For some, the thought of wedding dress shopping is exhilarating and for others, it’s totally overwhelming. Remember the person you’re marrying is already madly in love with you. They asked you to MARRY them. Whatever you walk down the aisle in isn’t going to make them love you any less.
I know. I get it. You still want to look drop-dead gorgeous. And you will.
My secret to wedding dress shopping is to expect failure, at least out of the gate. Chances are you went on a few really bad dates before that engagement right? Well, you’re probably going to have to try on a few really bad gowns as well.
Start with some inspiration. There are some incredible emerging bridal designers out of Australia and a few I’m falling in love with from Israel. Instagram is full of gorgeous gowns. Here are a few of my favorite swoon-worthy feeds to inspire your wedding dress shopping.
If you’re looking for a designer most people haven’t heard of my latest and greatest list is below. These may be harder to track down while wedding dress shopping. Moda Operandi does feature trunkshows from time to time. Browse their collections for inspiration and share photos with your local bridal shops. They may be able to recommend something similar.
A few I’m loving right now:
Jot down which designers and styles you’re drawn to. Call around to your local bridal shops and confirm which designers each is currently carrying. A word of advice. I wouldn’t trust their website, it’s likely outdated. Be able to describe the dress of your dreams so they can suggest similar styles.
When you book your wedding dress shopping appointments I think it’s ideal to go to two places in one day if you can swing it. It’s enough to help you compare options without being totally overwhelming. Most bridal shops will schedule a 60 minute appointment. A few will give you 90 minutes which I adore.
Now this is going to sound a little harsh. Trust the sales rep to know their inventory. They may pull a gem-of-a-gown you would never have considered. Do NOT trust their opinion on what looks good on you. They don’t know you, what you typically wear and how you feel when you put that gown on. That is what your mom, sister and friends are there for. And if your tribe is clouding your judgment and starting to piss you off. Go back another time solo and try on your favorites.
Bottom line, don’t be rushed by the wedding dress shopping process. 6 months in advance is the sweet spot for ordering but I’ve honestly had brides buy theirs 1 month in advance. Your options get more limited but it’s not impossible. You will find a gown. I won’t let you walk down the aisle naked.
What are your thoughts on a veil? My brides are 50/50. I personally never thought I’d wear one but I just didn’t feel like a bride without it. As you try on veils play with the placement; a few inches higher or lower can really make a difference. Cathedral and mid-length veils are having a moment right now. Some may be more embellished than your gown to give you a ceremony “moment”.
If a veil isn’t for you there is a whole world of amazing hair accessories I wish existed when I got married. I’m not talking tiaras here I’m talking about real fashion moments.
Here’s a roundup of some of my absolute favorites.
My bridezilla moment came at the nail salon the day before my wedding when I had no idea what color I wanted and the options were totally overwhelming. Start trying a few on and do a test run as you’re wedding dress shopping.
Elle’s latest roundup of top colors is:
Now for a cautionary tale about alterations. I’ve heard some horror stories recently. In the past I always recommended that you have your gown altered where you purchased it (if they offer that service). My thinking was that God forbid your gown get damaged they’d have more incentive and purchasing power to get you a replacement. It’s my job to plan for disasters!
The problem is I’ve seen a lot of the in-house seamstress services charging a fortune and/or doing sloppy work. I’m not sure what is going on. Maybe a staffing issue as fewer and fewer people have the skill it takes to work magic on bridal gowns.
Most recently I’ve been advising clients who are wedding dress shopping to find the best independent seamstress in their area and go that route. I do suggest making sure you have wedding insurance, in this case, to ensure you are financially protected should something happen. Fire, water damage, close of business, that kinda thing.
Read reviews in your area and ask around before handing your gown over to just anyone.
One more note on alterations. Your seamstress is serious when they say you need your undergarments and shoes for your fitting. Shop in advance for these, that’s the super fun part in my opinion! If you’re worried about lines bring a few options.
Shoes could easily be a whole post unto itself so I’ll lead you to my Instagram feed where I post my favorites.
Well, I think we covered everything from gowns to veils to hair accessories and nail polish. You’re going to look gorgeous.
even an unsuccessful day of gown shopping earns a cocktail. My favorite is this cucumber-coconut smash.
Take the FREE and start planning a wedding that feels uniquely you.
The truth is I hated planning my own wedding. I felt like I was going it alone and was surprised by how hard it was to find partners who embraced my vision. Thankfully, the guy was worth it and that experience is what led me to become a wedding planner. After a decade of planning luxury weddings I am bringing my process to you.