Don’t Let Wedding Planning Take Over Your Life (Or Kill Your Relationship)

It’s easy for wedding planning to take over your life.

There’s just so much to do that it can feel like it’s taking over every waking moment.

And it can really wreak havoc on your relationship.

I planned my wedding alone. My husband was in grad school at the time, and he could not handle taking on anything else. Plus, planning is not his strong suit, so I knew this would be MY job.

But … it’s hard to plan alone. There were many times when I just needed to ask him what he thought about something.

“How about this cake? How about this song for our first dance? Did you ask your friend if he’d be your Best Man? What’s your mom’s address?” and on, and on.

And since he was busy most of the time, the second he wasn’t doing anything, I bombarded him with wedding stuff.

It was awful. I felt like I wasn’t getting the support I needed. He felt like I was hounding him about the wedding all the time. And it got in the way of us just spending time together and enjoying each other’s company.

It’s like when couples only talk about what’s going on with their kids. Or finances. Or work. All relationship killers.

So … here’s what you do: Make a “wedding date.”

Set aside the same time every day or every week when you will work on wedding. Get it on the calendar. And then, don’t talk about your wedding any other time.

When we were in our busiest weeks of wedding planning, we decided that we’d have a daily check-in at 7 p.m. That was our “wedding date.” My husband would go to school and I’d do some planning and then at 7 p.m., I’d tell him what I’d done that day, get his opinion, ask him all the questions I needed to ask him and then 10 to 30 minutes later … we were done.

And then we wouldn’t talk about the wedding again until 7 p.m. the next day.

Isolating all our wedding talk to this 10 to 30-minute chunk every day helped us to feel as if our wedding wasn’t taking over our life. And it made my husband a lot less annoyed! 🙂

Give a try yourself—or let me know what’s worked for you!


Yes, You Can Have The Wedding You Want

Weddings have a reputation of being a pain in the ass.

So whenever new couples get engaged, they say things like “Why can’t we just…you know…throw a really cool party with our closest family and friends?”

Guess what? YOU CAN!

Your wedding can be as simple and as awesome as you want. Or it can be as stressful, headache-inducing and cringeworthy as you want.

So what’s it gonna be?

There’s a few reasons why people don’t just end up throwing the really cool party that they want:

1.  Pressure from family and friends.

This is a big one, and it’s hard to deal with. There’s something about weddings that just makes everybody’s crazy come out. There’s not just bridezillas, you know. There’s momzillas, bridesmaidzillas, monsters-in-law—you name it.

The reality is: Your wedding is not just for you. It is for your family and friends. And while you should do everything you can to make it a fun and memorable event for everyone, the bottom line is this: It is your wedding.

How you communicate with the people who try to hijack your wedding day is crucial.

Say, “I love you so much and I appreciate everything you’re doing to help me make this a great day for everyone. I really do want your help and support. But, there are some things that are really important to us as a couple. We want to keep this a fun, simple and amazing wedding. And we feel like releasing doves just isn’t our personality as a couple.” Or, you know, whatever it is. Adjust the script as needed.

The key is to not lose your cool. Just calmly explain why you want what you want.  This wedding does not need to ruin any of your relationships.

And if it’s really important to your mom to have certain centerpieces or certain bridesmaid dresses or a certain dance troupe at your wedding—and those things are not important to you—you may want to just throw her a bone every now and then. Pick your battles.

2.  Pressure from society.

I’m going to be blunt here. This one is bullshit.

The TL;DR version: Who gives a shit what other people think?

The longer version: Have the wedding that YOU want. It doesn’t matter what your guests expect or what anyone else thinks.

Weddings have gotten out of hand. There’s no reason why you need a photo booth, a lightshow, a harp player, a social media director, painted portraits of you and your partner or an owl ring bearer.

If the reason why you’re including anything in your wedding is because you’re “supposed to” or because you want to impress people … STOP.

Perhaps you’ve forgotten what this day is about.

If over-the-top is your jam, go for it. But, if you’re reading this on The No Fuss Wedding, then it’s probably not.

People thought I was a bit cuckoo when planning my wedding.

“What are your colors?” they’d ask. “We’re not having any colors,” I’d respond.

How many bridesmaids will you be having? None.

