Thanks to shows like Say Yes to the Dress, the bridal dress shopping experience has become an event. Many brides book dozens of appointments at a variety of boutiques and spend days on end traipsing through shops with bridesmaids in tow. According to Beth Chapman, owner of The White Dress by the shore, there is nothing wrong with saying yes to your dress at your very first boutique! Read on as we debunk some common concerns you may have!
What are some keys to finding the right dress?
Identify your style, establish a budget, and do your research!
"The process can easily become overwhelming," explains Beth. "I find the best first step in finding your gown is to identify your personal style. Think about whether your personal fashion aesthetic is more classic, bohemian, eclectic, or trendy. More than likely you will find that the aesthetic that you have identified mirrors the style of gowns that you are pinning on Pinterest".
"Next, it is important to identify a budget. Do some research to make sure that your budget is realistic and shop with intention. But, before you book your first appointment ensure that you have done your research. Make sure that the bridal store that you plan to visit has the aesthetic and designers that you are interested in and that their price range fits within your budget. This will ensure that you are starting the process on the right foot! Also, I don't recommend that you begin shopping for your gown until you have selected both your wedding date and venue. It can be difficult to select a gown when you cannot envision where you will be wearing it."
How many shops should I visit?
Beth feels that a bride should limit the shopping experience to 1-2 shops.
"If you have done your research and ensured that the bridal stores you are visiting are ones that carry what you are looking for, this should be more than sufficient. Visiting too many stores can be overwhelming and ultimately detrimental to your decision-making process."
When do you know to stop shopping?
"When you have found a gown that you don't want to take off, that is surely a great sign! Brides often think that they can't, or shouldn't, purchase a gown on their first shopping visit. If you have tried a various selection of silhouettes, fabrications and necklines and have been able to narrow your choices down, then it is ok to say YES - even if it is your first time! By doing your research about designers and boutiques in advance, you are helping to pre–vet your decision. The key is to work with a reputable bridal store and have an open mind to try on things recommended by your stylist.
I often say, finding your gown is liking committing to your fiancé. There might be other attractive and intriguing people out there, but you have found the perfect one for you! There is no need to keep looking!
Does everyone have that 'moment' where they know they've found the right dress?
"They do not. Brides are often waiting for that emotional moment when they or a member of their family cries. This may not happen, so don't set yourself up for disappointment! Instead, wait for the moment when you put on a gown that you can perfectly picture yourself standing in your venue and posing for bridal portraits. Or, that moment when you feel like you don't want to take the gown off... those are much more realistic expectations."
It's a big decision — Don't I need to see everything out there?
"It is a big decision! But, over-shopping can lead to confusion. Trying on too many gowns can ultimately damper what is meant to be an incredible part of your engagement journey. Often your favorite gowns turn into a 'sea of white', as they start to blend together in your mind. Do your best to narrow your selections while you are still in the store."
"I do not recommend relying on photos (if the bridal store allows you to take them) to make your final decision. Often the gowns are not your size, the lighting is not perfect and of course, your hair and makeup is not done. It is very difficult to make a final decision on your perfect gown when you are not standing in it."
Finally, Beth offers some expert advice to ease your fears: "The key is to ensure that you are trying on a variety of designers and silhouettes to help you to narrow down your choices. Shopping for your gown should be a memorable and positive experience. Follow your gut and your heart, even if it is on your first outing...neither will steer you wrong!"
Style Me Pretty Contributor - Goli Parvinian is a bridal enthusiast and masters student living in Melbourne, Australia. Over the past few years, she has worked for bridal brands in her hometown of Chicago, New Zealand and New York City. You can typically find her in a cafe, face-timing her nieces or out on a long run.