Wedding Dress Shopping Tips I Wish I’d Known Before I Went

Preparing to go wedding dress shopping is like having sex for the first time: you can read a million articles online and listen to all your friends talk about it, but there’s a good chance the real thing is still going to be nothing at all like what you expected. 

I thought I had done truly everything to ensure a successful shopping trip when I went searching before my wedding. But despite researching styles, saving screenshots, coming with the proper entourage, and reading all the tips I could find, there is no set of materials out there that can adequately explain the reality of wearing pasties and heels while a stranger helps you step into a ball gown that fills the entire dressing room. (Fun fact: it’s actually just as hard to step into dresses with a more streamlined silhouette. A mermaid style, for example, has such a small opening for your feet that the process of drawing it up over your body once you step in is a fun guessing game you play with satin.) I digress. 

The point here is that I did all my wedding dress homework, and I was still not at all prepared for the reality of searching through acres of tulle and chiffon to find the dress that embodied, well, me. Everyone’s big day (or days) of dress shopping can be different, but here’s hoping that the following tips will make your path to finding that dream dress just a little simpler.

Be Open To New Styles, But Don’t Feel Like You Have To Try On Something You Hate

You don’t have to put on everything the bridal stylist brings you. Staying open-minded is important, but if the dresses you’re seeing in your dressing room are not you at all, speak up. It can be harder than you think, especially if you’re the kind of person who can’t even tell her hairstylist you hate the bangs she gave you. 

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to change your mind. If the lace sleeves you thought you’d love just aren’t working, take a breath and try something different. Feel like a giant cotton ball in that voluminous organza gown you were sure would scream “you”? Same advice as a relationship that’s gone past its expiration date: move on, and don’t look back.

Choosing *Just One* Can Be Borderline Painful

 

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There’s a reason we all love charcuterie boards so much: they’re all about options. A wedding dress, multi-faceted as it may be, is still just one dress. It can be really hard to choose between different styles, especially if you love parts of each of them, or are a Gemini. So, if your parents refuse to pay for two and you can’t swing the added cost yourself, what’s the solution? Try asking about options for accessories and for customization. A modern, sparkly fit-and-flare can be made dreamy and romantic with the addition of some simple detachable tulle sleeves. (Tulle is inexpensive, and any seamstress can design them for you.) Dying for a mermaid or sheath silhouette, but also love the drama of a more va-va-voom style gown? The same thing can be done for an overskirt. You can have your Cinderella look, and just detach the tulle for a sleeker look that’s easier to move around in when it’s time to get down at the reception. Genius.

Consider Not Just Your Wedding Day, But The Time Leading Up To It

How do you envision the way you’ll be spending your time in the days leading up to your big day? Are you okay with going in for bi-weekly custom alterations and spending whatever time you have left shopping for heels of the exact height you need? Or are you more interested in relaxing as much as possible, going in for one fitting, and leaving it at that? Choose your dress accordingly. You can have what you want in terms of alterations if you’re willing to put in the time, but it’s another layer of decision-making to put on yourself. If the thought of adding more to your wedding-planning plate gives you stress hives, choosing a more low-key dress you love as-is is a better idea.

When In Doubt, Sleep On It

The idea of going home empty-handed after a day of trying on an endless array of dresses can feel disheartening. But you don’t have to look at it as a defeat. As long as you start your search early enough, taking your time is not going to hurt anything, and in fact can prevent you from making a bad decision on low blood sugar after trying on your 45th dress of the day. If you’re feeling pressured, overwhelmed, or just hangry while at your third salon, consider calling it a day and going home to consider your options. You’ll either wake up the next morning totally sure you really do want that long-sleeved lace gown, or thankful that you didn’t commit to buying anything yet. 

So, after all this, you may be left wondering, Carrie Bradshaw-style, if the end result is really worth this whole process of finding, altering, and perfecting your wedding dress for one single day of your life?

The consensus? It absolutely is.

And here’s why: It’s not just about looking good. That’s a big part of it, of course. Your dress should make you feel beautiful, confident, and excited. But it shouldn’t do only that. It should also help you to execute the overall vision of your wedding that you see for yourself.

