HOW TO SHOP FOR A WEDDING DRESS OR
WHEN TO START SHOPPING FOR A WEDDING DRESS
Unless you plan to buy your wedding dress off the rack, it may take from 3 to 6
months to receive the gown that you order depending upon
the style and the manufacturer. In the case of very high demand designer wedding dresses
it may even take more than 6 months. To error on the side of caution, plan on allowing a
minimum of 6 months prior to your wedding for ordering your wedding dress. This should allow ample time to spare should anything unexpected arise. This
means that you will probably really want to start shopping for your wedding attire 7 to 8 months prior to your
wedding to allow sufficient time for dress fitting and alterations. Also, keep
in mind that if you are planning to have a formal portrait taken (that will be
displayed at your reception) you may need to have your wedding dress ready for the
portrait sitting - sometimes weeks - prior to your wedding depending upon your wedding photographer's
HOW TO SHOP FOR A WEDDING DRESS
Before you start trying on wedding dresses it is a VERY good idea to spend a little time
just looking through bridal magazines and wedding related websites to determine the wedding dress style(s) you like.
We have an entire section devoted to
wedding dresses and bridal
accessories from over 100 top designers that you can use to browse different
wedding dress styles. Clip or print the photos of the
wedding dress styles you like, write the name of the dress manufacturer on the back
of the photo and take them along with you when you go shopping. Before you head out to the stores it is also a good to have an idea of the
amount you can afford to spend on your wedding dress and accessories. Write
that number down in the notebook that you will be taking along. Oops, I
forgot to mention that you should be taking along a notebook and a camera. Don't forget
to consider the cost of accessories in your budget since the cost of
undergarments, shoes, garters, etc. can add up...
Although many wedding dress styles will look great on the
models in the bridal magazines, you will need to consider which styles will
complement your intended style of wedding - and your figure. Most bridal magazines and online wedding boutique websites offer basic guidelines to determine the
best dress style(s) for your figure and most stores also can assist with
recommendations to fit your wedding style, your figure type - and your budget.
Also, before you start shopping be sure to check with the wedding ceremony
location to determine if there are any restrictions relating to the style of
wedding dress that is allowed. Yes, some wedding ceremony locations do have restrictions.
To save time, try to plan to go shopping on a weekday if you can.
Also, only shop with 1 (one) other person - preferably someone who has
relatively good style sense or at the least, a style similar to yours. Do not go
shopping for a wedding dress with group of friends. Too many opinions will spoil a decision - or at least make
it much more difficult and confusing than it needs to be. You are going to
need to be able to focus your attention on the details of the wedding dresses you will
be trying on. Being able to do so without having to consider multiple
opinions at the same time will make the experience much more enjoyable.
When you go shopping, wear or bring
items similar to the items that you would probably wear with your wedding dress.
Wearing a similar style of shoes, style of bra, special jewelry items, etc. will
give you a better idea of whether the whole package is going to create the right
look - or whether you might have to rethink the look just a bit.
Bring a notebook
and camera and take notes!
have a digital camera bring that along and take a photo of the dresses
that you try on - and like. Note the photo number and the dress details in your
notebook so you can look and compare later. The more stores you visit and the
more wedding dresses you try on, the more difficult it will be to remember who had what,
what the costs were, what services were offered, etc. Details will become
one BIG blur. Taking good notes and photos will allow you to effectively comparison shop
and refresh your memory later.
TIP: You will probably want to comparison shop
several or more bridal stores. Once you have narrowed your selection down to
several wedding dresses you can save time by simply calling the other stores to compare
prices and services. Some stores may include "specific" or "certain" alterations in the
price of the dress while others may not. You will need to compare the wedding dress prices
AND the alteration prices to determine the best
WHERE TO SHOP FOR A
There are a multitude of options available to you when it comes to shopping
for wedding dresses...
There are usually numerous bridal shops and discount
bridal outlet stores, etc. in every major city. Keep in mind that
many brides have been taken by bridal shops who take their money and run so you
will ultimately want to purchase from someone who has been in business for a
while and who has a good reputation. Before purchasing anything from
anyone it is a good idea
to check the local Better Business Bureau to see if a store has a history of
If your wedding budget is tight, many stores have
annual discount or clearance sales of last years styles. Start calling
around to see who is having an annual sale...and when. Some great deals
can also be found at discount and outlet bridal stores. Unfortunately, a lot of
poorly made dresses can usually be found there as well. Since wedding dresses
vary in quality you will need to know what to look for so you don't end up with
a dress that falls apart while you are dancing at your wedding reception (trust me, it
has happened). Below is an important wedding dress shopping tip.
