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Shopping For A Wedding Dress | Pro Wedding Tips

There's a reason why entire television series' are devoted to wedding dress shopping. It's easily one of the most exciting (and stressful - but we're here to help with that!) parts of planning a wedding. There's so much wrapped up in this element of the wedding and the experience can be layered in many complicated ways. From determining the budget to the squad who joins you as you say yes to the dress, the various logistics of finding your dream gown can and should be a memorable and special experience. We're sharing top tips for shopping for your wedding dress.

Before the Appointment

If you're anything like a lot of gals, you may have a handful of dream gowns saved to a secret Pinterest board or saved posts on Instagram by the time the question is even popped. If not, now's the time to dive into it! A pattern may begin to form as you select a certain style or a handful of designers that have a similar look and feel over and over. Once you have that general idea, start seeking out local bridal salons that may carry the designer or type of style you like.

This is a great time to look up how much various designers typically charge for their gowns. Wedding dress shopping can come with some serious sticker shock and it can be helpful to level with yourself prior to that. If you haven't set a budget yet, determine that prior to the appointments to avoid heartache.

Start Early

Once the engagement glow has settled in it is time to start booking those appointments to try on wedding dresses. While it might be fun to bask in that newly-engaged glow for a few months before you even consider planning a thing, the wedding dress selection process can't always be put on the back burner due to the time it can take. According to the bridal experts at Martha Stewart Weddings, you should give yourself 6-9 months from start to finish to get your dress. Unless you're shopping a sample sale, bridal gowns are almost always made to order - a process that can take a few months. From there, they'll need to ship it to the bridal salon (oftentimes from overseas) where you'll go in for your fittings, to ensure everything is fit and designed to perfection. Any alterations and adjustments can then take a few months.

Determine Your Budget

Before you book that first appointment it's crucial to lock in your budget. While it can be a bit of a buzzkill, it's better than the heartbreak of trying on the perfect dress and finding out it is way outside of your price range. Many bridal consultants have the knowledge of similar designers and styles for different price points, so sharing a clear price range alongside your Pinterest board will allow them to snag a winner.

Visiting sample sales and trunk shows may allow the budget to be stretched a bit further. Additionally, Brides recommends scoping out sample sales and trunk shows. Designers are often at trunk shows and they may be able to work a little magic for you if they see you've fallen head over heels for one of their gowns. As you work to identify that sweet spot in your budget, don't forget to add in any undergarments and shapewear, shoes, alterations, jewelry, and accessories. Many of those items can be borrowed, rented, or bargain-hunted, but they should all still be figured into your final cost.

Be Open-Minded

This is one of the most repeated pieces of dress shopping advice for a reason. Not only do things look very different on a person versus on the rack, wedding dresses look and fit completely differently than any gown you’ve worn before. If a certain style of off-the-rack dress has always been a no-go for you, it might end up being a hit as a wedding dress. It's important to go into your appointments with an idea of what you're looking for

(remember that Pinterest board we told you to work on?) to narrow down the field of endless options. However, if your bridal consultant or a member of your squad has a style they're dying to see on you, why not give it a whirl? We're our own worst critics, and the experts at the salon in particular may be able to find that unexpected wild card that you never would have grabbed off the rack, but could be the dress.

Select Your Squad

Before booking your first salon appointment you may find yourself trying to think about who will go with you. It can be tempting to want to include everyone in your bridal party. Plus your parents, your partner's parents, your siblings, etc. may all want an invite to join. The more people you have, the harder the decision will be and it can be crucial to be selective.

There are a few options for compromising to make sure people feel included. For starters, you can have a different crew join you as you go from salon to salon. While it can be helpful to have the same core group there to give comparative feedback, at the end of the day the decision is yours, the feedback is just a bonus. You can also opt to keep a core group of people with you for the selection process and invite a different set of people to the fittings so they still feel included. Most importantly, try to keep the squad limited to those who will allow you to feel beautiful and supported in your decision-making process and will keep any criticisms merely constructive.

Wedding dress shopping can, for many, feel like one of life's most daunting tasks. For others, it may be one of the moments they've looked forward to the most since childhood. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you may fall on, there are so many ways to make the process feel seamless, stress-free, and even quite enjoyable. By making a few plans ahead of time and going into wedding dress shopping with as much information as possible, saying "yes!" to the dress can be one of the best parts of wedding planning!

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