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5 Best Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Models pose in wedding dresses of all sizes and shapes pose at Hotel Henry

5 Best Tips for Wedding Dress Shopping

Everyone has tips for wedding dress shopping, but some are outdated or not specific enough. We’re bringing you the best advice from a custom wedding dress designer from me, Ali Eagen, owner of Upstate Indie Weddings & Made by Anatomy! Picking out the perfect wedding dress can be extremely stressful but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you want a custom dress or a made-to-order gown, our directory has a wide variety of wedding dress vendors that are perfect for every bride at any size or shape! REMEMBER: You’ll want to factor alterations in your timeline, so pick out your wedding dress nine months before your wedding date to be safe!

Start Insta-stalking sooner rather than later

Shopping for a wedding dress is unlike any other dress you’ll buy. This is mostly due to the sticker shock, along with the fact that it’s made to order and will need to be altered to fit your body and your tastes. It’s so important to get an idea of what style you find attractive or looks flattering.

Start to visualize what your style is and create a collection of styles, necklines, details, colors, and accessories that speak to you. Don’t try and curate it yet – you’re ideating! Whether it’s pinning wedding dress inspo, looking at celebrity styles or insta-stalking bridal boutiques in your area, do your research!

Once you’re ready to move on, look for a connecting theme. Are a lot of the photos that you’re drawn to lacy, mermaid style, simple, feathery? Find a few commonalities of styles you like and bring your ideas to your first appointment. Having a direction will make the consultation process much smoother.

Wear that dress, don’t let the dress wear you

Many brides go in thinking they want one type of style & look, and end up choosing a dress that’s completely different than what they thought they wanted. Sometimes knowing what you DON’T want is extremely helpful and a great stepping stone. Your dream dress’s shape should flatter your body. 

A fit-and-flare is both contemporary and traditional and works on many body types. A simple sheath dress is best on tall, svelte brides. A voluminous ball gown adds drama, but a petite frame can get lost in it. Mermaid styles show off curves like your favorite pencil skirt, so if you don’t want to add attention to your curves, keep that in mind. 

Do yourself a favor and break down some dance moves, practice your walk down the aisle, kneeling for a church wedding and various photog poses while you’re in it at the salon. You’re not going to want to feel constricted or feel like you’re spilling out all over the place!  The dress should move how you want it. Don’t be a prisoner to it. 

PRO TIP: Bridal sizing means your gown’s number is usually one to two sizes higher than what you wear in your regular clothes. Even if the idea of bigger sounds horrifying, remember that no one is gonna know the number but you and your consultant. Stay true to your “bridal size” as much as possible, even if you intend to lose a few pounds before the big day. It’s easier to take a dress in than trying to work with one that’s way too snug. Your tailor will truly love you. 

Pay attention to the fabric

In addition to silhouette, color, and embellishments, the fabric makes a difference in how a gown will look on you. Keep in mind, every dress is going to look different on you than it did on the rack! A heavier, more structured material will hold its shape and smooth your figure. While unstructured silk and flowy chiffon can be less flattering for brides with curves. PRO TIP: stretch crepe is one of the hottest and most sought-after fabrics right now for its weight, durability and comfort!

Style TF outta that wedding dress, girl

The final look all comes down to how you style your dress. Some brides prefer a simple look by adding a pair of diamond earrings and calling it a day. While other brides add handworks like embroidery and beading, which adds cost to the dress. Of course, if it’s your style and your budget permits it, GO FOR IT! Embroider that dress to the Gods!

Make sure you ask your stylist to show you some other accessories, like belts, headpieces, veils, and other accouterments that help you visualize the entire look. In a lot of cases, though, these things can always be added once you’ve found your dress – so don’t feel rushed to find everything at the first appointment.

Model poses in white wedding dress against colorful floor and pink wall

Pick a price point and try to stay there

The average cost of a wedding gown is around $1,600. In today’s insanely competitive bridal gown market – you can really get a great deal on a pretty well-made wedding dress if you’re up for the hunt. I will say this – the better brands, which ultimately cost more – are always better quality, with higher quality materials which are MUCH easier to alter.

Sure, you can get lucky and score a sale on a sample gown, or even find a once-loved gown on-line – but your best bet is to always start with a reputable boutique. Between all of the bridal shops on our directory, you can easily find something from the lower end to the higher end – it’s totally up to what’s most important to you on the big day. Keep in mind that alterations will run you anywhere from $200 up to $500+ for the best!

Models pose against green foliage in white wedding gowns at Buffalo Botanical Gardens.

The most important thing is that you’re crazy in love with your dress before you buy it. If it doesn’t give you butterflies when you first put it on, she’s not the one! There’s no shortage of wedding dress, you just need to find what works for you and your body!

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