Even if you think you're going to be one of those laid back, simple brides, saying "yes" is a BIG deal when finding your dress...and uh...fiancé. It's best to be prepared if you want to eliminate, or at least reduce, stress and anxiety about finding your perfect dress. Here are my tips for doing just that.
Budget Reality Check
Listen, these things don't tend to be cheap and chances are you'll never wear a dress for only 8 hours again. Decide how much of your overall budget you want to dedicate to the dress and stick to it. This will help you eliminate any disappointments when you try on dresses that may be well over your budget. Don't forget to factor alterations into your dress budget! These can vary depending on how much work will need to be done so if you plan on customizing your dress, know that alterations will ultimately be more than simple hemming and cinching. If you have no budget, awesome! For those of you who do, don't worry, you can find amazing dresses for a reasonable price but be sure to know WHO is paying for the dress, whether it be you, mom and dad, an aunt or your fiancé.
Have a silhouette in mind, but be open!
I know you probably have your heart set on a certain style, for me it was long sleeves because Pinterest had me convinced that was the look for me. It's good to have a starting point when looking for dresses, but go with an open mind! Bring pictures of things you like and have in mind specific reasons why you like them. For example, neckline, lace, silhouette etc. This will help your dress expert with pulling things she'll know you'll love. With that said, go with an open mind. What you THINK will look great on you, may not be the case. What you THINK might not look great on you, may surprise you. In the end, trust your gut instinct and know that it's OK if you walk away with fresh ideas on what you think "the dress" could be for you!
Try, Try again.
Try on as many dresses as you can at as many different shops as you can. This can be difficult because if you have a typical 9-5 job, a lot of shops are by appointment only and close around the same time you're getting off work. The day I found my dress, I had no intention of finding it. My roommate found a bridal shop in NYC that didn't require an appointment and we thought it might be a good place to start our search. Little did we know, we'd be face-timing moms for opinions because the 3rd dress I tried on made us go "ohhhhh". Now, I love my dress, but it didn't have long sleeves and I really struggled with the fact that I didn't try more options on, spend more time looking, or give other shops a shot. I had a lot of people tell me "when you know you know" and that we are always looking for something better around the corner, and maybe that's true. I also find that I can be very indecisive (wedding planning will really bring that out in you). In order to avoid any nagging doubt in the back of your mind, take your time and look!
Pictures, Pictures, Pictures
I can't stress this enough. Take pictures of every dress you try on. Even if you hate it. This way, you can have them to look back on between dress appointments and you can really reflect on what you like and don't like. You can use them to show other dress boutiques styles you've already tried and what you'd like to see more or less of. Aside from that, you have a lot to take in in the moment and may not remember all the little details once you leave the shop. Pictures help you see it from every angle and will help you decide. I suggest you let a friend or family member take the photos on their phone, that way you don't risk your fiancé accidentally seeing them! If you decide you still want them on your phone, be sure to download a photo vault app to keep them separate from your regular camera roll.
It's going to be a LONG day. Can you sit in it? Can you breathe in it? Can you dance in it? These are all questions you should be asking yourself with each dress that you try on. Is your wedding venue really hot or really cold? Will backless be a problem for your bust? You want to look perfect in it, and in order to look perfect you have to be able to wear it with confidence so be sure you're comfortable with everything about it!
Makeup, Hair & Heels
In an effort to get a better visual of what you might look like on your big day, be sure to do your hair and makeup the day of your dress appointments and BRING A PAIR OF HEELS! Preferably a height you feel comfortable wearing on your wedding day. These don't need to be your wedding heels obviously, since you likely won't these til after you find your dress, so at this point any old heels from the closet will do.
TIP: Wear cute lingerie when trying on dresses, it'll give you an extra boost of self confidence. No one feels good in their granny panties!