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The Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Dress Shopping — From a Bridal Stylist

I know, I know. Wedding dress shopping? This is a college magazine! Trust me, I never thought there was so much that went into shopping for your big day, but now that I work at a bridal store and am with brides almost daily, I have learned the ins-and-outs of finding the perfect gown — and now I want to share all my behind-the-scenes insight with you!

Do start dress and veil shopping at least 6 months in advance

  • This was the biggest shock to me! Dresses take 4-6 months to come in from vendors and factories, which means you need to get this done ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your dress will come in time! Brides with weddings within the month come in and find their dream dress, but end up not being able to purchase it because it won’t get here in time or becaue they have to pay a rush fee upwards of $200. Veils take just as long to get in — and they’re also crazy expensive. Make sure to research deals that bridal stores have about purchasing both dresses and veils from them!

Don’t bring an entourage of more than 3 people

  • Obviously if you feel you need more than 3 people, then do so! But from what I’ve seen, more people means more opinions. And more opinions means more confusion for you! Brides come in alone since their past experiences with their family did not go well and say it’s their best time yet. Be mindful when choosing people to bring with you, and remember, you can always show people pictures! My recommendation is to bring people who will be honest with you but their ultimate goal is for you to get the dress that you love, not that they love. 

Do collect a plethora of inspiration pictures

  • Get those Pinterest boards prepped and ready! Stylists always want to see what styles, colors, and fits you like, so having a bunch of inspiration pictures on standby makes it easier for you and for them. I already have a huge Pinterest board filled and I’m nowhere near having a wedding… 

Don’t squeeze a ton of bridal appointments into one day

  • So many brides do this, especially in Utah. We have the most bridal stores out of any other state, so brides come from all around to shop here! It’s always great to shop around and look at all of your options, however, bridal appointments are super tiring. Bouncing from one store to another really blurs the whole day and all the dresses that you see, which makes searching for your dream dress more of a chore than an experience. I recommend doing 2 appointments per day and going shopping during the week so the stores are less crowded and you get more attention from the sales staff. Some stores get really pushy when their store is busy and you might end up feeling rushed and uneasy.

Do have a wedding date set

  • You would be surprised at how many brides come in to shop with no idea when their wedding will be. The lack of a timeline makes it more confusing for you and for the stylists, and you most likely won’t be able to get any firm shipping information regarding your dress. Some stores might not even take you seriously if you don’t have a wedding date set because they’re more focused on selling to brides who will “actually buy,” rather than you, with no wedding date and no timeline.

Don’t force a dress onto yourself just to please your loved ones

  • Remember that this is your big day — not your mom’s, your dad’s, your sister’s, or your best friend’s, it’s your day and it’s your dress. This goes back to the supportive entourage thing I was talking about earlier. The focus of wedding dress shopping is you, and you can’t forget that! And never settle for a dress! If you’re tired, then give shopping a break and maybe you’ll be more excited in a couple of months. If you’re unsure of anything, don’t settle for your dress. 

Do come in with an open mind

  • Be willing to try on anything and everything! I suggest trying all of the styles: A-line, ballgown, fit-and-flare, straight, etc. You won’t know whether you love it or hate it until you try it on. Every dress looks different on everyone, and it is important to explore all your options!. And be sure that you avoid judging a dress based off of how it looks on the rack. So many people do this, but when they try it on, they end up loving it so much they buy it! 

Don’t try on anything out of your budget

  • This is so important. If you have a firm budget, don’t torture yourself by trying on dresses outside of it! The chances of you loving it are slim, but if you do, you won’t be able to afford it and every other dress you try on will be incomparable to the dream dress you can’t buy.

Do keep your venue and date in mind when deciding

  • Make sure to envision your entire wedding, not just whether or not you like the dress. You want to make sure that your dress matches your venue and the weather and all of those tiny details because it will bring your wedding together as a cohesive unit with your wedding dress as the centerpiece. If you want, bringing pictures of your venue and any other details you want to match your dress is a great idea when attending your bridal appointments. 

Don’t schedule bridal portraits until your dress is in your hands

  • I’m from Maryland and I’m not LDS, so I didn’t know that bridal portraits were even a thing, but, many girls in Utah do them. The biggest issue is that women will put down deposits on bridal shoots before even having their dress in their hands. If you schedule before your dress is here, there’s a chance you could lose your deposit with the photographer and that they won’t be available to reschedule. This is another reason why shopping early is so important! If you shop 9 months in advance, it gives plenty of time for your dress and veil to come in, and gives you enough time to hire a photographer that you love and schedule a time that works best for you with no stress.

Do look at their social media and reviews in advance

  • Social media and reviews are the biggest hacks to deciding whether or not a store is even worth visiting. But I’d more so suggest Instagram and Tiktok as forms of reviews rather than Yelp or Google Reviews because the people writing those are much crankier. If you go through their Instagram’s tagged photos you can DM brides who have worked with the store and ask them about their experience with them!

Don’t give up on finding THE dress

  • I can’t stress this enough, but never settle. Don’t give up on finding that dream dress that gives you chills everytime you look at it, because I promise it will all be worth it. Just keep going!

I personally think you’ll be able to find your dress at OffWhite Bride, but I’m a little biased… even if you’re not getting married anytime soon, make sure to pop in and visit me and the cute boutique/bridal store I work at! (@offwhitebride on Instagram)

Justine intends to major in Operations & Supply Chain and double minor in Design and Management. She loves all things food-related, photography, traveling, and spending time with her loved ones, especially her dog. Her favorite things to write about are food, fashion, and sustainability.
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