5 Don'ts Of Wedding Dress Shopping

Over the past 20 years of owning VOWS bridal outlet, I've found there are five major faux pas brides tend to make when they embark on the dress shopping process.
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Over the past 20 years of owning VOWS bridal outlet, I've found there are five major faux pas brides tend to make when they embark on the dress shopping process. These 'don'ts' can make the process extremely difficult and cause unneeded stress and frustration during an experience that is supposed to be exciting and fun. When you set out to find the perfect gown, avoid these big no-nos and you'll be sure to have a fufilling experience and walk out the door with the dress of your dreams!

Don't bring an entourage- Too many opinions can easily drive you crazy and make the entire process of finding a gown far more difficult than it needs to be. From your mother telling you "that doesn't look good on you" to your best friend saying "I can't see you wearing that," it can be hard to determine whose opinion to listen to and you may find yourself trying on far more gowns than necessary trying to please everyone. Instead of bringing along a full entourage, take only one or two of your closest friends and/or family members. Your mother, maid of honor, best friend or sister are some excellent choices when choosing your shopping support system. Choose the people you feel know you best and whose opinions matter most to you. Talk to them about what you're envisioning for yourself before you go to your appointment and make sure they are on the same page as you or at least can be supportive of your viewpoint and choices. The last thing you want is a fight breaking out because you want a strapless gown and your aunt thinks you should wear a dress with sleeves!

Don't be closed-minded- If you've never tried on a wedding gown then you probably don't know what's going to look best on you. Wedding gowns fit much differently than sundresses or cocktail dresses, so in reality you likely have no idea which type of silhouette will best flatter your specific body shape. The most important advice I give my clients is to keep an open mind as they browse and try on dresses. I encourage them to try on every silhouette to start; sheaths, ball gowns, fit and flairs, a-lines, mermaids... you never know; you just might surprise yourself! Once you've found a silhouette that flatters you, you can narrow down your choices and try on gowns specifically in that silhouette to ensure a dress you feel beautiful and confident in your dress.

Don't wear old underwear or no underwear- This is my biggest pet peeve... brides who wear old underwear or NO underwear at all! You want to feel beautiful in your wedding gown and that starts with wearing the proper undergarments. I'm not saying you have to splurge on a little lace number to go shopping in, but at least wear something that you're not embarrassed to be seen in (or seen without). Remember, a consultant will more than likely be assisting you in and out of gowns, so for both your sakes, wear something decent. Additionally, wearing well-fitting underwear will improve the fit of the dresses you try on. You don't want to try to work around bunching or inch-wide bra straps while trying to figure out if a dress is flattering on you or not. A strapless bra and a plain pair of white cotton underwear are an excellent choice.

Don't ignore the bridal consultant's suggestions- Your bridal consultant has most likely worked with countless brides-to-be and very likely knows what she is talking about. Try to at least be open to her suggestions and comments about different dresses. Remember, she is familiar with all types of body shapes and sizes, as well as every silhouette and style of gown. She knows which gowns are flattering for someone with a larger bust, which gowns fit a bit funny in the hips or even which gown looks terrible on the hanger but fabulous on someone with YOUR figure. This doesn't mean you have to let her choose the dress of your dreams, but at least be receptive to her suggestions and give some of her recommendations a chance. Remember, from the time you walk in the door her job is to help YOU. She has a vested interest in making sure you leave happy.

Don't rush- Sometimes brides will fly through the door at VOWS in a whirlwind announcing they only have 20 minutes until their next appointment. This is NOT a state of mind conducive to finding your dream gown. It will severely limit the time you have to browse and try on gowns and assess how each gown fits. If possible, take a day and dedicate it solely to bridal gown shopping. Schedule 2-3 appointments and perhaps a break for a light lunch. Make the dress shopping process fun. Enjoy it!

Leslie stars in "I Found the Gown," Fridays at 10pm on TLC. Catch the finale Friday Sept. 14.

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