It’s one of the most important elements of your wedding (apart from your significant other, of course), so it’s fair to say that choosing a dress for your big day comes with many considerations. And once you've officially made the decision to buy, oftentimes stress and doubt can start to creep up causing you to question whether you made the right choice. If this sounds like you, don't worry, you're not alone.
“Sarah Jessica Parker famously regrets wearing black to her wedding,” says Tatiana Hambro, editorial director at Moda Operandi.
Meet the Expert
- Tatiana Hambro is the editorial director at luxury online retailer Moda Operandi.
- Andrea Pitter is the founder and creative director of Pantora Bridal.
- Jennette Kruszka is the director of marketing and public relations at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City.
- Lily Kaizer is the owner of Happy Isles vintage salon in Los Angeles.
In 1997, SJP married Matthew Broderick in an unconventional black Morgane Le Fay dress. “Oh, I wish it was because I was badass,” she said in an interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live. “I just was too embarrassed to spend any time looking for a wedding dress.” Adding that if she had her time again, “I would do it differently,” and wear white.
So, what do you do if you find yourself second-guessing your choice? Below are some expert tips to help ease your dress anxiety.
Before You Dive In
Making a day of trying on wedding dresses with your bridesmaids, mom, aunties, etc. is the fun part, there’s no denying that, but ensure that the opinions around you are the ones you truly trust, that your friends and family will be honest with you, and that everyone will respect your feelings. If you’re not feeling confident and comfortable in the dresses you try on, listen to your instincts and not to friends who try to convince you otherwise, however well-intentioned they may be.
If You're Shopping Online
If you’ve decided to make the somewhat riskier (but increasingly common) choice to buy your dress online, it’s vital to learn as much as you can about the garment before taking the plunge.
“From the fabric texture, to the way it falls, to the color against your skin tone, there’s just too big of a margin for error on such an important purchase,” says Hambro. “Another key detail you want to look for is fabric composition. Is it natural or synthetic? If the latter, you want to ensure it’s comfortable and won’t make you sweat as you’ll likely be nervous enough already. Also, can it be taken in (or out) easily if the sizing is a little off?”
Try to find a dress you can return, if possible.
If You're Having Doubts
First of all, relax. It’s important to remember that with many big commitments, like buying a house and changing jobs, it’s only natural to have second thoughts after the initial excitement subsides. Remind yourself that it wasn’t an impulse purchase (though, that seems to work for some brides and more power to them!) and acknowledge that your decision was deliberate and well thought out.
If you genuinely feel unsatisfied, book a follow-up appointment to try on your dress again. We recommend going alone too so your decision-making isn’t clouded by another person's opinion, and you'll be able to have an honest discussion with your bridal consultant.
And if you’re really unsure? “Don't hesitate to inquire about changes in alterations and figure out ways to make a gown your own,” says Pitter.
Don't Over Shop
“It’s easy to have dress regret if you never stop your pursuit for the perfect gown, even after you’ve already found it,” says Pitter.
Kruszka agrees. “Sometimes brides also second-guess themselves because they don’t stop shopping. You do not have to try hundreds of dresses! Our brides typically try on no more than 8-10 dresses before they find the ‘one.'”
We understand how brides could easily get carried away, given the endless bridal content on social media and infinite opportunities to try on more dresses. Our advice? Be disciplined, because once you've swiped your credit card, and the order has been processed, it'll be hard to turn back.
You also wouldn't want to get swept up in the festivities and blow your budget. Pitter acknowledges that brides who end up over shopping and, in turn, buying one too many dresses, may have to cut back on other areas of their wedding.
Unfollow Other Bridal Designers, Stat!
On the point of social media, it’s time to do a mass unfollow. If you see your beautiful, distinctive wedding dress trending on social media a few months down the track, it suddenly may not feel so fresh and exciting anymore.
This, according to Kaizer, can be “crushing.” The simplest solution is to put your phone down and slowly back away from Instagram once you’ve made your purchase.
“I think staying off social media is a good piece of advice,” Kaizer says. “Obviously, it’s still good to follow bridal content for inspo on all the other stuff surrounding the wedding, like flowers and tables, but when it comes to seeing your unique dress on someone else, I can imagine hearts get broken every day."
Kaizer knows a thing or two about vintage shopping and recommends more vintage pieces for your big day. Sometimes brides come to her after a highly bespoke experience hasn’t worked out–but going vintage shouldn’t be a second option, as these garments offer a level of uniqueness you may not find with a custom design. Worried about the fit? While alterations may be needed, they could be very minimal, and "it could fit you like a glove," says Kaizer. Sustainability is increasingly a priority for those planning their big day, and a vintage look is definitely a more conscious choice.