1. Make sure you have plenty of time to order a dress. Since wedding dresses typically take 6-8 months to come in after ordering, dress shopping should be one of the first to-dos on your list.  Don’t forget to also take about 2-3 months of alterations into consideration. Purchasing a sample dress off the rack is an option at some stores, but this will limit your selection.
  2. Have an open mind. You may have a specific idea in mind of what style wedding dress you want, but you never know what other styles might also flatter you until you  try them on. Try on a variety of styles, and narrow it down to what you feel and look best in. After all, trying on dresses should be a special, once in a lifetime experience. Have fun with it!
  3. Be practical when making a final decision. If you are having a hard time deciding between two, three, or even four dresses that you are in love with, choose the most practical dress. Is your wedding inside or outside? Will you have a fall, winter, spring, or summer wedding? Is there a particular theme you are incorporating? The last thing you want to do is look like you are showing up to the wrong wedding.
  4. Bring close family and friends with you, but not too many. Too many opinions can be overwhelming and might distract you from getting exactly what you want. It is YOUR day; therefore, the dress should be completely YOUR choice.  An ideal amount of people to bring would be 2-4. The last thing you want is for this to be a stressful experience because you cannot please everybody.
  5. If you have a budget, know exactly what it is before dress shopping. Decide how much of your wedding budget you want to spend on your dress. Let the bridal stylist know what your budget is and that you do not want to try on dresses over your budget. The worst thing would be for you to fall in love with a dress you cannot afford. If the price is too high, ask for a similar style that is in your price range. Keep in mind that alterations, accessories, and customizations add a lot to the price of the dress.
  6. Bring appropriate undergarments. It’s hard to envision exactly how the dress will look if you can see bra straps and panty lines when trying it on. Bring a strapless bra, appropriate underwear, and maybe even spanks to your appointment so that you can get an accurate picture in mind of what the dress looks like. Some bridal stylists will also help you in and out of the dresses, so make sure you are in undergarments that you are comfortable with being seen in.
  7. Take pictures if you can. Some bridal salons do not allow pictures, but if they do, take them! Pictures will help you remember and compare your favorite styles without having to try on all of the dresses a second time. Also, dress is shopping is an experience you’ll want to remember and be able to look back on.
  8. Choose the right size. Keep in mind that wedding dress sizes typically run extremely small. Trust the professional taking your measurements and advising what size to order. Even if you plan on losing weight, order the size you are in now. It is much easier to have dresses taken in rather than out, and most stores have a strict no returns or exchanges policy.
  9. Keep an eye out for sample sales and trunk shows. Call bridal salons in the area where you will be dress shopping and ask when they will be having sample sales or trunk shows. This is a great way to save money and a good solution for if you are crunched for time.
  10. Be aware of the terms and conditions when purchasing a dress. Most bridal salons have a set of policies that you should carefully look over before purchasing. If there are any questions or concerns, make sure you understand everything clearly before signing or paying for anything. Key points to look for are cancellation policies, returns and exchanges, alterations, shipping information, and when the dress is expected to come in. Make sure to also double and triple check that they have all the correct information for you such as measurements, size, wedding date, and dress style/color.

Contributing Writer: Nicki Walker, Bridal Stylist for Vocelle’s Bridal Shop