Wedding Wisdom: The Dress, etc.

At the tailor's after she worked her magic!

At the tailor’s after she worked her magic!

As our wedding day rapidly approaches, I’m realizing that after ~1.5 years of planning I’ve learned a few things, and I should share that advice with others. Of course, the most important part of planning the wedding surely isn’t the dress, but it’s certainly a fun place to start!

Before you go dress-shopping, here are a few things to think about:

1) Set the budget. Be realistic: the cost of your dress should really be no more than 3-5% of your total wedding budget (at most!). It is likely that you will have to alter the dress to fit you perfectly, which can cost several hundred dollars or more, depending on the work done. You have the options of purchasing a new dress that you order from a boutique or store (or having it custom-made by a designer, usually $3000+), buying a store sample or overstocked item during a sale or show, thrifting a wedding dress, or renting. Most stores will offer a price range if you call them, so do that before you walk in. Most brand-new wedding dresses cost at least around $1,000 (and can cost far more). If you’re looking to pay much less than $1,000 for the dress, I suggest looking beyond the boutique or atelier.

2) Find a good vendor. Whether you are designing, purchasing, thrifting, or renting, you must find a place with a good reputation. Not only will they make the experience far more enjoyable, they will also ultimately save you time and money. Look on Yelp and other wedding websites for recommendations. If you live near a major city, see if there is a “locals” wedding website.
3) Know what you like, but be open-minded. Spend some time looking in bridal magazines or wedding sites (Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, and Ruffled are great). and make a list of what you like or don’t like. But keep in mind that it will be your dress on your body, not on a model or a bride on the blog. There are plenty of sites out there that will tell you what looks good for your height, body type, etc. And after some research, go in with an open mind. What you like in photos might not work for you (I thought I wanted a lace back!), and something you weren’t sure about could look amazing.
4) Be as prepared as possible. Schedule an appointment, preferably with someone who comes highly recommended. Bring a friend/family member (too many, I found, is stressful!). Take a strapless bra and heels that might be a good height. If you already have questions, write them down.
Once you get to the store:
1) Allow yourself to browse. Depending on the store, your stylist may have picked out some things for you based on your preferences. If not, ask them for recommendations, but don’t rush.
2) Select as ideal a dress as possible. DO NOT expect the tailor to “fix everything.” She/he can do it, but it will be costly. If you can, find a dress that already has the fabric, shape, embellishments etc. that you like so that you only have to pay for it to fit like a glove.
3) Draw boundaries and insist on your budget. Stylists will often say you look beautiful in something that is just okay– let them give you advice but make the final call yourself. Take pictures of each dress from different angles and take your time. Expect to try on lots of dresses and make several trips. The more you try on, the better you know what works for you.
4) Leave the store without purchasing. Especially if you’re investing in a new dress, don’t order it just yet. Give yourself a couple of days (or weeks!) before going back and ordering the dress. They will require a down-payment and begin processing the transaction with the dress maker.
5) Hold them to a high standard. When the dress comes in, and you go to try it on, examine it thoroughly. Are the hems complete? Does the fabric cohere? Is it sloppy? What do you need the tailor to do? Unless the dress is completely ideal, do not take it home just yet. Push the vendor to make sure it is 100% what they promised it would be– a new, neatly-made dress that is as close to your size as possible.
To you ladies out there looking for the prefect dress, Congratulations! Enjoy this process. And remember that a gorgeous wedding dress is only meant to reflect what’s on the inside– a radiant, beautiful woman who is ready to enter a new season with the man she loves!
Me in not the right dress...

Me in not the right dress…