11th March 2022

20 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips for Finding the Perfect Gown

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As a bride you will be inundated with wedding dress shopping tips from the overly analytical to the downright unrealistic. Here’s our twenty top tips that will actually help you to find the perfect gown!


1 – Do Your Research

Of all the wedding dress shopping tips out there, this one is key. The world of bridal fashion is expansive and the number of options out there for brides is truly staggering. Taking the time to curate a Pinterest board of dresses that speak to you is key to finding the perfect dress when you finally go to shop.

Be sure to find images of brides with similar body types and styles to you. This way you can have a good idea of how the dresses will translate to your wedding.


2 – Buy a Dress in Your Current Size

The biggest mistake that brides make is to purchase a smaller dress as weight loss motivation. Firstly,  this feeds into toxic diet culture – you don’t have to be “thin” to be a happy, beautiful bride. Also, it can often really backfire. If you don’t lose the planned weight, or your weight distributes unexpectedly from newly gained muscles then it is much harder to make a dress bigger than it is to make it smaller.

Always purchase your gown in the size you are at your appointment. You can always have it made smaller, and the extra fabric can be used to embellish your bouquet.


3 – Don’t Leave it to the Last Minute!

Wedding gowns take 4-8 months to be manufactured. You then need to factor in alterations time, which could take at least a month. This is one of the most important wedding dress shopping tips, as there is no way you will have an enjoyable shopping experience if you are stressed because you have left it too late.

If you are having an ad hoc wedding, then off the rack sample dresses may be your only option. They are available to get in a short timeframe. You can also try shopping online, or renting a gown.


4 – Budget, Budget, Budget

The budget is key to have set firmly in place before you start shopping. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a gown only to find out that it is out of your price range!

Ensure your budget covers everything. This means your dress, alterations, accessories, etc. These less obvious costs can really add up, often to almost as much as the wedding gown itself.


5 – Assess Your Needs

Will your wedding have a theme, or specific dress code? Perhaps your venue has a certain look and feel that you want to emulate with your outfit.

Are you going to be marrying on a sunny beach, or in the snow covered alps? Will you need to be able to take your dress on an aeroplane?

These factors can be huge deciding factors on the kind of dress you will ultimately choose. It is vital that you nail down your needs prior to shopping. This way your consultant can pull dresses that are appropriate.


6 – Find the Right Salon for You

Once you have researched the style of dress that you like, you will probably have noticed that you favour certain designers. To ensure the salons you are booking with have the kind of dresses you like, you should take the time to call ahead. Check they carry your favoured designer, and if they have the dresses you like. Salons can order in dresses ahead of time upon request.

Sadly, bridal shop sizing is often very exclusionary. If you are plus sized it is always best to call ahead. This way you can ensure the salon will have samples available in your size to try on.

Check the bridal store’s website for their price range too. One of the best wedding dress shopping tips is to choose salons where your budget falls at least into the mid range of the store price range. This way you can be confident that you will have a decent range of gowns to try on, and you won’t be stuck with only their cheapest designs.


7 – Don’t Start at the Top of Your Budget

Once you have made it to the salon, there is an art to trying on gowns to make sure your shopping experience goes smoothly. Try on the most inexpensive of your consultant’s picks first, and work your way up to the pricier gowns. This way you can give each dress a fair assessment before deciding you need to up the ante.

This is particularly pertinent for brides looking for lots of embellishment. Embellishment and “bling” adds higher costs. However, you might find yourself falling in love with a mid range gown if you haven’t already tried on the budget bursting fully blinged out dress you saw in the window.


8 – Keep Your Shopping Party Exclusive

Thanks to shows like Say Yes to the Dress, family members and friends have begun to expect an invite to wedding dress stores. If you are a thick skinned bride this might be fine, but for most appointments too many cooks can spoil the broth.

Choose one or two trusted people to bring with you, and ensure they know some ground rules before you start shopping. For example, you can ask them not to mention any body or weight related criticisms.

One of the best wedding dress shopping tips I have ever heard, is that you don’t have to bring anyone at all. If you would rather shop for your gown alone, then do it! You may find this really helpful for your initial appointments while you are still trying to define your bridal style. You can always bring your family along to fittings.


