Alright ladies, it’s time to talk about probably the most anticipated part of planning a wedding… dress shopping! To be more exact, I want to talk about what to do before going shopping. Namely, research. Yep, I said it. Research. To go shopping.
Photo by ELV photographer Pure7Studios
If you haven’t already read my own dress story, definitely start there to get the backstory. In a nutshell: I DIDN’T do my research, was super excited to get a dress, acted too fast, settled for one, and then months later ended up getting my perfect dress. All of that could have been prevented by doing one thing. RESEARCH.
Yeah, I looked online and saw pretty dresses. And I even pretty much had a style and designer screaming to me from my plethora of saved dress photos, but I just didn’t realize it. In looking at dresses online, what I didn’t look for was WHERE those dresses were carried. I just expected the style and designer of the dresses I liked to be at whatever store I went to. Which happened to be whatever stores were the closest to me. Which were crap. And didn’t carry the designer that I loved. Again, this waste of time and money could have been avoided if I had just done a little more RESEARCH!
So on to this “research”. What steps did I miss, and what should you be sure to do? How about a little list of steps?
5 Steps of Research Before Wedding Dress Shopping
1. PHOTOS. The only way you’re going to know what dresses you like is by looking! Start off looking at photos online, magazines (lots of dress ads in magazines, in case you haven’t figured it out yet!), designers’ websites, etc. Try to stick to actual sites that have the dress photos on them and not something like a Google Images search- it will be easier to know the designer if you do that! And then of course save whatever you like.
2. REFINE. Just like with any other type of search for inspiration, you’ll want to weed out what doesn’t quite stand out to you after a few hours or days. Go back and look through everything again, remove photos, and refine your “collection” of dresses that you like. Repeat if necessary.
3. DEFINE. Here’s one of the places where I messed up and you’ll need to pay attention. You should see some sort of pattern once you’ve refined what you saved. It could be a fabric, a dress style, a type of embellishment, a color, or even a designer. Gather the similarities and define them. Know what it is that you’re liking so you can tell the dress store. (In my case, I knew I liked laced, but what I didn’t realize was that I was obsessed with a certain designer who had like 3 different lines of dresses, and I loved them all.)
4. PLAN. Plan your day(s) of dress shopping. Look up all of the bridal shops within an hour of where you live/where you’re shopping. Look up their reviews online too- I recommend WeddingWire. Some shops are just awful and will ruin your whole shopping experience, and some are awesome. If you can, try to avoid the awful shops- trust me on this. And if your heart is set on a designer, of course look up what stores carry that designer. (Here’s something interesting to know: Bridal shops have to be a certain distance apart from each other to be able to carry certain designers, so if you’re looking for a particular designer, you may have to take a little trip [I had to drive 2.5 hours].) It’s a good idea to make appointments at bridal shops- some are even by appointment only. All the more reason to plan out your day!
5. SHOP! And now you’ve done your research, and it’s time to shop! Remember, it’s okay if you don’t find “the one” at your first store or on the first day of shopping. Take your time, don’t rush. If you have trouble deciding, try to envision yourself in that dress walking down the aisle to your fiance. That’s what helped me. :) And most of all, have FUN!
Hopefully these tips will help some of you with the quest for your wedding dress! Just remember the key point here… RESEARCH! Those of you who already have your dress- how did you find yours? Did you research like crazy, or just let it happen? Share any tips that you feel will help other brides too!