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What's Up Weddings

Shopping Tips from a Bride Who’s Been There

Mar 19, 2012 11:54PM ● By Anonymous
  • Start shopping early, but not too early. I started shopping a year in advance, and bought my dress about 9.5 months in advance. It gave me plenty of time, but not too much time that I would change my mind. Generally, you need to order your wedding dress at least six months in advance. I ordered my dress at the beginning of June, and it arrived in the store in September. Alterations begin anywhere from two to three months before the wedding.
  • Do your research, but keep an open mind. Before I shopped, I figured out which designers were in my budget (and more importantly, which weren’t) and what trends I liked and didn’t like (no to pick-ups on the skirt, yes to ribbons). It made it easier to go in and tell consultants that I was looking for a ball gown or a-line style dress that was either strapless or v-neck without pick-ups. However, don’t be afraid to try on a few dresses that you might not have originally picked. I went into a bridal salon with the goal of getting a v-neck ball gown and left with a strapless a-line.
  • Stick to your budget. Tell the consultant straight out how much you want to spend on the dress. While some pushy salespeople might try to convince you to go higher, most will respect the budget. It’s easy to fall in love with a dress that’s more expensive than you can afford. Don’t forget about all the other costs of a wedding look—alterations, a veil, jewelry, shoes, and undergarments.
  • Wear undergarments you’re comfortable others seeing you in. It’s a lot harder than you think to get in and out of huge wedding gowns. At one store, my mom helped me get in and out of the dresses; at another, it was a stranger consultant. I wore undergarments that covered enough so I wouldn’t feel embarrassed.
  • Order the right size: While I won’t tell you my actual dress size, I can tell you that the measurements required ordering a gown that was a much larger size than what I usually wear—and that’s OK. Go ahead and order the dress that fits you now. You might hope to shed a couple pounds by the big day, but there are no guarantees. Case in point: I ordered my wedding dress in June, and it arrived in the store at the end of September. Between those months, I trained for and ran my first-ever half-marathon. You would think I would have lost some weight along the way, right? Wrong—the size ordered still fit me perfectly, and if I had ordered a size smaller, I would have been in trouble. It’s easier for the seamstress to take a dress in than to let it out.
  • Shop around. Don’t buy the first dress you try on, even if you love it. Give yourself the opportunity to explore more options. If you still love it a few weeks later, you know it’s the dress for you.