Wedding dress shopping is a highly anticipated task on a brides wedding to-do list. However, it’s an experience that you need to prepare for! After all, you’re selecting the most important dress you will ever wear. All the while enjoying this moment with some of your closest family and friends. Planned correctly, it will be an experience that you look back on with joy for a lifetime. So to help you adequately prepare, we have compiled everything you need to know before you go wedding dress shopping.

*Header photo via @mckenziecoylephotography

Why is Wedding Dress Shopping Important?

Wedding dress shopping is only as important as you make it. For some, choosing a wedding dress is just another job on the to-do list. But for others, it is a moment that they have been dreaming of since childhood. In fact it has become somewhat of a tradition or right of passage for women who are soon to be married. If wedding dress shopping is an experience that you have been anticipating, be sure to take full advantage of the opportunity.

wedding dress storeVia @lwdbridal

What to Know Before You Go

Unlike most shopping experiences, wedding dress shopping isn’t something that you do on a whim. It needs to be planned out, and you typically will have to make a reservation at the boutique or shop you intend to visit. To ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row, here is what you need to know before you go!

A Budget

Having a budget is not up for debate - unless your budget is unlimited! For the majority of brides however, there is a maximum amount that you can responsibility spend. Prior to attending your appointment, be sure to have a number set in stone. Share this with everyone in your party, including the shop stylist. This will ensure they no one brings you a dress that you simply can’t afford. Forgoing a budget is a great way to end up heartbroken over a dress that you can’t have! Simply put, don’t do it!

Wedding Dress Inspiration

As important as a budget, you need to have an idea of what you are looking for. Or more specifically, know what you do and do not like. This will make the stylists job easier and keep you from becoming overwhelmed. If you walk into a wedding dress shop without a clue as to what you do and do not want, you’re asking for trouble. Instead, spend some time on social media looking for ideas and inspiration. Share them with everyone in your party so that they can assist you in finding a dress that aligns with your vision.

wedding dress bust close up
Via @swoonbridal

Basic Dress Terminology

It may seem silly, but it’s important that you study up before your bridal appointment. Otherwise you may find yourself completely lost in the terminology! But what exactly are we referring to? The basics that you should know include:

  • Wedding dress silhouettes - Silhouettes refer to the shape of a wedding dress. And when you are in the bridal shop, you will want to be able to identify silhouettes that you do and do not like. A few of the most popular silhouettes are an A-line, fit and flare, ballgown, and column.
  • Wedding dress styles - When we refer to the style of a wedding dress, we’re speaking of certain characteristics. Think of it as if a wedding dress had a personality. How would you describe it? Perhaps sleek and modern, romantic and airy, or glam and sexy? These descriptors will help you and a stylist narrow down your bridal style.
  • Wedding dress materials - Often overlooked, the materials used on a wedding dress are so important. And while many times you will be able to identify them based on the feel and weight, it doesn’t hurt to have a basic understanding of what you are likely to encounter. The most popular wedding dress materials you may find are tulle, chiffon and organza.
  • Parts of a dress - Stick with us, because understanding all the parts of a dress is where you can get overwhelmed. There are countless combinations, so it's important that you have an idea of what you want and do not want. Spend a little time looking up different wedding dress necklines, straps, and sleeves.
  • Wedding veil lengths - For brides who want a wedding veil, a good time to find the right one is when you are wearing a wedding dress. At minimum, you need to know the different wedding veil lengths that are available. Each length will impact your wedding look.

How to Shop for Your Unique Body

Look, we understand that you have a vision for your wedding dress. But sometimes reality can be clouded by excitement. And we’re here to bring you back down to earth. When shopping for a wedding dress you should shop to complement your body. We’re not saying that you can’t wear shapewear - go for it girl! We’re saying don’t fight your body type. Work with it to choose a gown that was designed to complement your unique shape. A stylist will be able to guide you as to what looks best on your body type, but you can also ask for guidance. Don’t be afraid to request a dress that will help hide your tummy, accentuate your curves, or minimize or maximize your bust. Accepting your body for it’s unique beauty will help you find the best dress and allow you to have an amazing experience. Versus spending all of the appointment wishing you could have something that just doesn’t work.

wedding nude shapewear
Via @honeylove

What to Bring to a Wedding Dress Appointment

In addition to yourself and your closest loved ones, there are a few other things that you will need to bring to try on wedding dresses. Print off, screenshot or write down the following list, to make sure that you bring everything you need.

  1. Proper undergarments - Consider shapewear, a supportive nude strapless bra, and any seamless nude underwear.
  2. Your wedding shoes - If you have picked out your wedding shoes, bring them tp test out how you can walk in different length dresses. If you have yet to buy wedding shoes, bring a pair with a similar height. Or a few options to test out.
  3. Hair ties & clips - When trying on a wedding dress and veil you will want an idea of how it looks with different hair styles. Ties and pins will allow you to quickly style your hair to get a feel for the overall look.
  4. Jewelry - If you have picked jewelry out or have been gifted jewelry that you are considering, be sure to bring it along.
  5. Other accessories - Looking to rock one of our custom jean wedding jackets on your big day? Be sure to bring it along to try on with the top candidates, or just to snap some fun dress shopping pictures in!

Who to Bring Wedding Dress Shopping

If we haven’t stressed it enough, wedding dress shopping is a once in a lifetime experience. For which reason we want to stress how important it is that you take caution with who you bring to an appointment. Its easy to just invite anyone and everyone! But the truth is that too many people and too many opinions can be overwhelming. We recommend sticking to around 8 people or less! Next, you will want to consider the personalities of the people you intent to bring. You should only bring people who fully support you and your happiness, and are willing to grasp your vision. You shouldn’t have to spend time convincing anyone why a dress is beautiful to you! Lastly, consider peoples emotions. While your mom may stress you out, wedding dress shopping with her daughter may be incredibly meaningful to her. Be considerate of the people in your life who your decision will also impact. That being said, it’s your day so the decision is yours and yours alone!

bride in wedding dress at wedding shop
Via @luxereduxbridal / Photo @katemannellaphoto

If You Don’t Find the Perfect Dress…

It’s unavoidable that should you not fall in love with a dress, you may feel disappointed. There is a lot of pressure to find a wedding dress, leading many brides unable to fully enjoy this experience. Let us remind you that you DO NOT have to leave the first bridal shop with a wedding dress. If you’re questioning your decision, simply say no and return to the shop at a later date. Either to try it on again or to buy. But do not feel rushed to make a decision - unless you are closing in on the big day. Otherwise, take your time and enjoy the experience for what it is. You want to look back on this time with joy, not regret!

At Something New Bridal Box we want every single bride to enjoy wedding dress shopping. It is our hope that this blog has left you feeling confident about your upcoming or future appointment. And that our list on what to know about wedding dress shopping and what to bring will help you feel better prepared. Let us know your thoughts in the comment below, or if you already bought a wedding dress, the silhouette and style you chose! 

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