Wedding dress shopping is one of the most fun parts of the planning process, but it can also be one of the most stressful if you don't plan accordingly. From too many people sharing their opinions to not being realistic about your budget, we asked the pros to tell us the most common mishaps that make a bride go into dress distress. Steer clear of these mistakes and we guarantee your bridal-gown shopping will be just as exciting as you imagined it to be.
Shopping for a dress too early or too late.
You just got engaged. Congratulations! You may be antsy to start looking for your dream gown, but hold off until you have the date and venue set. Think about it: A beach wedding in Maui calls for an entirely different dress than an autumn New England affair. But give yourself at least six months to allow enough time to find, order, and alter your dress. "The date is needed for us to ensure that proper delivery and alterations can be done in a timely manner prior to the wedding," Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City, explains. Also, some busy bridal salons require appointments and often book up far in advance, so you'll probably need to schedule extra time just to get in to try anything on.
Bringing too many (or the wrong) people shopping.
Resist arriving for your shopping appointment with an entourage. Sure, it sounds like a blast to model dresses for all your bridesmaids or a gaggle of close cousins, aunts, and your mom, but more people means more conflicting opinions. You want one or two trusted people who you can rely on to be honest and constructive — no hidden agendas or Debbie Downers allowed. In fact, some experts recommend a solo shopping trip first, then bring in back-up once you've narrowed down your options to a few looks you love.
Being unrealistic about your budget.
You know how much you have to spend on a dress. But have you considered the cost of alterations? And shoes? And underpinnings? And accessories? Factor all of these in to the cost of your dress and let your bridal consultant know the realistic figure you have to work with. A good consultant will never try to oversell.
Being narrow-minded about your style.
It's helpful to have a dress style or two in mind — especially if they're right for your body type. Though as amazing as that mermaid gown looks on one bride, it might not work for you if you don't have the same kind of figure. That said, don't be afraid to try on silhouettes that are outside of your comfort zone. You may live in A-line dresses year-round, but a ball gown or empire-waist dress might just be the one that makes you feel like a princess.
Letting it all hang out.
"Please wear the proper undergarments! Brides seem to forget that they will be changing in front of a stranger, so (under)dress accordingly," Hall says. Remember, bridal gown shopping isn't like a regular trip to the store where you head to a private fitting room. Your consultant — and your trusted companions — will probably be in there with you. So, don't give them more of an eyeful than decency allows!