One of the most special parts of being a bride is getting to try on different dresses and pick out one for your big day. It can be really stressful and overwhelming and I learned a ton throughout the process. I wanted to share with you all my tips for making the shopping process easy & efficient; that way you can enjoy the experience without any added stress. Now, before you get too excited I will clarify that I will not be sharing my dress with you all just yet! However, I will be sharing different styles and selections I made throughout the process.
- Be open minded— This is so important. You’re likely only doing this once, so you want to make sure you keep your mind open to everything possible so you don’t have any regrets later on. There are so many different styles and if you narrow it down to only a few, you are potentially missing out on some that could look amazing on your body type. The only way to know is if you try it on! I tried on all different neck lines from boat neck, plunging, strapless, and more. I also made sure to try on various styles like fit and flare, mermaid, trumpet and princess. I never expected to like a boat neck dress, but I ended up loving it. You never know what you might fall in love with. Some dresses may look “blah” on a hanger, but look flattering on. I almost said no to trying on one dress and it ended up being THE dress. Now is the time to take a chance!
- Make 2 Appointments max per day— It might not seem like a lot but trust me, two is plenty. Each appointment takes approximately 1.5-2 hours and you need to leave yourself plenty of time to get from store to store. With each appointment, you are trying up to 20 different dresses on. It’s not only emotionally taxing but also makes you physically tired. It’s an emotional experience; especially when you put on a veil. It starts to all sink in that this is really happening. I’m not really a sappy person but even I got a little teary eyed in that moment. Two appointments is enough where you feel like you’ve tried on plenty of good options but not too many to the point where you have forgotten most of them by the end of the day. You want to make sure you remember details on all of them and how you felt in each option. By the second day, I was already tired of trying things on and the thought of going to more retailers was daunting.
- Bring your own shoes— Wearing heels will help you get a better feel for what you will look and feel like on that day. Many salons have shoes there however, they may not have any in your size. It’s best to bring your own pair that you feel comfortable in.
- Keep in mind that you can make changes to most dresses— A beautiful lace dress with a nude lining that you would want with a white lining instead? They can make that happen. Too much cleavage in a dress? They can pin it or you can add an illusion to cover it. Love the button details on one dress but fall in love with another? Chances are they can add buttons to yours too. Too much tulle in the skirt? They can remove some! There’s so many ways to customize the dress and make it your own that you can’t let any of these things deter you from trying something on.
- Take pictures of EVERYTHING— when it comes down to making a decision looking back at pictures of all the options is essential. First it will give you a glimpse of how the dress will photograph on your wedding day. Second, it will remind you of the details of each and what you loved or didn’t love about each one.
- Don’t plan on bringing a huge posse— First of all, many salons request that you bring no more than 4 people including yourself. This is to avoid overcrowding and to make a more pleasant shopping experience for everyone. Secondly, having too many opinions can get really overwhelming. All you need is 3 important people in your life who you can trust to give you honest opinions, even if they are not what you want to hear. You don’t want to be that bride that people say, “Who let her wear that dress?” You just don’t. Bring people that know your style and personality better than anyone else. When you try on the dress that’s “the one”, they will know it’s the right one for you.
- If you’re sticking to a specific budget, let them know— For anyone who is really budget conscious about their dress it’s definitely important to let the saleswoman now. If you let them know a range that works for you, they will only show you dresses within your budget or below. No one wants to fall in love with something that they can’t afford! It’s heartbreaking to think you might have found the dress and then come to realize it’s $3000 over your budget.
- Be knowledgeable about different dress materials— Certain materials wrinkle easier than others. You don’t want to get your dress wrinkled from sitting down while transporting from place to place on the big day!
- If there is anything specific you absolutely know you DON’T want, make sure to do your research about brands and retailers— If you’re looking for simple or classic dresses, make sure to look for designers that offer those in their collections. While I was open to different styles and fits, the one thing I did not want was any beading or sequins. I decided to try one or two on like that and I ended up being right in that it just didn’t feel right for me. They are beautiful dresses and would look great on others but I did not feel like myself in them. One mistake was going to one retailer (Bridal Reflections) where 80% of the dresses had beading or what I refer to as “bling.” There weren’t many options for me and I felt like I wasted my time. Had I done more research or called them to ask questions about what styles they carried, I would have known I could have eliminated them from my search and used my time going somewhere else that would have been a better fit.
My Store Recommendations if you’re in the NYC area
Amsale— Great service, friendly sales people. They offered champagne and the salon was quiet and refined. If you’re looking for simple & classic dresses, this is the place to be.
Carolina Herrera–Another great option for classic & timeless dresses. I ended up with one of her dresses and couldn’t be happier!
Wedding Salon of Manhasset— Nice & friendly service and a salon that has tons of options. They had a wide range of simple & classic dresses, but also had great options for anyone looking for more intricate styles. They also have a separate Vera Wang salon.
Saks 5th Avenue– I didn’t end up going here but have heard nothing but positive things about the shopping experience here. There’s a lot of variety and they have similar brands and styles to the places listed above.
Kleinfeld— I would mainly recommend going here just for the “experience.” They have fun step and repeat with props for you to take pictures. If you are looking for a dress with beading or glitz & glamour, they have a ton of beautiful options. There were not that many classic options here so I didn’t have a successful trip. The service was great. I found the staff to be friendly and attentive. If you don’t like big crowds, I wouldn’t recommend coming here. It was a packed house to the point where it made me a little anxious.
Do not Recommend
Bridal Reflections— Overall, I felt like the service was the worst here and the saleswoman was unprofessional.
Recommended styles for Petite Girls like Myself (5’0 for reference)
Fit & Flare and Trumpet
A-Line or Princess type styles tended to drown me because I am so small.
If there’s anything you’re curious about that I haven’t touched on please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer any questions!