8 Shopping Tips: Your Dream Wedding Dress

“Congratulations!! What style wedding gown are you looking for?”

“Um… I don’t really know.” I said to the stylist, who was already listing a million different types of wedding dresses: Simple dresses, ivory dresses, lace dresses, tulle dresses, blush dresses, long dresses, short dress….

I quickly felt overwhelmed and totally lost standing in the middle of a bridal gown store.

Brides – let’s face it: whether or not you know what you are looking for, wedding dress shopping can be confusing, overwhelming, and even discouraging at times.

And sometimes it isn’t until you find “the one” when you feel as though all the chaos was worth it.

Have no fear. Here are some tips for wedding gown shopping:

1. Do Your Research
Before I went dress shopping, I wish I had researched:
-Dress stores in my area
-Store reviews
-Average cost of dresses and accessories (veil, sash, shoes, etc.)
Average time to alter a dress
-Asking brides for advice

The more you read dress shopping tips, the more prepared and confident you will be. It will make the whole process much easier.

2. Know Your Venue
While shopping for my wedding dress, I was still visiting a few different venues. At that time, I thought I was getting married in a rustic barn in Nashville, but I ended up walking down the aisle at Walt Disney World – two fun, but very different venues.

A certain venue may inspire your wedding dress style.  For example, a barn wedding may have you wanting a very different dress/accessories than at the beach.  Or a ballroom. Once you book a venue, you’ll be able to visualize where you’ll be walking down the aisle in your dream dress.

3. Narrow it down
Even though I had a “Dream Dress” Pinterest board, I still had NO clue what kind of dress I actually wanted to wear on our big day. Pinterest is a great starting point to get some inspiration pictures,  but if you’re like me, you probably pin every dress you think is super beautiful, and then you end up with a million photos of various styles.  It can turn into a mess, and a cluttered Pinterest board only makes it harder for a stylist to get a sense of not only the style of your dream dress, but also your budget, personality, and more.

Before your appointment, have 2-3 pictures of inspiration.

Catie and Wes - 0651.JPG

4. Go with an Open Mind
Anyone who saw my Pinterest board could easily tell I was SO against strapless wedding gowns.  When I realized that many wedding dresses are strapless, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of trying any on.

Ironically, I picked a strapless gown. Sometimes you’ll be surprised by how different styles, colors, and silhouettes will look, so it’s not a bad idea to give some a chance! What’s the harm in trying?

5. Beware of Snakes
Ugh.  It’s so unfortunate how many snake-like, horrible people there are in the wedding industry.  But there are.  And a lot of them. Especially when it comes to dress sales.

Stylists/salespeople KNOW that a wedding dress is an emotional (and expensive) purchase. If they seem pushy, obnoxious, or make you feel weird for any reason, leave and find a new place.  The last thing you want is to be pushed into buying a wedding dress that’s not for you.

6. Go with your gut
To be honest, I think people put way too much pressure on themselves to find “the one.” (I mean… a dress is still a dress…) BUT if you have to be reassured that the dress looks nice on you, then it’s a good sign you’ll later regret buying it. If you can’t see yourself walking down the aisle in it, move on. When you find a right dress for you, you’ll know—you won’t want to put on anything else.

7. Perhaps Less is More
I only brought my mom with me when I went shopping for my wedding dress. No maid of honor, bridesmaids, grandmother, etc. When I finally found my dress, I didn’t show anyone pictures of it.
There were several reasons for this:
1) because I wanted to keep it a total surprise
2) because I didn’t want others to judge or make comments on my dress before my big day and perhaps causing me to doubt.

To me, my dress was a personal decision, and it can be difficult to listen to go with your gut when you are swarmed with a million opinions.

8. Don’t Get Discouraged
You may find the PERFECT dress at the first store you walked into.  It may take 8 different places. It can be frustrating and both physically and emotionally exhausting when you can’t find exactly what you are looking for over and over again.  Take a deep breath. Give yourself plenty of time to dress shop because your dress is out there. Enjoy the journey.


In the end, it’s your big day and you should feel as comfortable, beautiful, and as over-the-top you would like! Dress shopping is not as glamorous as it appears in in bridal magazines, TV shows, Facebook posts – but it is a special time.  Even if you are annoyed with the process, don’t wish this time away.  Keep it all in perspective and know you’ll be a beautiful bride… ❤

Catie and Wes - 0041

photos: regina hyman photography

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