There are literally hundreds of articles on the internet explaining the trials and tribulations of wedding dress shopping. Some expunge about only bringing one other person to your appointment, others talk about waiting six months before your big day to even start. Malarky!
As a couture bridal gown designer, I want brides to know my fool-proof plan for finding the dress of your dreams and making sure the experience is filled with joyous tears (instead of the sad kind).
First up – it’s all about TIMING. Six months out is really tight (especially for custom). For most brides a window of 9-12 months is ideal and can even be stretched a bit further for bespoke custom gowns. Is it possible to get a dress in less time? Of course! BUT it’ll be stressful, hectic, appointment filled and more expensive.
So, it’s 10 months before, and you are going shopping! Where do you even begin? Inspiration is GOOD. We encourage it. If you have elements of gowns you really like, a picture can be worth a thousand words (especially if you love sweetheart necklines but keep describing a deep V for example). Be OPEN to options your bridal stylist may be suggesting. We see and style brides for a living – we wouldn’t get very far if we kept selling bride’s gowns that looked bad, right? Trust the experts.
On that same note, visit different salons and studios. Get a feel for what’s out there. For some brides, visiting one designer (ahem, moi) might be the ONLY choice. For others, visiting a couple of boutiques early on to simply try on styles might help you better narrow down what you love and what suits you before we start custom designing. Embrace the fun of trying on the gowns! Often times what you thought you might want is the exact opposite of what you end up choosing!
Now, on the day of walking into the studio, take a deep breathe, keep an open mind and let your heart guide you. No bride should ever wear a wedding gown she doesn’t love. Seriously.
A few tips for the best experience:
– understand that “designer bridal sizing” isn’t like your street clothing sizing and do NOT get stressed out about it. It’s a number, nothing more, nothing less.
– If you are a plus-sized bride, have accessibility issues, are super tall or really short: let the salon know in advance. It’ll help make the appointment run that much smoother.
– Keep the makeup minimal. Nobody likes seeing a giant cake of bronzer across a white wedding gowns décolletage. You’ll only embarrass yourself.
– Unless your cool with showing your fab bod to a stranger, keep the underclothes modest. You’ll have a Stylist help you in/out of gowns and they see everything.
– Take your shoes off (pretty standard white dress shopping rule). If you don’t love barefeet, bring yourself a pair of slippers to wear (many shops provide them)
– limit your accompaniments to 2-3 of your very nearest and dearest. You want opinion, sure, but you also don’t want EVERYONE to see the gown beforehand, right? Keep those gasps of awe for the big day!
– set an appointment. Very few (if any) bridal salons are walk-in accepted. For a truly VIP experience be sure to call ahead and let them know you’ll be coming in. Personal attention makes a world of difference.