Every bride dreams of the moment she’ll step onto that pedestal at the bridal salon, tears in her eyes, as she tells her friends and family this is the dress. Unfortunately, with everything going on, that’s not a possibility right now—at least not in person. On the bright side, at least we don’t have to go hunting through racks and deal with bridal entourages who feel a little too comfortable speaking their minds, but in all seriousness, it sucks not having the wedding experience you’d been planning out since you were little. But just because you can’t step foot into the bridal boutique you’ve been stalking since before you got engaged, doesn’t mean you’re going to have to get married in your pajamas. (Unless you want to, in which case, respect.) In light of lockdowns and social distancing orders, many bridal companies are now offering virtual bridal appointments. Here’s everything you need to know about ordering a dress during the pandemic.
Speak To A Stylist
At the very least, now you have extra time to scour Pinterest and bridal sites to really pinpoint your preferred style and silhouette. Tara Healy, Co-Founder of LA-based bridal brand Tara Lauren, says brides-to-be should “take advantage of all of the extra downtime at home to sit with a bridal stylist, chat about your personal style and gather ideas on what you’re liking.” She adds, “Even if you’re not 100% comfortable with making your purchase remotely, it will give you a much clearer idea of what you’re leaning towards so that when you’re ready for that in person appointment you have your top picks ready to go and a clear plan.” So don’t worry about your screen time usage increasing 150%, since it’s all in the name of research.
Set Up A Virtual Appointment
If your wedding is coming up later in the year or next year, you can still purchase a dress even though bridal boutiques in your state may not be open, as many shops are offering virtual consultations. Bridal retailer Brideside launched virtual styling appointments for bridal parties, allowing clients to video chat with a stylist to look at swatches, see gowns, go over mood boards, and discuss fit.
At Lovely Bride, a bridal shop open in 18 cities around the country, virtual appointments kick off with a mood board, and although trying on dresses in-person isn’t possible right now, founder Lanie List says, “if a bride is on a tight timeline, we can ship her the #1 pick on her wishlist. That way she can make the decision without the stress of long gown lead-times.” It may not be the picture-perfect moment you had envisioned, but companies are devising ways to find you your dress and retain as much of the in-person experience as possible.
Know Your Options
The biggest overarching theme here is that brands and vendors completely understand that nothing is business as usual anymore, and are adjusting their policies to account for all the chaos. For example, Birdy Grey, a direct-to-customer bridesmaid dress brand, has extended their return policy until the end of May for their brides. They’re also offering free color swatches delivered straight to your door to help choose color palettes. Brideside will also send color swatches to all clients who book a virtual styling appointment at least five days in advance. Lee says that, “Unlike most bridal brands that are made-to-order, we hold inventory, so our dresses are in-stock and ready to ship,” adding, “Thankfully, we haven’t experienced any COVID19-related disruption to our shipping lead times, so all of our bridesmaid dresses deliver in 10 days (or less!) worldwide.”
Try On At Home
This should come as a surprise to no one, but many bridal brands and stores are now offering try-at-home options. Grace and Ivory, an online ecommerce bridal brand, launched a try-at-home program “so brides have another option when shopping for their wedding dresses,” says Founder and Creative Director Tina Wong Zysk. For $25, you just pick your style and size range and the gown comes with clips, measuring tape, a try-at-home guide, and a prepaid return shipping label when you’re ready to send it back. If you love the dress and decide to purchase it, Zysk says, “we follow up for measurements and custom options and your dress will be crafted and delivered in just 3 to 4 months.” Keep this timeline in mind when ordering your gown. She advises “that you order 5-6 months before your wedding so we can ensure you have the dress 6-8 weeks before your big day.”
If You Already Ordered A Dress Before COVID-19
If your dress is delayed due to COVID-19 and you’re worried it won’t get to you in time for your big day, don’t worry. Bridal companies are going above and beyond to accommodate brides who are in need of wedding attire in the next few months. The first thing you need to do is review the shop’s policies, as many are likely to have systems in place for these types of situations. If not, due to the crisis, bridal companies are more likely to work with each client on a case-by-case basis. If you have a wedding planner, definitely reach out as they are more likely to have the resources and contacts to help you in this scenario.
