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Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress: Tips to Survive the Hunt

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Looking for tips for finding the perfect wedding dress for you? Here’s a list of things to keep in mind.

Finding The Perfect Wedding Dress: Tips to Survive the Hunt

After four long months, my wedding dress finally came in! Last Tuesday, as I prepped (and primped!) for my first fitting, I got to thinking about my overall shopping experience. See, all of the ladies in my life had these fabulous stories about their dress hunt, but honestly, I wasn’t feeling it. I’ve always been a worrier and the big dress decision left me exhausted, rather than exhilarated.

So how does a nervous girl go about finding the gown of her dreams? With that question in mind, I made a list of advice that helped me go from stressed out to super-excited about the process (and of course, the dress!).  I have a hunch that there just might be a few kindred spirits out there who’ve also struggled with the nerve-wracking aspect of the hunt. I hope these pointers will ease your mind and help make your search for the perfect dress as awesome as you are.

Am I done yet? {Image Source}

Tips for Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

1. Expand your horizons

I found my dress at a boutique, which really surprised me. My amazing parents purchased my dress, with the caveat that I keep the price below $1200. Done! Although their gift was amazingly generous, the wedding gown industry is not exactly famous for its budget-friendly options. As a result, I began my search under the impression that a boutique would not have styles to fit my budget or sizes to fit, well, me. I was SO wrong on both counts. There is honesty in the phrase “You get what you pay for”, and in my case, I received attentive, personalized service, a designer gown that was within my price range, and a relaxed shopping experience. I think it’s important to note that I walked into the boutique on a whim and was paired with a consultant without a second thought—something that would rarely happen at a big-box store, where walk-ins are frowned upon or outright turned away. It reinforced my belief that it pays to shop locally!

2. Explore your options

Even though I found my dress at a bridal salon, I started off by checking out every option,  from big-box to online, to discount stores. I was ultimately unwilling to purchase a wedding gown online. Big-box stores yielded few results— a really bad experience at David’s Bridal in my hometown, followed up with a very good experience at Alfred Angelo—but at the very least, both stores have an extensive range of styles and sizes, which is integral if (like me) you need help nailing down a style. Plus, their hours are convenient, and their product is consistent.  That goes double for discount stores. I spent a very fun afternoon with my bestie, scouring racks and trying on armloads of dresses!

3. Know thyself (and be upfront with the pertinent details!)

One of the biggest tips for finding the perfect dress for your wedding day is to pick something that feels like YOU. Having even a rough idea of your ideal style will help guide your interactions with a sales consultant, which should result in an efficient and relaxed shopping experience. For example, our wedding ceremony will be held outdoors, and the reception is a relaxed, family-style affair.  So, aesthetically and practically, any dress up for consideration needed to be adaptable to those elements. My everyday style tends toward modesty with a 1950’s-era flair, so I knew immediately that my ideal gown would have a retro, party dress silhouette—no veil or train for me, thanks! Finally, don’t be afraid to shout your budget from the rooftops, because a savvy consultant will be able to pick options that won’t leave your wallet crying.

4. Be honest about what you don’t know

Over the past couple of years, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. As a result, my body has changed dramatically, and I was terrified that I would be walking into these shops clueless, and then walking out frustrated because I simply didn’t know which styles complimented my frame. I scoured Pinterest like a lunatic, but the sheer number of styles and industry terms left my head spinning. For example, part of my dress is Dupioni silk. Who knew? Who cares? Not me, but the bridal consultant I worked with knew, cared, and was able to explain what made that fabric different from others. With that in mind…

5. Keep an open mind

The perfect-for-you dress is out there, but maintaining a laser focus on what you want (or don’t), or nitpicking your perceived physical imperfection will frustrate and complicate matters! A knowledgeable salesperson should be able to pick options for/with you that will flatter your silhouette and make you feel amazing, even when you can’t properly vocalize what you’re searching for. And if they can’t? Be honest! If a style isn’t working for you, let the salesperson know. They don’t want to waste your time (or theirs!)  getting you in and out of dresses that don’t interest you.

6. Ignore the darn label

Let’s all pause here and take a moment to acknowledge the la-la land that is couture sizing. Crazy, right?  For example, I’m a street size 6/8. My wedding dress? Size 16. What?!  My point is this: It’s not news that gown sizes and street sizing differ greatly. Take a deep breath and let it go because it means nothing. Regardless of the size on the label, gown sizing correlates with specific body measurements, and a dress that is cut to your measurements = an AMAZING fit. I am happy to report that my gown won’t need alterations, which is 1– a huge savings and 2– a great segway back to the budget.

As I mentioned above, budgets are relative. While $1200 is a king’s ransom to me, it may be a drop in the bucket for a fellow bride. I am very, very lucky to have such amazing parents, because, when it came down to it, The Dress was $1125.

And you know what? I bought it without a second thought. When you know, you just know, right??

We hope these tips prove helpful in finding the perfect wedding dress for your own big day!



is a bride blogger who got married in 2014. You can read her wedding planning posts here.