You’ve found “the one,” and I’m so happy for you, bride-to-be! But as you plan your wedding, your SO isn’t the only “one” you need to find. Eventually, it will be time to go wedding dress shopping.
Shopping for a wedding dress is often a thrilling, draining, uplifting, and disappointing experience, and it can also be stressful. Don’t worry! We’ve got your back (and BTW, you should check out our super-convenient wedding planning guide too).
Today’s tips and tricks make wedding dress shopping as smooth as possible. Knowing what to bring to wedding dress shopping and other helpful tips makes it fun and stress-free for all involved.
Let’s say “yes!” to wedding dress shopping and to finding your perfect dress!
How to Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping
Preparation is always key in what you bring on your wedding dress shopping days and how you approach each “try-on” moment. Here’s a quick checklist.
- Figure Out Your Bridal Fashion Style: Research online retailers for what appeals to you style-wise so you work together better with a bridal stylist when you go wedding dress shopping.
- What Stuff to Bring to Wedding Dress Shopping: Undergarments, footwear, hydration, snack, and any saved pictures of your favorite looks on your cell phone. Also, take photos and videos and note what wedding looks you try on if the shop allows you to do this.
- How to Handle Stress During Wedding Dress Shopping: Being true to yourself, listening to others, and leaving enough time before your wedding day.
- Wedding Dress Shopping Etiquette: All the little things to consider (also, check out Mandy Lee’s excellent article on the cost of wedding dress alterations).
First, my favorite way to ease into any dress buying these days: I prefer to shop from the comfort of my loveseat before I gather up my trusty crew and head out to the stores!
What’s Your Bridal Fashion Style?
Brides-to-be have always looked to wedding magazines for fashion inspiration. While that’s still the case, technology has made online window shopping the preferred (and most affordable) starting point for many.
I love to look online for wedding fashion, so here is an array of different but equally beautiful styles for your consideration. What’s your favorite?
This timeless look remains hugely popular with modern brides. The A-line dress features a gently flaring skirt from a natural waistline, creating that romantic “A” silhouette and giving brides a great cross between a voluminous, princess-type gown and more minimalist designs such as an Athena style.
Check out these gorgeous A-line wedding dress looks:
A Dream to Wear
Deep V-neck lacy top with decorative crystals, beads, and a skirt flowing into a beautiful, dramatic-looking train. Because the lower half is tulle, it’s a dream to move in, especially at beachfront or destination weddings.
A Boho Beauty
Boho style reigns supreme in this stunning deep V-neck look available in various sizes and bridal colors, including ivory, champagne, or custom color! The top can be made with lacy puffed sleeves or spaghetti straps.
A Sweet Classic
French lace and tulle create a look that gives you the sophisticated details of an off-shoulder princess gown with classic romance to boost the confidence of any beautiful bride. I love the lacy overlay on the softly corseted bodice!
Sleek, effortless style is a hallmark of the modern minimalist bride. These looks are very now, but they’ll still be trending long into the future.
Flattering Mermaid Fit
Satin provides the glamor in this elegant, European-designed dress with a mermaid silhouette and a simply flattering belt.
Chic Chiffon Wedding Dress
Long puffed sleeves and a gorgeous open back with beaded threads are the standout details of this flowing chiffon dress with its magnificent bodice.
One-Shoulder Silk Wedding Dress
A silk organza gown is so airy to wear, and this minimalist, empire-waisted design needs nothing more than a beautiful bow detail on one shoulder to make you feel like a Grecian goddess!
If you’re a bride with fairytale visions of her wedding day, we’ve got princess-style dresses that are the perfect inspiration for your wedding dress shopping!
Bridal Luxury For You
Live a royal fantasy on your wedding day in a luxurious creation like this off-shoulder, hand-embroidered ball gown with quality beads, lining, and boning that provides a jaw-dropping full skirt and a train for days!
Your Ballerina Ballgown
Wedding dress consisting of puffy tulle skirt with flounces and a corset.
Inspired by exquisite ballerina tutus, this ballgown stuns with a puffy flounced skirt and a romantic corset (complete with built-in bra cups). You’ll float like a feather in this princess ballgown!
If you want to shine your bridal fashion spotlight on one area or just want to have fun with your wedding dress, here are fabulous styles to consider!
Beautiful Bell Sleeves
Bridal gown with ivory lace open back.
Bell sleeves had a fashion comeback several years ago, and this lacy chiffon wedding dress captures all the beauty of that trend in one elegant look you’ll cherish forever.
Wedding Minidress With Detachable Sleeves
A flirty and fabulous ivory mini dress makes a great reception outfit, and those dramatic puffed sleeves are detachable!
Sweet and Sexy
Confident brides want to radiate a newlywed glow in wedding fashion that delivers the best of sweetness and sexiness. Check out these romantic siren styles!
Sleeveless Mermaid Cut With Slit
We can do custom measurements, colors, styles, or design your dream dress!
This bodycon design is made to your measurements and has a delicate edge with its lacy applique across the bodice. There’s a generous front slit, and the mermaid silhouette hugs you from behind with a short and sweet train.
