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How To Shop For a Wedding Dress

Shopping for a wedding dress is a process all in itself. Not only is it for a once in a life time event (at least most of us aim for that to be the case!) and for a lot of women, it's the most important day of their lives that they are shopping for. In addition there are also a lot of things to consider, a ton of options, which can at times become a bit overwhelming.

Before you go shopping

Before going out to the gazillion of wedding stores out there, give yourself some time in the comfort of your home to do some research. Not only will this give you a sense of what is out there, ideas of what style(s) you like, places to shop at (once you get to that stage) but also this way you are eliminating what can at times be experienced as pressure to buy, to try on 30 dresses (25 of which you don't even like the look of!) and the stress of 'you have to order it now!'.

Now it is true, depending on what wedding dress you want, you may need to order it up to 6 months before your wedding – but if your date is coming up sooner than that, don't stress, there are still lots of options and often times stores can accommodate your wishes as far as timing goes (after all, that is what they are in business for).

So go out and grab a few of wedding magazines, many magazines will have the same type of ads for wedding dresses so you may find a lot of repetition as oppose to value in getting 10 different magazines as oppose to maybe 3-4, put on the kettle and sit down in your comfy couch and get inspired! Look for different styles and maybe even different colors that you like. Earmark your favorites or cut them out of the magazine. Once you have a few options you may want to go online to the designers of your favorite dresses and find out where they sell their dresses in your area. This can act as your first list of stores to visit.

Now if you need more options for stores, and want to make sure that you really see all your options – ask friends for recommendations and at the same time it may also be good to ask about what stores to avoid! Avoiding wedding dress stores could be for reasons such as poor customer service, long dress delivery times and style of dresses that may not be what you are looking for.

Once you feel educated and maybe have a little bit of confidence about what it is you are looking for – you are ready to go shopping!

When you go shopping

A lot of times it is more fun to go shopping with a friend. Ask someone you know understands what you have in mind and perhaps shares your sense of style and that can be honest and supportive.

Often times stores will carry their wedding dresses in larger sizes and perhaps not in your exact size, so feel free to ask your friend for help to hold the dress back. Another tip is to ensure that you have some shoes on to get a better idea of how it will fit and look on you when wearing heels.

Once you find a dress or a few that you like, ask the store how long it will take to order. Make sure the date they give you allows time for alterations. If you've found a few dresses that you like and you can't quite make up your mind, give yourself a few days to think about it and then go back to try them on a second time. Some things that may, or may not, help you decide depending on what you have as your criteria and considerations of course:

  • Does the style of the dress fit your vision of your wedding overall (theme, style etc.)
  • Is this a dress you can look back at 10 years from now (when you look at photos) and still feel happy with – whether you want something classic or modern, if it is 'your' style you will most likely like it a few years from now as well
  • Is it within your budget
  • Can it arrive in time for fittings and alterations before the wedding
  • Is it comfortable (you will after all be wearing it for a full day and night pretty much)

Once your dress arrives, go in for a fitting or pick it up to bring in for alterations (sometimes the store you ordered the dress will provide this service, some will not). Also, bring the bra you are going to wear under the dress for your fittings so that the dress can be altered properly.

Not enough time to order a dress

At times a dress will need to be ordered from a different country, and you may be given x months to get it in, or may not be available in stock for the date you need it by. There are other options. The first one is of course to see if other stores carry the dress or have access to it in time if you have your heart set on a particular dress.

If you haven't found the dress of your dreams in a wedding store, or it simply cannot come in time for your wedding, considering department stores. Department stores carry formal gowns and cocktail dresses that may very well be suited for a wedding. If you are getting married in the summer they may have an extra selection of festive white/ivory dresses. Another thing is that a lot of times these types of dresses can be a bit cheaper than what you would find in a traditional wedding gown store (of course this depends on designer/brand also).

If you simply can't find a dress that you love you can always look into having your dress custom made. There are lots of seamstresses that specialize in wedding dresses. You may need to do a bit of research to find one in your area that you feel comfortable with and that can accommodate your request (as far as timing goes etc.). Chances are though that this is the your best bet for getting exactly what you want or have in mind if you find it hard to settle for anything less on your wedding dress.