Most women have never shopped for a wedding gown, so the experience can seem overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be! With a little bit of preparation and foresight, the dress-shopping experience can be fun and fulfilling.
Having previously owned couture bridal salon Renée Strauss for the Bride in Beverly Hills, I saw firsthand the dress-shopping mistakes brides make--and I know they're easy to fix. Read on for the five biggest missteps and how to avoid them.
1. Telling your stylist you don't have a budget.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I've seen brides make time and again. You may think that saying you don't have a budget means you'll be able to try on the most glamorous, high-end gowns--perhaps fulfilling an emotional need to play dress-up--but more than likely you'll end up frustrated and overwhelmed, because in most cases, not being honest about your budget leads to tremendous confusion. Instead of looking at dresses that you might actually want to purchase, you'll end up trying on gowns that aren't right for you, or look gorgeous but are out of your price range. And that's never fun for anyone! Knowing how much you can spend, and being honest about it with your stylist and yourself, will help your stylist to pick out the best gowns for your taste and budget.
2. Not bringing the proper undergarments.
You may be picturing a romantic after-wedding meetup with your new spouse, complete with sexy lingerie revealed beneath your gown. But the truth is most wedding dresses look best when worn with structured, solid undergarments that support your physique. So instead of purchasing a lacy bra and panty set to wear on your wedding day, visit a specialty boutique that can help you pick out foundation garments, including a supportive bra, to wear beneath your gown. Then, be sure to bring those garments with you to your dress-shopping appointment. Even if you're trying on sample sizes that are too big or too small for your frame--which is very likely--proper undergarments will help give you a sense of what the dress will look like in your size.
3. Bringing too many friends and relatives to the appointment.
Shopping for your wedding gown should be about finding a dress that makes you look and feel amazing, not entertaining a big group of friends. And when a bride shows up to her appointment with a big posse, it just creates confusion. Your friends will want to run around the salon pulling dresses they think you should try on, filling your rack with tons of gowns that aren't right for you. Instead, bring one trusted individual--such as your mom, aunt, best friend or even your significant other if you're not superstitious--and get the most out of your appointment. If you decide to bring a larger group and they run wild, ask your stylist to go through the gowns on the rack--before you try them on!--and talk through the pros and cons of each one. That way you'll end up trying on only the dresses that suit your budget, taste and wedding style.
4. Not knowing the overall look you're going for.
This doesn't mean you must have a specific dress in mind or even a specific gown style. It means that before you arrive at your appointment, know what type of wedding you plan to have--whether it's a beach ceremony, a traditional hotel ballroom event or anything in between--and decide whether or not you're going to let the circumstances decide what you wear, or if you'll be wearing your dream dress, circumstances be damned. I've seen brides wear ballgowns to beach ceremonies because they've always pictured themselves in that style of dress--so anything is possible!
5. Expecting a gown to look the same in every size.
Because most bridal salons carry gowns in only a few select sizes, you'll likely be trying on dresses that are too big or too small for you. You'll be able to get a good sense of what the dress looks like on your body, but when it's cut to your size the pattern may change somewhat. That means lace could end up in a different area of the bodice, or crystal embellishments may take on a slightly different look. As long as your dress is altered to fit your body like a glove, you'll look gorgeous on the Big Day. But just know that your dress might not look exactly the same as the one you saw on the sales floor.
With just a little bit of preparation, your wedding gown shopping appointment will be unforgettable. And as I always say: When you fall in love, stop looking. That applies to dresses, too!