Getting engaged is one of the most exciting times of your life. But between taking engagement photos, making seating charts, and booking your vendors, wedding planning can be draining. But don’t forget about the parts that make it fun—like picking out your dream wedding dress.
While the process of playing dress up in gorgeous gowns is a lot of fun, it can also be very tiring. That’s why going into your first bridal appointment prepared is a must. It helps make shopping feel less overwhelming, so you can say yes to the dress without the stress. So, before you even step foot into a wedding dress boutique or make an appointment, there are a few things you should know!
Consider Your Timeline
Most boutiques do not have dresses you can take home with you the day of your appointment. They work specifically with their designers to get you a completely new gown made to order. This process typically takes anywhere from six to eight months–and that doesn’t even include the fittings that you will have to do once the dress comes in.
Wedding dress sizes are very different from street sizes, so the chances of needing alterations are high. To give your seamstress enough time, you’ll want to give them at least a month or two. Altogether, you’re looking at about nine to 12 months.
That timeline should be one of the first things you consider. If you are getting married in less than a year, don’t stress. Some designers have rush options, or you can buy options off the rack. To ensure that you can get a dress in time, call the boutiques ahead of time and see if they can work with your wedding timeline before even making an appointment.
Make A Holistic Budget
Wedding dresses vary drastically in price. You can spend as little as a couple hundred or spend thousands. Before making an appointment, set a firm budget for yourself. If someone else is paying for the dress for you, be sure to have this conversation with them beforehand, so you’re on the same page. There’s nothing more disappointing than falling in love with a dress that is far out of your price range–and trust us, it happens more than you’d think. Having a set number ensures that your consultant won’t pull anything over budget.
Many boutiques have a large selection of gowns in a range of budgets. If there’s a boutique that you’ve got your eye on and you’re unsure of what their prices are like, don’t be afraid to call and ask. It’s easier to know beforehand than it is to get there only to learn that they’re too expensive.
When creating your budget, you also want to include alterations, accessories–such as veils, hair accessories–and jewelry, and shoes. Keep in mind that alterations can range anywhere from $100-$1,000, depending on the amount of work you need done. Having your budget cover your entire bridal look will ensure that you won’t be surprised by any additional costs down the line.
Research Boutiques And Designers
There are countless boutiques and designers all over the world. Researching helps you narrow down what designers you like, which boutiques carry those designers, and which boutiques fit your budget. More often than not, a boutique’s website will not showcase every single dress they have in store, but they will list out their designers. To get an idea of what a specific designer’s dresses look like, you’ll have to go onto the designer’s site.
Put Together Mood Board
Putting together a mood board is one of the most exciting parts of wedding dress shopping. Make a Pinterest board with all of the gowns you’re drawn to. The more you add to the board, the more likely you will start to see a pattern in silhouettes and fabrics you like.
Decide Who To Bring Along
We can’t stress this enough–who you bring to your bridal appointment can make or break your experience. While it may be tempting to bring an entire entourage, too many opinions can make the process extremely difficult. Especially if the opinions differ from your own. Bring the people whose opinions you value most. This could be your parents, grandparents, best friend, or bridal party. The ideal number of people is two to four at most–think quality, not quantity.
What you wear under the wedding gowns is entirely up to you and what you’re comfortable with. More often than not, you won’t be wearing a bra under your wedding dress, as cups will be built in. Your bridal consultant is there to make you feel as comfortable as possible, so don’t be afraid to go braless when trying dresses on. However, they know that not everyone is comfortable with that, and that’s totally fine.
If you prefer to wear undergarments, opt for a strapless bra and nude underwear that won’t show through sheer fabrics. If you plan on wearing shapewear on your wedding day, bring it along to your appointment so you can see how it fits under gowns.
Avoid Heavy Makeup And Fake Tans
We know that you want to look and feel glamorous when trying wedding dresses on, but heavy makeup and fake tans are easily transferable. While samples can get a little beat up over time, you want to keep them in the best shape possible. A little makeup goes a long way. If you feel more confident tan, do your tanning a few days before your appointment so it has time to settle.
If you have an idea of what you want your wedding day hair to look like, do your hair in a way that resembles that style. It doesn’t have to be perfect. For example, if you know you want an updo, throw your hair in a ponytail or low bun. This gives you a more realistic view of how you’ll look on wedding day and lets you accessorize during your appointment.
Eat Well Before Your Bridal Appointment
There’s nothing worse than shopping on an empty stomach. Dress shopping can easily take a full day, so it’s important to fuel up before you go. If you’re feeling hangry, you’re not going to be able to fully enjoy the experience. If you know that you have a full day ahead of you, schedule a lunch break and bring snacks along.
Keep An Open Mind For Your Bridal Appointment
Lastly, go into your appointments with an open mind. While your mood board is there to help you try on dresses you’re drawn to, it’s worth trying dresses that you may not typically go for. Sometimes you end up with something you least expected. The only way you’re going to know whether or not you like a certain shape or style is to try it on.
We know that dress shopping can be difficult when you’re struggling with confidence. That’s why we believe self-love is so important during your bridal appointment. To boost your mood and prep for your appointments, check out the guide to body positivity during wedding dress shopping!