Wednesday, December 15, 2010
You've just gotten engaged, you picked a date and a venue, and now it's time to gather up your friends and family to start looking at dresses. I've worked as a bridal consultant, and I have several tidbits of information to share with you, hopefully to make it easier.
Start shopping early! Wedding gowns take anywhere from 4-6 months to come in, so it's recommended to order 8 months ahead of your wedding day. You will want time for alterations and if you're planning on having bridal portraits made you'll need time for that too. If you wait too late you may have to pay a rush fee to get your gown in time, and why throw away $100 if you don't have to? If you are already past the 4 month mark, start searching for sample sales.
Make appointments and keep them. Most salons are by appointment only, so that they can give you the correct amount of attention. If you have made an appointment and cannot make it, either cancel or reschedule. It's rude to take a time slot and not show up, particularly on busy days such as Saturday.
Look online or through magazines to get a handle on what type of dress you like. Are you mad for ball gowns or do you see yourself in a slinky sheath? Please, please, please keep in mind to only use this as a tool for ideas for a dress, don't attempt to find THE dress through Maggie Sottero's website. You may never find that dress at any store and you will drive yourself crazy. I don't ever suggest ordering a gown that you have not had on your body. The models for those gowns are 5'10 and weigh 100 pounds so unless you're built identically, the dresses will look completely different on you. Once you have a few ideas swirling in your head, either print them out or tear them out to bring with you as you shop. Pictures are worth a thousand words and will help your sales associate get inside your head.
Have a budget before going in. You don't want to leave your budget open ended, only to fall in love with a gown twice the price of what you can spend. There are lovely dresses found at every price point, so stay true to what fits your price point.
I think it's best to go with only a few people. I have seen way too many brides in tears over all the opinions spewed at them. This is your wedding dress, people tend to like what they would personally wear. Your mom's advice that a certain detail is making your booty look big is good to know. If she tells you she hates corset backs, and you love them, ignore her.
Wear your hair close to how you think you will wear it on the day. This doesn't mean you need to have it done at a salon, but, if you want a low chignon wear your hair in a pony tail. This way your consultant can put a veil on you where you'll be wearing one, and you can get a better idea of the whole picture.
You should bring undergarments, even though most stores have corset bras to try on with, do you really want to wear a bra put on by hundreds of people before you? Yuck. If you are at all conscious of your weight it's also not a bad idea to bring Spanx. I could practically be a spokes model for this company, so if you don't own a pair, go buy some!
Be open minded. A huge majority of the gowns I've sold have been to brides who at first turned their noses up at the gown. The dresses look so different on, and a good consultant knows how the dresses fit and how it should look on you. Trust the person you are working with and if it were me, I'd ask them to pull a few "wild cards" to try on.
Don't try on too many. The girls who try on 200 dresses are miserable, everything runs together and it's nearly impossible to choose one. There is no end to pretty things in the bridal world, so don't do yourself a disservice and put on every dress at every store in a 100 mile radius. Very few people have a crying "Say Yes to the Dress" moment. For many brides it's a logical choice that requires some thought. Try to leave every store with three favorites, at most, sleep on it, and go back. Many brides come back to try on by themselves, it's just easier to make a decision that way.
Keep your wedding in mind. If you're getting married on the beach, it's not quite appropriate to order a satin ball gown. It's best to be practical and not lose sight of the big picture. While you won't be as comfortable as when you're wearing your favorite sweat pants, you do want to be somewhat at ease.
If you get extremely torn and can't choose, try to picture your wedding day. There is a difference between a beautiful dress and your wedding dress. If one makes you feel a little more "bridal," then it's probably your dress. When that doesn't work, imagine if one of the two or three dresses were discontinued. Would you be more upset about one gown than another? And lastly, not that his opinion matters too much, (obviously he will think you are stunning regardless of what you wear) is there one dress that your fiance would like more than the others?
Once you have settled on a style, be careful who you buy from. Do. Not. Buy. Online. I don't mean you shouldn't buy a handmade dress off of Etsy, but if you found a Pronovias dress for 1/3 retail price, it's probably not the real thing. I've had girls come crying in the shop because they bought a dress online only to discover it's a cheap knock off. I've seen dresses with no boning, no crinoline, and no support. If something is too good to be true, it probably is.
If you found a store that you liked more than all of the others, see if they can order your favorite gown. Good customer service goes a long way, so be aware of the store's reputation.
If your dress has a scalloped lace hem or beaded detail, ask about the length before you order. Most designers will let you change the length when you order for a small fee.
If you are between sizes, order up. It's much easier to take in a dress than to let it out. Don't let the number bother you. Every one has to go up one to two sizes in bridal. Would you rather a small number or a dress that zips?
Be positive that this is your dress. Most stores have a zero return policy, and no one wants to be a two-dress-bride. The gowns aren't sitting in a warehouse, they are custom made, so you can't change your mind unless you decide to sell the dress online.
Good luck, and I hope you find the perfect dress for you! If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org