One of the very most important steps in planning your wedding will be selecting the perfect gown.
This step usually is done early in the process, as most brides need a location and a dress to better visualize the whole event. For many women, this day of dress up is one of the most fun and memorable days of her engagement, especially in the company of her "entourage" who are there to celebrate with her! So much emotion often goes into buying a dress, but you need a bit of logic as well. Here are some tips to make you a savvy shopper for this very crucial purchase.
Before you even go to stores, look through bridal magazines, look online, or even make notes on the dress you just saw in a movie or on the red carpet. Visiting a store with an idea in mind will help the bridal consultants there to point you in the right direction.
Consider your personal style and the way you might describe it. Are you Hollywood glamorous, a trend-setter, Bohemian, understated, or classic? Realizing your own sense of style will help you to stay on track as you shop.
Ask around for recommendations on area salons. You want to spend your time and money at a business that will treat you like a princess during your engagement! Service is so important for a purchase like this--you'll be working with the store for roughly 6 months to a year, considering ordering time and alterations. Sometimes it is necessary, depending on where you live, to travel outside your city to find a great salon. Oftentimes, though, you won't have to look far, as great designers are not only in big cities. As you are looking through magazines, take note of the designers you come across and check their websites to find stores near you.
Set your gown budget if possible. This is often hard to do before you've set foot in a bridal salon, but at least consider a number that you know you cannot go over. Tell your bridal consultant that budget when you start to shop so she can better help you. No one needs to waste time when you generally have a 1-2 hour appointment. One rule of thumb is allotting no more than 10% of your total wedding budget to go toward the gown. Take it or leave it, just be realistic.
Brides.com has a great list of questions to ask your bridal salon when you decide on a gown.
- How long will it take for my wedding dress to be delivered?
- Can you ship to an out-of-town address if necessary?
- What is your return policy?
- Is there a repercussions clause if, for example, the dress is damaged when it reaches the salon?
- Are alterations included in the price of the wedding dress?
- Will the salon accept liability if its seamstress makes an error?
Remember that most special order gowns cannot be returned or exchanged, as they are made just for you! Designers don't keep gowns hanging in stock, so each order is unique. One more reason why you need to start the gown process early, as they generally take 4-6 months to arrive once the order is placed.
Deposits will be required to get your gown ordered. 50%-60% of the total is normal, so check your finances before you leave the house if you need to move money around, call your bank, etc.
Side-note: There are so many places to find great wedding gowns, and if you are budget conscious you may want to check them out. Designer resale stores, bridal sample sales, buy a white or ivory bridesmaid or formal dress, or redesign Grandma's or Mom's. I do not recommend buying online from an auction site, because I don't trust that you always get what you pay for and there is often no way of tracking down the seller or solving a problem once it's in your hands.
Finally, enjoy the moment! This tip is a little mushy, but really--when else will you get to do this? Try on the veil, be open-minded to others suggestions, invite your very best friend. Take a camera and once you purchase your gown, take a bunch of pictures in it! You'll love having those one day to look back on. Then celebrate--nothing is better than a pedicure and a glass of champagne to wind down after making that big decision. Cheers!
**This post is by Brittany at our Winter Park location. Find more posts like this at Tickled Pink Brides.