Even if you think it might possibly be out of your price range, it is a great idea to visit one (or more) of the stores that sell only the
more expensive wedding dresses. That way you can see (and feel) the
material and workmanship that goes into a quality dress and you will know what to look
for. Who knows? They may have a sale item that will fulfill your
vision of a
dream wedding dress and
fit your wedding budget too!
SIZING AND MEASUREMENTS
Unfortunately, every wedding dress manufacturer has their own sizing chart which means that
nothing is "standard". You will need to be measured to be able to select
the proper dress size. Since you want to get accurate measurements,
be sure to use a vinyl measuring tape since cloth tapes can stretch. Once
your measurements have been taken, check your measurements against the wedding dress manufacturer's
sizing chart to select the dress that matches your largest measurements. If your measurements are between sizes always go for the larger size to play it
safe. You will want to actually see the sizing chart for the
manufacturer of your dress since some - but not all - shops will automatically
order one size larger than your measurement which can mean added alteration
expense for you. If the store insists that ordering a size larger be
sure that it is noted on the sales slip that the store recommended that size
although the chart showed another size. It is also a good idea to retain a
copy of the measurements and the sizing chart that were used to determine the
proper size to order.
VERY SERIOUS TIP: If you are planning to
lose weight, be very realistic about your probable weight loss and select the wedding dress size
accordingly. Remember, you can ALWAYS make a dress a little smaller. HOWEVER,
it is virtually impossible to make a wedding dress larger.
THE WEDDNG DRESS PURCHASE
Once you have found the perfect wedding dress at the perfect
price it is time to make the purchase. If you are simply buying a wedding
dress off the rack, the purchase is pretty simple - just take the dress to the sales
counter, pay for the dress and leave. If additional services like alterations are to be performed at a
later date have those costs specified on the store receipt or letterhead.
If you are ordering a custom wedding dress, the first
step is getting measured and determining the proper size which was mentioned
earlier. After you have selected the style, the next step will be the paperwork and the deposit. When you place the order you must be sure to get a receipt. In addition to
listing the total sale price and deposit amount, the receipt should clearly
state the name of the manufacturer, the style name/number, the color, the size
and the date that it is to be delivered by. If any additional features or
services are ordered or will be ordered (alterations, steaming, etc.) those
items and their respective prices should be indicated as well. Anything
and everything that you are paying for, or expect to pay for at a later date, or
that are being given to you at no charge should be indicated either on the
receipt or on a store letterhead. It is not a bad idea (actually it is a
very good idea) to have your
shopping companion take a photo of you in the dress you tried on - just in case there is a
mix up in the dress order somewhere along the line.
TIP: Payment by credit card is a
preferred method since it may give you more protection should the store or
manufacturer error in accurately processing the order or if you receive
FOLLOWING UP AFTER THE WEDDING DRESS ORDER
Several weeks after you place your order you should call the store to get
the "confirmed ship date". This is the date that the wedding
dress manufacturer gives to
the store once the order has been received. If the store doesn't have the
confirmation when you call, have them check with the manufacturer and call you
back. Once you receive
the confirmed date, write it down in your notebook along with the name of the
store employee who gave you the confirmation. Finally, a week or so before
the scheduled delivery date call the store again to make sure that they have not
received any delivery delay notices from the wedding dress manufacturer.
PICKING UP THE WEDDING DRESS
Once the wedding dress has been delivered you will want to thoroughly inspect it.
Bring someone along to help you inspect the dress. First, compare the dress to the order information to make sure it is correct. Take your time... Check the style,
the size, the embellishments, etc.
If needed, actually measure the dress. Then, thoroughly inspect the wedding dress
for any flaws, pulls, rips, tears, stains, etc.. Check every line of stitching
and make sure the panels are all
laying in the same direction. Finally, try on the dress
and look at the material and stitching one more time. Have the person you
brought with you also check for deficiencies in workmanship. If everything
appears to be in order...SUCCESS!
If the dress doesn't look like the dress you
thought you ordered, compare it to the photo you have. Remember the photo you took of the dress when you
placed the order? It would certainly come in handy right about now...
WEDDING DRESS ALTERATIONS
Odds are pretty good that your wedding dress will need alterations of one type or
another. Be sure not to have your dress altered too far in advance
of your wedding because it is entirely possible that you will either lose or
gain weight over a period of a few months. When being fitted, be sure to wear the
same undergarments and shoes that you will be wearing at the wedding. Since proper
alterations may (and usually do) require several fittings, you should allow 4 to 6 weeks for the
process. Don't forget - if a formal portrait is to be taken in advance of
the wedding day, your alterations must be scheduled to be completed in time for the
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