October 25, 2017

10 Tips for Stress-Free Wedding Dress Shopping

Thanks to Lindsey LaRue Photography for this helpful blog post!

Some girls dream of the moment that they can finally step onto a pedestal dressed in a wedding gown. Others find the idea of selecting a dress, while on display, in front of family and friends, utterly overwhelming! Going into wedding dress shopping myself, I had no idea of what I wanted and it clearly showed. Even though I had perused countless magazines and studied my favorite wedding blogs, I still tried on nearly a hundred dresses before I found my wedding dress. But, because I did try on so many dresses and visited so many boutiques, I learned a few things on my dress shopping journey that I wish every new bride knew. And today I’m sharing that knowledge with you!

Choose stores and boutiques that care about you and your experience. I lost count of how many different places I tried on dresses at, but what I remember most about each of them is the experience I had there. Some stores felt warm and intimate, with a personal consultant meant to assist and advise me. Other stores had a more “warehouse” feel and I was left to wander dress racks aimlessly and carry dozens of heavy dresses on my own. Now I’m an incredibly independent person by nature, but I still enjoyed the more personalized approach (after all, even a low maintenance bride wants to feel special and cared for!) and I found that this was much more prevalent in the small, specialized wedding boutiques.

Know your budget before you go and don’t try on dresses that are unattainable. MANY brides make the mistake of trying on dresses that are thousands of dollars outside of their budget (just for fun!) and then nothing they try on after can live up it. This is one of those situations that you are just setting yourself up for disappointment and no bride should experience that!

Eat something before you go. The first time I went wedding dress shopping, I didn’t eat or drink anything beforehand. My mistake. Dress shopping can be an emotionally, physically, and mentally taxing experience- eating something and staying hydrated can make all the difference in maximizing your experience (no “hangry” brides needed!). After all, many a bad decision was made due to an empty belly and not enough caffeine.

Try on things you don’t think you’ll like. The old mantra is true-things look different on you than they do on the hanger. I would never have picked some of the dresses that my consultants had me try on. Because I wasn’t sure of exactly what I wanted, this helped guide me in new directions that I might not have explored otherwise and ultimately helped me determine my own wedding gown.

You don’t have to know what kind of gown you want before you go shopping, but do know what style and ambiance you want your wedding to have. Is your wedding a fully outdoor affair in mid-July? Then you may not want a heavy, satin ballgown with layers that don’t breathe. Are you having a romantic fete full of intimacy and pastels? That tea length gown with the white-on-white polka dots may be adorable, but it may not match your day’s style. Having a mental picture of the look and feel of your day will help you pick a dress that flows seamlessly into your vision. (Take it to the next level: Put together a mood board and bring it with you to show your consultant!)

Take a little extra care in fixing your hair and makeup that day. Have you ever been shopping with no makeup on and your hair thrown up in a bun or ponytail? If you’re anything like me, NOTHING you try on looks good that day. The same principle is true for wedding dress shopping. Plus, you will be primped to perfection on your wedding day and you want to be able to visualize this while trying on wedding dresses.

Don’t forget to bring/wear the right necessaries. A strapless bra, white or nude undies, and shoes that are similar in height to what you plan to wear on your wedding day will make things much easier.

If you are wearing or incorporating a family heirloom, such as a mother’s veil, grandmother’s hair comb, or vintage sash into your wedding look, bring it with you. You’ll want to be sure that your gown accentuates and complements these important pieces.

Don’t bring too many people with you. While it can be very tempting to just bring every bridesmaid, friend, aunt, cousin, and sibling along with you (especially in the South!), this can make for a very stressful shopping experience. Most bridal boutiques are very small and are not meant for entourages larger than four to five people (at the max!). Not to mention, too many opinions can make your initially solid opinions an awfully confusing mess.

My final tip is one very close to my heart. Don’t second guess yourself if you don’t have a “Found The Dress” moment. Popular TVshows have taught us that when we find our wedding dress the angels will come down singing, the sky will open up, and everyone including Grumpy Aunt Molly will burst into tears of joy! However, this is JUST NOT TRUE! For most brides, the moment goes something like, “Wow, I love everything about this dress! I don’t want to change anything about it and I feel like myself as a bride in this gown. It’s in my budget, I feel beautiful, and I don’t even want to take it off! I can absolutely see myself walking down the aisle to Johnny in this dress!”. Honey…you just found the one!!

One of the reasons it took me SO long to select a wedding dress was because I kept expecting to have a heavenly moment of clarity. A moment that the tears flowed and I knew, without a doubt, this was the perfect dress and no other would do. Finally, I realized that that is just not the type of person I am! After this realization, it took a lot of the pressure off and I was able to just select the gown that I felt the most beautiful and like myself, for my wedding day!

If you are newly engaged and starting your wedding gown search, congratulations! I hope these tips will be helpful and insightful for you. I already know you’ll be radiant in whichever one you choose!

posted in: Engagement, Wedding Dress, Wedding Planning

Meet the Author

Lindsey LaRue | Lindsey LaRue Photography

If it's gotta do with heirloom keepsakes or photos that'll make your heart race, I'm your girl!

Hi, lovely! I'm Lindsey, redheaded photographer for heirloom couples. I provide wildly-in-love sweethearts with timeless wedding photography in this ever-shifting world. I'm crazy about serving you as a storyteller so you can focus on the important things- like that handsome fella you can't wait to marry and the beautiful marriage you're building together. I'm a maxi-skirt wearing, salted caramel loving, travel-loving homebody with a penchant for deep conversations over coffee (or wine!) and accidentally overwatering my houseplants. I can honestly say I'm happiest when spending time with my husband and my constant has always been the mission to encourage and equip couples to have a wildly thriving marriage.

Let's get to know each other! We can talk about your story, all the things that make your heart swell, and even what your latest Netflix binge is! Connect with me on Instagram, the newsletter, the blog, or my website.

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