12 Things Nobody Tells You About Wedding Dress Shopping

wedding dress shopping

Photo by Olli Studio

1. Wedding dress shopping is exhausting

Planning 10 appointments in one day? Um, please don’t! I advise brides to keep it to around 3 appointments a day if they can. That way you can give yourself at least an hour at each of them, and that last appointment won’t feel like you’re rushing through it because you’re tired, hangry, and ready to go home! And, this is also because…

2. Not every wedding dress boutique is going to shower you with champagne

In the movies bride-to-bes walk into a wedding dress boutique and are immediately given a gorgeous velvet couch to sit on along with a glass (or two) or champagne. Their friends are all laughing and there’s usually no other brides around them trying on dresses. I hate to ruin the fantasy for you, but this is not reality! While some boutiques will cater to your every whim, there are plenty others that feel more like a sale at Old Navy. And this isn’t just at the sample sales. I remember wedding dress shopping at a famous bridal salon in New York City when I was looking for my wedding dress, and the experience I had imagined was not all it was cracked up to be. I felt rushed, confused, and honestly couldn’t wait to get out of there. Be aware that at some of them you’ll have to sift through racks yourself, and you might have to wait in line for a fitting room. This is why most bridal salons require appointments, but even then it doesn’t guarantee you a stellar experience. Hiccups and/or annoying things are bound to happen, so just mentally prepare yourself.

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3. The wedding dress you end up getting will probably look nothing like the one you’ve always dreamed about

All my life I imagined saying “I Do” in a big, poufy, ballgown-style wedding dress. In fact, when I went to my first wedding dress appointment it was all I wanted to try on. But when I did the dresses were SO unflattering on me and I felt totally uncomfortable and blah. It wasn’t until my next appointment that I dared to try on a Trumpet and A-line style wedding dress and immediately felt AND saw how much better they looked on me.

Photo by Oldani Photography

4. Which is why you should be open to trying on any and all dresses

If the salesperson brings in a dress that she thinks will look gorgeous on you, but you think it looks ugly on the hanger…all we have to say is don’t judge a book by its’ cover! We’ve seen SO many brides try on dresses they initially scoffed at only to love them as soon as they put them on.

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5. Don’t buy a wedding dress you have to talk yourself into

“I like that dress a lot but I’m not sure how I feel about the color. I’m sure at night it will look fine.” “The cut of that dress is nice but the beading is not really my style. Maybe I won’t even notice once I get it.” We do not want to hear you saying ANY of this stuff. Nobody is forcing you to buy a wedding dress you’re not crazy about, so don’t make yourself do something you’re not totally on board with. Keep trying on dresses until you find something you love. Trust us, it’s out there.

6. Also don’t buy a dress that makes you self-conscious

If you find yourself sucking in your stomach or constantly pushing up your boobs to make yourself feel good in the wedding dress, move on. I remember I tried on a gorgeous silk, flowy, Gatsby-inspired halter dress and while I loved it, I was paranoid about my stomach bulge the entire time I was wearing it. Not a good sign.

wedding dress shopping

Photo by Arte De Vie

7. You should feel beautiful in your dress at all angles

If the wedding dress store you’re in allows it, have a friend take a photo of you in the dress from the front, side, and back. If the dress looks flawless in the front but fits you weird in the back, move on.

8. You don’t have to buy all your accessories at once

Yes, it’s easier to just buy the wedding shoes and wedding veil the store brings out for you, but take some time and shop around after you buy your wedding dress. I wasn’t even sure what type of veil or wedding shoes I wanted when the store put them on me…at that point I was just so excited about the dress that I bought the first ones I tried on. You can always go back at your next alteration appointment to buy any accessories they might recommend. In the meantime you can check out the different types of wedding veils out there as well as wedding shoes.

9. The less people you take with you, the better

Honestly, this one is tough for a lot of people, but try not to take more than 3 people with you wedding dress shopping. I think the REAL sweet spot is 1-2 people. but understand that can’t always happen. When you invite too many people it becomes an ordeal to not only travel from one appointment to another, but a lot of these boutiques aren’t equipped to handle a large group. The focus should be on you, not on being able to accommodate an entourage. And trust us, you’ll appreciate not having to worry about whether or not everybody is OK! It’s better to concentrate on a smaller amount of people, which means more time for you!

wedding dress shopping

Photo by Melissa Avery

10. Your opinion is the only one that matters

Another reason why it’s better to travel with less people to your wedding dress appointments is because you might hear too many conflicting opinions. Even though not hearing an honest opinion on a wedding dress can be just as frustrating, not being able to figure out your own amongst the noise of others’ can be worse. Realize at the end of the day you are the one wearing the wedding dress, not your family and friends.

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11. You might not find “the one” until you’ve almost given up

By the time I found my dream wedding dress, I had been to three different cities and over 15 wedding dress stores. And sure enough the place I found it was the last store I visited. Always remember that just when you think you’re never going to find it, the right one finds it’s way to you…kind of like your spouse! Funny how that happens. 🙂

12. You’ll know it when you find it…but there doesn’t have to be tears!

I’ve yet to meet a bride who wasn’t smitten with her wedding dress almost as soon as she tried it on (yes, I know you exist out there, but I’ve yet to meet you! LOL). There’s a smile that comes across your face that’s a mix of relief and excitement. Or at least that’s the way it was for me. I remember being SO giddy when I first tried on my wedding dress…I was instantly in love. But did I cry? No. But I also didn’t cry at our wedding ceremony, so maybe that’s just me. Everybody told me I would, but everybody is different. And hey, you might not even get that rush of excitement. But if you do–just minus the tears–know that it’s A-OK.

Setting up your first wedding dress appointment? We got the 4 essentials tips the salesperson wants you to know BEFORE you come in.

Plus, read all about bride Stella’s first wedding dress shopping trip here, and how she found her dream wedding dress. Hint: It wasn’t easy!

If you’re using a credit card to buy your wedding dress, these 6 will give you the best honeymoon travel rewards.

4 Comments

  • Jenn says:

    #2 is on point and the biggest mistake shops make IMO. Your dress shopping experience as a bride does not have to involve alcohol but it should be celebrated and it is emotional. It’s a once in a lifetime event. You shouldn’t be treated like you’re just shopping for groceries.

  • Sherri says:

    9, 10 are great advice. I hate when I see bride second guess themselves because the brought to many people with different taste and opinions nnn

  • Abigail says:

    As a person who works in a bridal shop this is pretty accurate! Except our store does have champagne and mimosas, and our stages are pretty private! Not to be biased, but our store is definitely the best I’ve seen!

  • Kaitlyn says:

    All of these points are completely accurate for me! Especially number 11! My dress was the last dress I tried on and saw.

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