You’ve waited for the proposal, and it finally happened! Now you’re in wedding planning mode. You’re making arrangements, viewing venues, narrowing down a wedding date, and designing your invitations. You even have your bridal party selected. The next item on the wedding list to tackle? Wedding dress shopping.
“Even with the constantly changing climate, wedding postponements, and moves to smaller, more intimate ceremonies and celebrations, brides-to-be still want to feel like a bride,” says Allison Hanrahan, Marketing Manager at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. And, feeling like a bride still means shopping around for a stunning dress—safely.
When it’s time for the appointment at your favorite bridal boutique, be prepared for the process of finding your dress. Although this is an exciting time, finding the right dress is, well, a process in itself. If you have a few dresses in mind, it will make your bridal appointment easier.
Still, it’s essential to keep this in mind: “Trust your gut instincts and be open and honest with your consultant about what you love and what you don’t,” Hanrahan says. You might end up loving a selection that wasn’t on your radar. With this in mind, there are a few errors to avoid while wedding dress shopping. Brides spoke to the experts to help you avoid these common wedding dress shopping mistakes so you can say, “yes to the dress!”
Shopping Without A Wedding Date
“When a bride comes in to shop, the first question our consultants ask is when she is getting married, because this will dictate what options she has in terms of wedding dresses,” Hanrahan explains. A bride who is getting married in a shorter time frame (anything under four months) will have limited choices since each dress is carefully crafted and altered. “Our dresses come made-to-order—the fabrics and materials are sourced from all over the world to create the dress,” Hanrahan says. With a wedding date set, “the consultant can better direct the bride towards her dream dress that will match her timeline,” Hanrahan also notes.
The Changing Your Body Trap
Another common error that brides make while shopping for a wedding dress is putting pressure on themselves to shop once they alter their current figure. "You should never do this," explains Jennette Kruszka, the director of marketing for Kleinfeld Bridal. "Always shop early. You can always get the dress altered according to your body shape during the fitting," she adds. Instead of waiting for your body to conform to a specific dress style, seek a dress that accentuates your current figure.
Ordering the dress a size smaller is also a big mistake when shopping, Kruszka notes. When you come into the bridal salon, the dress should conform to you, not the other way around.
Having No Clear Expectations
For stylist and owner of The Stylish Bride, Julie Sabatino says that one of the biggest mistakes that brides make while dress shopping is not clarifying precisely what shape of dress they want. It’s one thing to keep an open mind during dress shopping, but having no idea of what you see yourself getting married in does not help to hone in on the best dress.
“Brides aren’t looking to their closet first and foremost,” Sabatino tells Brides. “Look to your closet to find the shapes and silhouettes that work best for your body.” Before heading to the dress shop, Sabatino recommends finding what makes you feel the most confident and equally as important: comfortable. Then, take note of those shapes and translate them into a dress. “When a bride feels comfortable in her dress, that beauty radiates from the inside out,” Sabatino explains.
Being Overwhelmed by Options
Being overwhelmed with options is another mistake that brides make while shipping. “Brides are overwhelmed with the endless options that exist via Instagram,” Sabatino says. She explains that brides get wrapped up in the perfect dress they see on a model and only focus on that particular dress. But what most forget is, “how will that dress translate from the model onto the bride’s figure?”
These photos on Instagram and other social channels can be deceiving.
Not focusing specifically on what makes you look your best will have you lost when selecting a wedding dress. “These photos on Instagram and other social channels can be deceiving,” Sabatino adds.
But solving this mistake is easy. You can look at these photos for inspiration but always keep in mind that the translation may be different once you try the dress on. The quality and shade of the dress can also be deceiving. That’s why it’s essential to shop in-person when purchasing your wedding dress, amid Covid restrictions— this will minimize any misconceptions.
Bringing the Wrong Guests Along to Shop
While dress shopping, it’s a tradition to have those closest to you attend. Brides look forward to having feedback on dresses to ensure that she looks her best, but this could backfire. “We understand that brides want to bring everyone special in their life—their parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, wedding party, and more,” says Hanrahan. “But, I find that too many opinions make it harder for the bride to make a decision,” she adds.
Multiple opinions add hesitations for the bride to choose what she wants, not what everyone else wants her to select. Hanrahan notes that this also takes the focus off of the bride and her special time.
Judging A Dress On Its Hanger
It’s easy to get stuck in the process of judging a dress on the hanger because you think it won’t look right or it’s not your type. “While a dress may not be what the bride wants upon first look, trust the consultant—we know how the dress looks on the body, and we’re sure it will look fabulous on the bride,” Hanrahan explains.
The consultant you’re working with has many years of experience helping brides say “yes” to their perfect dresses, so letting them help you will ensure you’re getting the best dress possible.
Not Bringing Your Wedding Shoes
A lesser-known mistake that a bride makes is not bringing the proper shoes while shopping. It’s essential to bring the shoes you want to wear on your big day or something similar to see how it aligns with the dress you select. “A mistake brides are likely to make that they may not be aware of is not bringing their wedding shoes to every alteration fitting,” Hanrahan says. Why? “Forgetting your shoes will create more work for the fitter and will cost the bride an extra fitting to accommodate that. The heel height and shoe type can change a bride’s posture, which affects how the dress fits,” she explains.
Having an Unrealistic Budget for the Dream Gown
According to the bridal team at Pantora Bridal in Brooklyn, New York, not finalizing your budget that you want to spend on a wedding dress is one of the most common mistakes that brides make. When a bride goes into a bridal boutique without a firm budget, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by her guest’s selections and opinions—and falling in love with a dress that’s not in the budget. “Brides should make this day about them and their spouse-to-be. The over consideration for their guests and family members can lead to making a purchase they are not genuinely pleased with,” the Pantora Bridal team says.
“Having a clear idea of what you can invest in a gown allows you to be laser-focused in your shopping process. Beyond the dress, it is always a great idea to start your wedding planning process with an overall budget and then, based on that set a budget for your dress,” says Dafra Sanou, founder and head designer at JoSaBi Mariées. Then, research boutiques, online retailers, and boutique designers within your price range. When visiting a store, politely ask that they only show you dresses within your price range, and be careful: “in the retail bridal world, there are countless anecdotes of salespeople dressing brides in dresses way over their budget,” Sanou adds.
Rushing to Buy a Dress
Your first bridal appointment is exciting and an emotional time for some brides, and there is a chance that you might find “the dress” at your first bridal appointment. “That said, for most brides, it takes a few bridal boutiques, some online browsing, and sometimes a custom order to get to the perfect dress,” Sanou explains. So, while you may feel very excited while trying the first dresses on, allow yourself to move slowly. “Take your time, visit several stores, speak to a few designers or seamstresses, and set yourself up for success,” Sanou adds. There’s no rush to make a commencement to a dress, just to have a dress. Really take the time to find what you want.
Take your time, visit several stores, speak to a few designers or seamstresses, and set yourself up for success.
Forgetting to Schedule Time for Alterations
Alternations to your dress take time. Sometimes weeks, even depending on the customization that you need. The bridal team at Pantora bridal tells Brides that doing your research to know that most dresses need some form of alterations will allow them to be ready with enough time before your big day.