There are many things to consider when buying your wedding dress. Among the most important, are budget, style, type of venue and emotional value. If buying a wedding dress was as easy as just going into a salon, trying on the dress and walking out with the job done, there would be much less to say on this topic. However in today’s market, Brides are inundated with designer dresses, reality tv shows and tons of “experts” telling you how and why to purchase your dress. After you have read all of the rhetoric spewed at you by magazines, listened to the television “experts” and your bridesmaids have weighed in, it’s no wonder that choosing and buying a dress for your wedding can be a stress provoking, argument inducing, crying your eyes out situation. Well, I’m here to tell you that everything you’ve heard about what your supposed to do when buying a dress and the “I’ll know it when I start to cry” moment you are supposed to have is, quite frankly, NONSENSE!
Your wedding dress is just that, a dress. Albeit a very special dress for a life changing day, it is, at the end of the day, a dress that you will wear one time; and you won’t be very kind or gentle to it when you do wear it. Keep that in mind when you are making your choice.
In the mind of a wedding planner, the wedding dress is a line item that comes out of your overall budget. It should cost no more than 5% of your total wedding budget. If your wedding budget is $50,000 than your dress budget is $2,500. There are many, many, many beautiful wedding dresses that can be purchased for $2,500 or less! If your wedding budget is $10,000than your dress budget is $500.00. It may take some creative shopping or a friend who sews, but I’ve seen magnificent wedding dresses that cost well under $500. Spending more than 5% of your total budget on your wedding dress means that you will have to cut the overage from your budget somewhere else. Remember that because you my actually want peonies in your bouquet and “to go” bags at the end of your reception and that overage your spent on your dress may mean that you cannot have those “extras”.
Choosing the style of your dress is easy. YOU KNOW what you like and if you are simply not sure of which style best suits your body type, the Bridal Assistants at bridal shops are actually trained to help you out with that. Notice I said BRIDAL ASSISTANTS, because these women take a training class on how to make sure you find a dress that you love, that suits your body type and that you can afford. Your bridesmaids, friends, aunts, second cousins, etc. etc. should not weigh in on this decision. The decision has to be YOURS based on whether or not your feel beautiful in the dress and whether or not you can afford it. Anyone else’s opinion is just that: their opinion! The one exception that I would make to this rule is the inclusion of your mother in the dress choosing process. I find that mothers most often have their daughter's best interests at heart and are there to help you find the dress that you like. It’s a memorable moment between a mother and a daughter when you choose your wedding dress together. One that is to be cherished. Sometimes, if your soon-to-be mother-in-law has no daughters of her own, it is nice to include her in the process, (if you get along well and you want to share such a special time with her). Other than that, no one else needs to be around when you choose your wedding dress. If your mother is unavailable, choose a surrogate; someone that you know will always be in your life and someone who will be there for your during the process.
I always ask the brides that I work with to keep in mind the type of venue they will be married at when considering which type of dress they choose. Outdoor venues lend themselves to tea-length and knee length dresses much better than say a dress with a full skirt and a long train. Formal floor length styles are more appropriate for ballroom weddings or weddings that take place indoors. Unless of course, you plan to change into a second dress for the reception. But then that becomes two dresses your will need to purchase from that same 5% budget.
Some brides come from families that have worn the same dress generations. Having an heirloom gown restyled to fit your personal taste and body type is a way to keep a long standing tradition alive. Truthfully, this is my personal favorite. I love the idea that a brides great-grandmother wore the same dress she is being married in. It’s also fun to see how many ways one dress can be altered to fit the personalities of every bride who wears it. Tradition is important to many families and wearing a dress worn by your mother, grandmother or great-grandmother can be magical and memorable.
Practically speaking, there are some things you need to know before your purchase a dress. Listed below are a few questions you should ask any bridal salon you are considering:
- How long does it take for the dress to come in?
- Do you require payment in full before you order the dress?
- Do you have an in-house seamstress and are alterations included in the purchase price?
- If alterations are not included in the price of the dress, how is the price for alterations calculated?
- How many fittings are required and what is needed for each fitting?
- In the event of damage to the dress during shipping, or a mistake on the part of the designer regarding size, will the mistakes be taken care of at the cost of the shipper and designer?
- How long will you store the dress before I must pick it up?
- Will you steam the dress the week the wedding? What is the charge for this?
- Are all sales final?
- Do you have an heirloom company your recommend for storing the dress or does your company heirloom wedding dresses? What is the cost for this?
Always remember to bring shoes the heel hight that you expect to wear on your wedding day when you try on dresses. Also, if possible, bring the undergarments you plan to wear, i.e. Spanx, strapless bra, corset.
Finally, GET EXCiTED, BE HAPPY, THINK OF “HIM” seeing you in the dress for the first time… it’s ok to feel this way, you’re the BRIDE!