Many people have read at least a few articles about finding the perfect dress, yet they still find themselves lost when it comes to finding the dress of their dreams. Here is some advice from a former stylist about what to expect when you head out to a bridal salon.
First, you need to make an appointment. While some of the larger salons may allow walk-ins, most bridal salons will require you to have an appointment so they can have a stylist and fitting room available for you. If you live quite a distance from the nearest bridal salon, it becomes even more important to make an appointment. You don’t want to waste a trip into town and not achieve your goal! Here is some advice for making the most out of your shopping trip.
- You should schedule a time when the people who matter most can be there with you for the process.
- Wedding dress shopping can be an intense and emotional experience. You don’t want to schedule your appointment around any other big events, such as doctor’s appointments, funerals, or competitions. (I’ve had brides come in after all three!) Dress shopping before or after such events drains your emotional energy and may cause you to question your decision.
- Make your appointment for a time when you will be rested, energized, and excited by the process.
- If you make multiple salon appointments on the same day but find your dress at the first salon, call the others to cancel your appointment and free up time slots for other brides.
When you arrive at a salon for your appointment, you will be set up with a bridal stylist. They will help you choose gowns, pull them from the racks, and try them on. Be prepared! The stylist will often come into the dressing room with you to help you get the dresses on (especially those mermaid gowns!). Here are a few things to remember so you don’t feel embarrassed at your appointment.
- Take a shower. You don’t need to do it right before your appointment but try to do so within 24 hours prior to the appointment.
- Wear underwear. It’s embarrassing for both you and your stylist if you don’t.
- If you feel uncomfortable with the stylist coming into the room with you, tell them. They will accommodate you.
Trying on dresses is the fun part of the experience. Look at pictures before you go to help get an idea of what styles you like. What dresses are appropriate to the time, season, and atmosphere of your wedding? Most bridal salons only allow you to try on three or four dresses during an appointment, so make your selections wisely. Here are our tips for the process.
- Show the pictures you like to your stylist and ask for suggestions. They know the dresses well and will help you find what you want.
- Bridal dress sizes are designed to be smaller, so don’t freak out when the stylist tells you what sizes they are pulling. They may not have dresses in your size and will likely be clipping you in so you can see how it will look after tailoring.
- Try on your favorite dress first. You’ll be more open to the other dresses if you find that your favorite on the rack isn’t your favorite on you.
- Ask what colors the dress comes in. Many dresses that are champagne or blush at the salon are also available in white or ivory; don’t rule it out until you ask!
- Dresses may also be available in extra length or petite sizes. We know everyone is not the same size!
- Communicate with your stylist about what kind of accessories you want. This is what your stylist does for a living, and they are good at it! They know which veils, belts, and hair accessories will help achieve the look you are going for.
The last part of wedding dress shopping is often the scariest part—purchasing the dress. For brides on a budget, this is an important thing to consider before you go shopping. Dresses can take several months to come in; this is especially true when you have made unique selections such as a special color, petite size, or extra length. Stores will not order the dress for you until after you have paid for it in full. If you find a dress you love and wait to pay for it, you run the risk of it not arriving in time. Here are our recommendations for buying your dress.
- Don’t go shopping until you are ready to purchase. Many women say they just want to see what they look good in and end up finding their dream dress. Scrambling to figure out how to pay after you’ve fallen in love with a gown adds a lot of stress.
- See what sort of payment options the bridal salon offers. Bridal salons want to help you purchase a dress, and they offer many options to help make your dream come true, including partnerships with different lenders, such as Affirm. You can even pre-qualify for some of these payment options online before you go to the store. Knowing what resources are available to you will help relieve the stress involved in this process.
- Make sure you have plenty of time to order your dress. Unlike most purchases where stock is sitting in a warehouse waiting to be shipped to you, wedding dresses are usually made after the purchase. You can’t go in the month before your wedding and expect the order to arrive in two weeks. Larger salons like David’s Bridal may have options for purchasing dresses in stock at the store, but most salons don’t sell their display or sample dresses. Plan to order your dress six to eight months before your wedding.
We hope this practical guide for wedding dress shopping prepares you to head into the sea of white gowns and tulle. Schedule your appointment, have a plan, and trust your stylist. Soon, you’ll be saying “Yes!” to the dress.