7 tips for finding your wedding dress from oh lovely dayShopping for your wedding dress is one of the most anticipated pre-wedding moments for every bride.  But just because you are excited about it doesn’t mean it will go smoothly, or even be fun. But it SHOULD be fun.  If you prepare ahead of time and follow these tips, your wedding dress shopping experience will be both fun and productive.

1.  Do some “window” shopping first.  You know you’ve been looking at the wedding blogs and magazines since the moment you got engaged (probably way before that, am I right?) so you have an idea of what style of gown you like.  That’s good.  You should have an idea of what you like (for me: lace, strapless) what you don’t like (beaded or blinged out), and what your deal breakers are (laces up the back or pick ups).  Tear out photos, start a pinterest board, start bundling on Loverly, and collect your favorite looks.

2.  Do your research.  If you find a dress you just HAVE to try on in person, research what bridal shops or stores carry that gown.  Many of you might not know this, but every bridal shop does not carry every wedding dress or designer.  You can see where certain designers are sold on their websites or call a shop directly and ask if they carry a specific designer or gown.

3. Make a shop list and then make appointments.  Once you find the bridal shop carrying your ‘dream gown’ put it on your shop list.  Ask your friends what bridal shops they loved, or look for ones in your area that is highly reviewed on the blogs or sites like WeddingWire. Once you have two or three listed, call and make an appointment.  I would not recommend going to more than one shop in a day – it can get VERY overwhelming (trust me on this).

7 tips for finding your wedding dress from oh lovely day

4.  Only take along your essential people.  Are you a bride that will not try on a wedding gown without her mom present?  Then bring her.  Do you need your bestie there to help you and give her opinion?  Take her with you.  But DO NOT take your grandma, aunt, cousin, cousin’s cousin, your little sister, her best friend, and fifteen other people with you.  You think it will be fun to have everyone there, but it isn’t.  There are too many opinions, too many voices, too many people.  Especially if it is your first time trying on dresses (which means you probably won’t be buying anything out of the gate anyways) you want as few people as possible there with you.  You can always go back with more to try it on before you buy it or when you go back for a fitting.  But you do not need the pressure, or the opinions.  You’re going to thank me for this one, I promise.

5.  Know your budget and stick to it.  There is no point in trying on $10,000 wedding gowns if your max budget is $2,000.  And you will, inevitably, fall in love with a gown that is out of your price range.  Set a realistic budget (and don’t forget tax, alterations, and accessories) and stick to it.

6.  Do not plan to buy a dress your first time out.  In fact, DO NOT buy a dress your first time out.  Buying a wedding dress can be a bit like buying a car: it is overwhelming and you may fall in love quickly, but there are SO MANY others out there and lots of deals to be had.  Also, you may get pressured to buy something that day, on the spot.  Don’t.  If you walk away from the dress and the shop, it will still be there and you can always go back.  But more often than not, you will find another dress and fall in love again if you buy too early.  Take your time.  Try on lots of dresses.  Shop at a couple of different places.  Compare prices, compare styles, compare your favorites.  Even if you absolutely fall in love with a dress and you know it is THE ONE, try not to buy it unless there is a sample sale or an incredible deal offered.  You need to think about it.  It isn’t going anywhere.

7.  Be open to styles or dresses you didn’t know you would like.  Sometimes a dress looks bad on a hanger but fabulous on a body.  Or sometimes you might fall in love with a specific style, but the gown does not love your body (think a fit and flare or mermaid gown with a big booty – not the best combo).  You have to be open, because the perfect gown might not be the one you expect.  And you don’t want to buy a gown you always dreamed of, just because you always loved it, and have it look bad on you.  You want the gown to flatter you and make you look fabulous.

7 tips for finding your wedding dress

A couple of other mini-tips: don’t go in with high expectations (hard, I know).  I went to a well reputed bridal shop in Orange County and had THE WORST experience ever.  Aside from driving back to LA on the freeway next to Denzel Washington and having him make eyes at me or my mom (or at me AND my mom), the whole day was a bust.  And be open to other methods of getting your dream gown.  If you haven’t read my wedding dress shopping experience, do that too – maybe you’ll get your dream dress at a huge discount like I did!  Oh, and don’t forget to wear underwear and take a strapless bra with you (though you may not want to wear one, but it is good to have just in case).

Happy shopping brides!  And for you pros, did I miss any tips?  Anything you would add?  Share your experience.  And if you’re in the “window shopping” phase, be sure to check out my Bridal Market 2014 post for ideas and my bridal gowns pinterest board for inspiration.

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{photo credits} photo by KT Merry via Style Me Pretty / photo by Kamee June via Oh Lovely Day / photo by Jennifer Roper from my wedding

Both Kamee June and Jennifer Roper are members of our handpicked Lovely Vendor Guide.  If you would like to be considered for our guide, apply here.