The only thing I knew about wedding dress shopping was based on the two episodes of “Say Yes To The Dress” I watched on an airplane one time. Popping champagne when you try on “the one” and celebrating with your bridal party is what I had imagined. And for many, I’m sure this is exactly how wedding dress shopping plays out! But for me, my wedding dress shopping experience was nothing like TLC makes it out to be. Here’s what I learned (and what you need to know) about wedding dress shopping.
- It doesn’t have to be a “big deal”: Don’t get me wrong, it’s so fun being engaged and playing dress up with your mama or friends watching on. But if you’re a low key, introverted or just really *busy* bride-to-be, wedding dress shopping can be as big or small of a “deal” as you make it! While I love my friends and fam, I didn’t want the pressure of having everyone show up to see my try on dresses. I didn’t want to feel like I had to find the dress for me during a try-on appointment, and I didn’t want other people’s opinions + reactions clouding my first impressions of each dress option. I would’ve loved to have my mom come along, but she lives in Florida, so I flew solo to my appointments!
- Wedding dresses are EXPENSIVE: Okay, so I kind of already knew this one before going to try-ons…but it’s true! I tried on dresses that cost over $2,000 which looked super similar to white maxi dresses I’d seen online for $500 or less. Often times, the “bridal” label can raise the price of a dress! My advice to save $ on your dress is to check for similar online options and // or keep an eye out for bridal sample sales. Almost every bridal boutique I went to had a sample sale going on with dresses that were *basically* new and over 50% off their retail price.
- Set your boundaries and be clear about them: Keep in mind, each sales associate who helps you is trying to make a sale. I had so many good experiences with amazing bridal stylists, but I also had a few pushy, sales-y encounters that left me feeling pressured to make a purchase, try on dresses out of my price range, etc. At the beginning of your appointment, be clear about your boundaries…what your budget is, which style of dresses you like and what you’re comfortable trying on. Don’t feel bad saying you’d rather not try on a certain style the stylist presents to you, or turning down an option because it’s out of budget!
- Photos and videos are important: Take tons of photos and videos. Ask your loved ones, or your stylist if you’re alone, to take photos of various angles of the dress, as well as a video of you moving in the dress! You may think you’ll remember what a dress looks like without photographing it, but you’re likely to forget. It’s overwhelming to try on white dress after white dress, and I’m so glad I had photos to go through once I got home and had a bit of a clearer head.
- Research designers, then find their stockists: It can be really confusing to figure out which bridal boutiques will be right for you. Before making appointments, make a list of your favorite wedding dress designers. Head to the designer’s website to see their stockists, AKA which bridal stores carry their sample dresses for try on. There are a few designers that have their own flagship stores, like Grace Loves Lace + Monique Lhuillier! Otherwise, you’ll have to seek out your favorite designer styles and locate them in various bridal boutiques in your area.
And that’s it! A quick roundup of everything I learned during my many appointments to try on wedding dresses. I’ll be sharing my favorite bridal designers as well as the best local Orange County // Los Angeles bridal stores later this month, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!