All eyes are on you on the day of your wedding… no pressure right? So when it comes to picking the wedding dress it is important to take time to ensure you find the dress that will make you feel like you belong on the red carpet’s Best Dressed List and not under the headline of What the Heck Was She Thinking?
My pops and I walking down the aisle before we both started bawling like babies!
As some of you may have read in my most recent post, I almost fell into the latter and bought a dress that was beautiful, but all wrong for my body shape (pause for dramatic effect). But Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, I was lucky enough to correct my first fashion faux pas and find a replacement dress that made me feel like a million dolla dolla bills on my big day. Here are few things that I learned need to be considered before shopping for the MOST IMPORTANT DRESS OF YOUR LIFE… again no pressure.
The hardest part about picking out the wedding dress are the time restraints that require a bride to order their dresses early, before many other details of the wedding have been determined.
So basically, before you have time to plan anything, you need to get your dressed purchased so you can actually get it in and altered before you big day… oh what was that? You don’t even have an idea of what type of wedding, theme, look or feel you plan on having? Not the dress shops problem, you have to get the dress now, or strut your birthday suit down the aisle (talk about taking the “casual wedding” theme to the extreme). If there isn’t a lot of time to plan the wedding this could be a huge headache for a bride.
In addition, some brides may have already created a clear mental picture of the perfect wedding dress in their head since they were five. To this particular bride; before your precious dreaming-heart breaks because your five-year-old imagined dress lets you down, I want to predispose you to a little reality check. At age five some of you didn’t envision yourself struttin’ your Apple Bottom Jeans or packing in the “lovely lady lumps” that you developed after puberty. Also, although I can’t believe it either, Madonna’s Like a Virgin Lace fingerless gloves are no longer “radical dude”…and for that matter saying “radical dude” is no longer radical…dude.
In other words- you may have a clear idea of what you want to look like on your wedding day, and some of you fashionistas may already make your “child bearing hips” not lie like Shakira, but be sure to still do your research before walking in cold turkey because the last thing you want to do is feel frustrated and lost when shopping for your gown.
The important thing is to chillax and remember your dress is out there and you will find it.
After all, your man was out there and you found him, which can be challenging enough!
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
You need to give yourself time to generate a plan of attack to finding your perfect dress. It is always good to peruse the web and pull a few photos of dresses that you envision yourself in before actually stepping foot in the dress shop. Keep an open mind and find dresses in different shapes and styles to see if something may surprise you.
Before you begin your quest to find the Holy Grail, know your budget, any important details (i.e. grandma thinks bare arms are the devil or the venue doesn’t have a fire permit, so no lights or hidden firework shooters in the bustle) and have a general idea of how traditional you want your dress to be.
Most boutiques also require that you schedule an appointment to try on dresses so it is important to determine who you want in your shopping posse to be present and what their schedules are like when booking your appointments.
Bustin’ Out The Benjamins
Know your budget before your start looking at dresses!
Do not under any circumstances put on a dress that doesn’t fall within your budget.
If you do this you will begin to rationalize ridiculous cost saving measures in your head in order to purchase your dress. Trust me, it is not okay to serve pizza rolls instead of chicken and no you’re Aunt Millie shouldn’t be allowed to perform at the reception over paying for a DJ. Your guests can’t bump and grind to the Love Boat… although I would love to see someone try.
The rule of thumb says (sidebar: who in the world invents these stupid sayings? Is anyone else imaging a dictator face drawn on a thumb, shaking it’s turned down eyebrows at you telling you the rules you are to obey. And then weirdly enough we listen to him saying, “Oh yes I must follow the “rules of thumb” for he is wise and knows all”.)
12-15% of the wedding budget should be set aside for the wedding gown, accessories, alterations and undergarments.
When meeting with the bridal consultant for the first time you should make it clear what your price range includes. If you are only have $1000 to spend on the entire ensemble then your consultant needs to know that you are including the slip, veil and alterations so that they don’t begin pulling $1,000 dresses.
A great way to save money on a gown is to check out sample sales and trunk show promotions and discounts as well. Adding beading, trims, broaches, or special family heirlooms can take an off-the-rack sample gown and make it unique.
