Say Yes to YOUR Dress: 7 expert wedding dress shopping tips

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Start Your Search Early and Have Fun Finding Your Dream Dress!

These days, in Michigan and Chicago, it seems as if couples are opting for shorter engagements. One downside to a brief engagement is the fact that it could take four to six months for a bride to receive her dress from a designer. That doesn’t include time for alterations, so bridal shop owners and wedding sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire are using brides to follow a schedule of where they should be, at different times in their engagement.

Limit Your Entourage

It may sound like so much fun to take all five bridesmaids, your mom, your mother-in-law, your grandmother’s, maybe your father and the dog too. Before doing that though, ask yourself if you really want all those opinions. Let’s be honest, we’ve all watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress where we’ve rolled our eyes because of someone that was being overly opinionated. You don’t want that! Limit your entourage to those whose opinions you care about the most.

In many situations, you may absolutely love a dress, but someone from your group will say something that discourages you or makes you feel self-conscious. Also, when you take a large group, they will start chatting with one another and stop paying attention to you, the bride-to-be!

On the other side of the coin, don’t go alone to the dress shop. It is so hard to make a hard decision like that by yourself!

Sales, Packages and Discounts

Sales: We know everyone loves a good deal! Most bridal shops in small to mid-sized towns will have a sale once a year. This is not a secret, and if you have time to wait, you might benefit by snagging the dress of your dreams during the sale. If you already have the dress picked out, make sure it doesn’t get discontinued if you are going to wait. If you happen to wander into a store while they are having a sale and feel the pressure to buy a gown because it is a great deal, just remember, there are no returns!

Packages: There are so many companies that offer package deals to brides. If you purchase a veil and gown from them, there might be a discount. If you purchase the gown, you may get the steaming and alterations with it in a package. Many stores also have tuxedos, so they make have a package for the gown and tuxedos being purchased together.

Discounts: Lastly, ask if they give a discount if you buy the bridesmaids and bridal gown there. There are a ton of boutiques that will give a percentage off bridesmaids dresses if you purchase your bridal gown with them. Just ask, the worst they can say is no!

Ask Ask Ask Questions

A bridal shop owner assumes you are NOT an expert. The great thing is though, they are experts and are there to help. As you are shopping, if you absolutely love a dress, but you don’t like one teeny tiny part of it, ask if it can be changed before dismissing it. Most designers or seamstresses can remove beading, flowers, trains and more. They can also add sleeves, illusion necklines, belts, cups to the bust, lower backs and more!

Make sure to go over the final order with the salesperson to check if everything is correct and everything is going to be ordered. Ask for the arrival date of your gowns, it’s exciting to know when it will be in your hands! Lastly, do not ever be afraid to ask for updates on your dress.

DO NOT Assume The Dress Will Fit Perfectly Before Alterations

There is something to be said about a woman’s figure, we are all different and our bodies are beautiful! Wedding gowns are made to fit a 6 foot, C-cup, narrow shouldered, tiny waisted woman with a Kardashian booty. How many of those do you know? The chances that your gown will fit you perfectly is .0001%.

Wedding gowns also differ from designer to designer, so if you fit perfectly in a size 8 at one store, you may be a 12 in the next and a 6 at another. It is okay! Every designer has a sizing chart to go from, so the wedding specialist will help you find the correct fit.

It is always helpful to take undergarments, like a strapless bra or shapewear, and wedding shoe options with you to shop for your gown. Only do this if that is what you plan on wearing on your wedding day. It is so helpful for fittings and will make you feel so much more bridalesque!

For buying a dress off-the-rack, it should not be any more that two sizes too big. So, a maximum of four inches. If it is a little too small, it can be taken out or made into a corset back.

Lastly, just remember that even the models in the pictures are pinned into the dresses. So, bridal store owners have to get a little creative to help you envision the dress when it is in your size.

Schedule Your Alterations Early and Locally

A great seamstress can be pretty difficult to find these days. So, if you have one, keep tabs on her and as soon as you know the date that your dress will arrive, schedule an appointment with her for the week after! And confirm that she will alter wedding gowns – some seamstresses stay away due to the intricacies of working with wedding dresses.

Many bridal boutiques have an in-house seamstress that you may receive a “discount” from if you purchase your dress there. You may want to shop around first before assuming you are getting a great deal. But in the same respect, the price may be higher because of higher quality work. So, make sure to do your homework and read reviews on the seamstress. It is always a bonus to find someone that a friend or family member used because then you know they have a great reputation.

When it comes to alterations time, leave yourself three to six weeks at least. It is always suggested to get in as soon as you can, so if you can do it further in advance, you should! Take everything with you that you need for the wedding day; take your shoes, undergarments and cups if you need them. The seamstress cannot guess, you have to take them with you!

And finally, keep an open communication with your seamstress. If you are limited on time, let them know, they can do some magical things in a short amount of time! They are also willing to move things to the top of their piles if you are pressed on time. So, just ask and be nice!

BEWARE Of Buying Online

A good rule of thumb is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! You cannot, ever, under any circumstance, buy a new designer dress online. It is against all the rules to put prices on bridal and bridesmaids gowns online. The owner of the store will be dropped so quickly from the line if they were to put prices online. So, the designer dresses you see online are knock-offs. You cannot return most of these and if you can, you will pay an arm and a leg to return it.

If you do choose to shop online, there are legitimate resale websites like Tradesy, Nearly Newlywed, and Preowned Wedding Dresses. And be sure to give yourself plenty of time. If the dress doesn’t work out for you or turns out to be a hot mess, you will need time to get to a bridal salon to order a dress. You should always have a back-up plan if you order online.

Wrap Up

Finding a dress should be an experience, don’t rush it ladies and definitely do NOT settle! It is always more fun for everyone involved if you come into every appointment with an open mind. You may think you know what you want, but if you refuse to try on dresses because of that mindset, you may miss out on something spectacular!

Lastly, for those ladies rushing to the altar, most bridal stores do have off-the-rack dresses. There are also some dresses that can be rushed for a fee, so if you fall in love with a dress, don’t assume you can’t get it in time, always ask!

Now that you have the Perfect Dress, make sure you look AMAzing in your wedding photography.

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