Jeannette Tavares, Principal and lead wedding planner of premier event planning company EVOKE Design and Creative, says planners are going above and beyond for their brides, working with their industry contacts and “accessing floor samples, rushed alterations, borrowed gowns and more.” If your dress will not be coming in time for your wedding day due to issues caused by COVID-19, Tavares proposes, “Reach out to family and friends that have their wedding dresses in boxes and ask them to pull them out just for you!” It might be even more special that way. She adds, “Once you receive them, set up virtual try-on sessions with everyone (a fun way to include everyone that has come to help you).” If borrowing a dress isn’t something you want for your special day, or none seem to fit, Jeannette recommends getting family and friends together to help you create your own dress. If you have the time during quarantine, how special would that be? Tavares suggests “find someone who can sew and create your own beautiful gown. There is something pretty special about a ‘something borrowed’ wedding dress.”
If there is no way your dream dress will come to you in time, take the time you need to mourn. While this isn’t ideal and we know you were beyond excited for that dress, there are alternatives you can look into. One option is BHLDN, an online and in-store wedding shop by Anthropologie. For brides in a time crunch and who need their dress ASAP, or their dress is delayed and will not come in time, BHLDN offers an entire collection of last-minute wedding dresses that are ready to be shipped. Each dress offers a detailed style guide as well as an option to speak with a stylist to help find your perfect size. In addition, the site offers a style guide video explaining exactly how to measure yourself for their dresses. All you need is a measuring tape. The dresses are guaranteed to ship to you within 24 hours and they do offer an express overnight option. You can wipe the sweat off your forehead now. Phew.
Above all, Shelley Brown, Senior Fashion & Beauty editor at The Knot, says, “The most important thing to remember during these unprecedented times is that communication is key. If you’re just beginning the shopping process, contact your local bridal salon to see what options they have available. Local bridal salons are doing everything in their power to continue supporting brides during this time, from hosting virtual consultations to sending dress samples for at-home try ons. If you’ve already ordered your dress, check in with your salon regarding arrival date and inquire about options for alterations during this time.” You’re not going to be left hanging, so just reach out and ask.
Sponsored by Brideside
On top of all the other f*cking things you’re supposed to remember to do for your wedding day (hire a non-sketchy photographer; book a decent DJ that isn’t going to tell you to “PUT YOUR MOTHERF*CKING HANDS UP” every three minutes; and select food that 85% of your guests will like), picking your dress SHOULD be on the easier side. But is it, like, ever? If I’ve learned anything from watching hours of Say Yes to the Dress of repeat, it’s that a) Randy and I should be besties and b) this is neither a fun nor stress-free experience. Even my own wedding dress shopping saga took place over three months and at least six boutiques; each one extremely different and more confusing than the next.
With Brideside, the entire experience can be much more chill, lead to less stress in your life, and help you rely on more personalized help that ISN’T your mom. Bonus points—they can help you find your bridesmaids dresses, too, which is f*cking stellar, considering you decided to marry someone with three sisters that you can add to the tally of Sorority sisters you’re required by law to put in your party. Seriously, until you try to pick out dresses for your nine incredibly different (and incredibly picky) best friends, you don’t realize just how major of a godsend this is.
Here are a few tips and tricks from the Brideside stylists on how to make the entire wedding + dress experience (for brides and their ladies) a bit smoother.
1. Know And Stay Within Your Budget
Just like when you’re looking at apartments, cars, or houses, don’t f*cking try on the dress that’s out of your price range. Like, would you go and walk an apartment with a realtor if it was three times what you could afford? I mean, like, maybe if Daddy was gonna pony up and buy it for you (love you, mean it), but chances are, if you’re a strong independent woman that don’t need no extra credit card, you’re going to stay realistic about that sh*t.
And don’t f*cking forget—the dress is just one part of the equation. You’re likely getting a veil and/or headpiece, shoes, jewelry, and alterations to said dress. So, yeah, the dress may be at the top end of your budget, but it’ll be far over it by the time everything is said and done. The good news is that if you choose a service like Brideside, the MAJORITY of the dresses are around $2000, which is pretty reasonable when compared to other bridal salons in the city.
