Wedding Dress Shopping 101

Everything You Need to Know

Hey, I’m Alecca! I’m a wedding photographer, but I actually started in the wedding industry when I was just 15 years old. When it comes to wedding dress shopping, I would say I’m an expert. Here’s why. My mom owned a bridal boutique so as soon as I legally could work, that’s what she had me do! I started with working with bridesmaids, worked with brides, and now I get to photograph couples on their wedding days! So, to say I know the wedding industry would be an understatement. Which is why I load my blog with all around helpful wedding tips!

Wedding Dress Shopping

For most brides, wedding dress shopping is one of the most looked forward to and fun parts of wedding planning. I mean, who doesn’t love getting to play dress up in beautiful wedding dresses surrounded by their best friends? 

Before I became a wedding photographer, I actually worked in a bridal store! Yep, I’m talking Say Yes to the Dress style job. In working there, I definitely saw all of the things to do and not to do before a bridal appointment. Before you book all of your bridal gown appointments, let me share a little advice from my time working there: 

Wedding Dress Shopping with an Open Mind

Firstly, come in with an open mind. I cannot tell you how many brides show up to their appointment with one specific wedding dress style in mind and end up walking out with a dress that’s a completely different style. So, give yourself room to try all kinds of different styles – even if it’s something you thought you would never like or look good in! The worst thing that could happen is you don’t like the style after all, right? 

Bridal gown shopping tips

Know What Dress Styles You’re Drawn To

At the same time, if you walk in the the dress shop with absolutely no idea of what types of gowns you’re drawn too, it can get overwhelming. So before you go wedding dress shopping, do a little research. Scroll Pinterest and even make a board of the styles you’re drawn to. Then, when you get to the store, feel free to show your consultant the styles you like! They’ll pull similar styles to help you find the wedding dress of your dreams! 

Biggest Bridal Gown Shopping Mistakes

One of the biggest mistakes brides make when dress shopping is not considering their wedding venue. If you’re having a classy, elegant wedding, a boho wedding dress would look a little out of place, right? In the same way, having a classy wedding dress for a barn wedding also might not quite fit your wedding theme. And while your venue and theme shouldn’t be a deal breaker in preventing you from having the dress of your dreams, you definitely should at least keep it in mind as you try on wedding dresses. 

Another important thing to do before wedding dress shopping is creating a budget. Contrary to what you’ve seen on TV, most bridal stores don’t offer you discounts if your dream dress is crazy out of your budget. That’s just not how it works. So talk over budget and make sure you know the limit on what you’re comfortable spending on a dress. Then, tell your consultant so they don’t pull dresses that are completely out of your budget. If you don’t try it on in the first place, you will be way less likely to fall in love with a dress you can’t afford! 

Houston Wedding Photographer

Practical Dress Shopping Advice:

Lastly, there are a couple practical things to think of before you go wedding dress shopping. 

  • Be mindful of your undergarments when you go dress shopping. A consultant will most likely have to help you get into the dresses you try on, and while they’ve definitely seen it all, just be mindful with whatever you choose to wear under the dresses you try on. 
  • Make sure you feel confident in how you look! If you plan on wearing makeup at your wedding, it’s a good idea to have some makeup on and your hair looking nice. That way you can get an accurate picture of how it’ll look on your big day. I love a messy bun and sweatpants as much as the next girl, but consider skipping that on the day you go dress shopping. Do what you gotta do to feel confident as you try on dresses! 
  • Bring a strapless bra with you! Most bridal shops have some on hand, but usually people feel more comfortable when they have one that is theirs so it can fit them best. This will give you a better idea of how a dress will fit you in all areas. 
  • Think about movement in whatever dress you pick. I know off the shoulder dresses are pretty, but they can be restricting – so if you’re planning on breaking it down on the dance floor, consider buying a dress that allows you to do so! 
Iowa Wedding Dress Shopping

Other Wedding Dress Shopping Tips:

Being someone who knows multiple sides of the wedding industry, I love helping my couples plan their dream weddings. Here are more resources with TONS of wedding tips to help you out!

Top Bridal Stores in Iowa:

Of course, going to the right bridal shop truly makes all the difference. Be sure to go somewhere that cares about you – not just commission. Also, pro tip: Please do yourself a favor and DO NOT go to David’s Bridal. I kid you not, so many brides have terrible experiences there. In fact, several of my brides have had dresses rip from there. You deserve better, my friend!