With all the information out there and the saturation of websites claiming to have your perfect dress for less, finding your wedding dress can feel like an overwhelming and frustrating task. But, it doesn’t have to be if you just keep in mind a few tips and suggestions.
The first step is deciding on your wedding style and budget. Ask yourself, “What is my style?” and then decide on a budget. Also, allow yourself at least 3-4 months (preferably 6) to order a gown and have it properly altered for your day! It is really important to take some time and figure out what kind of “look” or style elements are important to you before you begin trying on gowns. Don’t limit yourself to a silhouette you think is fabulous, because what looks great on a size 4 model may not always be the most flattering to your figure. Even if you are a size 4, understand that there are many shapes and heights and yours may not be the same as the girl in the photo. I can’t count the times I have seen a bride come in with a photo of the dress she thinks is perfect, stating she hates anything else, and then ends up leaving with the complete opposite after trying on several gowns.
Once you feel you are ready to begin trying on gowns, make an appointment at a local bridal boutique in your area. If you have a particular designer in mind, you can usually find a local authorized retailer on their website. Keep in mind that you do not have to pay thousands of dollars to have a high-quality Designer bridal gown made especially for you! There are designers at all different price-points, so don’t feel pressured into buying online or at corporate, discount chain-boutiques. I’ll touch more on the risks you face by buying online or “off-the-rack” later.
Visiting a local, specialized bridal salon can offer many more advantages than the few dollars you may save by purchasing online. An authorized retail location will allow you to make an appointment and have a bridal consultant work with you for hours in trying on gowns and finding the perfect fit and silhouette (within your price range) for your big day. They know all the different options available for each designer, how long it will take to have your gown complete and will measure you properly for the gown you decide on. They will help completely style you with veil, shoes, jewelry and hairpieces and anything else you can think of! Also, they will be there for the 2-3 months while the designer is making your dress to stay on top of the delivery and ensure there are no delays or problems. A salon will usually provide alterations (whether included or at an additional cost) which are done by seamstresses who are well-versed in bridal wear so you can rest easy that your gown will be in the best hands. Another plus is that a salon will usually store the gown for you until your big day (which comes in really handy if you have a few months before the big day). This way you don’t have to worry about any unplanned stains or pressing and steaming your gown.
When you purchase online, even from a brick-and-mortar store which had sales via their website, you are agreeing to being completely responsible for all aspects of the above. You have to trust that you like the gown, without trying it on or feeling the quality. You must measure yourself correctly. You will have nobody to contact if the gown does not arrive on-time, comes in the wrong color or size, because no designer will discuss problems directly with a bride. Also, you will find that you are getting a discount online because the site-owners do not have to pay a human-being to sit there and help you through the process and they surely won’t be there to help you once you have a problem! You must find your own seamstress for alterations, and alterations costs will usually be much higher than if you were to purchase the gown from the store which is doing your alterations. All of these added stress elements are completely unnecessary for your big day. You will have much more planning to deal with, so why add another element of surprise? Also, do not assume that if you try a gown on in a store and then purchase it online that you will receive the same product. Stores sometimes have exclusive options or ways of ordering customizations that are not available everywhere. This is not the time or the place to cut corners…I promise!
Preview my Spring 2010 Collection (coming to stores January 2011)!
Stay tuned to Bridesmaid Dress shopping on my next blog!