Wedding Dress Shopping Guide
“I want people to see the dress, but focus on the woman.” - Vera Wang
Dress: Vera Wang
Purchased from Vera Wang Showroom in Chicago, IL
Whether you have been dreaming of this day since you were 4 years old, or you haven’t thought twice about it till now, you are getting married and it is time to find your gown! Let’s be real, it is fun and glamorous, but also can be stressful (and slightly overwhelming). For most, this is the most expensive dress you ever will buy and chances are you’ve never tried one on before. So, where do you start and how do you navigate this process? No matter your style or budget, use this guide to help prepare as you shop for your wedding dress:
Browse and research what you like (and don’t like)! Find certain styles and brands/designers you are drawn to. From there, see which bridal boutique in your area carries those brands so you can try them on. For me, this initial inspiration was from the various weddings I attended, some magazines, Pinterest and Instagram. What is the common theme? Are they all super simple, embellished, high-neck, lace etc.? Reminder that Instagram can be super helpful... but also unrealistic at times. If you aren’t a model getting married on a cliff in Santorini, that dress may appear to look different than it does pictured there.
Call in advance to book your appointments and be specific about your wedding date. Typically a good time to shop is around 8-10 months out. Remember most wedding dresses are made to order and need time for alterations. Consider booking a weekday appointment - the weekends can be packed and you don’t need to feel rushed or stressed when shopping for this dress.
Think about how you want to feel on your wedding day. What dress helps create that feeling and complete your vision? Keep in mind the seasonality, venue, formality, indoor/outdoor etc.
Shop true to yourself and your body. How does this dress complement YOU and your beautiful body. Do you feel confident and true to yourself in it? I remember trying on some stunning dresses that were just simply not me. It made me question what I wanted and can be confusing since they are all so beautiful but you have to choose a dress that is you and feels that way.
Be prepared for whacky bridal sizing. Often times when you go to try on they will not have your size. It can be hard to vision the look or style when the dress is clipped on to you or doesn’t zip. Don’t overthink it and do your best.
Choose your crew carefully. Whoever goes with you is there to support you, not confuse you. Even your best friend or mom can have different style or opinions. Remember this is YOUR gown!
Choose a budget and don’t be shy to communicate that when you shop. Keep in mind the additional costs of alterations, shoes, veil, accessories, etc. to complete your overall bridal look.
Take pictures! Be sure to have a friend or the salesperson help capture these looks for you so you can look back on them. It is important since you try on so many to remember each different style. It is also a good idea to see how the dress looks in photos (mirrors/lighting and all of that in the store can be deceiving)
Remember that no one sees the dresses that you didn’t pick! Don't get overwhelmed by all of the different options.
Do not compare yourself to anyone else! This does no good (ever), but especially on your wedding day and while choosing THIS dress. Every bride is beautiful on their wedding day. Be YOU. Once you have picked your gown, don’t overthink your decision. Yes, new collections, new styles, and new trends will come out each season but do not let that distract you. I remember unfollowing certain dress accounts/designers so that I wouldn’t overthink my choice or see something new every time I opened Instagram. You chose your dream dress, now time to focus on other things!
Vera Wang said it best- know that this day is about the woman in the dress rather than the dress itself! Enjoy the process and have fun with it! Cheers!