Are you going to have a father-daughter dance? An anniversary dance? A garter toss? No, no and hell no.

I don’t like any of that stuff, so it wasn’t at my wedding. And my wedding was awesome and anyone who was there would tell you the same. 😉 I don’t think anyone noticed that we didn’t include a lot of well known “traditions”—and they certainly didn’t care!

3.  Pressure from vendors.

Some vendors will try to gouge you. So they’ll try to convince you that you need a million things that you don’t.

Other vendors are just used to working with crazy brides and grooms and so they expect you to be the same. So they’ll say things like, “Do you want a monogram of your initials on the dance floor?” when you’re thinking “OMG, no.”

Just use your words. “No” works like a charm.

4.  The snowball effect.

Yeah, weddings can be overwhelming.  There’s lots of decisions to make and things can easily snowball and get out of control.

Keep yourself in check. Remember what your priorities are. Remember what this wedding is for. Remember what your vision is for this day.

Does the type of cake really matter that much to your vision? Or how the napkins are folded? Or if you do your first dance before or after dinner? No.

So don’t sweat the small stuff. Let some things go without too much thought. Your sanity depends on it.

5.  The internet.

If you dare go on Pinterest, proceed with caution! It’s the gateway to over-the-top wedding ridiculousness.

Weddings existed long before the internet. Somehow, everyone did okay. You can too.

So you do YOU.

If you want to go Parenthood style and have a gorgeous backyard wedding thrown together in less than a week, go nuts! (LOVE their song choice, BTW.)

Give yourself the permission to have the wedding you want. That is all that matters!


How to Deal with Wedding Dress Regret

“The thing I remember most, was that for the entire week before my wedding, I’d wait ‘til my mother went to sleep and I’d sneak out of bed and I’d put on my wedding dress, and my tiara and my gloves. And I would stare at myself in the mirror and think how very safe I felt.  How very right and wise and honored.”

– Gilmore Girls, “Red Light on the Wedding Night”

Don’t feel this way about YOUR wedding dress? Yeah, join the club.

Wedding dress regret is actually super common. With all the pressure put on us from “Say Yes to the Dress” and even “Gilmore Girls,” it’s only natural for wedding dress shopping to pale in comparison to how we think it SHOULD be. Many brides think that the dress they picked is not right just because they don’t cry happy tears whenever they try it on.

But the truth is, for most brides, that “movie moment” just isn’t realistic. We search and search for “THE ONE” and we never find it. And that’s okay! Most people have several dresses that they’d look and feel amazing in!

You’re welcome to go back to the bridal shop and browse and try on new dresses. But I would encourage you to look at this rationally. I don’t want you to drive yourself crazy running all around town to different bridal shops and never feeling like any dress is perfect for you.

You need to think about what the real reason is that you’re feeling regret.

If it’s for any of these reasons, you may want to get a new wedding dress:

1. The style doesn’t match your wedding.

For example, you selected a too-casual halter dress for your evening wedding, over an over-the-top gown for your outdoor summer wedding. Maybe the theme or date of your wedding changed, and the dress that was once appropriate no longer fits your event.

This is one of those times when you may want to sell your dress on,, Craigslist, eBay or a local boutique and find a new dress. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s totally doable.

2. You really don’t like it and you found one that you really DO like.

Who knows why you bought the first one. Maybe you felt pressured, maybe you an off day or you just changed your mind. In any case, if you’ve already found a dress that you love and you know that if you bought it all of your regret would be gone, just go for it.

3. It’s uncomfortable and you can’t move in it.

I totally get this one. I’m a dancer and one of the most important things to me was that I dance all night at my wedding reception. So I picked a gown that I could move in. So, if your dress is super impractical and you don’t want to buy a separate reception dress, maybe you want to go with a different style.

4. You lost or gained a lot of weight and your current dress does not fit or flatter you anymore.

There’s only so much you can do with alterations, and if you think getting a different dress in a different size and style would work better for you, go dress shopping and see what you find.

If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you may just be feeling nervous that your lovely wedding dress isn’t “THE ONE.”

Or maybe you’ve been looking at gowns on Pinterest and you feel jealous of other people who have gorgeous dresses that aren’t yours.

Another thing to consider is that when you add your accessories and have your hair and makeup done, you may feel differently about your dress. A lot of dresses can actually feel kind of plain until you put on a belt or jewelry or headpiece.

