Tips: Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Dress

Arguably one of the most important aspects of your wedding is that white, flowy, formfitting, one-of-a-kind dress that makes you feel like a princess!

We’ve all ripped pages out of the magazines and took notes while watching those wedding dress TV shows, but what exactly can you expect when you finally head out to find your perfect wedding dress?

What’s it going to be like? Will it be fun or stressful? Will I get that feeling when I put on the one?

I recently went searching for my dream dress so I thought I’d share with you a few things I experienced — and learned — during my once-in-a-lifetime dress buying adventure.

Shopping for your wedding dress should be a fun and exciting time in your life.

No stress, no worries, just a wonderful shopping experience with you and your girls, and most bridal stores will make it feel that way. It actually is just as you see on TV: you sit in a room and wait while your consultant pulls dresses she thinks you’ll like. And yes, some of the swankier boutiques do hand out champagne.

However, be wary of the dress warehouses. If you’re a budget conscious bride like me, you may be tempted to try your hand at the massive dress stores with a ton of selection and cheap prices. I made that mistake and I beg you not to do the same.

This is what you’ll be faced with:

Racks and racks of similar looking gowns that you’ll have to rummage through all by yourself. If you choose this route, a maze of gowns is no doubt something you’ll run in to, and figuring out how to navigate through it…well, let’s just say it can become very frustrating.

Some of you may get lucky and find a dress in all that mess, I’ve seen it happen. So if you do plan to brave a dress maze, my advice to you would be to bring a large entourage with you. Each of you take a corner and work your way in. That’s the only way to do it.

Note: This is the one and only time bringing a lot of people with you is a good idea. Otherwise keep it to a maximum of three people. I had only brought my mom and my MOH with me and it was perfect.

Too many people means too many opinions and that can only lead to confusion, frustration and tears.

I went to four stores altogether. The first was a small local shop that didn’t have much selection beyond the poofy princess gowns. I was able to find a slimmer fit-and-flair style that I absolutely loved and I could totally see myself walking down the aisle in it. But after thinking about it, I just wasn’t ready to commit so soon.

A month later I packed up and flew to Toronto — where I’m originally from — for a shopping marathon determined to find another dress that topped it.

I had three appointments that day. The first was at the ever-popular David’s Bridal that I’m sure many of you have heard of before. I had heard that that’s where you find the best selection at great prices so I was all for it.

And for the most part it was a great appointment. I did end up finding a fabulous Vera Wang well below my price point. But I wasn’t done searching just yet.

The second appointment was a great little boutique where my MOH had found her dress. It was amazing!

My consultant was just so sweet and knew exactly what I wanted. After the hour-long appointment I had found two dresses that I loved.

The final store was that terrible dress warehouse I mentioned before. We walked in, were pointed to the rows upon rows of dresses and were told to start looking. We had managed to find a few dresses to try on but none were close to what I was looking for. We ended up leaving halfway through the appointment.

That night I dreamed about one of the dresses I had tried on at store #2, so the next day my mom and I — and I dragged two of my bridesmaids along too, and it was great having the extra opinions that time — headed back to the store, I tried it on again and…I said “yes” to the dress! It was so exciting!

But it wasn’t until I went back there and tried it on again that I knew it was the one. So perhaps you should all keep this in mind:

You may not get that feeling right away or you may never get it and that’s OK. If you know in your heart that it’s the one then it’s the one — you’ve found your perfect wedding dress.

Happy searching!

Photos courtesy of: trec_lit, Simona Balint, Robert Linder

P.S. Here’s a sneak peek of my dress shopping experience…

As you can tell from the indecisive and unamused expression on my face, this isn’t the dress I chose. That dress is a surprise! *wink

Tell me about your shopping experience. What you learned, what you enjoyed, what you hated — I’d love to hear all about it!

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5 thoughts on “Tips: Choosing Your Perfect Wedding Dress

  1. My shopping experience was not at all what I thought it would be. I thought shopping for “the dress” was going to be hard and was a nervous-wreck thinking about what if I couldn’t find “the one”….I am a little bit of a picky shopper. But, within two hours, I found my dress! I had found a dress online that I really liked and the place where my first appointment was going to be had it. So, I had tried on that dress and fell in love with it quickly.

    As you probably already figured, I wasn’t exactly excited about all the other dresses afterwards, but then I tried on MY dress and I hit that decision-making time. I spent a good while going back and forth from one dress to the other and none of the people I was with could really help me out since they thought both were lovely. In the end, I went with the second dress because it was more “me”.

