10 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips
I think I would have rather paraded around town naked than have had a room full of women watching me try on wedding dresses. And as someone who usually changes in the gym bathroom instead of the locker room, that’s saying a lot. I imagined Brené Brown personally awarding me for my vulnerability in making an event out of my dress hunt.
Before I went wedding dress shopping, I had asked a few of my married friends how the experience was for them. One of my friends said her dad commented on how a dress made her look “hippy.” Another friend said she went alone to avoid other people getting into her head. My already-very-active anxiety was building, and on top of that, I had some interesting relationship dynamics to work around. I was prepped to have the worst day ever, but I survived, and I look back with happy memories now.
But let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s how I went about this daunting day to make it not so hellish + other things I WISH I would have known about wedding dress shopping.
One of the biggest complaints I hear from brides in the support groups (I mean… wedding Facebook groups) I’m in is about how the opinions of their family or friends effect them negatively during the dress shopping process. The solution is to do some simple math. If 1 person = 1 opinion, then the fewer people invited = fewer opinions you’ll get. There is also more likely to be groupthink as your party gets larger. A few might speak up about liking/not liking one dress, which pressures the rest of the group to agree with them.
If you feel like you absolutely HAVE to include your whole bridal crew, your entire sorority, your second and third cousins, your neighbors from when you were 8, and that one kind lady from Trader Joes who always smiles at you from behind the checkout stand, try to space them out. Invite just your closest family/friends to the first shop (or for the first day) and then extend the invite to include a few more to your second stop/day. Keeping your party small helps keep the experience special (and by special I mean focused on YOU), and the opinions (if desired) genuine. Also, having fewer people be a part of this process increases the number of people who will have their jaws on the floor the moment you do your big reveal the day of your wedding. Isn’t that all we ever wanted anyway?
I was sooo happy I had my MOH snapping photos and video of me in each dress. Not only did I have fun letting you all vote on the many dresses I tried on at Lovely Bride, BHLDN, and The Dress Theory (see Fun Stuff Instagram story highlight), but I was also able to see how flattering, or not-so-flattering certain dresses were on me. Seeing video of yourself in the dress will help you envision what it would look like on you as you walk down the aisle, and might even help you determine on whether it’s the one or not.
I had this whole Free People/bohemian vision in my head for my wedding dress. I also wanted long sleeves. What I got? A sleeveless, mermaid-style gown with lace and sequins (Harlie from Made With Love). Nothing that I thought I wanted, but once I put it on, I knew it was the one. There were plenty more dresses that I almost didn’t even grab off of the rack that I ended up loving, too. Moral of the story: you only get to do this once, so you might as well try them all on.
Before “Dress Day,” send a group text or email reminder to everyone on the details: where to meet, what time, what to bring…and what you’re looking for in terms of everyone’s feedback/comments as they relate to the dresses you’ll be putting on. Perhaps you’d prefer a simple vote with a thumb up or down with each dress, or maybe you’re sadistic and prefer the “Joan Rivers” Fashion Police approach. Either way, don’t be afraid to set some guidelines.
Some dresses that you’ll put on, you’ll hate right off of the bat. Your inner Simon Cowell will be critiquing the shit out of you, and you’ll roll your eyes when you hear your group say “come out, we wanna seeeeeeee!!!” Don’t do it. You aren’t a spectacle for entertainment, you’re a person shopping for a wedding dress you’ll love. I will say though, I came out in a few hideous dresses just to get some laughs, and it was 100% worth it. The point is, you get to choose what you‘ll come out in, and what you’ll take off with speed as if the gown is on fire.
It’s one thing to have a goal to lose a few or tone up a bit before your wedding. It’s another to choose a size or style you are uncomfortable with now, assuming it will fit you like a glove by the time your big day gets here. Chances are, you’ll be way more stressed out playing that game, which will cause all sorts of other issues. Choose what makes you feel confident now. And remember, Spanx exist, but aren’t the most comfortable.
You’ll want to make sure you eat a couple of hours before trying on dresses for two reasons: 1. You want to be as close to your true self as possible to get a sense of the fit. 2. A hangry bride is no fun for anyone. In order to avoid excess bloating, keep your meal simple, and stay away from carbonated drinks (or champagne).
I am SO thankful that one of my bridesmaids brought her dress along for the occasion. Seeing the bridesmaid dresses next to each wedding gown you’re trying on can be really helpful in narrowing down your decisions. Bonus tip: bring one of your bridesmaids’ dresses with you when picking out the groomsmen ties, too, so you can nail your color palette goals.
I’m not saying you have to twerk in your wedding dress…but I’m also not saying you shouldn’t be able to. If you can’t bend down or turn certain angles without running the risk of a major malfunction happening, let’s leave that dress where it belongs: on the stiff-ass mannequin.
Get as close to the look you want for your wedding day as possible. Sometimes, the wrong hair or feeling a little…plain…can really change the way you feel about a dress. Set the vibe right by getting glammed the day of, and check two major boxes off your list in the same day.
Have some wedding dress shopping tips or stories of your own to share? Help other brides by commenting below or sharing this post!