If you’re not feeling great about your body, wedding dress (insert bathing suit, dress, suit) shopping can give you a panic attack.
Before I went to try on dresses for the first time, I had to fight the urge to not go on a 4 day juice cleanse. And I really know better.
Sometimes the pressure to be perfect is too much to take.
But there is a way walk into the boutique or your first fitting feeling calm, confident and beautiful, even if you’re not the size you want to be on your wedding day.
To help me on the topic I brought in my fav wedding dress expert, Melanie Kluger, pay special attention to number 3, it will make or break your dress experience.
The wedding dress shopping process starts a week before your first appointment.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that beauty is a mindset. If you feel beautiful then you will naturally radiate beauty, and this has nothing to do with weight.
Here’s the pre-shopping plan:
I got the following bridal shopping tips from Melanie because she more than anyone, knows how to find the woman the perfect dress, here’s her advice:
Close your eyes and picture yourself walking down the aisle. I know, I know, just do it! It’ll help, I promise! What do you see? A sleek, modern bride? A romantic, sophisticated version of you? This exercise is important for 3 reasons. The first, is if you don’t know where your aisle is going to be (i.e. you don’t have a venue) or when the wedding is going to take place, it will make it much harder to envision your day. Try to have those locked down before you go dress shopping. It will make it much easier to plan everything else. The second reason is that it will help you distinguish the difference from a pretty dress, and a dress you want to get married in. That distinction will really come in handy when you are shopping. The third reason is my favorite. When you are envisioning your wedding, I can bet there is one thing that is for certain. You are happy. No… happy doesn’t cover it. Ecstatic! You are about to get MARRIED. So, keep that in mind. No matter what dress you end up in, you can rest assured it’s going to be an absolutely incredible day. See? Doesn’t that take the pressure off?
So now that we have it covered that you are going to be a joyful, glowing, beautiful bride on your wedding day, we can get back to finding that perfect dress. As a bridal stylist and newlywed, I completely understand the pressure that comes along with wedding dress shopping. Finding a wedding gown is really exciting, but can also be quite intimidating. Some of the brides I work with have put off shopping for just that reason. There is too much pressure! I am here to demystify this process as well as offer some of my tips and tricks for a successful wedding dress shopping experience.
1) Do your Homework!
When you are deciding where to shop, find out the basics about each bridal salon you are planning to visit. Here are a few questions to consider:
Do the designers they carry have the details you are interested in?
What is their price range?
How many months before the wedding do they require for you to order your gown?
When you have answered these questions you will feel well informed and knowledgable when you go to your appointments. Become familiar with the salon’s website and pick a few designers/dresses you would like to try on.
Not all bridal salons are created equal, so seek out the salon that is right for you. If you get overwhelmed when shopping at larger department stores, check out a small, intimate boutique. If you love supporting local businesses, look up designer showrooms in your area. The more you know about the salon, the more at ease you will feel.
*** Here is a quick little note about the homework I just asked you to do. Don’t over think it. Doing your research before your visit is meant to help make wedding dress shopping pleasant, so do the homework assignment, but don’t do extra credit! You don’t want to become overwhelmed before you even start, or even worse, become so set on a dress that you end up not liking once you see it in person. Until you are physically trying on dresses, you won’t really know what you like. Which brings me to my next tip!
2) Stay open minded!
It’s always helpful to have a vision, but don’t be afraid to try something unexpected. For example, let’s say a lot of the pictures you have loved in your research are in silk taffeta. Once you are trying dresses on, your consultant suggests you try on a lace gown. Even though this is not what you had originally thought, I say to try it on anyway! What’s the harm in trying one lace dress? The way I see it, it can go one of two ways. You could confirm your original thought. That lace isn’t for you. This ends up feeling rewarding and validating because it helps to make you understand what you like about the other dress you tried. Or, you could be totally caught off guard about how beautiful and romantic it is. It’s a win/win situation. Sometimes it’s easy to forget you are there to try on dresses. I know that sentence sounds silly, but it’s true. The only way to know which one is right for you is by trying on dresses you like, and some that you don’t like. You aren’t supposed to love every single one!
