The cake is ordered, the venue is chosen, and the guests are invited: all that’s left is to pick out a dress! For most brides, that last part is much easier said than done.
But picking out a wedding dress doesn’t have to be rocket science. With a few tips, you can narrow down that selection from “everything at every store ever” to a few home runs that you can take to the bank.
1. Know Your Limits
Before you start grabbing dresses off the rack at will, take a few minutes to look at your budget and figure out what you can spend. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 5% of your budget on the dress, which means a $10,000 wedding should only have a $500 dress. While that’s a responsible number, every situation can vary dramatically. The key is to have a number before you walk into the shop.
2. Know Your Venue
Planning on having an outdoor wedding in the middle of a Louisianna summer? Might want to avoid any dresses with long trains and add-ons that can add weight to your dress. Or maybe you’re planning on having your ceremony in a formal banquet hall downtown? Lean more formal in these situations, and avoid anything that looks like it could double as a cocktail dress.
3. Know Your Terms
Unless you’re particularly fashion-forward, chances are you’ll hear a lot of terms when you go dress-shopping that you’ve never heard of before, such as “basque” or “Watteau.” Do some research beforehand to familiarize yourself with industry lingo; it’ll help you make a more informed decision.
4. Know Your Time-Table
Ideally, you should start shopping for your wedding dress as soon as your engaged, but at least no later than six months before the big day. Not only will you be able to possibly catch any sales in that time period, but alterations take time, so unless you want to pay an extra fee, you’ll need to allow a couple months for adjustments.
5. Know Your Strategy
Knowing what shops have the best deals and your favorite styles can make a huge difference in what dress you eventually choose. Call ahead or look online to some of your favorite shops and see what they have available, and remember to book an appointment with one of their specialists. Keep your list to only a couple of stores at first, and then move up from there if you still don’t find anything you like.
6. Know Your Options
Don’t allow yourself to have tunnel vision with your dress selection. Go in with samples of some of your favorite designs, but allow yourself to be open-minded to different options. Who knows, what you end up with may look totally different than what you started with, and you may love it even more!
7. Know Your Size
This is always a sensitive topic when it comes to brides-to-be, but make sure you choose the dress that fits you now, not what you hope to be on your wedding day. Wedding dresses naturally run smaller, so depending on what size you are, you may need to order up. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to take a gown in, as opposed to letting the dress out a few sizes.