2. Stop Looking At The Sizes
I know we’ve all been trained to immediately check the sizing on the tags when shopping for any clothes ever. According to Brideside, though, “your typical everyday size will NOT match the tag on your wedding dress.” I can personally attest to that, as the dress I ended up with was a 4 and I’m over here in a size 0 from JCrew, size 2 from Ann Taylor, and whatever the f*ck size H&M decides fits me on any given day. Will I be a 0? Will I be an 8? Stay tuned while I have a meltdown in an H&M dressing room.
Pro-tip: tell your stylist what size you are in a few different brands, and they can likely easily help you navigate where you should be.
3. Head To Imagination-Land
Obviously, wherever you choose to have your bridal fitting is not going to have your exact size perfectly altered to fit your body. “Bridal gowns have a different size scale than your everyday clothes, and a store sample isn’t going to fit everyone perfectly right off the rack. These dresses are meant to be altered to fit you perfectly. Don’t worry, your stylist will clip you in so you can get a feel of how the dress will look on the big day,” says Brideside.
So, yah, just like on our fav wedding dress shopping shows, your stylist is going to push, shove, and finagle you into whatever dress you’ve pulled so you can see what a truly perfect fit would look like. It’s like being Cinderella and having a perfect dress magically appear around your body, minus singing rats and fugly skanks trying to ruin your day.
4. Do Not Come In With Your Heart Set On One Dress (Or Even Style)
You’ve seen it a million times: A bride comes in with a Pinterest board dedicated to, like, three or four dresses she HAAAAAS to have; never having seen that particular style on her body, in real life, or exiting her bank account. Brideside says to “try on dresses that aren’t typically you.” That may sound horrifying, but trust me. I pictured myself in a typical A-line dress pretty much, well, forever. Once I got to each salon, I had bride squad peeps putting me in ballgowns, mermaid style fluted dresses, long-sleeved dresses, tea-length dresses, and even fit and flare dresses. I had never thought of pulling ANYTHING other than an A-line dress off, and guess what? I ended up with a curve-showing fit-and-flare dress that I LOVED. So, yeah – trust your stylist. They’ve seen all the bodies and all the dresses. They know their sh*t better than you do, fam.
5. Look Beforehand, But Have An Open Mind
The pros at Brideside say to keep informed and “know some bridal buzz words like what silhouettes you might want to try on and what fabrics are out there.” The most important thing, though, is that “you don’t want to overstimulate yourself with Pinterest options and Instagram saved collections.” In other words, you need to keep an open mind since, chances are, you haven’t been bridal dress shopping many times before (I mean, I could be wrong).
There are a lot A LOT of wedding gowns out there, and it’s great that you’re really into the Elie Saab Spring Collection from three years ago. Like, use it as inspo, sure; but don’t get hung up on those being the ONLY dresses that’ll work for you. The same rules apply for material. You may think you need an organza dress to be happy and that your groom-to-be will insist on seeing you in something of the like, but, you could be f*cking wrong, k?
6. Tell Friends And Fam If There’s A Style You Love
This is kind of a huge one since more opinions are not exactly better when it comes to wedding dress shopping. If you bring mom, grandma, your future MIL, sister, bff, and future sisters-in-law, that’s a lot of different opinions that you may feel you have to navigate and please with whatever you choose for what is, essentially, your motherf*cking day.
Brideside’s advice? “Don’t overvalue other people’s opinions. Choose what you love and what makes you feel like you.” I feel this and this sh*t resonates with me on a NORMAL day. So, you should especially take that sh*t to heart if you’re looking for the dress that feels the most YOU on a day celebrating YOU and someone else sorta. If you want a pink dress with sparkles, get a f*cking pink dress with sparkles. If you wanna wear cowboy boots, know that I’ll judge you – but it also isn’t my wedding. So you do you, boo. *Forehead kisses*
7. Connect With Your Stylist Before The Appointment
This isn’t really an option at most bridal salons, but it f*cking is at Brideside. Why does it even matter whether or not you talk to the person that’ll see you in a bra and Spanx all day? “It’s a lot easier to chat up your stylist at an appointment when you feel like you already know her.” Oh, so, like, that makes sense. You may not feel as awkward saying, “Hey Stacy, I f*cking hate this dress” or “Omg Stacy, you’re a f*cking mind reader” if you’ve had even one convo beforehand. The more you know!
“Your Brideside stylist will set up a time to talk before hand, introduce herself and hear about what you’re looking for.” Praise be. So, if you know your Brideside stylist ahead of time, you’ll feel better about having a meltdown and talking about how your MIL is impossible to please and that you need a dress that conceals your cankles!