My dress had this super ugly flower on the belt. (I’m cringing now just thinking about it.) I also really liked dresses that had those blingy, sparkly belts. So, I lopped off that ridiculous flower and bought a shimmery belt from David’s Bridal and BOOM. I was done.

I should also add that I did NOT have a magical moment when I tried on my dress, and I put off alterations as long as possible. I just did NOT want to put it on. I felt silly and stupid. But when my wedding day came, I LOVED putting it on. So, sometimes when you’re not excited about your dress, it ends up working out wonderfully on your wedding day.

Also, just because you don’t like wedding dress shopping or don’t love your dress does NOT mean that you’re not ready to get married or don’t like your fiancé or anything silly like that.

Perhaps the worst part about that “Gilmore Girls” episode is that Lorelai not to marry her fiancé because she didn’t want to try on her wedding dress every night! Ay yai yai.

So, relax. The dress you have now is probably gorgeous! If you’re in doubt, you can always ask a friend (or email me, I’ll give you my unbiased opinion! 😉

How to Easily—and Painlessly—Set Your Wedding Budget

When it comes to wedding planning, setting a budget isn’t exactly the sexiest of topics.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably dreading it—or even actively trying to avoid it.

But you at least need to set a target budget in the beginning, as it will drive everything. You don’t want to waste your time drawing up a guest list of 500 people or calling venues with ocean views and celebrity chefs if you can’t afford to drop some serious cash.

Even if you keep your wedding “super simple,” it can still be pretty expensive. According to, the average American couple spent between $19,323 and $32,205 on average for their wedding in 2017.

Yeeowsa! Okay, now before you freak out, also adds this: “However, over 40% of couples spend less than $10,000 and only 16% of couples spend more than $30,000 on their wedding.”

The fact that over 40% of couples spend less than $10,000 should ease your mind a bit.

The Big Wedding Industrial Complex probably doesn’t want you to know this—but a wedding less than $30,000 is easy to achieve. After all, the majority of people do it!

That said, we’re still talking about thousands of dollars.

So, why the HECK do weddings cost so much?

Here’s a breakdown of the major expenses—and how you can save some serious cash:

1. Venue.

This is a biiiiig one. Venues can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000. Expect to spend about half of your budget on your venue.

 Cost factors:

  • Geographic Location. Areas of the Midwest and Southwest U.S. tend to be cheaper than the Northeast. Some large cities are more expensive than small towns. If you visit, you can type in your zip code to get an estimate.
  • Time of Day. Day weddings are always cheaper than evening weddings. A Sunday wedding will always be cheaper than a Friday or Saturday wedding.
  • Type of Venue. A basic event center will typically be less expensive than a luxury venue or a private club. Venues that are used primarily for weddings also tend to be more expensive, as the word “wedding” guarantees a huge markup. (Why? Because they can…)
  • Don’t be afraid to look off the beaten path. Sometimes the most unique venues like lofts, barns, vineyards, breweries and historical homes and inns can be surprisingly inexpensive—and gorgeous.
  • “Wow” Factor. If your venue has an extravagant view, an ice sculpture garden or an expansive ballroom with a rotating dance floor—things are just going to be more expensive.

TIP: Some venues include many things in their overall fee that you would usually have to pay extra for. This can include chairs, chair covers, the cake, a day-of coordinator and even an officiant. This can be a great way to save money—and time.

 2. Food.

You’ll typically pay your caterer per person. This can be as low as $20 per person for a brunch buffet or $100+ for a plated dinner. According to The Knot’s survey, the average price per person at a U.S. wedding in 2017 was $70.

Cost factors:

  • Number of guests. That $20 to $100 per person adds up quick!
  • Type of Food. Brunch and barbecue costs a lot less than steak and salmon.
  • Buffet vs. Plated Meal. Buffets are always cheaper than plated meals.

3. Alcohol.

The bar tab can really put a wedding budget over the top. On the other hand, if you have a dry wedding or your crowd don’t drink very much, you can save a lot of money.

