Wedding dress shopping is a little different from what you see on Say Yes to the Dress. Most women aren’t going to Kleinfeld Bridal, spending $3K+ on their dress, or shopping with an entourage. I had a goal to spend about $500 on my dress, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Here are a few of the things I learned from my four dress hunting adventures.
Shop a trunk sale after you’ve tried on dresses at least once.
The first time I went looking for a gown, I stopped at a Brides Against Breast Cancer fundraiser to see if I could find a pre-owned dress or sample dress at a good price. It was incredibly overwhelming because I had absolutely no idea what style I wanted or what size I should try, and all the dresses were disorganized across the racks. Ultimately, I didn’t try on a single dress and I left frustrated. I probably would have been even more frustrated if I had tried on a dress because at the time I had no idea dress sizes were so different from real-world women’s clothing. If you’re trying to find something off the rack, look for a dress a size or two larger than what you’d normally wear.
Make an appointment.
The second time I went wedding dress shopping I went solo to David’s Bridal browse and get an idea of what I wanted. Even though they had plenty of extra associates on the floor, they made it very clear that a scheduled appointment was preferred over a walk-in. Very clear. In fact, they mentioned it at least three times. So now I know.
Limit your entourage.
The third time I went shopping I took my friend, Ashley. I was very grateful to have her there to take pictures and to get her honest opinion, and at the same time I was extremely happy I didn’t take too many people, because I don’t think I could have handled THAT much honesty.
Budget for alterations.
My favorite dress shopping experience was at a bridal boutique in Fort Collins, Encore. I got quality one-on-one attention and some great advice. I tried on a dress I loved that was over my $500 goal at $675, so when they told me alternations would be an additional $300-400, I about choked. That made my slightly-over-budget dress turn into a WAY over budget dress, plus it needed a belt and possibly a headpiece or veil. Needless to say, I did not say yes to that dress
Look for a cheaper option.
The dress I liked was a sweetheart taffeta a-line piece, so I googled the bejesus out of it until I found a Mori Lee dress that looked identical. It’s hard to find tag prices online, but if you look around enough you can get an idea for how much a dress will be. I looked on the Mori Lee site to see who carries the dress I wanted locally, asked over the phone what the tag price was, and made an appointment. I tried on the doppleganger dress, which was $150 less, and lo and behold the dress was the spitting image of the over budget dress. Not only that, but the look-a-like dress comes with a belt/sash, so that saves me a bit, and OHMYGOD it has pockets.
Seek advice, not opinions.
There is a big difference between advice and opinion, but many of those doling out the advice don’t know where the line is. It’s fun to talk about your wedding, but take it all with a grain of salt. Pick and choose from the bits of wisdom and discard the parts that don’t work for you. This post included!