You are about to indulge in one of the most enjoyable yet most frustrating experiences of your life; buying that all so infamous bridal gown! And, if you’ve been engaged for even longer than 10 minutes, you’ve already scoured every bridal magazine, leafing through the pages saying to yourself, “Nope, not like that” and “Yes, that’s what I want it to look like!” So at this point, you have an idea what direction you’re going to go in regarding style. But there are so many more factors so consider which I will cover to help the process.
First big question: how much can you afford to spend? Considering that wedding gowns can run between $100 and upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, this has to be your first consideration. And don’t forget, there is more to buy than just the gown. You’ll need to choose a headpiece, shoes, lingerie and jewelry as well as factoring in the alteration costs.
Once you have the top figure you can afford, now the hunt for the perfect gown begins. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to check out some of the bridal discount centers. These places specialize in beautiful gowns at bargain prices. How do they do it? They buy over runs or last year’s styles at a fraction of the cost which they pass along to you. Will anyone know that it is last year’s design? Of course not! And the savings can be as high as 80% off the gown’s normal retail price!
Keep in mind, that the more ornate, beaded and lacy that the gown is, the higher its price. And as you’re shopping, keep an open mind. Many of the most beautiful gowns look terrible on the hanger. When I went looking for a gown with my daughter, she kept passing this one gown that looked like a rag hanging there. She kept going back to it, because it had the beadwork on the bodice that she loves. I finally convinced her to try it on, and that ended up being her dream dress.
The next step in the hunt is to narrow the field down to 3 dresses. You must do this or you will never make a decision. Go back and try them all on again, even if you have to travel from shop to shop. Look at each one closely. How would you feel walking down the aisle in that dress? If your answer is that you’re not sure, then move on to the next. This is your day! You need to feel like the most beautiful woman in the room. Go with your gut when choosing your gown. It will not lie to you.
Now that you have the gown, look at the tag, and mark down the manufacturer and style number. If it isn’t on the tag, then ask the salesperson for it. If they won’t give it to you, move on. You don’t want to do business with them anyway. Once you are armed with that piece of information, call many different bridal shops in your area and ask them if they carry that gown. If they don’t have it in stock, ask them if they could order it. Most will say yes. Then ask the price. It works. You will save a lot of money. I’m living proof. I can remember just last year what happened to my son’s fiance and purchasing her wedding gown. She found a dress that she loved and wanted to purchase it right then and there. Note: once you put money down on a gown, most places will not refund your deposit if you cancel. I got the designer/manufacturer and the style number. I called many bridal stores. About 25% of them would not give prices over the phone. The rest all gave me a figure. In the end, she saved 60% off the original price in that first shop. I was stunned along with her. Never saw a savings like that. Just proves that markup is different from store to store. Do your homework!
When you’re about to order your gown, the salesperson will take the measurements of your bust, waist and hips. Unless you have a perfectly proportioned body (yeah right) then you’re going to end up needing some alterations. Every manufacturer has a way of measuring that cutting their gowns. So don’t get upset if you’re a size 10 and they order you a 14. It means nothing. Have the salesperson show you a sizing chart and check that your measurements line up with the sizing. People are human and make mistakes. The last thing you need is to have your gown arrive in the wrong size! And don’t forget to ask how long it will take for your gown to be shipped, making sure there’s enough time to allow in case something does go wrong.
When the gown finally arrives and you go for your first fitting, have the undergarments and shoes that you will be wearing on your wedding day with you. Honestly, if I was to splurge on one thing, it would be on the undergarments. You’re going to have them on for probably 10-12 hours. Make sure they fit right and are comfortable and are closest to your skin color. Many bridal stores will tell you white, but if your gown has even the littlest bit of transparency, it will look too opaque.
You’re ready to go. The hunt is on. Enjoy this time. Don’t get too stressed over this. You’ve got an entire wedding to plan. And don’t worry, you will look beautiful. After all, it is your day.