Tips and Advice

Wedding Dress Shopping Advice

Wedding dress shopping is the part of wedding planning most brides look forward to the most. While it can be tempting to jump into this step, there are a few things you should do before you get started.

1. Determine your vision and style for your wedding. How formal are you going? Are you going rustic, vintage, modern etc? Your dress is an important piece to ensuring your cohesive wedding vision.

2. Set a whole budget for the wedding. If you need help getting started, check out our budget tool located on our home page. This will give you a starting point, as this breaks down the average costs for Portland weddings.

3. Book your venue. It is super important to know where (and when) you will get married. For instance, if you’re getting married outside in the middle of the field you will not want a long train that will just gather every stick and weed. Let your stylist know these details so they pull the wedding dresses accordingly.

Once those three things are complete, it’s time to go shopping!  Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect wedding dress.

Stick to your wedding dress budget

Stunning wedding dresses come in a wide range of prices. Know your wedding dress budget before you go shopping. Tell your stylist that figure and have her only pull dresses for you that are in that budget. Don’t waste time trying on a bunch of gowns out of your price range. Lead with your budget so you can avoid disappointment or going over your budget which can lead to big time regret down the line. Trust us, it will be difficult enough editing down the amazing options you can actually afford. Also, don’t forget, you will also need a budget for alterations, shoes, accessories etc. 

Stop shopping early

You’ll need about six months to get your wedding dress—and that’s if you’re really decisive. If you’re a picky shopper or don’t really know what you want, start looking 8 to 10 months before your wedding. This is not the area you want to feel rushed or under pressure.

Make an appointment

While you may get lucky and find an available salesperson just by walking in, scheduling an appointment guarantees you’ll get a full hour of undivided attention. Plus, many salons require you to book an appointment in order to try on gowns, so you’ll want to call ahead. Also, just because a salon carries your favorite designer doesn’t mean it’ll have the exact wedding dress you’ve been wanting to try on. So call ahead so you don’t waste your time.  

Limit the number of folks you bring shopping

As I am sure you have seen on the TV shows, the more people you bring dress shopping, the more drama there is. Only invite a few friends who you completely trust. These people need to be able to be honest and kind, and they also need to respect that this is your wedding day and thus your choice. You want to be sure you are choosing a dress because you love it, not because someone else does.

Bring your A game

While most bridal salons have beautiful lighting, we highly recommend you put in a little more than normal effort into your hair and make up that day. You want to feel confident in the wedding dresses you try on and it helps the consultant get a sense of your style. Also, be sure to bring any items you want to wear down the aisle (your mother’s veil or your grandma’s necklace) and definitely be sure and wear a strapless nude bra and a seamless thong or brief. Keep in mind that you’ll be changing in front of people (possibly even your future mother in law), so plan accordingly!

Forget about the size

Bridal sizing is all over the place. While it can be unnerving to see a much larger than normal dress size, please, please, please order the size the stylist determines is appropriate. Taking in a gown is easy; letting it out is difficult (and expensive). Remember, size ain’t nothing but a number!

Let the salon make recommendations

While we recommend coming with ideas of wedding dress styles you like, try and keep an open mind and try out the stylist’s recommendations.  It’s possible to fall for a wedding gown you didn’t think you’d like or want. Not every dress looks great on a hanger, so give it a whirl. You may surprise yourself.

Give the dress a twirl

While it will be easy to see the dress looks amazing while you are standing still on the podium, be sure to take the dress for spin. Make sure you can walk, sit, and dance in it comfortably.

Keep track of your favorites

We recommend going to a few stores in your dress search, but it will be important to keep track of your favorites and narrow down the list. If the store doesn’t allow photos, write down the name and price, and general description of your favorite dress at each store. As you find a dress you like better than the last one you tried on, scratch the other one off your list. Pretty soon you will have identified your dress!

Read the fine print

Before you leave, double check the contract. Be sure you get the designer, color, style number, measurements, delivery date, price of the gown and number of fittings, as well as the deposit amount, and final payment amount all in writing.

Have fun!

This can be stressful, but have no fear, you will find the perfect dress. Follow the tips we just talked about, and enjoy every little bit of this process!

And, if you are looking for local dress shops in Portland, consider some of our favorites:

Images featured in this post by Sweetlife Photography.