9 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Will Save Your Sanity

Have you dreamed about shopping for your wedding dress for as long as you can remember?

Or does the thought of walking into a shop with endless rows of lace and tulle fill you with anxiety?

No matter what camp you fall into, these 9 tips will help you get the most out of your bridal shop experience and help you find a wedding dress that you feel good in.

For all the information you need to know before you step into the bridal salon, check out “How to Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping.”

1. Wear the right thing.

Here’s what to wear when trying on wedding dresses: A nude bra (strapless if you’re planning on trying on strapless dresses) and seamless underwear that you wouldn’t be embarrassed in if a stranger saw you in them.

You may want to do your hair and makeup in a way that makes you feel good—or just make a pact with yourself to not judge or criticize yourself. Also consider bringing a pair of heels if you plan on wearing heels with your gown.

2. Don’t fall victim to bridal consultant sales techniques.

Look, not everyone is good at their job. There are awesome people who work at bridal boutiques, and there are people who are not-so awesome, who will try to pressure you into a gown that you don’t like or can’t afford, or convince you that “It’ll look perfect when it’s your size!”

If you’re not feeling a dress, take it off and move on. Trust your instincts.

 3. Keep an open mind.

While you do want to steer clear from pushy salespeople who don’t listen to you or respect your budget, DO be open to recommendations from helpful and knowledgeable bridal consultants. You’re under no obligation to commit to anything, and you may find something you love that you would have otherwise overlooked.

That is exactly what happened to me. I knew that I wanted a tea length wedding dress with a full skirt, but none of the ones I picked out were working.

The awesome consultant helping me picked one up and said, “How about this one?”

Now, that dress was not one I would have picked up on my own. It had a plunging neckline, and when I thought of my wedding dress, “low cut” was not really on the top of the list. But I agreed and I tried it on, and, surprisingly, that’s the one I ended up with. Go figure.

4. Make sure you can move in your dress.

If dancing is important to you on your big day, keep that in mind. Some gowns are beautiful to walk down the aisle in, but impossible to get down on the dance floor in.

Some brides will choose to wear a different dress for their reception, but that’s not for everyone—or in everyone’s budget! So keep your dancing plans in mind when settling on a dress.

5. Take photos.

Bridal consultants are all about this, so don’t feel weird asking them to snap a few photos. Not only will this help you remember what you tried on, but looking at a photo of yourself in a dress—as opposed to a mirror—can help you be more objective. It’ll also give you an idea of what your dress will look like in your photos, which is super important.

I know that once I left the bridal shop and looked through the photos I took—my decision was crystal clear.

6. Consider alternative options.

Check out vintage clothing shops, discount and preowned boutiques, plus size boutiques or look online at sites like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com or Tradesy.com.

Maybe you don’t want a “traditional” wedding gown and you’d rather wear a dress you found at Macy’s or wear a bridesmaid dress as a wedding dress. Maybe you have a close friend or family member who is willing to part with their old dress. Or maybe you don’t want to wear a dress at all!

 7. Don’t rush.

A wedding dress is a big purchase, both financially and emotionally. It’s often one of the first decisions you make for your wedding, and if you’re like me, it’s the most expensive piece of clothing you’ll ever buy for yourself (and my dress was under $1,000). So, take your time.

If you encounter a pushy salesperson just trying to “hurry you along,” either don’t listen or take your business elsewhere. Take as much time as you want in the bridal shop, and then take some time away to think about it. When you decide to buy the dress—you want to feel confident about it and feel like you made a sound decision.

 8. When you find your dress, read the contract carefully.

Make sure it’s the correct dress in the correct size and color, and make sure you know what date it will be ready and the bridal shop’s cancellation policy. And be prepared to pay a deposit of 50%, which is standard.

9. Remember this mantra: It’s just a dress.

Yes, your wedding dress is important. You want to look good and feel good on that one-of-a-kind day.

But at the end of the day—regardless of the hype you see on Pinterest or from the wedding industry—it is just a dress that you will wear for about six hours.

Remember that you found a person you love, who loves you and you’re building a life together—and THAT is what truly matters.

Bonus Tips:

  • The best time to shop for a wedding dress is off-season (summer or winter). Many bridal shops will discount dresses to make room for new inventory, resulting in you saving hundreds of dollars.
  • If you happen to be the same size as the gown you try on, ask if you can buy the floor sample. Many boutiques will discount a gown just because it is a sample—even if it is early to mid-season. If you do purchase a sample dress, just be sure to inspect it carefully for any tears or stains.
  • Don’t take your dress to just anyone for alterations. Go to a seamstress that is highly regarded. Preferably, go to someone that a friend of yours recommends. Wedding dress alterations are crucial, and you don’t want to take a chance with someone who isn’t good at their job. Trust me, I made the mistake of going to someone who had “5 stars on Yelp!” and it was a disaster. (Story for another day!)

Lastly, if you do experience any wedding dress regret, know that it is extremely common. If you’d like some advice on how to handle this, read “How to Deal with Wedding Dress Regret.

Please let me know if you have any questions or how your shopping trip went! If you have your own wedding dress shopping tip to share, please add it to the comments below or email me at thenofusswedding@gmail.com

Good luck out there, and happy shopping! 🙂