Wedding Dress Shopping 101

When I went wedding dress shopping 10 years ago (yes, it was that long ago), I dove right in and had no idea what I was doing. I went to 4 different salons in one weekend and the process was exhausting. There are a lot of choices when it comes to wedding gowns. In this list alone, there are over 200 different wedding gown designers. And those are the well-known ones. Your wedding dress is such a personal choice, so it makes sense that the decision has a lot of weight. But where do you even start? In today’s post, I answer your most pressing questions. I also share tips from my good friend Katie Wadhams, owner of Lovely Bride, a chic wedding dress boutique in Victor. This post will prepare you for the wedding dress shopping and buying process so you can actually enjoy it.

Overwhelmed by the wedding dress shopping process? Read on to learn how to simply the process so it's enjoyable for you. #nyweddings #weddingdressshopping #weddingtips | Verve Event Co.

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1) When should I go wedding dress shopping?

According to Katie, “Wedding gowns can take anywhere from 12 weeks to six months to come in!  So plan in advance.  By a year out, you should be looking at the options and by 9 months, you want to be ready to select “the one”.” As a planner, I recommend you wait to buy your dress until AFTER you have chosen a wedding planner and a venue. Your planner will help you put together your overall vision for the day. Your venue will dictate the style and formality of your wedding.  When I went dress shopping 10 years ago, I was down to 2 dresses. They were vastly different but I loved them both. But when I tried to picture myself in the environment the dress would be in, I knew which dress was the right one for me. 

2) Which Wedding Dress Designer is Right for Me?

Once you start the wedding planning process, it helps to check out designers online. You can go to their websites or Instagram feeds, but you can also check out wedding blogs. If you see a real wedding or wedding editorial you like, learn which dress designer made the wedding gown. This will help you get to know the designers and styles you like. Once you think you have an idea of your style (but it’s okay if you don’t), research bridal salons in your area.

If you’re going wedding dress shopping in Rochester or the Finger Lakes, my favorite place is Lovely Bride in Victor. But I’ve also heard good things about Silks Boutique in Brighton. You can keep it local or travel to a more metropolitan area like Toronto or New York City if none of the salons carry designers you like. Plan a day with one or two of your closest confidantes and book some appointments. Only bring people who will be honest with you. You know the ones. These are your people, the kind that will tell you if a dress makes your butt look big or your hips too wide. No entourages, please. It makes the decision-making process much harder and more stressful for you. You don’t want a committee deciding which dress is best for you.

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3) Prepping for Your Appointment

To make your appointment go smoothly, Lovely Bride owner Katie Wadhams says, “Do your homework before your appointments. Know which designers a boutique carries, their price points, and bring photos of gowns you love to help guide the conversation with your stylist.” This will help the stylist understand better what you’re looking for. It’s also helpful to have an idea of what you *think* you DO NOT want. 

RELATED: Need more ideas? Follow me on Pinterest!

4) Tips for When You’re at the Appointment

  • Go with the flow and be open to new things. According to Wadhams, “It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of wedding dress shopping, but don’t stress yourself out by thinking you need to have the “Say Yes to the Dress” moment.  The most important thing is that you find something you love. [If you] can picture yourself in [the dress] on your wedding day . . . and you don’t want to take it off…you are in a  good place!” 
  • Keep an open mind. Wadhams also cautions: “Keep an open mind!! Try on at least one dress of each standard silhouette – it might surprise you what looks good on your body.” To this point, when I went dress shopping, I was certain I didn’t want lace. The only thing I knew about lace was that it was heavy and it felt tacky and 80’s to me. But there are so many kinds of lace. And I fell in love with a dress that had the most delicate English accordion lace. Who knew?!

5) Final Thoughts on Finding “The One”

A modern bride goes with her style and chooses a dress that makes her feel her very best, despite tradition or taboos. According to Wadhams, “There are no rules anymore! If you want to wear blue, go for it! If you want sleeves in July, that’s totally your choice! Be true to whatever makes you feel like a bride.” 

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The wedding dress shopping process can be overwhelming with so many choices. Advance planning and research will make the process more enjoyable. At the end of the day, go with what makes you feel gorgeous, radiant, and beautiful, whatever that means for you. And if you’re in Western or Central New York, definitely visit Lovely Bride in Rochester. Katie makes it a point to carry dresses that fit a variety of fashion-forward styles for the discerning bride. Her stylists will help you find a modern dress that makes you feel confident and your very best on your wedding day, whatever that looks like for you.

If you found these tips helpful, sign up for my Alexa Flash Briefing: Ask the Planner – Answers to wedding questions you never knew to ask.

If you scrolled to the bottom . . .

The wedding dress shopping process can be overwhelming with so many choices. Some dresses take 12 weeks to 9 months to make, so be ready to choose your dress around 9 months out. Research local bridal boutiques. Save time and know which designers they carry and their price points. Have an idea of dress styles you like, but be open-minded and try on a dress in every silhouette. Only bring your closest 1 or 2 confidantes dress-shopping. You want brutal honesty when it comes to finding a dress that highlights your best features. Choose the dress that makes you feel radiant and whatever being a “bride” means for you. If you don’t want to take the dress off, you’re in the right place.

Need more help? Sign up to receive DAILY WEDDING PLANNING TIPS via my Alexa Flash Briefing! And if you don’t have an Alexa device, you can still listen in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts. Get access HERE.

Happy planning!

PS: Don’t forget to save this post so you can come back to it later!

Overwhelmed by the wedding dress shopping process? Read on to learn how to simply the process so it's enjoyable for you. #nyweddings #weddingdressshopping #weddingtips | Verve Event Co.

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