It is up to you on who you should invite with you to go dress shopping. Keep in mind differing personalities and make an executive decision on whose advice you think will really help you come to the right conclusion when the going gets tough. Never go by yourself because you do want to be sure to have another opinion aside from the consultants. Bring someone who will enjoy sharing this experience with you and will also be honest yet respectful.
Sometimes the opinions of large entourages will only distract from the opinion that matters, the brides.
Although, bridal entourages do make for good Reality TV. My favorite episodes of Say Yes to the Dress usually involve a dress posse member who is pouting because the bride didn’t like the dress they picked out—ridiculous people are awesome, but not when it involves you.
Let Me Pencil You In
You have packed your binder full of your essential shopping blueprints and gathered the crew. Your budget has been set and you have developed an overall idea of what you would like to look like on your wedding day. Time to get that appointment scheduled!
Another rule from the wise man they call “thumb” is your dress should be ordered six months before your wedding.
Ideally you should begin shopping for your dress about nine months or more before your wedding.
If you are not working with that kind of time (basically you are one of those crazy brides who can plan your wedding under six months… I bow at your feet) you may run into extra rush charges so it would be good to extra money budgeted to be safe. In my case there wasn’t even enough time for rush shipping so I actually had to take a dress off the store floor. I was able to negotiate a cheaper price and had the dress professionally cleaned and tailored before receiving it.
Are We There Yet?
There are many things you need to expect from the bridal shop before going to your appointment. Most bridal boutiques require appointments so they can ensure that you will get the personal attention of the bridal consultant. Some bridal consultants do work on commission so be very honest with them if you are not planning on buying that day and hopefully they will be honest with you and not push the more expensive gown over the most flattering.
Don’t try to squeeze your appointment in over your lunch hour. This isn’t a dentist appointment after all (although Julie Roberts did teach us you should never neglect our gums). It does take time to put the dresses on and take it off along with looking through the racks. Plan on being at the appointment for at least two hours.
Once you arrive for your appointment you will be taken to a dressing room and your Dress Posse will be giving a line of chairs for their viewing pleasure.
The first step is to talk about your wedding plans with the consultant so that they can help choose dresses based of off your tastes. Bringing pictures from books and magazines will definitely help along with providing a clear outline of a budget. If you know the information at the time of your appointment it would be helpful to share the location, theme and your vision for the wedding.
If you have the shoes you plan on wearing the day of the wedding then I would also bring them with you. Usually this won’t be a problem until you begin the dress fitting process, but for those who on wavering between a standard sized dress and a tall, the heel of your shoe may determine what gown you need to order.
The number one thing that took me off guard and pushed me into my first dress was the discounts that were offered by the boutiques on my first appointment. Basically I was told that if I put the deposit down on my dress within 24 hours of my first appointment I would save 20% off the cost of the dress and 50% off the cost of in-house alterations.
Your brain goes into “LaLa Land” when you are searching for your dress and you begin to rationalize ridiculous things like- if I can save 20% then I can go up to more expensive dresses and still meet within my budget, etc…
In addition to that promotion I found out that if I also purchased my bridesmaid dresses from there then I would get 20% off each bridesmaids dress and then I would get 30% off my dress. If I took it a step further I would get 20% off of my tuxes as well! Of course all of this had to be committed within 24 hours of my appointment, giving me no time to stew over my decision.
I was not able to pay for all of bridesmaid dresses but I knew I wanted to pay a part of them. The idea that I could help save them 20% more was very enticing. This put my shopping brain in overdrive and ended up having me commit to the dress.
Be prepared for incentives and do not let them influence you decision.
You will regret purchasing a dress if it isn’t the right one. I am a great example of this because six months after purchasing my first dress I threw budget out the window and ended up spending more to get the right dress to help correct my original mistake.
Whispering Words Of Wisdom
Do not take shopping for you wedding dress lightly, but do not take it so seriously that you can’t enjoy the experience. After all the plan is to only have one wedding in your life (unless it’s a publicity stunt like Kim Kardashian.. in which case, I’m totally honored that you are reading this blog post you crazy Kardashian.. I’m a huge fan of all that is bootilicious and off it’s rocker).
One thing I took away from the wedding experience is that not only is the big day memorable, but the preparations and moments that lead up to that day only happen once as well. You don’t want to look back on shopping for your dress and remember tears of frustration.
Have fun and relish the moment.