While shopping for a wedding gown should be a fun adventure, for many brides, it frequently turns into something that is stressful and overwhelming. Whether it's because you're going into the appointment with very little preparation, getting inundated with the opinions of too many family and friends, or shopping at the wrong salons, it's oftentimes easy to get trapped in an array of avoidable mistakes.
Also, not only can these mistakes end up dragging out the process and making it feel exhausting, but they even can contribute to you picking a dress you don't absolutely love. So to help you avoid any shopping mishaps, we spoke with a bridal shop owner to find out exactly what not to do when heading to the salon. To make things easier for everyone and ensure you find the perfect gown, avoid these mistakes bridal salon attendants wish every bride would stop making.
Meet the Expert
Sarah Ghabbour is the owner of Loved Twice Bridal, a luxury bridal consignment boutique in Los Angeles. She has been styling brides for over 11 years, and has worked at local boutiques and larger corporations like BHLDN and Pronovias.
Not Researching the Salon Beforehand
You don't have to do a deep dive into the bridal shop you plan on visiting, but it's definitely in your best interest to look into what styles and designers they carry before you go in. "What brides don’t realize is that boutiques truly curate their collection of designers and gowns for who their target bride is," says bridal stylist Sarah Ghabbour, owner of Loved Twice Bridal.
She continues by explaining, "This is based on stylist feedback and data of what has sold in the past for them. If you are looking for a beaded ball gown for your winter ballroom wedding, it is unlikely you will find your gown at your social media-worthy boho boutique. To find the best options for you, it is best to look at boutique websites for guidance on their selection. Be mindful of the price point and gather an overall vibe of who their bride might be."
Starting Off With Negative Expectations
It's not uncommon for brides to start their dress-shopping experience with a negative attitude. Maybe you don't really love shopping or trying on dresses, or maybe you just feel overwhelmed at the prospect of finding such an important gown. Either way, it's important to relax and enter the experience with a positive attitude. "One mistake is the idea that it is hard to find your wedding dress," Ghabbour says. "It shouldn’t be difficult. You will find that as you become more educated on gowns, their fabrics, and cuts, making a decision will become less daunting."
Shopping Too Early
You may want to immediately start checking important things off your wedding planning to-do list, but it is possible to begin searching for a look too soon. While Ghabbour suggests shopping nine to 12 months before the big day, you should also hold off on checking out dresses (even if you don't intend to buy anything) too far in advance.
"Start shopping when you are ready to say yes and are ready to stop looking," she says. "Designers release collections every six months and with this comes a discontinued list. Gowns you tried on six months ago may not be available when you come back for them. If you are shopping over a year and a half out from your wedding, you may find yourself questioning your choice as new collections are released."
Not Budgeting Correctly
When you think about how much you want to spend on your wedding dress, you need to also consider the additional expenses that may come up once you've purchased the gown. Alterations, in particular, can be very expensive, and not accounting for this step could lead to you being significantly over budget.
"Gowns are often cut to a standard size and length, and do not take many things into consideration," she explains. "These things include your height with shoes, the placement and preference for the type of bustle in your train, or even adjusting sleeve lengths or straps. Even made-to-measure gowns often need a slight adjustment after the fact. If you are in a major city, you can expect to spend $600-$700 on standard alterations."
Refusing to Have an Open Mind
It's great to know what you want and to ask for exactly that—in fact, bridal attendants want you to have a strong idea of what you're looking for—but it's also essential to be a little flexible with your preferences. Even if you have your eyes set on a princess ball gown, don't be afraid to try on an A-line or sheath silhouette. It's not unusual for brides to think they want one thing, only to choose a completely different look in the end. As Ghabbour puts it, "Come with an open mind to learn."
Being a Little Too Polite
When a bridal attendant presents you with a dress they think you'll love or your guests all seem super excited about one option, it's easy to default to a polite setting even if the dress isn't doing anything for you. And while it's fine to be courteous to those around you, at the end of the day, you have to tell the truth.
"It is important to be honest with your stylist and trust your gown," Ghabbour says. "If you don’t love a gown, that’s okay. A seasoned stylist has heard it all, so respectfully decline and move on to the next. You cannot say yes to a dress without saying no to others first. When you have found your gown, no one will have to convince you. Along with the excitement, you should feel a sense of peace with your decision."
Not Giving Enough Details on What You Want
While having an open mind is important, it's also helpful to be transparent if you have an idea of what you want to wear. "Your appointment will be more productive when there is a mutually agreed upon goal," Ghabbour says. "If you have gone to a couple of appointments and have a favorite gown already, let your next stylist know. Show your stylist a photo of you in the gown and explain what you love about it. Be prepared to answer why you didn’t buy your favorite gown. This will give your stylist a better understanding of what was missing and hopefully help you find the one!"
What's more, you should also be honest if you don't know what you want. Ghabbour notes that if you've just started your search and feel completely clueless, don't be afraid to share that with your stylist. A great bridal attendant will help you narrow down the options to help you find a look you love.
Trying on Too Many Dresses
Sometimes you might find that you're just not ready to make a final decision on your dress. Maybe you love trying on different gowns and you don't want the process to end, or maybe you have trouble making decisions and you don't want to potentially miss out on something else. While these scenarios are all understandable, you shouldn't get to a point where you're trying on too many looks.
"'The Big White Blur' is what we call it when brides have tried on too many gowns," Ghabbour says. "After about 15 gowns, brides will notice that the dresses start to blend together, and it becomes difficult to remember details of each one." If you don't want to stop looking, she suggests taking note of the specific details you don't like, so that you're able to avoid trying on similar looks that are a waste of time. Ultimately, though, "You should be able to find your gown in under three appointments: sometimes even the first one," says Ghabbour.
Ordering Your Dress in the Wrong Size
A lot of brides have weight loss goals they're hoping to meet before the wedding. That's okay if that feels right for you, but Ghabbour warns against buying a gown a size too small in the hopes that it will fit that day. "You should not feel the need or pressure to fit into an ideal weight or go against your stylist’s size recommendation," she says. "It is important to trust that your stylist is recommending the correct size at the time of ordering your gown. With this, we expect that you will not drastically change your body to ensure a seamless alterations process with no additional headaches."
In other words, order the size recommended at the time of your appointment. However, if you do end up losing weight, Ghabbour notes that, in general, wedding gowns can be altered two sizes down from their original size. But if you don't lose weight or end up gaining weight, you may not be able to let out the dress to suit your new size.
Getting Too Many Opinions
Let's face it, we all desire that "say yes to the dress" moment, where all your friends and family members are around to help you find "the one." And while we encourage brides to go shopping with their inner squad, it's important to be mindful that too many opinions can often be a negative thing. Remember, your wedding is your day, so what ultimately matters is your opinion and selecting a dress you love. Bring people who will respect your decision and aren't too pushy, whether that's your mom, sister, best friend, or no one at all.