Picking the perfect wedding dress is often the most highly-anticipated part of planning a wedding. What bride doesn’t want to feel that joyful moment when they look at themselves in the mirror and think, “this is the one”? While that moment may be magical, the hours of shopping and trying on dresses leading up to it can be stressful.
If you plan carefully, however, this process doesn’t need to be difficult. For brides looking to find that perfect dress for their perfect day, here are 5 essential tips we recommend for making it happen.
1. Set Your Budget and Stick to It
Your wedding budget should be mostly, if not completely planned out by the time you start shopping for your wedding dress. That includes your budget for the venue, the food and drink for the reception, equipment rentals, flowers, and everything else that your wedding needs.
Once that’s done, stick to your budget. Don’t disappoint yourself by looking at dresses that you can’t afford “just for ideas”. Make sure to also only shop at salons and bridal shops within your price range, and ask the staff to only show you gowns that fit within the budget you set.
Make sure to also reserve a portion of your dress-buying budget for alterations. Even if you have a $3000 dress budget, that doesn’t mean you should pick a $3000 dress. The costs of alterations, cleaning, and other essential services can add up quickly.
2. Shop Well In Advance
Most experts agree that you should pick out your wedding dress nine to twelve months in advance. This is to avoid the nightmare of your perfect dress not being ready for you on your big day.
Shopping well in advance leaves ample room for ordering your size, alterations, and shipping. Some dresses may take as long as eight months to come in, and shipping times can often be extended due to bad weather or other unexpected occurrences.
This is especially true when shopping online. There are hundreds of options available online for wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and other wedding attire. Ordering well ahead of time will allow you plenty of time to try things on, and return them easily if they don’t suit you.
3. Do Your Research
There are more resources available now than ever before to help you find inspiration for the perfect dress. Browsing bridal designer websites, bridal fashion shows, blogs, and websites like Pinterest can help you to learn about what options are out there.
You can also learn what experts have to say about what kind of dress might suit you the best. Does bright white, ivory or blush compliment your skin tone best? What silhouette makes the most of your body shape? What is the best fabric choice for a beach wedding? All of these questions and more can be answered by doing a little research beforehand.
4. Don’t Try Too Many
If trying on hundreds of wedding dresses in pursuit of the perfect one sounds stressful, that’s because it is. Trying on too many dresses can lead to decision fatigue – this means that the longer you take trying to make a decision, the harder and harder it becomes. You may have found a wonderful gown already, but couldn’t see the beauty of it after trying on dozens and dozens of them over the course of a day.
5. Bring a Friend (Not an Entourage)
Bringing a friend or family member to a day of wedding dress shopping is a great way to bond, as well as help alleviate stress. It’s great to have a second opinion, and to have a listening ear to hear your concerns. However, too many cooks in the kitchen will spoil the soup, as they say.
If you bring a whole group of friends, each of them may have a different opinion about what looks best on you. This can lead to confusion as you second-guess yourself, and may even lead to arguments. Keep to just one or two trusted friends or family members for moral support. You don’t need to feel as though you have a panel of judges following you around as you shop.
Hopefully, these tips can help to steer you in the right direction while shopping for your wedding dress. But remember – there is no such thing as the “perfect” dress. There is only the dress that is perfect for you. Trust your gut, and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.