Wedding dress shopping can be one of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding, there's a lot of expectation riding on picking the perfect gown for the perfect day and that can really get to a bride if she's not careful. We've got the go-to guide to take the stress out of dress shopping!
Be Picky About Your Entourage
Believe it or not, the dress shopping entourage plays a very vital role in the process and experience of picking the wedding gown. Ideally, you should bring your bridal party, the future MIL and your own mother; this, however, will depend on the bride and the kind of vibe she wants in the boutique with her. You'll want a good balance of people who are going to gas you up and make you feel beautiful in everything you try on and people who will be realistically critical of and honest about the outfits you try. I would strongly suggest avoiding the people who like to play devil's advocate because that won't do anything but make you insecure about everything you try.
Do Your Research
Don't set your mind on a specific dress but also get a good idea of what kind of dress you want. This can be as simple as wanting a fishtail dress or as specific as a lace bodice and tulle skirt. Being able to walk in and try something on right off the bat will give you a good idea of where to go with the appointment and where to avoid so you're not wasting time.
Make A Solid Gameplan
Sometimes its easier to make a solid decision if you start with a solid plan. Discuss beforehand with your maid of honour how you want to schedule the appointment for optimal success, whether that be trying on styles in groups (e.g. all fishtail dresses in one group, then moving on to a-line dresses and so on) or only trying on 15 dresses and narrowing down from there. A solid plan will stop you from getting overwhelmed and confused while you throw on dress after dress.
Don't Tell Everybody You Know
It might seem odd to not exclaim your excitement for finding the perfect dress but by telling all of your friends, families, coworkers and the postman you're putting pressure on yourself to find the dress in a day! Keep the news to your select few until after the first appointment so you won't be inundated with texts and calls asking for pictures and giving unneeded advice.
Eat Something Beforehand
The appointment can take anywhere from an hour to three and the last thing you want to be is dizzy, dehydrated and starving. Yes, you might be ever so slightly skinnier, but you also might pass out in a Monique Lhullier dress and have to end the appointment early. Have a light lunch before you and the gang go shopping and you'll have a much better time!
Don't Say No
Dress shopping is like improv, never say no! You might have your heart set on a certain style, colour or fabric but you have to consider how different a gown looks on the hanger compared to on your body. You might find that a dress you would have never considered in your entire life could turn out to be a hidden gem and being open to different dresses takes the pressure off a certain style to be perfect.
Wedding dress shopping is a very special part of the wedding planning process, it's one of the only times that everything is about you and only you! At the end of the day, it's only a dress and you should be able to enjoy the process of picking it out instead of stressing to the max about it. If you need to take a step back and reevaluate how you're going about finding the perfect gown then you have every right to.
Depending on the boutique and their rules about photography I would strongly suggest that you take photos of the dresses you really love while they're on. This lets you look back at how they fit, how the colour looks on you and if you still love them after trying on different dresses; from that, you can narrow the gowns you absolutely adore and eventually find the perfect one for you! If you can't take pictures then keep a note of the designers and dress names that you loved.
Don't Overwhelm Yourself
You're not going to help yourself by trying on as many dresses as possible in such a short period of time! Eventually, it's all going to blend together into a big white blur and leave you more stressed and confused than when you started. Talk to the person running your appointment about how many dresses they think you should try in one appointment and try to adhere as closely to that number as possible! You can always come back later and try more on but you have to give yourself time to process what you did and didn't like.
Don't Let Your Bridal Party Run The Show
It's very easy for your more vocal friends or family to take the reins during your appointment and before you can take a breath you're being shoved into a dress three times your budget and way out of your comfort zone! While it's good to hand off the pressure to somebody else you may find that you're adding even more stress to the mess by losing complete control of the situation. Either set the ring leader straight yourself or ask an equally vocal friend to do it for you! Letting your entourage know your plan for the day beforehand to set the tone.
Review Your Options
If you've been able to take photos then it's time to start reviewing the options you liked the most. This doesn't have to be decided immediately! Look over the photos every now and then throughout your day and consistently move the ones you find yourself drawn to into their own separate folders until you eventually narrow down your options.
It's easy to be nitpicky about the details of your dress, but before you pass up on an otherwise perfect dress don't forget that dress alterations exist! It'll save you having to go through the whole process all over again if the only thing you're not sure about are the sleeves or lack of bling; these can be easily fixed by a seamstress later down the line to make an otherwise beautiful dress absolutely perfect!
Take Time To Make Your Decision
You'll be very happy to know that most wedding dress appointments aren't like an episode of Say Yes To The Dress in that you can take a few days (or weeks) to decide on the dress you like the most!
Don't Pick A Dress You Don't Love
Don't pressure yourself or allow yourself to be pressured into picking a dress that you don't feel amazing in! This is a huge financial investment and you shouldn't make it without feeling absolutely certain about your decision.
Ask For Other Peoples Opinion
If you're really stuck between two dresses then just ask somebody else for their opinion! If you're not strict to tradition then ask your future groom/bride which one they like and why, after all they know you best and probably have an opinion on what they like to see you wear. Sometimes having a second party tell you they prefer one of two options it can help solidify in your mind which of the options you prefer. Don't carry the stress alone!