Some brides have all the time in the world to peruse rack after rack of gorgeous dresses, sipping champagne with their friends and spending thousands of dollars without a thought.
Generally, these brides have few, if any, other obligations in life besides planning their perfect wedding. While that sounds lovely, some brides don’t have quite the same amount of free time.
Maybe you’re one of these brides. After working 40+ hours a week, you really don’t have enough energy to scour every dress store within 100 miles to find your dream dress. The champagne sounds nice, but your friends are a little too busy to trail behind while you try on hundreds of dresses in every color and silhouette.
You would much rather narrow your selection down quickly, find a few dresses you love, pick out the perfect wedding dress, and pay a reasonable amount for it, thankyouverymuch.
If that sounds like the ideal dress shopping experience, you’re going to love this guide.
Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Your Perfect Dress
So, you’re well aware that you will need to put some amount of effort into finding the perfect wedding dress. But you would love to minimize that effort while still finding a dress that makes you feel like a princess. That’s totally possible. Here’s how:
1. Narrow Down the Selection
First, you should narrow down your selection of wedding dresses. There are tons of options when it comes to dresses – silhouettes, colors, fabrics, etc. The good news is that you don’t need to research all of these factors to find a dress you love. No, that’s why God created Pinterest.
Pinterest is every bride’s dream. Create a board called “Wedding Dresses,” then search to your heart’s content.
After you’ve spent a little time pinning different dresses you love, take a step back and look for a common theme. There’s probably a style that tends to draw your eye. What is it? Do you prefer strapless lacy gowns or fitted satin? Are you more of a romantic or modern bride?
Once you’ve determined your style, save a few of the photos for your first appointment. If you can’t narrow down your style, bring your smartphone with you. The consultant at the dress shop may be able to help you figure it out.
2. Determine Your Budget
Before you step foot in a dress shop, you should figure out your budget. If your parents or future in-laws are helping you foot the bill, this may be a slightly awkward conversation, but it’s much better to have it now than at the shop in front of strangers.
Once you have your final number in mind, remember to stick to it. You will likely see dresses in all different price ranges, and you may be tempted to spend thousands on a dress when you only had hundreds in your budget.
3. Make an Appointment
Now it’s time to make an appointment. To save time, you should aim to find the best dress shop around with the widest selection of dresses that suit your style.
You can find this shop by asking your friends and family, searching online, looking at reviews, and even asking on community Facebook pages.
Call the shop and ask for an appointment that’s roughly nine months before the big day. If possible, book a weekday appointment. Shops tend to be busiest on the weekends, so you may get better service at a weekday appointment.
4. Listen to the Consultant
If anyone can help shave time off your dress shopping experience, it’s the dress consultant.
She has worked with many, many brides before, so she has a good frame of reference when it comes to dresses.
Most consultants will ask a few questions to help narrow down your selection within the shop. At this point, you can show her your photos and explain what you like about each dress. You can also give any information that might be helpful. For example, some brides steer clear of certain dress styles for religious reasons.
You should communicate with your consultant as much as possible, but remember to keep an open mind, too. She may not choose the same dresses you would choose yourself, but that’s because she’s an expert. Once you try the dress on, you may understand why she thought it would be a good fit.
5. Bring a Few Trusted Friends
While you don’t need a full entourage for dress shopping, you also shouldn’t go solo. A small selection of friends – no more than three – can help you narrow your selection and choose the perfect dress.
Ask your friends to help you stay in budget, explain your style to the consultant, and give opinions on each dress.
We advise against a large group of friends because this turns dress shopping into a social event. Your friends may be so busy chatting that they can’t focus on the objective – finding the perfect dress. Too many opinions can also be confusing, so it’s best to bring just two or three people along for support.
6. Prepare for More Fittings
Once you order your dress, it can take a few months before it’s ready for pickup.
At that point, your dress may not fit as perfectly as you’d hoped. In fact, most brides need wedding dress alterations. You can expect a few more fittings during the alteration process before you can finally take your dress home.
At your final fitting, your wedding dress should fit perfectly and make you feel like a million bucks.
A Few Tips for Buying Your Wedding Dress Online
If you would like to skip the consultant process entirely, you can buy your dress online.
There are a few pros and cons to this alternative. For one, you can save a lot of money. You may also have a wider selection of dresses to choose from, and you have more control over the entire process.
However, you will need to do a bit more research on sizing because you can’t try these dresses on before you make a purchase. You’ll also need to know more details about wedding dresses in general. Here are a few tips:
Research, research, research.
Research is the name of the game when you’re shopping online. You should know everything you can about the website and the dress you’re buying before you make a purchase. Look for the same dress on other websites to compare, search for reviews by other shoppers, and make sure you to read shipping and return information, too.
We’ve personally used Light in the Box for wedding gowns in the past, and we were very pleased with the price and quality.
Know your sizing.
Because you can’t try these dresses on and you don’t have a consultant, it’s absolutely essential to know your sizing before you make an online purchase.
Wedding dress sizes don’t follow standard off-the-rack standards, and sizing may even vary from one designer to the next.
That’s why it’s best to rely on your actual measurements. At a minimum, you should measure your bust, waist, and hip. You should also know an approximate length for your dress.
To better ensure the perfect fit, call your local dress shops to see if they have the dress you want in stock. You can try it on there then make your final purchase online to save money.
Buy in advance.
You’re more likely to need alterations if you shop online, so you should make sure you have plenty of time before the big day. Pay attention to shipping times, too. Some dresses may take months to ship, and you want to ensure you have plenty of time for fittings once your dress arrives. You can use a local alterations shop so your dress fits perfectly on your big day.
Your wedding dress is one of the most important purchases you will ever make, so the process shouldn’t be rushed. However, you can save yourself lots of time and money by following the process outlined above.
Once you’ve found your perfect dress, it’s time for our next guide in which we show you exactly how to find your ideal wedding photographer.
Best wishes to you and congratulations on your engagement!