Don’t set foot in the bridal salon without brushing up on your gown shopping basics.
You should limit your entourage
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again bringing a big group to the salon is a gown shopping don’t! Enlist one or two of your closest pals to help you start your search. This way you can find the gown of your dreams and not feel pressured by others’ opinions.
Know Your Body Shape
â€œWhen picking your dress, knowing what looks great on you makes the process of elimination must less stressful,â€� .RememberÂ Each site and each designer uses a different set of measurements, so grab a measuring tape and write down your bust, hip, and waist measurements, which you will use to identify your right size. Remember to wear a bra similar to what you will be wearing on your big day and stand naturally, with your heels together and arms by your side. If you purchase a made-to-order gown (either in a salon or online), you will still be ordering according to the designer’s standard sizing policy, which is why, as a rule of thumb, you should order a size up and then alter the dress to fit you perfectly.
â€œIf you have a designer you love, take advantage of trunk shows!â€� Watkins advises. â€œYou can meet the designer (or someone who works with them), try on dresses from the entire collection, and oftentimes get some sort of incentive, like a complimentary veil or small discount.â€�
Start From Scratch
â€œFor a more custom gown, find a designer you can work with directly,â€� says Watkins, who hired Kirstie Kelly. â€œIt was so much fun to feel collaborative!â€�Â
Remember to Get a Memento
If you get to meet your designer, ask for a sketch of your gown. â€œWhat a fun and sentimental keepsake!â€�.
Keep It Fun
And last but not least, invite a bridesmaid or family member to join you in your search for a dress. â€œMake an afternoon of the excursions with a fun ladiesâ€™ lunch,â€� .
Have a Price In Mind
If you know youâ€™re not going to spend $15,000 on your dress, donâ€™t waste time trying on a bunch of gowns out of your range. Youâ€™re better off zeroing in on your realistic price point so you can spend more time editing down the amazing options you can actually buy. Also, keep in mind that youâ€™ll need to factor in the cost of alterations, taxes and shipping fees, plus your veil, shoes, lingerie and jewelry, which can add up to $500 or more altogether.
This is one of the things that surprises everyone. You really need at least six to eight months to get your gownâ€”and thatâ€™s if youâ€™re really decisive. If youâ€™re a picky shopper or donâ€™t really know what you want, start looking eight to 10 months before your wedding. Give yourself plenty of time; if you put it off for too long, your selection of dresses could be limited or you might make a quick decision you may regret later. Once youâ€™ve found your gown, give yourself at least eight weeks to make alterations, says Terry Hall, fashion director at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. Custom gowns take six to eight months to tailor on average, and heavily-embellished ones can take up to a year. Why so much time? A muslin version of a custom gown is created before the actual dress to guarantee a perfect fit.
Determine the Dress Code
You may need to consider religious restrictions when shopping for your gown. If your ceremony is in a house of worship, find out whether there are any attire guidelines youâ€™re required to follow, such as covering your shoulders.
Figure Out What You Like
Take cues from your venue, the season and the time of day youâ€™re getting married to help narrow down your dress style. Rule out fabrics and silhouettes that wonâ€™t work (a bulky ball gown is probably not the best fit for a midday beach affair) and consider what styles will flatter your shape. To help you search, download the Wedding LookBook by The Knot app to browse thousands of gowns and find local retailers that have the ones you like. If you love a particular designer, find out if theyâ€™re having a trunk show in your areaâ€”youâ€™ll see a larger range of their collection and you might even get a discount (usually about 15 percent).
Call in Advance
Just because a salon carries your favorite designer doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™ll have the exact dress youâ€™ve been dying to try on. If you phone beforehand and request a specific style, chances are the salon will be able to call in a sample of that gown especially for you. While you may get lucky and snag a salesperson just by walking in, scheduling an appointment guarantees youâ€™ll get a full hour of undivided attention. Plus, many salons require you to book an appointment in order to try on gowns, so youâ€™ll want to call ahead.
Let the Salon Make Recommendations
Donâ€™t eliminate anything at first glance. If the salesperson brings you something she says you should try, try itâ€”even if you donâ€™t initially love it or think itâ€™s totally â€œyou.â€� Itâ€™s possible to fall for a wedding gown you didnâ€™t think youâ€™d like or want. Not every dress looks great on a hanger, and you might have to let go of some preconceived notions and keep an open mind.
Shop At the Right Time
Taking a half day off to shop on, say, a Tuesday morning is absolutely worth it. Saturday afternoons are the most popular timesâ€”which actually makes them the worst. Unless the store is by appointment only, try to target those slower times. Consultants are fresher earlier in the day and can give you more of their attention. A calm store means a more personalized shopping experience, Hall says. If youâ€™re shopping a sample sale, do yourself a favor and skip the first day. Call ahead to ask how many days the sale will run, then go a little laterâ€”there will still be plenty of inventory. Another shopping trick: Donâ€™t bring an entourage. It may be tempting to include all your friends in this experience, but any more than one or two adds up to too many clashing opinions.
Buy a Dress That Fits Now
Even if youâ€™re planning on dropping 15 pounds before your wedding, your body type isnâ€™t going to completely change. Besides, itâ€™s a lot easier (not to mention less expensive) to take a gown in than to try and make a too-small dress work.
Read the Fine Print
When you order your gown from a salon, itâ€™s important to triple-check the contract. Read it carefully, so you donâ€™t end up with the wrong size or color, and get the designer, style number, measurements, delivery date, the price of the gown and number of fittings, as well as the deposit amount, all in writing.
Bring Your Accessories
While most salons will have shoes and a slip on hand for you to try on with your gown, you should still come prepared with a nude bra and underwear for the fittings. Also bring shoes with a similar height as what you plan on wearing at the wedding, so you can see how the dress falls with your heels. And try on your other day-of accessories (if you have them), like your veil or cover-up, to get an idea of how your whole look will come together.
Trust Your Instincts
If you have to be reassured that the dress looks great on you, itâ€™s probably not â€œthe one.â€� If you canâ€™t see yourself walking down the aisle in it, move on. When you find the right dress, youâ€™ll knowâ€”you wonâ€™t want to put on anything else. Have some tissues handy; it will be an emotional moment!