3) Your consultant is your friend!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Bridal Consultants are on your side! We can think of nothing more thrilling than you finding a wedding gown that makes you feel gorgeous. So don’t be afraid to fill us in on everything about your wedding. The more details we know, the more clued in to your vision we will be. That floor length veil could be exactly what you needed to see to imagine your wedding day. I know it can be daunting to step into a dressing room with someone you just met. But instead of thinking of this person as a stranger, think of them as your new friend. Your new friend who happens to know a lot about wedding dresses.
***If that doesn’t put you at ease, this little confession might. I can’t think of anything more exciting than witnessing a bride falling in love with the perfect dress. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been known to cry with the bride. I can’t help it.
4) Choose a dress you love NOW.
A lot of brides plan on getting in shape before their wedding. Whether you are looking to tone up or shed some lbs don’t let it affect your dress shopping. I completely understand how insecurities can be heightened when you are shopping. We don’t often spend that much time in the mirror in a sample gown. But you should love how you look and feel in the dress at that moment. You should be able to say “Wow, I look beautiful in this dress.” If you lose the weight, that is fantastic. But if you don’t, you still know you will look and feel like a million bucks. Buying a dress that you think will be more flattering in 6 months, or even riskier, a dress in a smaller size, is only going to add unnecessary pressure. Having a dress altered to be smaller is much easier than letting it out. So don’t add another level of anxiety to an already delicate situation. Focus on the now and how you FEEL when you are in your perfect dress. That amazing feeling will be great motivation for everything else involved in wedding planning as well!
5) Don’t expect wedding dress shopping to be like shopping for anything else.
Let’s take a minute and think about how we normally shop. Have you thought extensively about what color jean you are going to buy before you get to the store? What about reading 8 blogs about which scarf at H & M is the softest? Probably not. Wedding dress shopping comes with a lot more criteria. Does this dress work at my venue? Is it flattering? Train or no train? When you normally go shopping do you ask yourself all of those questions? Do you bring your mother, 3 bridesmaids and your niece to go to that new boutique you have been wanting to check out? I’m guessing the answer is “no”. Usually, the decision is not as easy as running into the Gap for a pair of tights. Don’t expect it to be!
*** Strapless dresses get a bad rep in ready to wear because of how often they start to slide down. I am a total culprit of tugging at that strapless dress you swore fit this morning. But, I have good news. When a dress fits you properly at the waist as well at the bust, the dress has no where to slide and you will not have to touch it. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cap sleeve or v neck, I just think it’s important to dispel the myth that strapless dresses fall down. It just means the dress you bought for 40 bucks (that isn’t altered to you) isn’t going to fit as well as your wedding dress.
6) Try to keep your entourage small.
This is a real tricky one. There is often the temptation to bring a lot of people to gown shop with you. A lot of brides have dreamt of this day with their mother, or sister. Others really love the idea of trying on gowns with their entire bridal party. If possible, try to limit your group to 3-4, if not less. The smaller the group, the more focused the appointment is. That being said, I do think it is helpful to bring someone with you. Getting someone else’s opinion can help justify your own thoughts.
Another thing to remember is most bridal salons and showrooms don’t have the space for extremely large groups. This is the most crucial on the weekend. That is when stores are busiest and you are probably not going to be the only group there. Imagine 5 groups of 8 people in a salon. Unless their rooms are extremely private, chances are you are going to have trouble hearing, and it can be harder to enjoy yourself. If you do want to bring a large group, give the salon a heads up before you come so they can make sure they have the correct amount of seating for you.
7) Stick to your guns
Whether your group is big or small, make sure your voice is heard. When you walk out of the dressing room, try to form your own opinion in the mirror before consulting your group. Your opinion is the one that matters most. Always. Sure, you want mom to love it just as much as you do. I know I did when I was planning my wedding. But I have learned something over the years. Grandma will get over it if she liked the more traditional dress. Your mom will move on if you choose the dress that’s more body hugging. If you make a decision based off of someone else’s opinion, you will always wish you didn’t. The second you make the decision everyone will be nothing but happy for you.
Above all else, enjoy yourself. Most shopping experiences won’t be as fun as trying on several gorgeous dresses with your favorite people in tow. Your wedding dress should represent the “bridal version” of yourself. The you that appears when you close your eyes and picture yourself walking down the aisle. Call me cheesy, but what is more exciting than that?!
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.