You have the ring, you have the venue and a date, now you need the dress.
Just so we are clear – you can wear whatever dress your little heart desires and there are no rules or regulations on what you can or should wear. However – there are a few things you might want to consider:
What am I willing to spend?
Whether you are funding the gown yourself, or someone has so graciously offered to assist, you need to have a budget. Sure – you can fluctuate and it is not set in stone, but you want to try on dresses that are realistic for purchase. This is why the associate at the bridal suite you are shopping at will ask what your budget is. She isn’t nosy – she wants to pull dresses in your price range so that you don’t accidentally fall in love with a dress too expensive to buy. Sometimes more expensive dresses are only more expensive because of the name, however, for the most part, they are tailored to fit a woman’s body and the materials are more glamorous. SO – don’t try them on if you don’t want to fall in love, because you probably will. Also remember that you will need to alter the dress in some way – so be sure to set aside a portion of your budget for that.
Does it fit and make sense for my venue?
If you are having a beach wedding, a ball gown is absurd. If you are having a swanky wedding at the Four Seasons, your boho dress might get you mistaken for a wedding guest and not the bride. It doesn’t need to “match” but it should make sense. Lots of wiggle room here, but I would take into consideration where you are wearing the gown and how it fits into your overall theme.
Does it fit my body?
Nothing is worse than seeing a dress online, falling in love, and trying it on in store only to look like an old bag lady. If the dress doesn’t work for your body, don’t force it. If it doesn’t fit, you will be lost in the dress and your dress will be remembered for being confusing opposed to your whole look being remembered for being so wonderful!
Can I move?
Make sure your dress is comfortable because you won’t be taking it off until the end of the night. You want to look like you are comfortable in your pictures as well. If you can’t breathe, that not only is super terrible for you – but your photos will show it, and your attitude might as well. You may think you can “stick it out” and maybe you can, but you won’t want to. Plus your feet will probably be killing you – so better just leave it to them to make your uncomfortable, you don’t need your dress joining in on the fun too. Oh – and make sure you can walk in it . You have a whole aisle to walk down – better be sure you can make it.
Is it Bridal?
I received some good advice from a coworker when I was in the debate between 2 gowns. She advised me to choose the gown that looks most like a wedding gown. She mentioned how I have my whole life to play around with dresses and styles and I should choose the dress that makes me stand out as the bride. I thought that was so true. You wear a wedding dress one time, and if you go too classic, you flirt with the risk of looking like a wedding guest in a white dress instead of a bride. I still LOVE that second dress though. I wonder if other brides have “the dress that got away”. Ha – I would choose my same dress again given the chance, but with so many options, you are bound to fall in love with a few.
How will it translate in photos?
I think brides should opt for at least one element in their dress that really captures attention in your photos. Whether that means a really full skirt or perhaps a extra long train or veil – something that will really capture an eye. If it’s not your dress, maybe it’s your standout shoes or jewelry – perhaps even a bolero! Ah – boleros, I will have to write about my love for them soon. What a cool way to transform a dress and give the illusion that you are wearing 2 different dresses in one night!
And when trying on dresses think about….
Who should I bring?
I DO NOT understand the whole “Say Yes To the Dress” idea of having your whole bridal party, all your siblings, your mother and grandmother all at the appointment. I think that is way too many cooks in the kitchen and I don’t get it. I brought my sister along, and that was it. You definitely need someone there, not only for support in choosing and discussing, but quite literally to help you assist putting the gown on. But choose wisely and be selective. It is sort of an intimate experience and unless you are just stoked to show everyone, I would suggest bringing just a couple of your closest and bests.
How many should I try on to know?
There is no magic number – but the more you try on the harder the decision will be. This is kind of confusing because you also need to try on enough to know what style you like, while giving plenty of different styles a chance. I would say, once you decide on a few silhouettes or shapes you like – stick with that and eliminate other styles so you don’t make the decision exponentially harder than it already is. I’m guessing you will probably choose one of the first dresses you try on anyway – so the others are just to solidify your choice.
When should I try dresses on?
In the morning! You want to get there while the employees are still fresh and excited and not ready to go home. You also want to snag all the best dresses before they are in other soon to be brides dressing rooms.
Don’t forget about the top/front of the dress –
With so many beautiful skirts, trains and low dipping backs on wedding dresses these days it is easy to fall for one component of the dress while forgetting the whole picture. While I loved the back of my dress, and it was probably my favorite part, I also was in love with how the front fit, as well as the skirt and the dress as a whole. Remember that many of your pictures will be from the waist up, and from the front so the photographer can capture your beautiful face! So remember to love all aspects of your dress and don’t sacrifice a less than ok “top” of the dress just so you can have another element of the dress that you love because all your pictures will showcase the front.
Take lots of iPhone pics!
Well, if they allow it. Ask first, but if they are ok with taking pictures be sure to capture from the front, sides, and back. You will study these pictures at home later on the couch while making your decision, so you want to be sure to have a well documented library of all the dresses you tried to compare. Just be sure your soon-to-be doesn’t go thru your pictures and blow the surprise!