8. Come Prepared
Speaking of Spanx, wearing the right undergarments and looking as close as is possible to how you would on the big day is a GREAT bit of advice for heading into your bridal dress appointment. If you head in to try on the “most important dress” you’ll ever buy while sporting acne cream, a messy bun, and last night’s smoky eye, you’re notttt really going to come to appreciate the whole vision that your stylist is working for you to see. Plus, you’ll want to take pics to remember what each dress, or, dresses you’re torn between look like. If you look hot AF in said pics, it’s just one less thing distracting you from how you actually look in said dress.
9. Come To The Appointment Ready To Find The Dress
“If you’re always thinking ‘but maybe something somewhere might be better’ and book a million appointments, you’re going to stress yourself out. You don’t have to only try on one style, but when you feel like you’ve found the one, stop looking,” says Brideside.
There are A LOT of bridal salons, and a LOT of f*cking dresses, styles, and looks out there. Don’t get hung up on thinking you’re going to have an “ah-ha” moment.
You may, you may not, or you may fall in love with three different dresses and have to go through an 80s style montage to figure out which one is for you. The point is you need to be in the mental state to say YES to a dress (sorry, sorry). If you aren’t in a true “shopping” mood, you’re going to keep looking, and looking, and driving yourself and your posse insane. Chances are, you look amazing in everything you try on, so don’t keep looking for reasons to say no.
10. Have Fun
Remember, the most important piece of advice riiiight as you walk into the salon: HAVE FUN, KIDS. Seriously, you’re shopping for your WEDDING DRESS. That’s like, in and of itself, f*cking amazing. Start your day with a huge Pumpkin Spice whatever; chug the champagne (but not too much) offered to you at the salon; and plan a huge lunch of nachos or Taco Bell or margaritas or whatever for afterwards. Look at this day for what it is—a good f*cking time.
It seems like a lot to remember and keep track of, but, overall, shopping for your wedding dress should be a fun and fairly easy experience that fits into your whole wedding planning triathalon. Using a service like Brideside takes a lot of the guesswork out of the equation and may give your brain more space to process sh*t like which hors d’oeuvres to serve during cocktail hour or which venue will be the most forgiving if someone voms on the floor. All v important stuff.
Click here to book an appointment at Brideside so you can have like, the best dress shopping experience ever.
Sponsored by Brideside
When planning a wedding, you’ll quickly learn that everybody has an opinion, and many of them won’t line up with yours. (Is that why they say opinions are like assholes…because they’re full of…no wait, it’s because everyone has one.) Anyway, there are few times that it will become more evident that it’s really f*cking hard to get people to agree on one thing more than picking what bar to go to on a Saturday night, and that is bridesmaid dress shopping. Like, you and your friends can barely decide on a vibe for going out one night—despite everyone agreeing they’re going to dress like scrubs, at least one person always shows up in a crop top—so how the hell are you going to choose bridesmaid dresses? It’s gonna be hard, but services like Brideside are switching up the way we shop for bridesmaid dresses, and making things a lot less painful for all involved in the process. TG.
So how do you keep a group of stressed out and on a budget betches happy? Read on for our tips.
1. Give Options
This can be a little difficult if you have upwards of five bridesmaids varying in size and like, personal aesthetic/attitude (case in point: my roommate and I went to the same party Saturday night, me in a lace-up crop top and denim shorts and her in a flowy mermaid skirt and flowery top). That being said, there are silhouettes that tend to look good on everyone—think flowy, v-necks, and nothing too short. You can also ask your bridesmaids to choose from a few styles you’ve already picked out. Remember, not everyone has to match perfectly—choosing ombre and varying dresses by complementing styles is a very easy way to make your friends happy and a fun way to switch up traditional wedding attire. And, using a service like Brideside allows everyone in the wedding party to try on a few dress options BEFORE dropping any money on them. Think of it like Rent the Runway for your wedding party. For $30, each girl can try on three sample dresses, which, to me, sounds a lot more convenient than trying to either get everyone to the same shop or assigning dresses via email that no one has ever seen, felt, or tried to sit down or do the Cotton-Eyed Joe in. Create a custom closet for your whole wedding party on Brideside’s website, then let your girls pick and choose what to try on. You can also choose different styles (or make a stylist do it for you, my personal favorite choice) and see what flows nicely together.
