I just wanted to share some tips for wedding dress shopping that I learned from my own experience. I should first say I wanted to get married one day but I wasn’t banking on it. Yes, I have a Pinterest board or two but nothing too realistic. So when I got engaged the only thing I knew I wanted for sure was a sexy, unique wedding dress. Here are 4 tidbits I can give my fellow bride:
1. You have no time and you have all the time in the world.
You will hear 2 things over and over; you have plenty of time and you better get on it. I know those are 2 opposing things but it’s the truth. It all depends on when you set your wedding date and where your dress is coming from. Depending where you purchase your dress from, it can take any where from 4-9 months just to get your dress. This does not include adding details or alterations, which can take additional months.
2. Boutiques Vs. Chain Bridal Stores.
The first place I went was David’s bridal because they’re advertised everywhere and they have deals on tuxedos and bridesmaids dresses. I had a reality check after being there for 15 min: It had the highest volume of people coming in and out, the couple of dresses I liked in the catalog weren’t available in the store and the selection of silhouette was very slim.
I followed that experience up with a trip to a popular boutique that quite a few people had mentioned. The selection of gowns was so much better. I found different designers, prices, styles, materials and color options at the boutique. I tried on 7 dresses at the boutique and I only tried on 2 at David’s. If you are looking for something pretty traditional at a good price David’s bridal is probably the place for you. I would also like to mention both types of stores had really great service.
My dress budget was what I thought was realistic. The truth is you won’t know what is realistic until you step foot into a store and see what is in your budget. I originally said my budget was $700, and then I went into a store and really didn’t like what was in that price range so I raised my budget to $900 (I’m sure you can see where this is going). My dress ended up costing $1300 which I was able to do because my fiancé eventually just told me to get what I fall in love with and he knew I wouldn’t go too crazy. Not everyone has the flexibility to raise her budget but just remember you can always budget other things (flowers, centerpieces…) differently to make things more flexible.
4. Online shopping Do’s and Dont’s
I suggest searching online before and after physically shopping in a store. Most bridal stores only carry a few designers so you really don’t see the extent of your options. I actually found my dress online through www.weddingwire.com.
I went to the designers website and they had a “where to buy” tab. It let me search stores in my area that carried the designer’s dresses. I called all the stores to see if they had the specific gown in stock and if not could they get it in the shop. In my case none of the stores had the specific dress in stock. One of the stores got ahold of their supplier, found the dress and I had to pay a fee to get it shipped to try it on. I was lucky because it was definitely a yes, the fee I paid went towards my purchase, the store was having a trunk show for the designer and I received 10% off.
The biggest don’t is falling for websites that say they have designer dresses at unbelievable discounts. I know its easy to be seduced with a discount but this will only come back to bite you. If there is a dress with a price outside of a wedding website (weddingwire.com or theknot.com) I’m 99% sure its inaccurate. If that already inaccurate price is discounted, run! I have read and heard so many horror stories. Dresses showing up looking nothing like the picture, sized completely wrong, not fully assembled or missing details. Some of the sites to avoid:
In a nutshell I would say utilize the Internet for ideas but also go into a few different stores. If you find a designer you like go directly to their website and research what stores in your area carry it. Also research trunk shows in your area, it’s a great way to save 10-20% on your dress. Make sure when you go into a bridal shop to ask about special on veils and bridesmaids dresses. Also ask if the shop is affiliated with any tuxedo shops to see if you can get a deal on men’s wear. Do not purchase a dress online! If you really care about your wedding dress wait for that moment when your stomach drops and you take your own breath away because the right dress will give you that feeling.