Cost factors:

  • Type of alcohol served. Beer and wine is cheaper than spirits; House alcohol is cheaper than high-end brands.
  • Open Bar vs. Cash Bar. There’s no shame in having a cash bar. There’s no law written anywhere that says just because you’re getting married you’re obligated to buy round after round for your friends and family.
  • There’s also other options in between, such as offering guests free drinks for one or two hours or offering a free “signature drink.”
  • Paying per consumption or a flat fee. Venues usually offer a variety of alcohol packages, and they may give you the option to pay for only the drinks that your guests consume or they may charge you a flat fee for the whole thing. Which option you choose depends on your guests. If they’re light or moderate drinkers, you’re probably better off paying by consumption.

4. Photographer.

Photographers vary in price, depending on location and the amount of experience the person has. Couples paid an average $2,630 for a photographer in 2017.

TIP: If you’re looking to save money, hire a friend or search for a newbie wedding photographer who is looking to build up their portfolio.

5. Entertainment.

A live band will typically cost more than a DJ. If you have any other type of entertainment, like dancers or a special light show, factor that into your budget.

If you’re planning to hire musicians for your ceremony, that will add an additional $500 to $800 to your budget.

6. Flowers.

This is a surprisingly expensive one. The average cost of wedding flowers in 2017 was $2,379. Flowers just are expensive, and if you use a professional florist, you also are paying for their labor.

TIPS: Save money by choosing a venue that already has naturally beautiful décor and a ceremony site with planted flowers and bushes. If you have a winter wedding, you can go light with the flowers and instead create an incredible atmosphere with decorations like garlands and lanterns. You may also have a talented friend you can hire at a discount.

If you’re open to fake flowers—and you’re crafty—you can save big bucks. Sola Wood Flowers are surprisingly gorgeous and can be dyed to create any type of look you want.

7. Attire.

This one can vary. The average bride spent $1,509 on her wedding dress in 2017, and the average groom spent $286. There are many ways to save money, such as buying a preowned wedding dress, wearing a formal dress from Nordstrom or choosing a short style. If you’re wearing a tux or a suit, you can always find one on sale or rent.

Now that you have an idea of where all that money will go, let’s move on to setting your budget:

Step #1: Ask yourself, “How much can I afford?”

More importantly, how much do you want to spend on your wedding? You may be able to spend $30,000 but choose not to. A wedding does not have to be expensive to be beautiful, classy and amazing.

If you are not the one paying for your wedding, or you’re not paying for all of it, sit down with the people who are. It’s uncomfortable, but this talk must happen—and it must happen before you start calling venues and booking a band and falling in love with pricey dresses.

If you have two parties who will be contributing money—both your parents and your fiancé’s parents, for example—it’s best to talk to them separately. Find out how much each party is willing to pay and add in your own contribution.

Step #2: Decide what you want to splurge on and where you want to save.

Think about your non-negotiables. These are the 3-6 things that are the most important to you and your fiancé. You may want to shell out extra money for the things on that list, and then cut back on other items that are less important to you.

Step #3: Decide how much you want to spend in each major category.

I’ve put together a guide for you to get started.

Click here to get your No Fuss Wedding Budget Planner.

Refer back to this planner as you make decisions like choosing a venue and a photographer. If you end up spending more than expected on your photographer, maybe you want to cut back on flowers or nix the ceremony musicians. Feel free to move money around as you move through the planning process.

Bonus Tips:

  • Try to avoid going into debt for your wedding. If you’re considering using credit cards or taking out a loan, sit down and ask yourself if it’s really that important to you to have a wedding that you can’t afford. Plenty of people have amazing backyard barbecue weddings that are beautiful, classy and fun—and they don’t go into debt while doing it.
  • If all of this has your head spinning and now you’re not sure if you want to have a wedding, eloping is an option that is available to you. Just make sure you examine why. If you really don’t have the money and it’s not that important to you, then maybe you do want to skip it and just elope.
  • You could also choose to have a super simple wedding, like gathering 12 people in a park and going out to brunch afterwards.
  • Put aside 5% of your budget for little things you may have forgotten about or underestimated, like stamps, tips, tax, alterations or rehearsal dinner attire.

Whew! You did it! You now have a wedding budget set. It wasn’t that bad, was it? 😉

Take a moment to celebrate your success. Take your fiancé out to dinner or go catch up on your favorite show.

When you’re ready, come back and we’ll tackle the next step in planning your no fuss wedding: starting your guest list.

