Wedding Dress Shopping - 19 Tips For 2019!

Did you know that the majority of wedding engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day? That means brides everywhere will be shopping for their wedding dress in the next few weeks, especially those getting married in 2019!

We know that one of the first things brides LOVE to do is start shopping! It’s part of being a bride, after all! But before you put on that first gown, here are a few tips that we guarantee will help you in your search for THE dress!

19 Tips for 2019 - here we go!

#1 Your shopping experience will and should be unique to you. While you may have gone on gown searches with family or fiends for their dresses, don’t assume that you will have the exact same experience. Let the moments happen as they will and you will be creating your own memories.

#2 Before you even schedule your first bridal appointment, do your homework. Every bridal boutique or large wedding store has a website, most listing the collections and designers they carry. Check out the dresses they carry. Do they have the look that you’re going for? Does their website image reflect your style? What is the price range of their gowns? You’ll save yourself hours of time by researching online.

#3 When it comes to bridal stores, bigger is not always better. It’s easy to assume if the store is bigger, that they will have more options. Not always true. As a smaller boutique ourselves, we offer an enormous variety and selection of styles, but we don't need to carry thousands of dresses to do this. Because smaller boutiques choose and shop designers with an eye to edit, we always want to make sure our brides have the best selection of the best styles.

#4 We know it goes against the current trend, but PLEASE shop only with those most close to you. It truly does not make your dress selection easier when you ask 12 people their opinion. Seriously, you can’t even get them to agree on a restaurant for lunch and you want their opinion on the most important dress of your life? This is not an election. Majority does not rule. Trust yourself. Bring 2-3 of those most close to you and you will have an experience beyond anything you can imagine.

#5 What’s your budget? Yes, eventually, we have to talk about dollars. According to Wedding Wire, the average cost of a wedding in 2018 is about $30,000. Of course, that number can vary wildly depending on what part of the country you’re in. Let’s say that you spend 5% of that on our gown. That’s $1500. You may spend more or less. One thing that all weddings will have in common is that your wedding gown will be in ALL the pictures. Choose a gown that you love, that you feel beautiful in. You’ll be looking at those pictures forever. While you may think you struck a deal buying a cheaper dress, even though it’s not exactly what you wanted, spending a bit more for the perfect style and quality that makes you feel gorgeous it worth the price in the long run. Either way, please have realistic expectations of what you are willing to spend to get the dress that you love.

#6 Allow yourself enough time to get the dress you love. Unless you are purchasing a gown from a boutique’s stock, the usual delivery date for wedding dresses is up to 6 months! Then you need to factor in time for alterations (2-3 months), so shopping for your gown 9-12 months before your wedding date is not unrealistic. Give yourself enough time to avoid feeling stressed and rushed.

#7 Be sure to schedule an appointment at the shop of your choice. Weekend spots are the most coveted, but they are also the most busy. If possible, try to shop during the week, when the shop is less busy and you will have more time with your stylist and a more relaxed appointment.

#8 Shop with an open mind. We love when our brides come in with their Pinterest board and images of favorite gowns. It gives us a starting point and after all, you deserve to try on the gowns that you’ve been dreaming about. Be open to trying on styles that you may never imagined yourself in. A dress on the hanger becomes magic when you slip it on. Be prepared to be surprised.

#9 Be prepared to find your dress (even at your very first appointment) It happens every day and brides are shocked when the find THE dress. But wait, they say, shouldn’t I keep looking? Just in case something else is out there? Did you feel the need to keep dating once you accepted your fiancé’s proposal? Of course not. If you love it and you don’t want to take it off, it’s the gown.

#10 Bring a list of questions and concerns. As bridal professionals and stylists, we understand that you are entering a world of the unknown. Ask anything and everything that you need to. No question is silly. We’ve heard everything you can imagine and some you may not! Delivery dates, sizing, fabric, alteration questions, silhouette questions, what if lose/gain weight, etc, etc. Don’t lose sleep at night later because you didn’t want to speak up at your shopping trip.

#11 Eat before your appointment (aka: don’t shop hungry). I don’t know about you, but I get cranky when hungry. It’s hard to think about dresses when you’re thinking about where to go for lunch.

#12 Wear proper undergarments. Preferably nude colored so that your fuchsia/black/red panties don't show through the material. And even more importantly, WEAR panties! Dress shopping day is not the day to go commando!

#13 Bring shoes in the estimated heel height you think you’ll wear on your wedding day. Most shops have a pair to two of loaners just in case, but they may not be your size and you’ll be more comfortable in your own shoes either way.

#14 Forget about what size you wear. You may have heard this phenomenon before, but bridal gown sizes are nothing like ready to wear sizing. So while you might wear a size 10 in jeans or dresses, your wedding dress size will likely be a size or two above that. Don’t ask why, we can't explain it either!

Another thing to keep in mind, bridal shops normally carry just one of each style in one size. So it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to fit the stock dress perfectly. If it’s too big on you, we can clamp it in and pin it up. If the stock gown is too small, we can add a panel in back and expand the dress a bit. Either way, we always make sure that you get the best idea of how the dress will look on you once it’s ordered in your size.

#15 While trying on gowns, don’t forget that almost EVERY gown will need alterations to fit perfectly on your wedding day. This will add extra cost to your gown budget, so you’ll need to factor that in the price. If your shop offers in-house alterations, they should be able to give you an estimate of pricing.

#16 Shop during the week, if possible. Weekends are prime days at bridal salons everywhere. First there are less appointment times available. The appointment times may be shorter and the salons are usually much more hectic with multiple brides and their parties in the stores. By shopping during a weekday or week-evening, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience with a stylist who has more time to focus just on you.

#17 You’ll be staring at yourself in the mirror a lot during the dress shopping. While you don’t have to have a complete hair updo, it helps to have your hair styled a bit. But we do recommend wearing light to no makeup. We absolutely do not want makeup to get on the dresses! Be respectful of the stores and their merchandise.

#18 Get your wedding dress purchase and agreement in writing with all details spelled out. What size, color, delivery date, what is included and what is not included. It’s an important purchase and all reputable salons will make sure that all the details are in writing.

#19 When you find your dress - celebrate! Time to go out to a wonderful lunch or dinner and enjoy the rest of your day. You found the most important gown you’ll ever wear! Enjoy the moment!

Epiphany Bridal Boutique in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. We are “California’s Destination Bridal Boutique”.

Happy Wedding Dress shopping! If you have any questions about gowns, alterations, accessories, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

For more information about gown shopping, our gowns or our boutique, please don’t hesitate to call us at 831-626-7700 or drop us a note here.

Our sitting area at Epiphany Bridal Boutique in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Our sitting area at Epiphany Bridal Boutique in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

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