In your wildest dreams, are you in a castle tower with a rose-covered trellis like in a Taylor Swift music video, looking out a window as your fiancé rides to you on a white horse (despite the fact that he’s from Los Angeles and, to your knowledge, has never ridden a horse)? Or do you picture a long church aisle, candles everywhere, and a veil that trails your gown by 30 feet? Maybe you’re in comfortable lace, barefoot with your hair down on a beach at sunset, ready to dance the night away. It’s important to think about the big picture, because it’s easy to see something in the mirror that’s glamorous and exciting, and that’s great—as long as it completes the vision you have for the big day itself. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a gown that’s beautiful, but ultimately interferes with the experience you want, and no dress is worth that. Keep that in mind, and you’ll end up with a gown that’s perfect for you, the day you envision, and all the photographs you’ll be hanging in your living room for the next 50 years. A marriage is fantastic and all, but the wedding dress? That’s forever.

Images: Tom The Photographer / Unsplash; betchesbrides / Twitter (3), betchesbrides / Instagram (2)

The Biggest Wedding Dress Trends You’ll See Next Year, According To An Expert

Assuming you haven’t been living in a cave for the last month, you are likely aware that fall is in full effect, and the new wedding season has been formally kicked off by The Biebers’ second exchange of vows (because apparently one wedding isn’t enough). While no one expects non-celebrity brides to deliver extravagance at the level that celeb weddings often do, living in the age of Instagram means competition abounds in the world of weddings (even for us common folk). And though I am still not over the fact that Hailey put “Till death do us part” on her actual wedding veil,  her dress is hardly the only source for gown inspo. That’s why we spoke to Azazie designer Peter Hale Cooney to get the scoop on all the wedding dress trends coming soon to an aisle near you. 

Perhaps it is best to start with what trends are officially ~out~. Peter predicts that we will be saying goodbye to “frivolous and over the top accoutrements on dresses.” This, of course, means that the tired popular trend of “crystal and bead encrusted” dresses is going into hibernation. Thinking feathers? Think again. Basically, any attempt to recreate Beyoncé’s iconic Met Gala 2012 dress should be stopped in its tracks. Put the feathers and the jewels down (you too, Kim). 

This does not, however, mean an end to glamour. Peter assures us, “I think we’re going to see the return of romantic dressing.” This could mean a range of styles including everything from “voluminous silhouettes to pared down, simplistic dress.” You can even hold onto the sexier vibe that brides with conservative parents on Say Yes To The Dress butt heads over, with “nods to lingerie” in your gown of choice. Hoe, but make it bridal.

Cooney also predicts plenty of “diaphanous fabrics” (I looked it up, and it means light and translucent) and “lovely lace fabrics.” Lace, in particular, is a point of emphasis in the romantic aesthetic of future wedding dresses. “Nothing says romance more than a fine lace,” Cooney adds.

Perhaps the trend I am most looking forward to seeing on my Insta feed is the return of 60s and 70s styles. Maybe it’s all the Mad Men I’ve been binging getting to my head, but a Megan Draper ensemble on a wedding aisle sounds pretty dreamy to me (even if she is the most annoying character in the show). Cooney predicts the era will manifest in details like “easy breezy shapes, long sleeves,” and “slightly rebellious ensembles.” 

 

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This view is so much better with you! 🌄👰🤵❤️⁠ Link in bio to shop our Stevie bridal gown! 😍 ⁠ Photographer: @alexmari_⁠ ⁠ #brides #bridesrings #bridesproposals#bridetobe #engaged #engagement#engagementring #wedding #weddings#weddinginspiration #weddinginspo#weddingday #weddingplanning#weddingdress #bridesmag#realwedding #ido #love #justsaidyes#weddingphotography #weddingideas#girls #girlgang #squad #squadgoals#bff #bridesmaids #bridalparty⁠

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To the brides out there who stick their noses up at tradition, you’re in for a treat, because color may be an unconventional trend that is becoming, well, conventional. According to Peter, “color has been making its way into bridal collections for many seasons now. I think soft pastel shades incorporated into dresses are absolutely stunning.” 

As for bridesmaids, another increasingly popular shift away from tradition is mixing and matching dresses. “In this day of body positivity I know brides want all the members of their party to feel as comfortable as they do beautiful. This means different dresses for different figures.” As a matter of fact, dresses may not even be a necessity anymore. Cooney boasted about all of the bridal party jumpsuits Azazie is getting ready to drop, gushing that he “love this development for bridal parties.”

