Shopping for your wedding dress is a dream come true for most brides to be. The dress is often your first experience working with a wedding vendor and also the beginning of your wedding planning journey. This experience can be filled with mixed emotions ranging from excitement to high levels of stress. I’m sharing five mistakes I made while purchasing my wedding dress to help you to have a better wedding dress shopping experience.
1. Take Your Time
The first mistake I made when purchasing my dress was not spending enough time trying on dresses and evaluating my purchase. My bridal appointment was scheduled for two hours. That seems like a lot of time and that’s how I felt going into the appointment. But when it came down to it, it’s just wasn’t enough time.
There are a few time elements to keep in mind when you are shopping for your perfect wedding dress.
- Often brides invite their mothers and bridesmaids, which is wonderful and this makes the day even more special (I highly encourage this). Keeping in mind you will potentially have a lot of “opinions” packed into a small dressing room, this can add time to your appointment that you may have not considered.
- After you have tried on your favorite dresses and narrowed it down to your top two or three, take a minute. I rushed this final step because we were running low on time. If you find yourself low on time or rushed, simply ask your bridal consultant if you can extend your appointment time or look at options for a second appointment.
- It is completely ok to set up a second appointment, I would encourage brides to take a step back and sleep on it. After all, it’s a huge purchase, and taking a little extra time to make a decision or to try on additional dresses is completely normal and ok. Anytime you are working with a salesperson who works on commission, it’s important to know that they want to close the sale, and sometimes they do not have your best interest front and center.
My second mistake was not fully understanding the wedding dress timeline. Talk with your bridal consultant, before you start trying on dresses, about your bridal portrait and wedding dates. If your dress needs alterations it will also be important to factor that time into your timeline.
Tip: If you are planning to lose any weight between now and when you walk down the aisle, let your bridal consultant know. This will change the timeline if the hemline is on the list for alterations. As you lose weight the dress will start to lengthen at the hemline. I experienced this as I really started to lose weight near the weeks leading up to my wedding.
Have a full understanding of what the bridal salon considers a “normal” timeline. I purchased my dress eight months out from my wedding date and this was considered a “rush.” This resulted in additional fees that were not made clear to me during my appointment.
3. Read the Fine Print
The day you choose your wedding dress is filled with excitement and there can be a lot of emotions and distractions. When you order your dress and the bridal consultant hands you the final paperwork, READ EVERYTHING. Take the paperwork, sit down, and read through the document carefully. This is your time to ask questions and reconfirm your timeline for bridal portraits and the wedding.
Lesson Learned: I was shocked to find out that my timeline did not match the bridal salon’s order time. After re-reading my order, there was a $150 “rush” fee included in the order, even though I was ordering the dress 8 months out from our wedding date. The fine print may include fees and I would recommend asking the question, “What additional fees are there that I will need to budget when purchasing my dress?”
4. Include a Third Party
After you have purchased your dress and you are showing up to your first fitting, make sure you have someone in your bridal party or your mother with you who can view the dress through a second lens. Even though you have a mirror, it’s difficult to view the entire dress from all sides. Having a friend or family member there who can give you “honest” feedback is always a benefit.
5. Say Something
If at any time you don’t feel comfortable, maybe the alterations are not going as planned, I encourage you to reach out to the store manager or owner to provide feedback. People might not agree with this approach, but I like to provide constructive feedback to businesses so that they can improve their experiences for the next customer. I caution you though, sometimes your feedback will be met with criticism or simply ignored, but if you pass along the information it is up to the store owner to decide what to do with the information.
Don’t get me wrong although I learned a lot about shopping for a wedding dress, it wasn’t all bad. We had a great day celebrating my engagement and trying on wedding dresses. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever be to actually living out my dream of becoming a Disney princess.