A Stylist’s Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIEL PHOTOGRAPHY - KERSTIN HAHN PHOTOGRAPHY
After you get engaged, there seems to be an endless list of things to start thinking about when it comes to planning the wedding; the date, the location, the guest list - and most excitingly - the dress!
You might be wondering how does shopping for your wedding dress work? Where do you even begin?! Well, we have you covered. After working in a bridal boutique for over ten years, our designer Sarah Alouache knows a thing or two about how to navigate bridal shopping like a pro. We’ll share insider tips, so you know exactly what to expect and feel prepared for what’s set to be a VERY exciting experience!
How to Start Wedding Dress Shopping
So…Where do you begin? It can be difficult to know where to start with wedding dress shopping. Keeping a clear head at this point is crucial to not getting overwhelmed. Some good questions to ask yourself initially:
One of the best things to do at this stage is to look online. Instagram is a great place to start getting ideas, and if you look through your screenshots, you’ll more than likely start to see a trend of similar styles and designers emerge. Create a list of these brands and see where they’re stocked near you, and there you have your list of where to book appointments!
It’s important to note that until you’ve tried something on it’s hard to know what you’ll end up with, but it will give you a great starting point in what’s otherwise a very overwhelming situation.
Insider tip: Brides so often end up in exact opposite of what the initially thought, but that’s completely normal and part of the fun! If your bridal stylist suggests a gown, just give it a go! Even if it’s something you could never imagine wearing.
Your Dress Shopping Timeline
When should you start wedding dress shopping?
Well, the first question to ask yourself is how long you have until your wedding! Bridal dresses made-to-order rather than something you can buy off the rack, and often take eight months to be made. Check the brands’ websites or call the boutique directly to make sure they will be able to work with your timeline before your appointment.
Insider tip: Keep in mind you will also need a few weeks (we always recommend 8+ weeks for our brides) for alterations, which means the gown will have to be finished at least two months before your wedding date.
If you are planning to make multiple appointments (we recommend no more than three – it can get overwhelming!) in a single day, a great idea is to schedule a lunch in between the appointments. This way, you and your support crew will have a chance to relax and recharge before continuing the shopping experience. It also gives you a great time to discuss what you’ve liked so far and what you hope to see more of at your next appointments.
Insider tip: Try not to overeat at lunch or have anything too heavy as it could make you sluggish and possibly bloated. And let’s be real, no one wants to feel bloated while shopping!
Who to Take Wedding Dress Shopping
It’s about quality, not quantity! By keeping your support crew small, you will get the most honest opinions because they know you the best. And, even if they don't particularly love the dress you love, they will love it because you love it. Remember you’re shopping for YOUR dream dress, not theirs.
Set a Budget
Know what you can spend on a gown and be sure when booking your appointment to double check the price range of the boutiques designers so you know whether it’s a good use of your time or not. Do not, I repeat, do not try on any dresses that are over your set budget! You want to avoid falling madly in love with a dress that you cannot afford because any others you try on after that may not give you the same feeling and you’ll just be left overspending or feeling disappointed. There will be plenty of beautiful options within your budget, so avoid the unnecessary stress.
The Day Itself
Don’t have a fresh tan or a face full of makeup – remember that you’ll be trying on dresses in all shades of white, ivory and champagne! But in saying that, the just-rolled-out-of-bed look isn’t quite right either. Put on a light face of makeup and have your hair in a DIY version of how you imagine having it on your big day. By doing this, you’re going to get a more realistic image of how you will look on the big day and your stylist will also be able to find you the perfect accessories to complement your gown. Bring heels which are a similar to the height you’d envision wearing on your big day and wear seamless skin toned underwear and a strapless bra.Most of all, have fun with it all! It’s the one time in your life you’ll be shopping for your wedding dress so make the most of the experience. For some people that means popping champagne for that iconic “I Said Yes to the Dress!” photo, and for others it might be trying on a massive princess dress they would never imagine themselves wearing. It’s such an exciting time and we know the perfect dress it out there waiting for you to find it…