You are glowing in wedding excitement! You've chosen your venue and it's time to plan for your wedding gown shopping. The dress that completely speaks to who you are and commands the attention of all of your wedding guests. Most of all makes your unsuspecting groom actually shed a tear.
You par ruse the aisles of magazine racks taking tear sheets out and collect them in your wedding binder. Your girlfriends begin sending you Facebook messages of unique dresses they found on Etsy and cheap bridesmaid options from Ebay. Most of which you think are nice but possibly make you second guess your bridesmaid selections. (LOL)
It's time to book the appointment.... Yes you need an appointment.
When selecting the perfect place to try on a gown that will not only make you feel good but give you the experience that you envisioned having ( think Bride Wars) firstly think about the dreaded wedding word,
B-U-D-G-E-T. If you don't have a wedding attire stylist ( Like the service that Adore Productions offers - click here for info) get info from girlfriends or just simply ask the stores when you call what their gowns start at and if they have a wide selection in your price range.
If you are a fashionista it's pretty easy to find out how much your gown will cost by looking it up online if you know the designer.
When you call typically the sales person will ask
1) What is your budget?
2) How many people you will bring?
3) Are there gowns or designers you are looking for?
What to bring:
1) Heel height you are comfortable with. Low and high option.- they don't need to be the shoes you are going to wear on the day.
2) A convertable nude bra and a strapless bra.
3) Seamless panties
4) Spanx and or Waist Cincher
5) Hair ties, Bobby pins.
Let's start with budget.
The most important thing when beginning the wedding gown shopping process is to keep an open mind. You might have an idea of something you think is absolutely stunning but when you put it on it's not as flattering as another style could be. You may have an idea of getting a Lazaro or Vera Wang but those things either don't fit into your budget or their sizes run small and your particular body type doesn't particularly look as amazing as it could in a Watters or Jim Hjelm.
Fabric is another biggie. Silk and lace are going to run much higher in price than a satin or acrylic gown. Any kind of beading also drives your budget up. You have to remember that wedding gown designers will have beading done by hand. Also when you select a gown with lace or beading at any hem ( bottom of skirt, sleeves, train, etc...) remember your alterations person has to either remove all of that and redo it or you can order a "hollow to hem" ( meaning hollow of neck to hem of dress). You will have to go shopping with the heel height you think you are comfortable with for the wedding in order to place an order for you gown should you find it.
Familiarize yourself with designers and what they cost. There are always designers that will copy a look from another designer. Therefore if you are comfortable with a certain look over a certain material you can find what you want for a lesser price.
Something that is also good to keep in mind when you are thinking about your dress budget is alterations. Simple alterations typically range from ($250 - $400). For a small nip and tuck and a bustle. Eliminating a need for a bustle by selecting a dress that doesn't require one will save you money. Also being pretty close to your wedding day size when you shop will help this as well. Shops will typically ask you to order a dress according to measurements taken upon the day you purchase. This helps protect them from making errors and a very upset you should the dress not be right. Sometimes they will take a order of a smaller size if you plead but it's not a good idea. Simply because most people say they are going on a wedding diet and 2 weeks before the wedding panic because they haven't lost the 30 lbs they wanted and now their dress is too small.
All of your gf's are probably really excited for you. Your first instinct may be to bring all of your bridesmaids to your gown appointment. Unless your wedding party is small ( under 3), I would strongly advise against this. If you are an eager bride and have watched any episodes of "Say Yes To The Dress" you will already have learned from watching this show that even your best friends, cousins, aunts, etc... can be cruel and shatter your wedding dress dreams before you can say "Pnina Tornai". The fact is just like your wedding day, this day is about you. Keep in mind it's your thoughts and feelings that truly matter. Keeping your gown shopping guest list short is a much more enjoyable experience. This is a good time to get to know your future mother in law. Your mom (or mother like person in your life) has probably been dreaming of this day for you for a long time along with your dad . You've probably chatted with your best friend more than once about style and she will be honest with you.
Those should be your top ( maybe only people) that come to appointments.
Never try to go alone. Wait until you can share the experience with someone special in your life. Not your fiance'. I've also seen fiance's totally ruin a brides fun in the wedding gown shopping experience by expressing too much in an appointment. Your fiance will love you in what ever you choose if you choose a gown you can exude confidence in. The reason why you also never do this alone is because you will want opinions about the dress on you and will be inclined to make a second appointment. It's not that sales people aren't happy to help in a second appointment but you are sort of wasting their time if you go alone. They might not show you the attention or the experience you might get if you bring at least your mom. Plus there is nothing like the feeling and emotion you experience with close friends or family when you find "the dress" and you all see it for the first time. Don't rob yourself or them of that moment.
I don't recommend going unless you are ready to buy. It's kind of like house shopping and being pre approved for a loan. A good sales person that is wonderful at their job can sense a "fake shopper" a miles away. You won't receive the attention you want in going through this process if you go without an intent to purchase. It doesn't mean you should buy out of guilt because of service but it's a good idea to be a true person in order to receive the best service possible by which ever boutique you select.
Above - Bride styled by Adore Productions. Romona Keveza Gown and Vera Wang Sash.
I found my style but I cannot afford it.
Hopefully this did not happen at the bridal shop. One of the biggest mistakes sales people make is showing brides gowns too far outside their budget. Don't do it. Because god for bid you find a dress $2000 - $3000 outside what you can pay.
If this does happen to you or you fall in love with a gown online and know you cannot afford it there are ways to get it for a lesser price. More and more bridal consignment shops are popping up. More than that, you can look to online wedding gown resale sites. Lots of brides resell their high end wedding gowns for a lesser price.
Another option is Sample Sales. Every season wedding boutiques clear out samples. If you are lucky enough to be a sample size have at it. Also more and more stores are carrying samples in different sizes therefore more popular gowns will be in more than one size to accommodate the masses.
Don't rule out alternatives
You can rent your dress and I personally have had a few brides do this not on;y for their gown but for the other dresses they wanted at all of the occasions leading up to the big day. Check out the gorgeous designer dresses at www.renttherunway.com This is also a great alternative for bridesmaids. Because no matter what we like to tell ourselves that we'll wear the dress again... we're girls, we really won't.
Here is a list of local shops to Minnepaolis/ St Paul MN:
Sioux Falls, SD:
Adore Offers a great styling service to help you find your gown efficiently and the fun way. We make the appointments, guide you to the right stores, go with to the appointments, and help style you, and your bridal party completely. Make it into a fun party! Check out the details here.
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