DOs and DON’Ts of Wedding Dress Shopping

February 9, 2017

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Wedding dress shopping can be stressful. Most women dream about their wedding day and dress as a young child and it can be stressful to try and live up to the expectations you set for yourself. You don’t want to regret the biggest purchase you ever made. When thinking about buying a dress take it slow and enjoy it but there are some key things you should think about when buying your dress. Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts to get you started. Good luck on your wedding dress journey and congratulations on your engagement.

DON’T schedule your wedding dress appointment late in the day.

The early bride gets an energetic bridal store staff that hasn’t dealt with the concerns of a million clients already. Getting one of the first appointments of the day will usually mean that the bridal shop will be less crowded and you’ll have the full attention of your consultant.

DO focus first on finding the best wedding dress silhouette for you.

Details are important…but before you start deciding what details you want your dress to have, find out the best silhouette for your body shape.This will help your consultant know what to choose for you and will keep you from getting discouraged when a dress that has all the details you want doesn’t look good on your figure.

If You’re Pear-Shaped

Look for: A skirt that gradually flares out in an A formation from the natural waist to the floor will highlight the narrowness of the midsection and float away from the hips and thighs. A spaghetti-strap bodice or a V neckline will also showcase a more slender upper body.

Keep in mind: A classic A-line silhouette lends itself to formal weddings, but it can also be dressed down when made from a more casual fabric, like eyelet lace.

If You’re Busty

Look for: A dress with a scooped neckline. This will open up your face and display your décolletage without showing too much cleavage. If you love the look of strapless gowns, choose one that has a slight dip along the neckline, like a sweetheart, rather than a style that goes straight across as this can tend to make your bust look even larger.

Keep in mind: Fabric on the bodice that has a sheen to it (such as organza, satin, or silk) will add volume and call attention to your chest. Material that is ruched will have the same effect.

If You’re Plus-Sized

Look for: An Empire dress with a skirt that begins just under the bust and flows into a gradual floor-length A-line. Make sure the Empire seam does not start on the chest and that there is no pleating of the fabric, which is reminiscent of maternity wear. The dress should play up your shape; if it’s too loose, it will add pounds.

Keep in mind: Find fabrics like satin that provide structure, rather than anything too flowy. If you love the romantic look of airier fabrics, choose a gown with a stiffer base, then add an embroidered tulle overlay.

If You’re Apple-Shaped

Look for: A dress that cinches in at the smallest point on the waistline, then flares out into a gradual A shape. Go for a bodice with a lot of texture to it such as ruche or lace detailing that will camouflage and fit snugly, creating a corset like effect. The most slenderizing neckline for you will be anything with a deep V which will draw eyes toward the vertical, not the horizontal.

Keep in mind: Avoid trumpet dress styles, which emphasize the area where your body is widest and flare out at the legs and the knees, where you are most slender.

If You’re Tall

Look for: A simple silhouette. The strategy is to emphasize your natural shape, so every aspect of the dress―the lower waistline and a floor-sweeping hem―needs to reflect your longer proportions. If you’re wearing long sleeves, they should go past the wrist..

Keep in mind: Because you are statuesque, you’ll want to err on the side of simplicity when it comes to embellishments. Too many bells and whistles, like ruffles and rosettes, can come off as cutesy, particularly on a tall person.

If You’re Straight-Lined

Look for: A dress that will create curves where you don’t have them. Try a sheath dress in a wispy charmeuse that’s cut on the bias; the curving side seam will give you a va-va-va-voom silhouette. Or look for a ball gown that cinches in at your natural waist and descends into a full, flowing floor-length skirt: This will give you the illusion of hips and curves.

Keep in mind: If you have a small bust, look for a bodice with some ruching to create volume.

If You’re Petite

Look for: Trumpet, sheath, and modified A-line gowns. Find a style with a waistline above your natural waist, to make the lower half of the dress (and therefore you) appear longer.Keep the detailing small (no huge bows) and limited to the bodice, to draw the eye upward.

Keep in mind: Be wary of dresses with a dropped waist, which will make your legs seem nonexistent, and ball gowns―it’s easy to get lost in that voluminous skirt. Also, avoid anything calf-length, which will make your legs look short.

If You’re Small-Chested

Look for: A ruched bodice. Extra fabric up top will help fill out your upper body and create the illusion of curves. Lightly padded halter styles will also do the trick.

Keep in mind: The right bra will always provide a nice boost, but as many wedding dresses are strapless or backless, your undergarment options may be fairly limited. Instead, try self-adhesive silicone bra cups.

