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50 Things to Know About Finding Your Dream Wedding Dress

Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were five and know the exact specifications you want for it down to the last sequin, or you’ve never thought about your dress until the groom’s mother nagged, “You still haven’t gotten your gown?” — we’ve got you covered.

Finding your dream gown can be stressful. After all, you’ve likely never even tried one on before, and it’s the most expensive garment many women will ever own, so it can feel like the pressure is definitely on. Plus, your dress sets the tone for the wedding as a whole, whether it’s a grand ballroom affair or a casual beach bash. It may also feel like there’s a whole new language to decode — tulle, A-line, fit and flare, organza, sheath. Plus, more brides than ever are doing multiple dresses, a more formal one for the ceremony and a party-centric (danceable or more blingy and outrageous) one for the reception, which can doubling the task of shopping.

With all eyes on you, not to mention photos you’ll keep forever, of course you want to look perfect on your big day. But what does perfect mean to you? For some brides, a dream dress is a regal ballgown fit for a princess. For others, a dream look is a sexy, va-va-voom mermaid gown that makes everyone appreciate her curves; to other brides, the best dress is one that allows her enough movement to be able to re-enact the choreography from “Thriller” on the dance floor.

The choices can seem overwhelming for sure. No matter your budget, your personal style, or your timeline, here are our top tips for finding the dress of your dreams — the one you’ll love today, on the big day, and in 30 years from now when you look back at your wedding photos.

      1. Do Research to Find What You Like

Rip pages out of magazines, click through bridal boutiques online, explore on Pinterest, and check out what celebrity brides are wearing to compile a visual file of your favorite dresses. Then look for a connecting theme — are they all very embellished? Lacy? Voluminous? Have open backs? Find a couple commonalities of styles you like and bring your ideas to your first appointment.

 

2. Be Open

Bridal consultants will tell you that they constantly see women come in with a set idea of what they want for a gown, then try it on and don’t actually love it — and instead, fall for something completely different that they’d never considered. Keep an open mind to finding a dream dress that you didn’t know would be your dream dress.

3. Brace Yourself for Bridal Sizing

Bridal sizing means your gown’s number will often be one to two sizes higher than for your regular clothes. Even if going bigger sounds horrifying, remember that no one will know the number but you and your consultant.

4. Shop Early

Many gowns take four to eight months to be produced, and once it arrives, you still have to factor in more time for alterations and accessorizing.

5. Figure out Your Budget

Yes, it’s uncomfortable to talk numbers, but it will save you from heartache later on. Before your first appointment, figure out who is paying for the gown (your family, the groom, you?). If someone else is paying, get the hard numbers on your limit, so you can choose to stay within that budget or pay the difference yourself to get the dress you want.

6. Plan Non-Obvious Costs Into the Budget

Say you plan to cap your dress spending at $2,000 — you actually shouldn’t buy a $2,000 gown. That’s because you need to factor in for tailoring, accessories (your veil, jewelry, and shoes) and cleaning and preserving the gown after the wedding if you want it to be a keepsake.

7. Find a Great Bridal Salon

Do your homework before you start making appointments, since you don’t want to waste time at a shop that doesn’t carry dresses you like or has terrible customer service. Get referrals from married friends and check online reviews to find shops with solid reputations.

8. Make an Appointment

In most bridal stores, the dresses aren’t displayed in a way where you can just leaf through them and browse on your own, the way you can in other retail stores. You’ll need an appointment so a consultant can help you select dresses and try them on.

9. Start Inexpensive and Work Your Way Up

Make your first appointment with the least-expensive bridal shop and keep scaling up if you don’t find anything. Same goes for trying on dresses during your appointments — try on the most affordable one first, and work your way up to the bank-breaker; you may fall in love before then!

10. Shop on a Weekday

Bridal salons are packed on the weekends, meaning you may get less personal attention or that the dress you love is being tried on by someone else. It’s worth using some personal time from work to have your appointment on a weekday.

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