As a note, I know you want to just tell all nine hundred of your bridesmaid to “pick whatever as long as it’s dusty pink / black / sky blue” but you’re opening yourself up to a lot of trouble if you do that. You’re going to end up with a lot of slightly off colors and a lot of questions regarding if any of your friends are actually color blind because you clearly said apricot, not peach!! *Takes deep, calming breaths* Anyway. Working with one retailer like Brideside lets you pick a stylist, a color palette, and not just let a bunch of betches run wild on your local bridal salon looking for the Pantone color that you’ve demanded they wear that looks slightly different to everybody.
2. Be Mindful Of Budgets
I get that every bride wants their bride tribe to look amazing and sophisticated, but it’s important to keep in mind that not every girl may have $500 to blow on a dress they’ll only wear once. (Nobody is going to shorten it; grow up.) Unless you want to end up in an article by yours truly on a truly insane bride who demanded her bridesmaids drop $800 on a designer dress, talk money ahead of time and settle on a number that everyone feels comfortable with. Spoiler alert: it’s probably going to be around and under $300.
On top of settling on a magic number, if you set up your digital closet ahead of time with Brideside, you can add favorites for all your bridesmaids to see. Plus, bridesmaids can also add styles if you’re open to mixing and matching, which takes a little off your plate, but calm down—you’re still in charge. They can even input measurements so the stylist can cater to you even better so you hopefully don’t have to try on every dress with a giant binder clip. Basically, it’s a win-win.
If you’re all heading to a bridal shop together, make sure that your stylist only pulls selections that fall within the agreed-upon budget. Like, you don’t want to fall in love with bridesmaids dresses that are around $700 each and have a full-blown meltdown in front of everyone… again. With Brideside, you can shop for styles at around $150 (and like, strong-arm your maids into throwing you an elaborate bachelorette party since you’re SUCH a good friend and saved them so much on dresses) or go fancy with styles up to $300. Which is still not even expensive as far as these dresses go. How positively luxe of you.
3. Color Is Important
Think about your group and what color scheme, or differing but complementing scheme, can work with everyone’s complexion. (Hint: Almost everyone looks good in blues, greens, and some burgundies). It’s definitely an extra consideration, but you’ll be thankful once you see your pictures and no one looks like a washed-out ghost or Oompa Loompa. Using Brideside can actually really help with this, since the colors you see online (or with one or two bridesmaids in a shop) can look completely different once they’re on Rachel who lives 300 miles away. Curate your online closet with a few varied color families and then they can try on the style at home with a few color swatches for reference while Facetiming and giving you, the bride, the final say. Ah, technology.
4. Think About Your Dress, Too
It’s important to take your own wedding dress into account when you’re choosing your bridesmaids’ dresses. I mean, you are kind of important. If you’ve bought (or are leaning towards) a grand ballgown style, it’s probably best not to have casual mismatched mini dresses. Or like, questionable footwear (COWBOY BOOTS! CONVERSE SNEAKERS! CROCS!), but that’s an article for another time. If you’re going for sleek and styled, a fluffy, ruffled number on your girls is going to look a little out of place. At the end of the day, you’re the bride, and your friends have to match your style for once. Own it. Making it as easy for your friends as possible while staying true to your own style is completely reasonable, and even more importantly, doable.
5. Consider The Weather
If you’re getting married in the winter, don’t put your girls in short or backless dresses. If you’re getting married in the summer, it’s probably best to steer clear of heavy fabrics, high necks, and long sleeves. These are pretty obvious memos, but I’ve seen brides create a mutiny by overlooking basic weather patterns. Use logic, and choose light, breathable fabrics for warmer seasons, or light fabrics with the option for shawls for the winter. It’s really not that hard.
The way we plan and approach weddings is changing, and that goes for shopping for bridesmaids dresses, too. Gone are the days where you are all shoved into the same strapless gown (thank you, sweet Jesus). Brideside can help you create a unique experience that will take so much of the stress and hassle out of choosing your bridesmaid dresses and leave your girls with dresses they will actually want to wear. But not like, a second time, probably, because that’s just how it f*cking goes.
Images: Genessa Panainte / Unsplash