Last summer I was looking for a second job and accepted a position as a stylist at David’s Bridal. It has been a great job and I have found some good friends in the ladies I work with; they probably had the most fun and enthusiastic reactions to the news of my engagement.
One of the best things about working at a bridal shop is getting to meet and hear the stories of so many different people. I enjoy getting to know the brides I meet, and it’s fun to help them find a dress that they feel beautiful wearing and that goes with the style of their wedding!
Although I have worked around wedding dresses for a while, I was not at all sure which dress–or even style of dress–I would choose for my own. And working there did not take away from the excitement of going to David’s Bridal to find my own wedding dress! Trying on dresses myself was so much different than helping others try them on. It actually helped change my perspective a bit as a stylist– so much so that hopefully the experience will make me an even better bridal stylist going forward!
So I thought, given my experience as a professional bridal stylist, I would share some things to think about when trying on wedding dresses.
Things to Keep in Mind When Wedding Dress Shopping: Tips from a Professional Bridal Stylist
1. What is the theme of your wedding?
One thing that is important to think about is your vision for your wedding. You can do what you want and anything goes, but when I was trying on dresses this helped me to decide on my dress. There were a couple of dresses I tried on that I really liked, but were much too formal for me. I had emphasized over and over to my family that this is going to be a simple wedding, so when I tried on more elaborate dresses, they were beautiful but did not really fit in with the vision that Brady and I had made for that day. Alternatively, you do not need to put your dress in a box. Just because you are having an outdoor wedding does not mean that you can’t wear a glamorous dress! Just think about how everything will fit together.
2. Who are you bringing with you?
Who you bring for your wedding dress shopping trip is an extremely important decision. As a stylist, I have seen many occasions when the bride becomes overwhelmed or confused when she is receiving advice from all eight people that she brought. On the other hand, family and friends have on occasion been extremely helpful in helping the bride better understand how she feels about the dresses she is trying on. I ended up bringing four people with me to try on dresses, which is an even bigger group than I had originally intended.
My mom, my two younger sisters, and Brady’s mom came with me. I was so glad they all got to be there and be a part of that day! It was helpful because they are all honest but also kind people. They asked good questions and shared their feedback for me, gently. And although my sister Emily oohed and ahhed over a couple dresses I tried on, she expressed that she really loved them for herself. That although she thought they were beautiful, she did not push me to try to choose them. My mom asked helpful questions about how I felt in certain dresses. Brady’s mom helpfully pointed out that my face lit up when I tried the dress that I ultimately decided on!
3. Express any must/must not’s to your stylist from the beginning, but be open to trying new things!
Okay, this sounds like a contradictory tip, but bear with me. If there are things you absolutely hate or love, then tell your stylist from the beginning! Stylists are there to help you and listen to you. It can be difficult for us to know where to start with a bride when she doesn't give us some info upfront.
Tell your stylist about the styles you enjoy and then let her help find you a dress you love. It's important to communicate what you love from the get-go. There were times when I brought the bride all the wrong things because I didn't know she wanted a dress with sleeves! However, it's also important to be open-minded. Sometimes brides will love a dress that they never would've chosen for themselves. Don't turn down different styles just based on a picture or the dress on the rack! You may just be surprised!
4. Trying on wedding dresses can be very stressful, emotional, and tiring.
I didn't realize until I was the one trying on dresses how much pressure being the center of attention can be. Not to mention, trying to make such a big decision! It's a very exciting process, but it can be extremely overwhelming at the same time. Sometimes it's better to talk to your stylist one-on-one in the dressing room, away from family and friends. For me, I can always assess my feelings better when I am alone for a few moments. I also express myself better when I am just talking to another person instead of a group.
Talking with your stylist will also help her to know how you are truly feeling about things. This will help her better understand what you want or need. Sometimes you need to go in a completely different direction with your dress choice. Other times you need to go back to that one or two that you liked from the beginning. And sometimes you just need to take a break, go to lunch, and then come back. Just remember to try to relax and…
5. Have fun!
Yes, this is an important decision. It can be an especially stressful one if you are a budget-savvy lady trying not to break the bank! This is the dress that you are going to get married in, so you should love how you look and feel in it. If you're big on dancing (in general or at your reception), dance around in the dresses you are trying on! Embrace the awkward way you look standing just in your bra and slip and absolutely do not focus on the size number on the tag of the dress! Imagine how excited your fiancé will be to see you in the dress you pick on your wedding day. Have fun with the people you brought, do not take things too seriously. Enjoy this time!
More Real Bride Advice: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Wedding Dress Shopping
Insider tips for shopping at David’s Bridal:
- A bunch of new dresses come in around December/January and June/July. This means that new options are coming in and lots of the older dresses are going on sale!
- You get more personalized attention if you come in during the week as opposed to the weekend. Saturday is the biggest day for most bridal salons. Your stylist will likely have a full day of appointments and will need to keep to her schedule. You most likely won't be able to take more than the allotted time for your appointment, so be mindful.
- If you need a plus-sized wedding dress, call ahead and ask whether the shop has a good selection available in your size.
- The best time to go dress shopping is usually about 5-6 months before your wedding. Each bridal shop is different, but that should give you enough time. You have to factor in finding a dress, ordering if necessary, and leaving time for alternations if needed prior to your wedding. If you're considering bridal portraits ahead of the wedding day, you may want to consider shopping even further out.
- Ask about the expected timing for ordering the dress and alterations. If you don't have enough time to order a dress before your wedding, you will need to find a dress in the store that you love and fits. That is fine; just realize that there may be fewer options!
- Do not shop too early or too late. If you go shopping before you are ready to buy, it will be difficult when you fall in love with a dress. Alternately, waiting until the last minute isn't a great idea either. It can be difficult to find what you're looking for if you wait until two months or less before the wedding.
- Look online first. Check out style options ahead of time to determine what you may be more interested in. Note: they probably won't have every single dress in the store in your size. But this at least gives your stylist an idea of where to start.
- Don’t think that you have to cry to know that it is your dress! Plenty of people cry when they find their dress, but lots don’t as well. It does not have to be a big dramatic moment! But it is okay if that is how finding your dress is for you! Everyone is different.
- The clearance rack can be a lifesaver and often has some more unique styles that don't fit everyone’s vision.
What is the most important thing to you in finding your wedding dress?
For me, I wanted something unique, simple, and comfortable, and I found a dress with all three for an amazing price! I also made up some new words in the process, because saying “floof-y” and “too princess-ey” are absolutely good descriptors for the way some dresses look!
Shopping for my wedding dress and saying “yes!” was so much fun. I hope all of y’all have just as much fun finding your dresses as I did!
Favorite Wedding Dresses from BHLDN