 

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All smiles for these beauty Dusty Sage bridesmaids! ☺️✨ Link in bio to shop!⁠ ⁠ Styles from left to right: Summer, Hazel, Jael⁠ dress color: dusty sage⁠ groom & best man skinny tie: dusty sage⁠ photographer: @orangephotographie⁠ Bride: @summit.and.sage ⁠ Groom: @chris.ryan.111⁠ Bridesmaids: @kensydin @samanthasidun @emmie.sidun ⁠ Bestman: @knj_55⁠

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All trends and traditions aside though, Peter believes first and foremost that a ceremony should be designed around the bride and groom’s own tastes. “I’m in the school of thought that there is no rule book when it comes to your big day. From venue, to ceremony, to style of dresses worn. Stick to the vision you have that reflects you and your partner best and it is sure to be an unforgettable day.”

Images: Izabelle Acheson / Unsplash; azazie / Instagram; Azazie.com

5 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Are Total B.S.

Thanks to Say Yes to the Dress, the wedding dress shopping experience has become a full-blown circus. From custom T-shirts and coolers of champagne to bringing everyone you’ve ever known to your dress appointment, brides forget what they’re actually doing there. As a former bridal shop consultant, I’ve heard first-hand the crazy tips brides think they should follow, and I’m calling B.S. on a few of these. Here are the wedding dress shopping tips that are complete crap.

B.S. Tip #1: Bring Your Bridesmaids

On TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, you often see the bride with her entire bridal party in tow (and her grandma, her future MIL, her third cousin twice removed). Sure, they might seem like a nice reprieve from mom’s nagging opinions, but in my experience, bridesmaids have a hard time putting their personal opinions aside. Comments like “that doesn’t work for your venue” or “that’s not that flattering” happen more often than you’d think. I once had a bride who went from excitement in the dressing room to total distress because of a bridesmaid’s bitchy comments. I’m not saying all of your friends will be assholes, but wedding dress opinions are subjective, so the most important thing is trusting your gut over their opinion. If you must bring your squad along, set some guidelines beforehand and tell them that they should just be there for moral support, not to go all Simon Cowell circa American Idol

B.S. Tip #2: Pinterest Is Your Friend

I love Pinterest just as much as the next basic bitch, but TBH, going on a pin binge right before you dress shop is NOT helpful. Sure, you might find things you like, but unless you’re sure the store you’re going to has that dress in stock, you’ll likely be disappointed. Showing a stylist your pin board is helpful if you have a general vibe in mind (classic, formal), but if you want something extremely specific that you pinned, that’s a bit tougher depending on the salon’s inventory. Also, gowns look completely different on you than they do on Pinterest. Often times, those pictures are from models with completely different body types than yours (unless you’re a model, in which case, none of this applies to you). I’ve had a number of brides come into the store with a vision they’d created from hours of pinning, only to find out that a flowy, boho vibe did not live up to their expectations. Having a general idea of what you like is better than coming in with a highly specific vision. 

B.S. Tip #3: You Need To Shop At Multiple Stores

This lie is one that really pisses off stylists. Not just because they’re more likely to lose a sale to this notion, but because it’s simply not true. Yes, this dress is a once-in-a-lifetime garment, but that doesn’t mean you have to have an over-the-top emotional moment where you and your mom sob and hug each other like you just overcame some terrible illness. Feeling amazing and loving the way you look in the dress is more than enough of a reason to say yes to it; crying is optional. Brides who go to multiple stores also might do so because at the first store, they found something that wasn’t what they expected. That happens more often than not, so don’t be alarmed. It’s OK to have a change of heart, especially when it comes to wedding gowns, because they’re totally different once you put them on. Be confident in your decision when it feels right, tears or no tears. 

B.S. Tip #4: Champagne Required

Celebrating is V important. Boozy brunch is V important. However, a drunk bride and her entourage is NOT. Too many times I’ve dealt with a sloppy appointment when the bride stumbles in, can’t get two feet into her dress, and nobody in her peanut gallery has any self-awareness. When it gets to this point, the squad should have just stayed at brunch. Save the celebrating for after, and don’t show up with a chambong ready to get wild at the salon. A lot of salons either don’t have champagne or they save it until a final decision is made. Wedding dress shopping is a classy affair, so sure, have a few glasses after saying yes, but save the sloppiness for the bachelorette party. 

