Wedding Dress Shopping 101

Before I became a planner, I worked for a bridal salon where I learned a whole lot about brides and the many different kinds there are. Every day at work was different because every bride is different, which made work interesting and kept me on my toes. Take it from an insider’s perspective, here are the do’s and don’ts for how to be prepared for your bridal appointment:

Who you bring:

Do: As stylists, we love when you bring the people who are most important to you. Bring the people that mean so much to you that you couldn’t imagine ever picking out your dress without them! When you bring the people closest to you, it also helps the stylist get closer to you and figure out who you really are to help you find the perfect dress! We love building those relationships with the bride and their family and friends, it really creates the full experience! I also highly recommend you designate at least one or two people to take LOTS of pictures! Trust me you’re going to want to see every moment later!

Don’t: just bring mom, grandma, sister, etc. because that’s “tradition”. Don’t bring people who you know are negative. Don’t bring that one person who you’re not necessarily close with but you know they’re honest. Whoever you bring that’s important to you should understand that it’s a big day for you and they’ll be honest but also support whatever makes you happiest!

What to wear:

Do: It’s not too important what you wear on the outside, but underneath is pretty important. I always recommend brides wear or bring their favorite strapless bra. Some brides prefer to not wear any kind of bra for the day of the wedding and I totally get that. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable to wear something while your stylist helps you in and out of dresses, then I highly recommend you wear one for your appointment.

Don’t: Please, oh please don’t wear a sports bra. And, if you absolutely must wear a sports bra, PLEASE bring a second bra option or be prepaid to go bra less. Let me tell you, you do NOT want chunky black straps interrupting how beautiful you truly look. It will totally impair your full vision of the dress! Think about it, what if you find the perfect dress and you leave without it because your sports bra had you feeling like it wasn’t the one.

What to bring:

Do: If you have a favorite pair of heels, I suggest you bring those. Regardless of whether you plan on wearing heels, flats, or going barefoot on the big day, wearing heels will help give you the full vision of how long the dress is and give an alterations specialist (if they’re available) an idea of how much of hem needs to be done. I promise you, 90% of the time a bride will need a hem. Also, any photo inspirations are super helpful. Fun tip: as stylists, we love to see the ring and hear all about the proposal and wedding plans so feel free to share pictures and tell stories! It also gives your stylist an insight to who you are and the style of your wedding which will help with finding your perfect dress!

Don’t: expect to see that exact dress in that exact store when you do bring inspiration photos! I can’t tell you how many times brides would come in with their Pinterest ideas and show me high end couture dresses, saying “I want exactly this…for $300”. I can honestly tell you that while you can typically find something very similar, you will not find exactly that dress for that price point. Pinterest is great for inspirations, but not for purchases, otherwise you wouldn’t be dress shopping!

How to understand alterations:

Do: You’re going to want to consider the cost of alterations within the budget of your dress. Most alterations are going to cost anywhere from another $50-$500. Every bride is going to need some kind of alterations. Let me repeat for the brides in the back, EVERY bride is going to need some form of alterations or another. I know this because when designers make dresses, they mass produce them for one body type that is 1% of the population and every woman’s body is different!

Don’t: let that number for alterations scare you! It will help make the dress fit you perfectly! But understand that the more expensive dress that you get, the more expensive alterations will be. If you decide that you don’t want alterations, at least make that decision after you’ve spoken with a wedding dress alterations specialist and they’ve shown you how the dress is supposed to fit.


Do: Everything listed above is all minor and comes second to having fun! Picking out your wedding dress is such a special and momentous day that your main priority should be about having a blast and picturing yourself walking down the aisle in your dream dress to the love of your life! I used to always tell my brides to picture that moment of walking down the aisle, and if your future spouse doesn’t cry, you turn around and try again!

Don’t: Not have fun! Don’t let negativity stand in your way. Don’t let other people’s opinions cloud what YOU really want. It broke my heart to see brides walk away upset because they let someone talk them out of their perfect dress. I totally get budget playing a big part of dress shopping, but before you step foot in a store, truly consider just what you think YOU would want in a dress and what price point you’re willing to spend, then go in open minded and have fun! Try every dress on that you have even the slightest interest in, even that horrendously poofy and sequined dress that you would NEVER wear, just for the sake of having fun! Make it the best experience possible!

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