Congratulations on your engagement! Now, what to wear? With so many styles to choose from, selecting the perfect wedding gown can be tasking. Here are some tips to give you the best experience possible and to help save you time and money.
- Set a budget. This is the number one priority before looking for a dress. Dresses can range from $100 to $5,000 and higher. Knowing what you can truly afford and sticking to it will make it easier on you. Let the bridal consultants at the shops you visit know your budget so they don't try to go overboard.
- Allow plenty of time. Start looking for a dress about eight months prior to the wedding for a special order designer dress. After settling on a dress, plan for 4-6 months for the dress to arrive and to get alterations.
- Get inspired. Try to get a general idea of the style you want. Look online, in magazines and talk to your friends. Wedding-specific web sites, such as The Knot, have entire sections dedicated to buying a dress. They also have message boards with pictures of real-life brides that you can talk to and learn about their experiences from.
- Where to buy. Educate yourself before making this decision. Find a reputable dealer and use common sense. You can purchase dresses on the internet, through full-service salons, consignment shops, bridal warehouses and more. You will likely find better service from small shops over bridal warehouses.
- Try on several styles. Bring pictures with you and try on several different styles. You may find that the spaghetti-strap style you thought you wanted just doesn't work for you and the strapless style you never thought you could wear makes you look amazing! If a salesperson brings you a style you haven't tried, it doesn't hurt to at least see how it falls on you. You may be surprised!
- Bring a trusted friend. Whether it's your best friend or your mother, take a friend for honest opinions and help. Sales people typically work on commission and want to sell, so you need someone you can trust. Bring a camera along so you can get pictures to review before making a final decision.
- Accessorize. Don't forget to consider these must-have essentials:
- Veil. Consider your dress, wedding hair style and face shape.
- Shoes. Find comfortable shoes with a heel length that you can wear all day. Break them in before the wedding by wearing the around the house a few times. Bring them with you for fittings so your dress falls at the right length.
- Jewelry. Keep it simple, elegant and not overpowering. Keep the focus on that incredible dress!
- Undergarments. You can purchase these at the bridal shop or at a department store. Make sure they are comfortable and wear them to your fittings.
- Final steps. Get full-disclosure on the price, including costs for alterations. You will have to sign a contract/invoice with agreed upon terms that should include delivery date and that the dress will arrive undamaged. Pay by credit card for your deposit. This protects you if the gown arrives damaged or not by the agreed upon delivery date. Keep your invoice and all receipts in the instance you run into problems.
Most importantly, have fun with this once in a lifetime experience!