B.S. Tip #5: Make It A Whole-Day Affair

It sounds ridiculous, but putting wedding dresses on is actually a very tiring process. Oftentimes you’re getting in and out of up to 10 dresses in one appointment, times that by three appointments and you’ll have tried on nearly 30 dresses in one day. Not only are you exhausted by your last appointment, everything will start to blend together. There’s no reason you need to turn dress shopping into the hunger games of your wedding. Visiting one store in a day is plenty, especially since the appointments are usually 90 minutes. Don’t go to more than two in one day and plan a break in between so you have time to regroup both mentally and physically.

Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (5)

5 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Are Total B.S.

Thanks to #SYYTD, the wedding dress shopping experience has become a full blown circus. From custom t-shirts and coolers of champagne, to bringing everyone you’ve ever known to your dress appointment, brides forget what they’re actually doing there. As a former bridal shop consultant, I’ve heard first-hand the crazy tips brides think they should follow, and I’m calling B.S.

Bullshit Lie #1: Bring Your Bridesmaids

On TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress, you often see the bride with her entire bridal party in tow (and her grandma, her future MIL, her third cousin twice removed). Sure, they might seem like a nice reprieve from mom’s nagging opinions, but in my experience, bridesmaids have a hard time putting their personal opinions aside. Comments like “that doesn’t work for your venue” or “that’s not that flattering” happen more often than you’d think. I once had a bride who went from excitement in the dressing room to total distress because of a bridesmaid’s bitchy comments. I’m not saying all of your friends would be assholes, but wedding dress opinions are subjective, so the most important thing is trusting your gut over their opinion. If you must bring your squad along, set some guidelines beforehand and tell them that they should just be there for moral support, not to go all Simon Cowell circa American Idol

Bullshit Lie #2: Pinterest Is Your Friend

I love Pinterest just as much as the next basic bitch but TBH, going on a pin binge right before you dress shop is NOT helpful. Sure, you might find things you like, but unless you’re sure the store you’re going to has that dress in stock, you’ll likely be disappointed. Showing a stylist your pin board is helpful if you have a general vibe in mind (classic, formal), but if you want something extremely specific that you pinned, that’s a bit tougher depending on the salon’s inventory. Also, gowns look completely different on you than they do on Pinterest. Often times, those pictures are from models with completely different body types than yours (unless you’re a model, in which case, none of this applies to you). I’ve had a number of brides come into the store with a vision they’d created from hours of pinning, only to find out that a flowy, boho vibe did not live up to their expectations. Having a general idea of what you like is better than coming in with a highly specific vision. 

Bullshit Lie #3: You Need To Shop At Multiple Stores

This lie is one that really pisses off stylists. Not just because they’re more likely to lose a sale to this notion, but because it’s simply not true. Yes, this dress is once in a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you have to have an over-the-top emotional moment where you and your mom sob and hug each other like you just overcame some terrible illness. Feeling kick-ass and loving the way you look in the dress is more than enough of a reason to say yes to it, crying is optional. Brides who go to multiple stores also might do so because the first store they found something that wasn’t what they expected. That happens more often than not, so don’t be alarmed. It’s OK to have a change of heart, especially when it comes to wedding gowns, because they’re totally different once you put them on. Be confident in your decision when it feels right, tears or no tears. 

Bullshit Lie #4: Champagne Required

Celebrating is V important. Boozy brunch is V important. However, a drunk bride and her entourage is NOT. Too many times I’ve dealt with a sloppy appointment when the bride stumbles in, can’t get two feet into her dress and nobody in her peanut gallery has self-awareness. When it gets to this point, the squad should have just stayed at brunch. Save the celebrating for after, and don’t show up with a chambong ready to get wild at the salon. A lot of salons either don’t have champagne or they save it until a final decision is made. Wedding dress shopping is a classy affair, so sure, have a few glasses after saying yes, but save the sloppiness for the bachelorette party. 

Bullshit Lie #5: Make It A Whole-day Affair

It sounds ridiculous, but putting wedding dresses on is actually a very tiring process. Oftentimes you’re getting in and out of up to 10 dresses in one appointment, times that by three appointments and you’ll have tried on nearly 30 dresses in one day. Not only are you exhausted by your last appointment, everything will start to blend together. There’s no reason you need to turn dress shopping into the Hunger Games of your wedding. Visiting one store in a day is plenty, especially since the appointments are usually 90 minutes. Don’t go to more than two in one day and plan a break in between so you have time to regroup both mentally and physically.