Please leave a comment below or email me at Talk to you again soon! 🙂

The First 3 Steps to Planning Your Wedding

So, you’re engaged. Congratulations!

This is an exciting time for you, but I know it might also be a little stressful and overwhelming.

So, before you start creating 10 different wedding-related boards on Pinterest and emailing a bunch of different venues only to get sticker shock when they give you a quote, let’s take a beat.

Wedding planning does involve a lot of pieces, and there are a lot of things to consider.

But it doesn’t have to take over your life. And it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.

Let’s keep things simple, shall we? Here are your first 3 steps to planning your wedding—no fuss required:

 Step #1: Tune out people who stress you out.

After you get engaged, people immediately shift from “How did he propose? Let me see the ring!” to “Have you picked a date? Where are you going to do it? What are you colors?”

(Ugh, colors. One of those unnecessary things that people for some reason are stuck on believing is important. It’s not, let just get that out of the way right now.

When people ask you these questions, don’t let them stress you out. They aren’t actually looking for answers. They’re honestly just excited for you and they’re letting that excitement carry them away.

They might just think it’s polite to ask these questions. They might not even care about your wedding—at all. Most people are stuck in their own la la land 90% of the time, and care maybe .05% about your wedding.

So, when people ask you about the date, venue, colors or what your first dance song will be, just smile and say, “We haven’t decided yet. We’re just enjoying being engaged!”

If they insist and say, “Oh, but you have to decide now! My cousin waited too long and couldn’t find a venue or a dress and had to get married in a bowling alley in the dead of winter,” Say, “Oh, that’s interesting. So, what’s new with you?”

If it’s your own parents pressuring you, or insisting that they take you dress shopping right now say, “Thanks, but I’m not ready yet. I’ll let you know when I am!”

Shut out all the wedding-related noise. This doesn’t have to be insane. Don’t let the world tell you otherwise. 

Step #2: Think about what you want your wedding to look and feel like.

When you imagine yourself walking down the aisle, what do you see? Are you inside or outside? What’s the scenery like? Are you on the beach, in a vineyard or in a church?

What do you picture for your reception? A big ballroom with lots of dancing? Or an intimate backyard gathering with just a few of your closest friends?

When you look back at your wedding album, what do you want to see? Do you want lots of pictures with greenery and flowers? Or do you want to be standing in the snow with a long-sleeved dress and a bouquet of red roses?

Talk about it with your partner. What does he or she envision?

If you have no idea, think back to the weddings that you’ve been to. Do any of them stand out in your mind? What did you like—or not like—about any of them?

If this step is stressing you out, pause. Walk away from wedding planning for a while—whether it’s for an hour, a day or a month. If you’re not ready yet, that is okay! Come back when you are.

Step #3: Establish your non-negotiables.

A big reason why wedding planning is so overwhelming for some people and why the word “bridezilla” exists is because there are a lot of decisions to make.

And you know what? Not all of these decisions are important—or even necessary—AT ALL.

So, the key to keeping your wedding simple is establishing your non-negotiables. What are your wedding “must haves”? What are THE MOST important things to you when it comes to your wedding?

Write them down. When you start to feel overwhelmed in a month or two, pull out this list. You may want to type it up and file it away on a “wedding planning” folder on your computer or Google Drive.

Need an example?

For me, I wanted my wedding to be outside in warm weather. I’m an outdoorsy person and I love nature, so for me, all I wanted was to get married in a naturally beautiful place where we’d have tons of pictures outside with flowers and green grass and trees.

Next, I wanted dancing. Not just that, but I wanted every single person to dance for 90% of the reception.

After that, I wanted the reception to be in the same place as the ceremony. I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the guests had to drive to the reception from the ceremony site or take a bus. And I really wanted my wedding to be simple and low-key—in terms of the planning process and for my guests.

Next, I wanted really good food. I didn’t know what that food should be. But I wanted it to be awesome.

Lastly, I wanted to make sure we had a really good photographer. The wedding is just one day. But really, the memories are one of the most—if not the most—important things. So I wanted to make sure that our photos were gorgeous.

And that was really it.

My husband isn’t a planner. He pushed for a winter wedding in the beginning. More specifically, a ski wedding. But he didn’t really think it through. I think he just wanted to go on a ski vacation, to be honest with you.