9 – Wear the Right Underwear

wedding dress shopping tips

The first purchase you make for your wedding outfit should always be underwear. Whether it’s a really good strapless bra, basque or Spanx. This should then be test driven to every bridal appointment to make sure it is comfy and provides the right support for you. If you plan on wearing shapewear on your wedding day then you should bring this too.


10 – Consider the Silhouette

A great way to narrow down your wedding dress search is to settle on a silhouette. Do some research into different styles so that you can see how they look on different body types. You can even look inside your own wardrobe and consider your favourite outfits. What style do you gravitate to in your daily life? This could have a huge impact on your final dress choice.


11 – Choose Three Adjectives to Describe How You Want to Look & Feel on Your Wedding Day

Another way to narrow down your shopping choices is to settle on three adjectives that describe how you want to look and feel like on your wedding day. That could be “comfy, cool, and chic”; or it could be “romantic, elegant, princess”. Whatever three words suit you.

This is one of the best wedding dress shopping tips for brides who can get bogged down in the little details. Instead of fixating on the exact placement of an embellishment or seam, you can look at the bigger picture.


12 – Bring Your Bridal Shoes (Or Similar) To Your Appointment

wedding dress shopping tips

Height can play a huge role in how your dress hangs. This means that determining the height of the heels you will be wearing is key to finding a good fit. If you are a tall bride, some designers may not make gowns long enough to accommodate you plus a pair of stilettos. Make sure you bring your shoes to all of your alterations fittings too, so your tailor can cut the skirt to the perfect length.


13 – Don’t be Put Off by Hanger Appeal

Truthfully, some dresses just  look terrible on the hanger. But this doesn’t translate to how they will look on your body. Trust the consultant, trust the process, and give every dress a chance.


14 – Be Prepared for Multiple Shopping Trips

TV will have you believe that it is common to find your ideal dress on the first try, but this really isn’t the truth. You will need to schedule several appointments at different stores so you can narrow down your perfect gown.

It is always best not to overload yourself. Try and limit yourself to only trying a few dresses at each appointment and don’t try and squeeze too many appointments into the same day.


15 – Stand Your Ground and Only Say Yes if it is the One

It can be tough when you’re surrounded by people egging you on to purchasing a dress! But, if you have any doubts at all in your mind then do not say yes to the dress.

Likewise, if your entourage prefers a different dress but you feel like your favourite is the one then don’t let them sway you. It is your wedding, your dress, and your final decision. Yes, even if some of the entourage is contributing to the cost of the gown.


16 – Have a Friend Take Photos of You From Every Angle

Mirrors can be deceiving, so making sure you get to see yourself in the dress from every angle is imperative. This will also help you imagine how you will look in your wedding photos.


17 – Make Sure it’s Comfy!

You may not think this is your main concern, but you will have to wear your wedding dress for several hours. The last thing you want to feel on your wedding day is distracted by itchy lace, or sleeves that keep slipping down. Try sitting down in your dress, as well as dancing  at your appointment. This is the best way to make sure that it can cater to all of your needs.


18 – Consider Photography

wedding dress shopping tips

It is a great idea to curate a Pinterest board of wedding photo inspiration before you go wedding dress shopping. This way you can aim to purchase a gown that works with your preferred style. Bring photos of your chosen venue as well so you can make sure everything works in harmony.


19 – Be Honest With Your Bridal Consultant

You don’t need to be overly polite if you truly hate the dress they have pulled for you. Constructive criticism is vital if you want their next pick to be closer to your vision. It is mutually beneficial for you both if you help guide the consultant in the right direction.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries with your consultant too. If you want to request beforehand that they do not make weight loss comments etc then that is your right.


20 – Once You’ve Found Your Dress, Stop Looking!

We get it, wedding dress shopping is so exciting. It is one of the first things that makes wedding planning feel real, and makes you feel like a bride. However, once you have bought a dress, continuing to browse them online will only lead you to confusion. Stay confident that you have chosen a dress that you love, and stick to it.