Two weeks ago, I pulled into the next station aboard the wedding planning express. I shopped for and found my wedding dress. So sorry, this post will not contain pictures of said dress but I will share some highlights from the day and what I did to plan ahead of time.
First, back in September I started looking for bridal boutiques around Atlanta. This process was very overwhelming because if you live in a metropolis, like myself, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed so I recommend starting with the basics:
- What is your budget? If it’s over $1000, you can probably go to a brick-and-mortar store and find a dress. If it’s less than that, you may be limited to the internet but there are beautiful dresses available less than $1,000! I have had many friends and coworkers sharing stories and photos of their fabulous dresses bought for a few hundred. Know your budget and know you CAN look fantastic on your day for any price.
- What is your timeline? I have 12 months before our ceremony but many couples have less than that. Most dresses, once ordered, can take up to 10 months to make. So plan ahead and ask if the dress you pick can be made in time for your big day.
- What alterations need to be made? Most dresses are made in standard dress sizes. After you plug in your measurements, you’ll know what size you are. If you are like me, you fall between sizes. I chose the larger of the two, knowing that I’d need to make alterations. Typical alterations can take 3 to 4 months: cups have to be sown into the bust, the hem (usually) needs to be adjusted you your height, a bustle needs to be sown in, etc. Everybody is unique so more than likely you will need some alterations, take these into account when you’re budgeting money and time. This topic brings me to sizing… It’s a hot issue that I got A LOT of feedback on before shopping. Some people to choose to size down and diet themselves into their dress, others recommend to stay where you are or size up so you don’t have to stress about losing weight. It’s such a personal choice, I chose to be happy with my current size and I picked that. But, you do you, no judgement.
- Whose opinions do you value? Most boutiques only allow you to have 4 to 5 individuals come with you. If you chose to invite that many loved ones, make your appointment REALLY far ahead of time. Typically, big parties require a full suite or a big couch to fit on. I made my appointment four months ahead of time and was able to invite 5 people: my mom and 4 best friends. I sent out an evite ahead of time to add a bit of fun and excitement to the appointment.
- Bring pictures of dresses you like to your appointment but be open! My key to success in dress shopping is being flexible. I went into my appointment with a bunch of pictures of what I wanted and what I thought I looked good in but what I ended up picking was nothing like what I brought. Turns out, I don’t look like the 6 foot tall models in the dresses that I saw online. It’s great to have an idea of what you want but be open to trying other things, you may surprise yourself! I only tried on eight dresses. The one I went with was number three. I put it on and knew it was the perfect one for me.
- Be vocal and alliterate. Trying on dresses can be very overwhelming. For me, it started to make things very real. This stress can ruin your entire appointment if you let it but try to work through it with words. Look at each dress and tell your consultant what you like, what you don’t, what you would change, and how you feel. For example, there was a beautiful dress that I got into and had literally no words. I just stood there knowing something wasn’t right. Finally I said, “It feels like I’m wearing someone else’s wedding dress.” It was so white and bridal, I knew it was what I would wear if I was a little girl dressing up playing bride. Surprisingly, this comment helped my consultant a lot.
- It’s probably not like Say Yes to the Dress 🙂 I have been watching TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress for years. I’ve pictured myself at Kleinfeld’s going through the whole rigmarole, crying, and spending $20,000 on a Pnina Tornai. However, more than likely, your appointment will not look like that (but it may, you do you). I didn’t cry but I knew I had the right dress by the joy I felt in it. I didn’t want to cry, I just wanted to smile! Moral of the story: don’t automatically think you haven’t found your dress because you don’t cry.
- It make take several shopping trips and several boutiques. I found my dress on my first trip but you may not. No shame in that but have other appointments planned and scheduled. I had two other appointments in the books that I was able to very easily cancel. Just keep in mind: flexibility, time, and your budget. The place I went to first was a sister location to the boutique my future sister-in-law got her dress from. (The White Magnolia. Cannot recommend it enough!) The other two places were ones I’d seen advertised on The Knot and Wedding Wire, online wedding planning websites.
- Accessories. This is last because it might not be at the forefront of your mind while shopping but it should be. Veils, jewelry, hair accessories, and shoes… these things add up really fast. So plan to shop for them the same day you find your dress or soon after. This way, you can get a full picture of what you will look like on your big day, and what you’re spending on it all.
I figured I’d include some of the dresses I tried on (and didn’t choose) here. We were not allowed to take pictures in them so I went onto the designer’s websites and pulled some. Enjoy.
Just like finding a husband or wife: once you’ve found the right one, stop looking!
Perhaps you hate the wedding posts? Perhaps you hate dress shopping? You do you, boo.