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Finding THE Dress

Alyssa McClure - March 14, 2015

When I got engaged, the first question everyone asked was always, "have you found your dress yet?" For me, the process was easy because I work at a bridal boutique. For many of my friends, however, the process was more stressful than fun. In my (admittedly biased) opinion, finding a dress should be the most fun part of wedding planning! The dress helps you envision the day, and decide on everything from décor to colors and flowers. I want finding your dress to be an amazing and easy experience, so take advantage of a little professional advice on the best way to shop for the dress!

Do Some Research

For starters, it is important to do a little research before going shopping. It is so helpful for your consultant if you have an idea of what you want. Familiarize yourself with some key terms like silhouette, neckline, and bustle. These things will just help you verbalize what you want. If you can nail down a basic style, it will help the shop pull things you are most likely to want. Most boutiques will have a list of the lines they carry on their website. Take advantage of this before your appointment, and check it out to get an idea of which ones fit your personal style best.

Determine a Budget

Like we talked about last week, having a budget is super important (if you missed it, check it out here). Decide on it before you go shopping, so you don't feel awkward asking in front of your entourage. Know where you want to be, so you are trying on things that are reasonable. If your budget is $1500, DO NOT try on a dress that costs $5000. If you've ever seen Say Yes to the Dress, you have heard this golden rule. I cannot stress how important this is. If you stick to your budget, you will find something that will make you happy. If you try on a dress that's double what you want to pay, dresses in your budget won't be able to compare anymore. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with a lower budget dress. All that matters is that you look and feel beautiful.

Make an Appointment

For big national chains, like David's Bridal, this isn't as imperative. If you're looking at boutiques, many of them will be appointment only, and often they will book up weeks in advance for Saturday appointments. This will assure that there is a room for you and a consultant available.

Limit Yourself

The temptation to go to every boutique within driving distance is going to be strong. It's best, however, if you limit yourself to three or four. You'll likely try on 8-10 dresses at every store you're in, and it's impossible to keep track of them all. Many bridal shops don't even allow pictures, so you're depending entirely on your memory to keep a list of which dresses you liked and in which order. Keeping your dresses to a minimum will keep you from getting confused or overwhelmed.


Again, the motto here is the fewer the better. It seems like a great idea to bring half your sorority and have a party. The truth is that too many people only lead to way too many opinions. If you love a dress, but your second cousin just spent five minutes bashing it, it's going to be almost impossible to get what she said out of your head. Take people who really know you, your style, and are supportive of the vision you have for your big day. In general, I would say it's best to keep the entourage under five people. This way if you do have a voice that's important to you, like a family member or best friend, it doesn't get lost in the shuffle, and they aren't afraid to be honest with you.

Have an Open Mind

Sometimes, no matter how many pictures of fitted lace dresses you have pinned on Pinterest, you hate the way fitted lace dresses look on you. If you've tried on three or four of the same style and they just aren't working, give another look a try. Try on a ball gown, a dress made of taffeta, a different neckline. Willingness to branch out will help you find something that looks best on you. Don't be afraid to ask for suggestions. A good consultant should be able to tell after seeing you in a few dresses what will work well on your body type. You wouldn't believe how many girls I've had come in asking for a lace mermaid and left with a tulle ball gown. Sometimes, being willing to branch out will lead you to the dress you didn't even know you'd been dreaming of.

Remember What's Important

Finally, it's important to remember what matters most in a wedding dress, and that is that you feel beautiful and comfortable. If being comfortable means you don't get the sleeves you wanted, so be it. When you aren't comfortable in your dress, it shows. You will notice it in your pictures, and your family will ask you about it. You are going to be wearing this dress for up to 8 hours, and you will be standing, sitting, dancing, and eating. Comfort is of upmost importance.

The perfect dress is out there for you, and finding it is a huge piece of the puzzle. Following these few guidelines will make your search so much easier. No matter what you're looking for, you can find it with a little research, and an open mind! And while you're at the bridal shop, don't forget to think about your bridesmaids! If you're just starting to plan your wedding and unsure what is right for you, subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and check out these blogs to learn how to plan a destination wedding or how to plan a themed wedding! If your wedding date is a bit closer, find the answers to some of the toughest wedding planning questions and learn which traditions are really required! Let us know how else we can help by Tweeting at @bridalbprint, commenting on our Facebook page, or commenting below. Tag your questions #AskAlyssa and we will get back to you ASAP. And as always, happy wedding planning!

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