Before You Say Yes...: What to Know Before Wedding Dress Shopping
If you've spent years watching Say Yes to the Dress and scrolling through Pinterest in search of your dream wedding dress, you probably feel pretty confident in your abilities to pick one out when the big day comes. Just to make sure you're extra prepared, we asked two local wedding store managers for their advice on what to keep in mind before saying yes to a dress.
Wedding dresses can range in price from a few hundred dollars to the cost of a new car, and most brides fall somewhere in between. Professionals like Julie Barulli, who has been the manager of Michele A Bridal Boutique in Westbrook for the past 14 years, suggests that going into the process knowing your price range is important.
"The entire dress-buying journey is so unique to every bride it's hard to say exactly what each one needs to start their search, but I would definitely say that having some sort of budget in your head is a good place to start," says Barulli.
Ashley Cannon, boutique manager of Everthine Bridal Boutique in Madison, says, "We want this to be a positive experience, and we don't want to be pulling dresses and have a bride fall in love with something they can't afford."
Barulli adds that it's probably good to know who will be paying for the dress before you start shopping.
Do Your Research
Barulli suggests doing some research and finding designers you are drawn to, then making sure the store you are going to carries dresses made by those designers.
"It's our job to help our clients stylistically figure out what they want, and being open-minded makes the process easier," says Cannon. "We always ask, 'How do you want to feel on your special day?' Meaning, do you want to be boho, or modern and sexy? What's the vibe of the wedding? This helps us to find a dress that fits how they want to feel."
"Every bride has some idea of what they want in a dress when they walk in the door, but being open-minded helps us to be more successful," says Barulli. "It's our job to help you find the perfect dress for you and if you come in with a dress all picked out, we are really doing nothing more than putting a dress on you."
Soon-to-be bride Briley Brandon says, "Don't be afraid to fall in love with a dress you would normally never even have thought to try on. Don't be closed off to only trying on certain styles. Try something new."
"It's a special day. Play a little dress-up," encourages Amy Zupan, who was married on the shoreline a few years ago. "But, know what looks good on your body and trust yourself."
This is an extremely important part of dress shopping: who to bring with you.
Brandon says, "Make sure you bring people who are going to make you feel good about your body and how you look."
That is a key factor, says Barulli. "Sometimes brides bring too many people and they end up regretting it. Try and make sure you bring your key friends and family members and people who have similar taste to yours."
Cannon says that making sure your group includes people who really know you and your style is very important.
"Bring people who know you and support you. This is an exciting day," she says.
Give It Time
The sweet spot for purchasing a dress is about a year in advance, our experts said.
"We always suggest to start shopping a year in advance, because there is a lead time of five to six months with most designers," says Cannon.
Barulli agrees. "Ten to 12 months in advance is a good time frame. That way there is no rushing. You have plenty of time to get the dress and have all the alterations done. You want the entire experience to be stress-free, and giving yourself enough time is part of that."
Alterations usually take between four and five months, the experts said.
Know Your Date & Venue
"It's best to know the date of your wedding and your venue before you start wedding dress shopping," says Cannon.
"It's important to know where you will be getting married and what time of year so we can help you pick the best dress for that venue and season," agrees Barulli.
Finding the perfect wedding dress for a bride is what dreams are made of. It's the pinnacle of a perfect wedding and it takes time, patience, planning, and support. Make sure to enjoy the process, breathe, share it, and embrace it. Have fun, play dress-up, and make sure that in the end, it's the dress you love.
According to Lindsay Hile Spreyer of Blush Bridesmaid in Guilford, the most important thing for bridesmaids to remember is that this is the bride's wedding day. Try to make sure that what you pick for your dress fits into the perimeter of what the bride wants.
She suggests that bridesmaid dresses get purchased seven to nine months in advance of the wedding so there is enough time to have them made and altered.
"Because mixing and matching is a huge trend right now in bridesmaid dresses, there is a lot more freedom to find a dress that looks good on you specifically and is flattering on your body," says Spreyer, who also stresses the importance of being on the same page as the bride when it comes to finances when agreeing to be a bridesmaid.