Sparkling Sequins With Detachable Train
You’ll be unforgettable in a va-va-voom style like this custom-made, sequined, form-fitting creation!
Take Note of the Details You Like the Best and Set Realistic Expectations
I chose a wide range of wedding dress looks for you to think about which style you love, as well as what features of each dress appeal to you.
The most frustrating aspect of wedding dress shopping is realizing that one look you’ve dreamed about might not be the best wedding dress for you. But you can make it less stressful for yourself!
Style Tip: While it can be overwhelming to try on gown after gown off the rack, look out for details on each wedding dress that you like, and also be open to new styles to make finding your dream dress much easier!
What Items to Bring to Wedding Dress Shopping
“Shop ’til you drop” takes on a new and sometimes bewildering meaning as you search bridal stores, wedding websites, online retailers, or a local dressmaker for a unique gown that looks and feels great on your special day.
When shopping for bridal fashion, you should always make self-care step one in the process and pack the accessories and gear you’ll need. Here’s your wedding dress shopping checklist of items to bring:
It’s crucial to wear underwear (including shapewear if you choose) when you’re trying on wedding dresses or getting your dress altered in preparation for your day. Fashion consultants always advise a bride to wear undergarments as close to their skin tones as possible, so leave the canary yellow undies at home!
Style Tip: think of your skin tone for your bridal underwear but also look for details like seamless, low-cut, or even a soft, silky pair of thong underwear to minimize the chances of VPL (the dreaded “visible panty lines”).
Consider Your Heel Height
Okay, you could sport your runners when you’re wedding dress shopping, but a pair of neutral-colored heels in a desirable height is best to get a feel for your big day.
Style Tip: Many bridal consultants recommend a 2″ heel as a bride’s most comfortable option, but if you’re accustomed to a higher heel, a 3-4″ heel is your runner-up option.
Maintain Your Energy Levels
While it’s not polite to spill food or drink while shopping for wedding dresses, ask your BFF or family to hold onto a water bottle and some clear candies to make sure you stay hydrated and energized.
Your Cell Phone Does Double Duty
I love online dress shopping because you can pin your favorite looks to your cell. You should also have friends or fam take pictures and videos of you in the dresses you try on (if the wedding shop allows this) and use your cell to record voice notes or typed memos about your faves.
Making Wedding Dress Shopping Stress-Free
Is Say Yes to the Dress one of your guilty pleasures? Of course, it’s fantastic viewing, but when you begin to shop for a wedding dress, you don’t want to experience the stress you see on a reality show!
Being True to Yourself
Your future spouse loves you—not the picture of a model wearing a wedding gown in a magazine. Becoming too invested in a particular bridal fashion often sets unrealistic expectations and disappointments.
Instead, be open to different wedding dresses and styles because one will be your dream dress!
Style Tip: Consider your best attributes and highlight those features in your wedding dress. If you’re worried about a tummy bulge, look for a dress with a flattering slit to show off your legs or a sweetheart neckline to play up your gorgeous collarbone. Think comfortable, confident beauty on your wedding day!
Listening to a Few Trusted Individuals
There’s no hard and fast rule about how many times you need to go wedding dress shopping and how many looks you try on. You might be tempted to bring your entire squad, but it’s far less stressful to have your BFF and mom or sister along (two or three people you can trust who don’t get too critical).
Style Tip: Tune into your bridal fashion consultant for the best advice about a gown that works for you in your desired price range. It’s their business (and in their best interests) to make you a beautiful bride!
Your Wedding Dress Window
Is there a perfect time to buy your wedding dress? You bet there is, and when you follow this timing, you can make wedding dress shopping almost entirely stress-free.
Style Tip: Bridal fashion consultants recommend an eight-month window (at least!) before your wedding day to purchase your dress and have alterations completed.
Wedding Dress Shopping Etiquette
Quality wedding dress fashion isn’t cheap, and time equals money to a bridal stylist. So respect their time and expertise. Here are great etiquette tips to honor the process of wedding dress shopping for everyone:
- Get to the shop on time: You’re probably not the only bride-to-be coming in that day. Respect the store and stylists by making an appointment and keeping to the schedule. When your appointment is over, respect the end time too.
- Ask them to remember your budget: It also wastes time when you don’t tell the stylist your maximum range for a dress, and if they go over your budget, politely remind the stylist of your limit.
- Let the stylist do the pulling: Wedding dress shopping isn’t like a free-for-all at a discount outlet. It’s up to you to explain what you’d like in a dress, and it’s up to them to pull matching looks or what they think will work for you.
- Treat dresses gently: Even if the gowns are samples, treat them kindly because other people will try them on after you. Also, don’t wear foundation, instant tanner, or products that might mark the dresses.
- Don’t pretend you’re buying today: It’s not impolite to let your consultant know you saw a dress online that might be your dream dress. They may have a similar style on hand or a great alternative that becomes your “one.”
- Tipping is not required: Decent bridal shops pay their stylists hourly and a sales commission. However, if you want to tip a great fashion stylist (even if you don’t buy their dress), give them a glowing review online because word of mouth is fantastic for business!