer to your wedding day, but if you’re shopping online or at consignment shops, you want to leave yourself a little more time to find exactly what you want. Consider shopping around 12 months before the big day.


Call the Bridal Salon Ahead of Time

Bridal salons aren’t waiting around all day for you to show up. They have plenty of future brides trying to find the perfect wedding dress, so call ahead of time and see if they can fit you in! Better yet, make an appointment beforehand, so you don’t have to worry about it!

If you want to try on several dresses, make an appointment so that you have all the time you need to feel comfortable in a dress.


Decide Who Will Come With You

women wedding dress shopping

One of the most critical parts of wedding dress shopping is the bridal party that will accompany you. Don’t let other people pressure you into attending at the last minute. Sit down and decide who you want there and keep in mind how they’ll interact with each other.

As the bride, you should feel comfortable during your wedding dress shopping experience. Don’t bring anyone who will stress you out as you try on gowns.


Tips to Consider While Wedding Dress Shopping

There are tons of things to consider while wedding dress shopping. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most crucial wedding dress shopping tips to adhere to.

What to Wear

in the process of trying on dresses

You’ll be trying on wedding dresses that other people have tried on, and other people will try on after you, so you’ll want to wear proper undergarments. Come prepared with different types of undergarments so that you can try different styles.

The safest choice is a pair of no-show panties and a nude strapless bra. This will allow you to focus on the dress without any distractions.


What to Bring

You’re trying on a dress for your big day, so you should bring along all the accessories you plan to wear on the big day. Getting married is an important event, so you should bring the shoes you plan to walk down the aisle in, your favorite earrings, and other accessories too. The less you have to imagine, the better!


Consider Your Hairstyle

floral hair pin

While you don’t necessarily need to do your hair like you will on your wedding day, the closer you can get it, the better. You’re trying to imagine how you’ll look when you’re walking down the aisle, and it’s best to have everything as close as possible when you’re trying on dresses.

Maybe you like the gown you’re trying on because your hair is covering your shoulders, but you might not like the look if you put your hair up on your wedding day!


Skip the Makeup

We recommend going bare faced to your dress appointments. Makeup can rub off on dresses, and it can ruin your day and your overall wedding budget if you have to purchase a second dress just because you stained it.

If you really want to wear makeup to get a better idea of how you feel in the dress, try to keep it light. Pack a silk scarf to cover your face while pulling dresses over your head so that you don’t rub any makeup onto the gown.


Consider the Venue

Not every wedding dress fits every venue. If you’re having an outdoor wedding, an extra-long train might be a problem if it’s a windy day. Furthermore, if you’re having a traditional Catholic wedding, you might want to pass on that see-through sequin dress.


Be Open to Suggestions

what to do with old wedding dress

While you might know precisely what you want, it never hurts to hear what other people have to say. Whether it’s the bridal store employee or a member of your bridal party, they want you to look as great as possible too.

Listen to what they have to say and try out their suggestions. If you still don’t like it afterward, feel free to go with what you wanted in the first place!


Shop Within Your Budget

If you only have 500 dollars to spend on a wedding dress, don’t waste your time trying on the 1,000-dollar dresses. While it might seem like it’s all harmless fun, if you try on the ideal dress that’s far out of your budget, you’ll end up with a wedding dress that seems less than perfect.

But if you never tried on the expensive wedding gown in the first place, you’ll have no idea what you’re missing. Instead, the wedding dress that you purchase will seem absolutely perfect!


Take Pictures

This is a moment you’re going to want to remember. Take the time to capture it with pictures. Try on several dresses, take pictures from all the different angles, and enjoy the memories. Make sure that your bridal group gets involved and are in the photos too!


Walk Away if You Feel Pressure

A bridal salon shouldn’t push a wedding dress on you if you’re not comfortable with it. If you haven’t found the perfect dress keep looking, even if the salon tries to make you feel like you’re making a mistake.

It’s easy to fall in love with the first dress you try on, but be sure to buy a dress after you’ve tried on several different options.

The right bridal salon has the same goal in mind as you, finding you the perfect dress. If they don’t have it, they should be more than comfortable helping you find it elsewhere! Wedding planning may be stressful, but finding a beautiful gown should be fun.


Pick Something You Love

bride with gown

It’s the most critical wedding dress shopping tip that we have – don’t settle for a dress you don’t absolutely love. You only get one wedding day, and you deserve a wedding dress that makes you feel absolutely stunning.

If you settle for a dress that doesn’t blow you away, you’ll find yourself regretting it for the rest of your life. Say yes to the gown that you truly love and want to wear on your special day!

You should have that moment when you look at yourself in the mirror and know that the dress you’re wearing is the one. Don’t settle for anything less!

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