So I said, “Honey, we’ve never skied together—ever. What about the pictures? You really want to be in a coat in the pictures? Freezing? You hate the cold.”

Seriously. My husband is a southerner. He really didn’t think it through.

So once I made the case for warm weather, he came around to it. And he was on board with the dancing and the food and the great photographer from the beginning.

So those were our non-negotiables: 1) warm weather, 2) outside ceremony, 3) ceremony in same place as reception, 4) lots of dancing, 5) really good food, 6) really good photographer.

Make a list of your own 3-6 things that are non-negotiable for you and your partner. This will lay the groundwork for your wedding planning and will help keep things simple and easy.

You might change your mind, and that’s okay! You might think now that having an open bar or a live band is really important to you, and you could very well change your mind in three months. That’s all part of the planning process.

Just use your non-negotiable list as a guide, so when you start having a meltdown over your cake or your centerpieces, you can remind yourself that it really doesn’t matter all that much.

Hopefully after this exercise you feel a little better about the wedding planning thing. My goal is really to make this a low-stress (and maybe even enjoyable) process for you.

Please post your comments or questions below, or email

And when you’re ready, take the next step in your wedding planning process: Set Your Budget.









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 or

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

Good luck out there, and happy shopping! 🙂



How to Prepare for Wedding Dress Shopping

There’s a lot of pressure put on us to find the perfect wedding dress. We’re taught to believe that when we find the wedding dress of our dreams that the clouds will part, the heavens will shine down upon us and we’ll shout, “I say yes to the dress!”

But for many of us, wedding dress shopping is not like that at all. And that is perfectly okay!

Just because you don’t have a magical fairytale moment when you finally decide on a wedding dress does NOT mean that there’s something wrong with you, that you have doubts about your marriage or that you secretly hate the dress you chose.

All it means is that you are a real person and not some caricature of a bride on a reality show.

That said, let’s dive into how to prepare for wedding dress shopping—before you even step into the bridal shop.

For what you need to know while you’re wedding dress shopping, check out “9 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Will Save Your Sanity.”

1. Start early. 

Why? Because shopping for a wedding dress is not like shopping for any other type of clothing.

You don’t just walk into a boutique, take a dress off the rack and leave with it. Wedding dresses are custom made by the designer. So once you decide what dress you want and place your order with the bridal boutique, it usually takes 4 to 6 months before it is actually ready for you to pick up.

So, you’ll want to buy your wedding dress about 8 months before your wedding.

This will give you 2 to 4 months after you pick up your dress to get alterations done, and many brides need more than one fitting. You’ll also need time to buy your undergarments, shoes and accessories, which is much easier to do once you have your dress.

Plus, you’ll have peace of mind if you start early. If you experience any alteration fiascos or end up with the wrong size or color, you’ll still have plenty of time to get things sorted out before your wedding.

For my own wedding dress, I started looking in November, bought my dress in December and it was shipped to me in April. That gave me 3 months to get alterations done and buy my shoes and accessories before my July wedding.

Now, there are a few exceptions. If you are planning to buy a preowned wedding dress or a nontraditional wedding dress—maybe from a shop like Nordstrom or BHLDN—you have time to spare. But I’d still encourage you to shop as soon as you can. That way, if you happen to change your mind, you’ll still have plenty of time to get the dress you really want.

If you have a short engagement (6 months or less), don’t worry! You also have options.

Look around for discount bridal shops in your area that specialize in preowned and sample dresses, as they will have styles that you can take home immediately.

If you don’t have one near you, check out online shops like They have their entire inventory online, including many dresses that are under $1000.

For a short engagement, you may not need to entirely rule out a traditional bridal salon, as some do have a small assortment of dresses available off-the-rack. Some shops will also put in a rush order for you, though it usually depends on the designer.

So make sure you call shops ahead of time to find out if it’s possible to get a wedding dress turned around in your timeframe. If it’s not, move on and find someone else who can help you.

2. Get clear on what you want.

It can be overwhelming to face rows and rows of wedding dresses, especially if you have no idea what you want. And when you walk into a bridal shop, they will ask you what you’re looking for. What style? What length? What budget? So make sure you have an idea of what you want before you shop.

It’s perfectly okay to change your mind—but you at least need a starting off point.

