Wedding Gown Shopping Tips

How Salons Work

Some salons allow walk-ins, and others are by appointment only. Some allow you to look through the dresses yourself; others bring them to you based on what you ask for. Why can't you touch all those dresses in the back room? Because 1) It's easy for a shopper and her coffee to ruin a dress quickly on the floor; and 2) The salon's staff can save you (and themselves) time by using their extensive knowledge to make a match.

We suggest that if you are seriously shopping, you should book an appointment so you'll be guaranteed that a consultant will have time to help you. But don't overload: Limit your appointments to two a day. Cramming three salons into one afternoon will leave you tired and less able to differentiate among the whirl of white dresses.

Tell the Truth

Be honest about what you can spend, and tell your consultant what that amount is up front. You'll only create heartbreak for yourself if you try on—and love—a wedding dress that you can't afford. You will also need to know where you're getting married so that the salesperson can help you choose a gown that best fits your venue.

Make the Effort

Put on makeup, bring heels, and wash your hair—in other words, do what you usually do to feel pretty. You'll be staring in the mirror a lot while gown shopping, and when you feel like you look crummy, no dress will feel right. Most importantly, you will be naked in front of a stranger, so watch those undergarments. Easily getting in and out of dresses requires more expertise than you'd think, so you will need the help. Speaking of help, bring your Spanx if you plan on wearing them at the wedding so that you can gauge the fit and get properly measured.

Bring People You Trust

Don't invite a crowd of people with you. Two people—your mom and a close friend—are plenty. Three or more will make decision-making stressful and difficult, especially if they're offering conflicting opinions.

Sleep on It

There's no need to make a rush decision, especially since many bridal salons charge a steep fee for returning a gown, or don't allow refunds at all. If you're feeling pressured, stand your ground.

What to Ask at the Bridal Salon

How long will it take for my wedding dress to be delivered?
Can you ship to an out-of-town address if necessary?
What is your return policy?
Is there a repercussions clause if, for example, the dress is damaged when it reaches the salon?
Are alterations included in the price of the wedding dress?
Will the salon accept liability if its seamstress makes an error?

Find a Salon

Browse wedding dress salons near you.
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