Top Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Shopping for your wedding dress can be overwhelming and daunting, there are so many styles, colours, cuts, prices to choose from, and given it’s probably going to be one of the biggest days of your life, you want it to be perfect. But it can be a great and fun experience if you follow these tips below.

1. Go dress shopping alone the first time

I know this sounds weird, even crazy, but I swear, it’s great! My bridesmaids are at home in Ireland, so I was bringing two good friends from Toronto dress shopping with me. However, I decided to go by myself he very first time. Sometimes this was met by a “aw that’s so sad” response, however, it was anything but sad. I loved it! It was really relaxing and calm and just an overall great experience. It also meant I was able to form my own opinions on what I liked/didn’t like without taking anyone elses opinions or comments on board. I would actually highly recommend going alone the first time to any bride that is comfortable doing so.

2. Be Open-Minded

You can really limit your options if you start out with one particular type or style of dress in mind. I understand that many people have a dress in mind, or a style that they love, you really don’t know what it’s going to look like on you until you try it, so you might as well try a variety. So many times we hear of brides buying a style of dress that they never pictured themselves in. I myself would not have picked out the dress I ended up buying, because I didn’t think it was what I wanted, but Priscilla, the consultant, picked it for me and asked me to try it so I did. And low and behold, it turned out to be THE dress! Have fun with it and try on numerous different styles and colours to see what really suits you!

3. Be prepared

Check with the bridal store ahead of time to see what their rules are. Bridal stores can be very strict about their in-house rules such as no photos allowed until you purchase the dress, no shoes inside the store, no makeup or tan when trying on dresses, so you need to know about these things ahead of time. While you may want to try on the dresses with your tan and makeup done so you can really see the whole effect, most bridal stores just won’t allow it. I also found it really handy to wear control underwear while I was dress shopping. This immediately eliminated any lines from my underwear when trying on dresses and also elimated the lumps and bumps from my stomach! You don’t need to have your actual underwear that you will wear for the wedding, but some sort of control underwear really helps!

4. Know your Budget

Ok, this one is hard and I did not stick to my budget so, as the old saying goes “do as I say, not as I do”. When you walk into a bridal store and are about to try on wedding dresses for the first time, the sheer sight of that many wedding dresses can make you go a bit loopy! It’s easy to fall in love with a beautiful dress and then find out it’s $1000 over your budget. Tell your consultant your budget immediately and then usually, they will only show you dresses in that range. Occasionally they might bring one that’s slightly over budget, and will allow you to say yes or no to that. But if you’re not firm on your budget, then it’s a recipe for disaster!!

5. Plan Ahead

The consultant in the very first store that I went to gave me a great piece of advice, never try on more than 7 dresses in one visit. It makes sense if you think about, if you try on too many dresses, they all start to blur together and you can’t really remember the small details of them all, and it just makes your decision making much harder. If you don’t draw a line, then you could be trying to decide on your dress forever. I stuck with that piece of advice and never tried on more than 7 dresses in one store. To make that easier, I went onto their website ahead of time and picked 3-5 dresses that I loved. I would show them to the consultant immediately and say I wanted to try those, then I would look around the store and pick some more, and then usually the consultant will pick a couple for you too. I thought it was a really great way of doing it and made it easier for me.

6. Trust your Consultant

The consultants in bridal stores are usually excellent at their jobs. They have an excellent talent for listening to what you want, but also looking at your body type and skin tone and making fantastic suggestions. As noted above, that’s how I found my dress (thanks again Priscilla!), so if your consultant brings over a dress that you wouldn’t have even looked at, at least try it. Worse case scenario, you hate it and i goes straight into the “no pile”, but your consultant knows what they are doing, so listen to them and their suggestions!

7. Give yourself plenty of time

Most of the stores I went to said that I should be ordering my dress 8 months before the wedding. This is allowing 6 months for the dress to come in and then 2 months for alterations. Keep the timelines in mind because you don’t want to feel rushed through this process. I actaully ended up buying my dress straight off the hanger in a sample sale, so in the end, the tmelines didn’t matter, but it’s better to go into it giving yourself plenty of time.

8. Limit the number of stores you visit

I did a lot of research online, visiting so many different websites of different bridal stores, but I ultimately decided on 3 stores that I really liked. I like them because they had drseses in my budget, and dresses that I liked. At the very beginning, I booked appointments with those 3 stores, giving myself a week or two in between appointments (a lot of people advise doing all your wedding dress appointments in one weekend, but I didn’t want to do that and preferred to spread them out), and I was determined to find my dream dress in one of the 3 stores. I actually ended up buying in the second store, I went back there after the third. I found it so helpful to have that limit, because otherwise, you could end up going to hundreds of stores and never picking a dress. You have to trust yourself and if you’ve found the dress you love, and it’s THE dress, don’t listen to that sneaky voice that says “but are you sure, there’s so many more dresses out there”. Obviously, if you set a limit of 3 stores, and don’t find anything, then add on one more store, but try to set a limit initially and I promise it will help!

9. Factor in all the costs

Don’t forget that, unless you are very lucky, you won’t buy a dress that fits you 100%, more than likely you will need alterations done. Don’t forget to ask your consultant if they do in-house alterations, how far in advance should the alterations be done (standard is 2 months before the wedding) and how much they will cost. The alterations can often be quite expensive so factor this cost into your dress. If you’re in North America then don’t do what I did and forget to add the tax AND the tip to the cost of your dress!!!

10. Enjoy it

Most importantly, enjoy the whole experience. It’s a really fun time, so try not to get stressed out and just relax and enjoy it all! For any of you about to embark on dress shopping in Toronto, I highly recommend Avenue 22. I had a wonderful experience there and they have a fabulous selection of dresses to suit every budget!