Photo: Kishana Highgate Photography
You already know not to shop for a wedding dress before you have a venue, to show up with gown ideas and inspiration, and to have a strapless bra (and maybe some Spanx) in your bag. But what about what to do once you're actually in the bridal salon? Our experts have a few pieces of dress-shopping etiquette that every bride should be sure to remember.
1. Make an appointment.
Most salons are small, have a limited number of dressing rooms, and are booked weeks (if not months!) in advance. Unlike your favorite local boutique, where you can pop in and browse the racks, bridal salons often require appointments to ensure that each bride has a dedicated consultant who can help pick out gowns, offer guidance, and get a bride in and out of the dresses (we're serious — these things are hard to put on by yourself!). Be respectful of the salon's policies and call to make an appointment (or book one online) before you show up with an entourage in tow.
2. Be sensitive of other appointments happening around you.
Remember that you're not the only bride shopping for her big day. While we'd never ask you to reign in your excitement, try not to disrupt anyone else's experience. This is especially important when you don't love the gown you have on. Be honest with your consultant, but try not to tear the dress to pieces — you never know if the dress you're wearing might be the dream dress of the girl in the next dressing room. Mention this to your bridesmaids, too — you may be thrilled to have your eight closest friends along for the experience, but another bride might be hoping for something quiet and intimate with just her mom and her sister, so try not to get too rowdy.
3. Wear light makeup, and leave the coffee at home.
The gowns at bridal salons are samples, meaning they only have one of each — so they can't run to the back and grab you another one if there's a smudge, stain, or spill on the gown. Skip the lipstick and sip just water while you're shopping so that the dress is in gorgeous condition for the next bride. If the gown is from a brand new collection and is part of a trunk show, it could even be the runway sample, which means it will be travelling the country for brides all over the place to try, so do your part to keep it looking stunning!
4. Be mindful of the time!
Dress-shopping TV shows make it seem like a bride has unlimited time to browse the racks and try on dozens of dresses before choosing The One, but in reality, appointments are usually only an hour long. While you may be able to go slightly over on time (especially if you're *this close* to deciding which gown to purchase or are just about ready to be measured), keep in mind that there are other brides in the waiting room, and a schedule that the salon needs to stick to. If you think you need more time to mull it over, make a second appointment and come back to try on your top three choices with fresh eyes.