10 steps to wedding dress shopping success!

Monica Linda Photography of Dolly Couture wedding dress.

#1 – Know your likes and dislikes.

Listen, there are some brides that have been fantasizing about their wedding dress since they were ten, and there are many more brides who….well, haven’t. The good news is, either way, you are golden! Even if you haven’t been dreaming dresses your whole life, it’s still good to know your general likes and dislikes before heading into a wedding dress shopping trip. Look online for general wedding dress shapes and styles to give you a better idea of your style and what you gravitate towards.

Extra Tip!

Consider looking at your own closet. What styles do you wear most? Looking at what you already own and like to wear might give you the best insight into your favorite styles and ultimately what you might be looking for in a wedding dress.

Jenn Emerling Photography

#2-Don’t try on every dress in the store!

This is a common mistake many overzealous brides think they need to do. While trying on lots of dresses might seem like a good idea, in theory, it actually might end up confusing you more. Rely on the wedding dress store attendant to help you pick out between 5-9 dresses you want to try on. Heading into the double digits might lead to wedding brain overload!

colorful bride in crochet dress sitting in peacock chair
Julie Shuford Photography of Namaste and Crochet wedding dress

#3 – Wear proper undergarments.

For goodness sake, wear your best underwear! This is not the time for your old granny panties or “Aunt Flo” drawers to come out of hiding from the bowels of your dresser. Listen, we ALL have those pairs but this is just not the time to strut them! Wearing flattering undergarments that will make you feel your best is key. The last thing you want to do is go into a wedding dress shopping appointment feeling down about yourself. You won’t be alone in the fitting room either, as the store attendant will help you dress and undress, so make sure to cover your biznass!

Extra Tip:

If Spanx or different bra options are something you think you might want to try on with a wedding dress, throw them in your purse. No sense wearing them to the fitting until you know what kind of dresses you will be trying on.

nontraditional wedding dress
Aurelia D’Amore Photography

#4 – Cry if you want to (or not!)

For many brides, wedding dress shopping can be an emotional rollercoaster. Whether it’s a concern about body positivity, family drama, costs, or the worry you won’t ultimately find the “right” dress, feelings can bubble up. It’s natural and totally understandable! The opposite is also true. If you are not an emotional person, it’s ok! Don’t feel like waterworks are necessary if you find “the one”. How many times in your life do you get to try on so many pretty dresses? Just be yourself! Make it a fun, and pampering experience that leaves you in happy tears! (or not!)

Peterson Design & Photography of Rmine wedding jumpsuit

#5 – Know the rules!

Each boutique will have its own set of rules/requests/requirements. Feel free to ask what they may be before making an appointment. Most every boutique will ask for your contact information, date, and venue as standard practice. They need to know the time frame (wedding dresses can take up to 6 months to get) they are working with as well as the wedding location to best fit a dress to the venue’s atmosphere.

Some other rules/requests/requirements could be:

  • No perfume or scented deodorants as they can linger on dresses.
  • No heavy makeup or dark lipstick colors as they can stain dresses.
  • No taking photographs of the dress style/design number. This is due to the concern you might be looking to copy dress styles.
  • Limiting the number of guests in attendance. This is to help keep the appointment flowing and positive. See #8.
John & Colette Photography

#6- Don’t feel pressured!

This is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t feel pressured to buy for any of the following reasons:

  • it’s your first (or fiftieth) shopping trip.
  • if you don’t love it.
  • if you can’t afford.
  • because of time constraints.
  • because it’s the one your friends/family like the most.
Gloria Mesa Photography of Hayley Paige wedding dress.

#7- Understand the (final) cost.

Price is always a common concern when it comes to wedding dress shopping. Whether you have an open-ended budget or a very specific one, the price is still in play. Always feel free to ask for pricing. Be aware that most any wedding dress you purchase, if it’s not custom to you, will need alterations. Alterations incur additional costs, either at the wedding dress boutique or with an outside tailor. Costs of any alterations can range for a couple hundred to a couple of thousand dollars depending. Alternations can include adding a bustle. These additionals costs should be added to the sticker price and factored into your overall wedding dress budget.

Laura Ford Photography
Extra Tip!

Do yourself a favor and do NOT try on dresses that are over your budget, ever! It’s Murphy’s law that you will fall in love with a dress that is over budget.

#8- Don’t bring a huge posse.

What might be the best piece of advice in this whole blog post comes from Lisa Litt, second-generation owner of Lili Bridals in Tarzana! While TV shows like ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ have trained us to think it’s a good idea to have your mother, your best friend, your maid of honor, your sister, your fiance’s grandmother, your college roommate, your second cousin twice removed, your pre-school teacher and the barista at your local Starbucks ALL chiming in about your dress choice. Don’t do it! The truth is, it’s really not!! Keep your posse to a bare and petite minimum. Only include a couple of very close loved ones in your circle who will keep the experience positive and enjoyable. Leave the negative Nancys at home for this one. Any more than 3 people and you’re inviting in too much criticism, opinions, and downright drama to the mix!

african american bride in wheelchair
Julie Shuford Photography of Dolly Couture wedding dress.

#9 – It can be anything you want!

Traditionally, a wedding dress was simply the best outfit a bride owned, regardless of the style or color. Wearing a white dress did not become the norm till Queen Victoria’s choice to wear white at her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. We have now come full circle to accepting a variety of options for bridal apparel. Whether it’s a long, short, or not even a dress at all, your bridal fashion should reflect your personal style and preferences.

Mary Costa Photography of pink ombre & For Love wedding dress.
Extra Tip!

Jumpsuits and dresses in colors, differing lengths, and patterns have made a huge jump in popularity in the last five years. Brides are looking for dresses that are more WOW than white these days! Plus, don’t underestimate the power of pockets!

Gloria Mesa Photography of Hayley Paige wedding dress.

#10- Consider going custom!

A custom made dress is a game changer! Many brides assume a custom dress is out of their budget, but when you start factoring in the costs of additional alteration for a dress off the rack, the investment of a custom wedding dress might actually be a better value because it’s made for your body measurements and specifics. Rmine in Studio City is one of my favorite dress boutiques to take my brides for custom wedding gowns. With custom wedding gowns starting at $3500, creating a dress that is literally crafted just for you is not so out of reach!

Jenn Emerling Photography of custom celery green Rmine wedding dress.

Brides, we hope this blog post helps you find your perfect dress!

  1. It was interesting hen you talked about how white didn’t become the standard for wedding gowns until Queen Victoria started the trend. My sister asked for my help shopping for a designer gown for her outdoor wedding this August. She does like some pretty unconventional styles, so I
    ll have to see what she thinks of getting a different color gown for the wedding!

    • Holly Gray says:

      Yes! Isn’t that a fun fact? I am all about the color and think that everyone should wear whatever makes them feel their best!

  2. Yaniv Persy says:

    It’s really a helpful and informatic blog related to shopping wedding dress. I am glad i came across this blog.

  3. My older sister is getting married next year, and she’s very excited to try out dresses in a few weeks. That’s why I think she’d love to read your article about wedding dress shopping and how to succeed at finding a dress that reflects your personal style. I appreciate your advice on ignoring traditional rules when it comes to your wedding dress selection.

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