Wedding Dress 101

I can’t tell you how many different styles of dresses I’ve photographed in the last few years. White, ivory, pink, details of black lace, poofy ballgowns, straps, strapless, tulle, ruched, flowy, fitted, name it, I’ve seen it! After talking to so many brides about their dresses, how many they tried on, where they went and how they made their final decision, I am ready to embark on my very own dress shopping adventure.

I wouldn’t call myself a wedding dress pro, but there are a few things I am keeping in mind as I search for the perfect dress. (Not to mention, I’ve spent many hours on Pinterest looking for inspiration).


Don’t exclude a certain style just because you think you won’t like it. You don’t know until you try it on! Personally, I don’t see myself in a strapless dress or a halter dress. I also can’t imagine myself in a big poofy ballgown.  Am I going to try them on anyway? YES. That is what is so fun about dress shopping. You will never get to do this again. Like that scene in 27 Dresses where Katherine Heigl’s character has a little fashion show in even the most ridiculous looking dresses. Try it on. Laugh about it. Put it back on the rack. Don’t be afraid to try on too many. And who knows, you might unexpectedly love that fit you thought you would hate! If you don’t find the perfect dress in two appointments, make a third. Which leads me to my next point:


    Start early. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to make your final decision early. This just means give yourself plenty of time to shop around. You don’t want to feel rushed. This goes especially to those of us who have a hard time making decisions (ME). If you start making appointments early enough and you aren’t finding the perfect dress, you leave yourself some leeway to take a break and come back to it in a few weeks to avoid stressing out over it. Also keep in mind that the dresses in stock at bridal salons usually change with seasons. If you give yourself enough headway, you may find something you love in October that was not available when you looked in July. The general consensus is to make sure you purchase the dress with about six months to go until the big day. This will also give you plenty of time for alterations.


    Pick your entourage wisely. We have all seen episodes of Say Yes to the Dress that have ended in fights and tears caused by the bride’s friends and family. Most bridal salons will recommend that bringing between 2 and 4 people is ideal. Having more than four can cause chaos and stress on the bride, especially if you have some loved ones with strong opinions! The most important thing to remember is to pick people that will give you their support, honest feedback, and help you stay true to yourself during the appointment, whether this means bringing only your mom or your entire wedding party. I have already planned several appointments, so instead of inviting all five bridesmaids AND my mom AND my mother-in-law all at once, I am spreading it out to only have four or five people attend each. You might also want to consider the space at the bridal shop you are going to. Will there be seating room for everybody, or will you be squeezed into a bridal suite with everybody standing and waiting? 


    Set a budget and stick with it. As with all things in wedding planning, you need to figure out where everything lies in your budget before purchasing anything. If the dress is the most important thing to you, you can save some money elsewhere in order to spend a little more on your dress. Once you have an idea of what you would like to spend, let the bridal associate and those attending your appointment know. This way, if your friends and family start to pull dresses they want to see you in off the sales floor while you’re in the fitting room, you can be sure they look at the price tag first! Don’t let anyone pressure you into trying on a dress that is out of your price range. You don’t want to risk falling in love with something that will blow your budget!


    Finally, consider your undergarments! You will most likely have a bridal assistant in the room with you helping try the dresses on. They will be tying you in and zipping you up. They appreciate some decency, and you don’t want to be embarrassed!  Think about the styles of dresses you are looking to try on. Bring along a strapless or convertible strap bra, and if you’re looking at slinky close-cut gowns, consider wearing seamless panties or bringing a thong to get the full day-of effect. I’d definitely recommend investing in some nude undergarments for appointments and dress fittings if you don’t have any yet.

    I think this is one of the more exciting parts of wedding planning. Have fun with it! For those of you who have already been through it, leave some of your tips and advice in the comments below so that future brides know what to expect. Is there anything you wish you would have known before going to an appointment or purchasing your dress?