You may already know what you want. If you don’t, take some time and research online. Search on Pinterest or The Knot’s wedding dress database. What styles stick out at you?

You can also do a Google image search for “real weddings,” or tailor a search based on what you look like or what your personal style is. For example, since I have short hair, I often found more relevant and useful photos when I did a Google image search for “short hair bride” than any other search.

Also keep in mind the type of wedding you’re planning.

A beaded gown with a 3-foot train may be out of place at a brunch wedding, and a short, strapless tulle gown may be too informal for a winter evening wedding.

Opt for dresses that fit the tone of your wedding.

If you’re lost, seek advice from a fashionable friend that you trust.  Ask him or her to make some recommendations for you. Most people will jump at the chance!

3. Set a dress budget.

What can you honestly afford—or what amount do you feel comfortable spending? Keep in mind that accessories alone can easily add another $100 to $300, and alterations cost anywhere from $75 to $800, depending on who you ask.

Whatever your budget is, stick to it and don’t let salespeople pressure you into spending more!

4. Make a wedding dress appointment with a shop near you that has the styles you’re looking for within your budget.

If you want to pay under $1,000 for a dress, don’t want to waste your time in boutiques that only have dresses that start at $2,000.

If you know you want a dress from a particular designer or in a specific style, make sure the shop you’re going to has those types of dresses in their inventory.

No one will mind if you call and ask a few questions before deciding to check out their shop. You can also browse many boutique’s inventories online, which should give you a good idea what they offer in store.

If you are plus size, do a Google search for plus size boutiques in your area. While other bridal shops may have dresses in your size, you may find that a shop specializing in plus size wedding gowns will be a more helpful and positive experience.

If you have a strict budget, consider making an appointment with a preowned wedding dress shop. You may just strike gold with an awesome dress that costs even less than what you budgeted!

Keep in mind that Saturday afternoons are the busiest time for bridal shops. So try to make your appointments for Saturday morning or take a day off from work during the week. You may find that the consultants are a bit fresher and “on their game” at these times, and the experience may be smoother and less overwhelming for you.

Make no more than 3 appointments in one day. Trust me, you’ll get exhausted and burn out. Pace yourself. You may find that one single appointment a day is all you can handle.

5. Lower your expectations.

Don’t expect to have that magical movie moment or cry happy tears when you find the right dress. There are some people who love shopping for their wedding dress and to them the whole process is sunshine and rainbows and feels like playing dress up.

For many of us, however, it’s awkward, overwhelming and/or anticlimactic. You are most likely going to try on dresses that are not your size, which the bridal consultant will hold up to you or strap you into with clasps.

Looking at yourself with those clasps sticking out and wearing a formal gown while having your hair and makeup looking completely normal (or nonexistent) can make you feel silly.

Not to mention that many wedding dresses are heavy, and getting in and out of them may make you feel like a tired, sweaty mess—all while a total stranger hovers over you and asks questions like, “What do you think? Could this be THE ONE?”

So just be sure to lower your expectations, and if you DO end up doing a happy dance with tears streaming down your cheeks—you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

6. Decide if you want to go alone or invite friends or family members.

Do whatever you feel is most comfortable and is most helpful to you. Despite what you see on TV, it is normal and fine to go it alone! (I did!)

If you want to invite friends, choose no more than two people to accompany you, and be picky.

Select only the people who will be supportive, positive and helpful—not people who are competitive, bossy or will bulldoze your decisions. It can get pretty heated in those bridal boutiques!

If you want to go it alone, but you have bridesmaids or friends who really want to be involved, bring them to your final fitting instead. That’s a much a happier day anyway—and one to really celebrate!

If you complete these 6 steps, you’ll be prepared to shop for your wedding dress.

If you want tips to make your experience in the store smoother, check out “9 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips That Will Save Your Sanity.”

Please leave your comments and questions below, or email me at

Do you find these tips helpful? Do you have one of your own to add?

Resources: Although all gowns on the website say “All sales are final,” if you contact them and request their “Luxe in a Box” service, they will send you 3 gowns or your choosing to try on at home, and return what you don’t want. (Pro tip: When searching their inventory, enter your size, such as “Size 10” in their search bar to only turn up results in your size!)

The Knot’s wedding dress database