Dress shopping has definitely been one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. I seriously thought going into the dress shopping phase, that it was going to be the stressful part but it actually ended up being very easy, maybe too easy! I am so excited to share my story about my experience and what you all can grasp from it to make it such a special memory.
Since we are having a long engagement I knew I didn’t want to rush into finding my dress and most recommended timelines will tell you to start shopping around the 8-10 month mark from the wedding. So for me that meant that I would’ve had to pick my dress by Feb. of 2018. The inner planner in me made a timeline to start “looking” in August of 2017 so that I could make my decision no later than January 2018. I am the most indecisive person ever, and sometimes for my own good, I really take into account everyone’s opinion into my decision making. So I *thought* this was going to be a hard process for me. Fast forward to July 2017, I figured I would start researching bridal boutiques. My biggest fear was walking into a store where the most affordable dress was triple my budget. So I emailed the stores with several questions such as:
- By when should I order my dress. Each boutique is different which is why this question is super important. You want to make sure you are still in an okay time frame for your wedding.
- How long do dresses take to come in. On average I think my response was about 4-6 months but I did get some responses of 6-8 months.
- Ask what are their upcoming trunk shows. If there is a designer you are already in love with, this will be a great question to ask, most trunk shows will fly in all the gowns from that designers latest collection + sometimes offer a discount if you order that weekend.
- Ask about their payments. Most boutiques will require a percentage of the total in order to place your order. Majority of the boutiques I emailed were in the 25%-50% range. I think there was about 1 that required 75% and another that required full payment.
- How many guests can you take to the appointment. SUPER IMPORTANT!! I will get into the details of this question down below.
- Is an appointment required, if so how far in advance can you book.
- Ask about their dress price range and the average dress cost. I think it is important to distinguish the questions because even though they may have 2 dresses that are less than $500 or 2 dress that are in the $12,000 range, that is still a wide range and won’t provide you real clarity. So finding out that mid range will help you identify if this is a potential place for you to find your dress.
- What designers do they carry. This information may be on their website but if it is not then something you want to ask so that you can do some initial research prior to your appt.
- Can you order from a past collection. If you do a quick search on pinterest for wedding dresses you may go crazy haha, but really. I found this one dress by Hayley Paige that I could not get out of my mind and I knew it was from her older collection but I still wanted to see if I had the option to order it or if it was not an option.
- Lastly, ask about alterations. More than likely any dress you order will require alterations. So ask if they provide them in house or if they have places they recommend.
Alright, so back to my story and question 5. I knew that this was going to be an important decision for me to make, and I really wanted to have that experience with all the women closest to me, aka my bridesmaids, my mother, and future mother in law. So when I started researching boutiques I was in shock at how many people could actually attend the appointment because of space limitations. I think on average the most I could take was about 4-5 people. Which sounds like more than enough but see this was my plan. Since I knew I for sure wasn’t going to say yes to the dress the first day of shopping, I figured I would have a couple of “fun appointments” to take my bridal party, try on dresses I knew were not my style but just get it out of my system so that then later I wouldn’t say “ugh I wish I would have tried on a ball gown or something.” Then the plan was to have more serious appointments with just my mother and MOH. This way I didn’t have too many opinions influencing my decision. But still enough support to make that decision.
I scheduled 4 different appointments, 2 in the city I live and then 2 in the city where majority of my bridesmaids live. I thought this plan was great, no one felt excluded and it just worked out. It was finally dress shopping day and I had 2 back to back appointments. The first one was so fun to just try on dresses but I came out of the appointment not “loving” anything. I was happy with that because my plan was still in motion. Then my second appointment was scheduled about an hour later, and well I walked in with the same expectations as the first place, and WOW, I was literally in love with every single dress I tried on. It is crazy that I even felt that but not sure how else to describe. Basically I found the dream dress. The best part I had another dress I loved in photos, tried it on and I STILL chose my dress over what I thought was going to be the perfect dress. It was so surreal because all I could think about was “oh no what about my other appointments”, but my bm’s actually facetimed my other bm’s so they were all essentially there as I said yes to the dress! The best part was having my mom there, we happy cried together, laughed, hugged and seriously had that moment that you see in movies/tv shows and totally a memory I will cherish forever. (btw my eyes are getting watery just writing this, so ya’ll can imagine the waterworks of that day). All in all, my plan did not follow through but I totally would have not changed anything from my experience!
Any past brides, I would love to hear about your wedding dress shopping experience and what advice would you give the newly engaged bride?
Til next time!