    I think when you go dress shopping, especially if you already have a dress in mind, whether it be a mermaid style, or something with lots of lace, it is always good to be open-minded for the ones that you wouldn’t think about being in. And another thing, always be comfortable! My original dress was beautiful and I think everyone slightly preferred that one….but it was heavy and bulky at the bottom.

    My wedding is supposed to be fun and exciting and I didn’t want to spend the rest of the night feeling uncomfortable let alone not being able to move. The dress I ended up with was definitely something I didn’t imagine I would have picked out and comfortable…but still made me feel like a princess!

  2. Shopping for my dress was one of the best times I have had yet!

    I went to 2 stores in all. The first was a much smaller boutique where I brought my sister along (my M.O.H). The smaller boutique was great and I was able to get a feel for what looked good and what I really wanted. I had not tried on a dress before this visit, it made everything so real putting on that first dress. I did not find the dress for me so I decided to move onto the next store.

    The next boutique I tried was much larger. It had a massive selection and a price to suit each budget. I brought one of my best friends (my bridesmaid) along with me. This boutique offers the option to both shop on your own and with an employee. I decided to have a look around because I know what I like more than anyone else. I picked out a few dresses and tried them on. I even went into the discontinued section because the prices are great and they are one of a kind dresses since they are now discontinued. I pulled some dresses from there as well and tried them on. Lucky for me the second dress I put on was THE ONE! I got THE FEELING and started crying right away! And it had been the dress I had chosen for myself for a thousand less than any other dress I had tried on!

    I think it’s smart for brides to have a look around on their own. They can see what the options are and what they like and don’t like right off the bat. It definitely helps when getting the employees to pull dresses for you and they ask “What do you like?”. It’s also important to keep your budget in mind (assuming you have one). The worst thing is to try on THE DRESS and find out it’s way out of your budget. Also, bring along one of your best friends, one that can tell you the truth about how the dress looks on you, and will be there to pass over the tissues when you do find the one.

    Happy dress hunting!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Carmela, and congrats on finding your dream dress! You brought up a very good point: it’s extremely important to be open-minded. Sometimes the style you think you’ll love isn’t necessarily the best for your body shape, etc. And don’t get discouraged if the “dream dress” you found in a magazine doesn’t turn out as wonderful as you thought it would. There’s a dress out there for everybody, you just have to find it.

    And Breanna, thanks for the wonderful advice. I think you definitely hit the nail on the head when you said it’s smart to know what you like before heading to the boutiques. I suggest heading to a smaller boutique first so it’s not so overwhelming, then when you head to the bigger stores you won’t be so lost.

  4. My number one suggestion – you know your body and what you are comfortable in.

    When I went dress shopping I had my mother, sisters and best friend in tow. They were an awesome party to shop with. Particularly my mother – She has a way of knowing what styles look good on me.

    I am rather busty – so I knew I wanted STRAPS of some sort!

    Well we found the perfect dress …. but minus straps …. I tried talking to the seamstress to determine whether or not the dress could be altered. If I had heard no – I would have continued the search. My husband and I love to dance so I wanted to make sure a dress malfunction wouldn’t hinder my HUGE wedding dance (we had 430 guests ready to party with us).

    Long story short – the seamstress said that altering the dress wouldn’t work but repeatedly assured me that the dress had strong enough boning to stay in place.

    Well …… I was 10 minutes late starting my wedding as my Mother and Sisters tied me back into the dress because the boning WASN’T doing its job.

    As we said our vows I could feel one of the pieces of boning pop (nothing like ruining that moment).

    During photos my bridesmaid was sent to get Duct tape (Yes DUCT TAPE)

    Instead of enjoying a wine and cheese reception when we got back to the hall my sisters and I bolted for the washroom and duct taped myself so there was less strain on the dress.

    By the end of the Dance I had spent more than 1 hour of my evening in the bathroom getting readjusted so there were not inappropriate “oopsies”.

    My perfect dress turned into a perfect nightmare all because I listened to another opinion and didn’t trust my gut.

  5. Oh no, Elizabeth, what a mess! See, this is why it’s so important to share our stories with other brides. So sorry to hear about your dress disaster but thank you so much for sharing it with us! Ladies, this is definitely something to keep in mind.

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