Here’s a great visual to help you out!

DON’T forget about the top of your wedding dress.

A majority of the time people will be looking at the top of your gown and that is what will show up most in the photos of your day. So while a gorgeous hem and train might be what you’re looking for be sure to also check out the top of your dress to make sure it’s just as gorgeous as it’ll be in all your photos. Here are some of the most popular necklines so you can be descriptive when talking with your consultant.

DON’T pick a wedding dress just because it’s trendy now.

Trends come and go and your wedding gown should be timeless. It should be something that you look back on 50 years from now and think…I still love that gown! It should also be comfortable. Make sure you sit down in it to see how it feels. Drop waist and mermaid gowns are gorgeous but can sometimes be too tight when sitting.

DO bring your camera wedding dress shopping (if the bridal shop allows it).

If the shop allows, photograph your dress possibilities instead of putting all your trust in the mirror. Mirrors are used to sell dresses—cameras don’t lie. Because you’ll be looking at the photos of this dress for years to come you’ll want to photograph it to see exactly what you look like. One potential snag: Some boutiques don’t allow dress photography. Call ahead to see if you can take a few photos for decision-making purposes only.

DO try on as many wedding dresses as you need to…

Almost any dress can look gorgeous on a hanger (or it can look terrible). Resist snap judgment. Once a dress is on your body, it takes on a different shape and look. This means you’ll want to try on many dresses and you should. Don’t feel pressured by the people you bring with you or the sales associate to pick a dress as soon as possible. Just as it takes time to find a husband or wife, it takes time to find the perfect gown. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the perfect dress immediately.

…but DON’T try on too many wedding dresses.

I’m not trying to confuse you—I just mean that you shouldn’t feel forced to try on more or fewer gowns than you want. Too many dresses can lead to wedding gown overload and a lot of unneeded stress. Follow your gut. If you put it on and instantly feel like you’re walking taller or more confident than ever, that is your dress.

DON’T feel like you must bring an audience when you try on wedding dresses.

You’ll feel pressured to bring all your family and your friends so you have more opinions and so no one feels left out. The result can sometimes be negative. Too many opinions can overwhelm you. Remember that this is your day and your gown. Again go with your gut and don’t feel pressured to love a gown you hate. Bring people who will give you opinions but not be too opinionated and people who will bring a calming atmosphere with them.

DO wear a gorgeous bra when you’re trying on wedding dresses.

On wedding dress try-on day, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your skivvies. Wear something that makes you feel confident so that if it takes a little longer to find that perfect gown, you won’t get too upset. Plus, a well-fitting bra can actually help in your search. Go to a department store that has a bra fit specialist, or a lingerie shop, and get fitted for a new bra. You are going to be wearing a gorgeous dress on your wedding day, so there’s no excuse for wearing a ratty bra. If you’re wearing a corset lingerie set under your wedding dress you’ll want to bring that your consultation. Corsets minimize your waist and you’ll want to know what your dress will look like over what you have planned to wear underneath. If you already know what you’re going to wear under your gown be sure to bring it with you so  you can see the full picture.

DON’T forget that all wedding dress and accessory sales are usually final.

No pressure…This is a serious reminder to try on all parts of your wedding day attire and be sure before you buy. Try the veil and other accessories on with your dress so you can see if they go together. If you get a cream gown you will most likely not want a stark white veil throwing off the gown. Also think about your location. You won’t want a princess gown for a beach wedding or a plunging neckline or back for a religious church ceremony. You don’t want to regret purchasing an expensive accessory that you can’t return.

DON’T freak out about wedding dress sizing.

Bridal gowns run two to three sizes larger [than your regular size]. Pay attention to how it looks, not what the label reads. It takes some time to realize that with wedding dresses it’s not about the size it’s about fit and the feel. Don’t even bother looking at the size as it’s all about how you look in the gown and seeing a number higher than you’re used to can cause undo stress.

Now that you have a few key things to remember I’m going to give you one last piece of advice. Some brides don’t have that “WOW this is it!” moment that you’ll see on some wedding gown t.v. shows. Sometimes brides get a feeling of calm and relief and some just think “yeah this is it”. Just because you don’t have an epiphany when you put on your dress does not mean that it’s not The One. If you stand taller and feel beautiful and confident then that is the dress for you. Also don’t forget that when everything is done you’ll be married to someone who loves you no matter what so don’t stress to much about the details.

Are you on the hunt for your wedding gown or have you already picked it out? If so how did you feel when you found The One?

Your future family heirlooms await.