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Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping

Your Ultimate Guide to Wedding Dress Shopping
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Written by *Tambra Moultrie Weddings. Cover Photo by *Kindred + Co.

Dress shopping is, more often than not, the FIRST thing a bride thinks about or plans after saying “YES!” to a proposal! Before jumping in the car and running to every dress shop in town, I have some wisdom to share in making this experience ENJOYABLE and RELAXING! After all, your dress will set the tone for every part of your day, from the style to the décor, and will even influence your color palette!

I’m here to provide you with all the tools you need to be prepared and ready to take on one of the most EXCITING parts of planning your wedding day!

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1. Schedule your day (realistically)

When dress shopping, allow this to be the ONLY thing on your schedule unless, of course, a couple of hours at the spa in the morning getting a massage is something in the cards!

The last thing you want is to find an assortment of dresses you’re interested in, but need to rush out the door for a hair and makeup trial. Feeling rushed will never serve you while you’re making such important decisions. While we’re on the topic of hair and makeup...


2. Do not make hair/makeup style decisions Yet

Your dress style will greatly influence how you will want your hair to fall. An intricate lace back dress deserves to be seen and therefore, you may want your hair to be up or pulled off to the side. On the flip side, you may have a beautifully detailed sleeve or neckline that could be hidden by a hairstyle.

By finding your dress FIRST, you’ll save yourself time and money spent on hair trials. One more thing, beauties, bring a hair tie with you! If you find a dress you love, pulling your hair up in different ways with a simple tie can help you visualize an ideal concept of the full look.

The same goes for shoes! Oh, how you know I love shoes! Shoes make my heart sing! If you haven’t found the perfect pair yet, you can STILL purchase your dress! Just wait on your alterations!



3. Consider Alterations Based on Your Wedding Plans

Let’s touch on alterations and shoes again in a whole different tip category! Can you potentially see yourself kicking off your shoes and dancing the night away? You wouldn’t be the first and certainly won’t be the last! Consider this option when you ask for alterations. Adding extra bustles to your dress for flat shoes or barefoot dancing will make the bottom of your gown much happier!

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4. Pinterest and Instagram are your Friends

Unsure on style? Look through Pinterest and Instagram and follow your favorite designers on social media to find pictures of dresses you love! These will become your “inspiration” when speaking to your shop of choice about style and overall look.

Remember, they are professionals in helping you solidify your style while picking a gown that flatters your body shape! Speak to your Wedding Planner about her favorite shops and ask for assistance with scheduling a time to try on some options. Remember, wedding planners have SEVERAL clients going in and out of shops on a continual basis. They have a plethora of knowledge here!


5. A little known tip... but you'll be glad you asked

Discuss with your dress shop what types of undergarments you should bring with you/wear to your appointment. This is a question your shop of choice will appreciate!


6. Know Your Budget-- And If There's "Wiggle Room"

Know your budget AND know how much wiggle room you're willing to give up for your perfect dress. Knowing your ideal cost and your maximum availability will keep you from trying on dresses that aren’t within your reach financially. Having an ideal budget and a range is helpful and necessary before setting foot in a dress shop!

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7. Bring Jewelry You Plan to Wear

Are you planning to wear Mom's necklace? Or any sentimental jewelry on your big day? Bring it with you! Trying on your dress with these pieces that mean so much to you, will be key to seeing your overall look.


8. Eat Before You Go (Wait, What?)

Make sure you eat and drink before you begin trying on dresses. This does NOT mean eating a thanksgiving meal and then going dress shopping. That would be nothing short of uncomfortable, beauties! But the last thing you want is getting hangry! Eat something light and healthy, and time your meals properly. You never know how long your visit will be or how many dresses you will try on.


9. Selecting Your Crew Wisely

Your crew … oh boy- this can be tricky. Frankly, the more people coming with you-- the more opinions you have! Bring the people with you who are the most supportive of what YOU want. It’s your dress and it’s going on YOUR body. Nobody else needs to feel comfortable in it but you! That doesn't mean to not bring people who are honest! Just choose wisely! Asking your chosen bridal shop how many people they can accommodate will also be helpful in selecting who goes with you, and who sees the gown after you’ve purchased it.


Mini Bonus Tip: You're almost through, so here's a quick breather that's also an important thing to keep in mind-- be open-minded about possibilities. More often than not, a gown looks different on you than on the hanger. You have the time! Try it on!  Also, consider what the weather will be on the date of your wedding.  You don't want to be a sweaty mess or an ice queen.


10. Move It, Girl!

Move it, girl! Twirl, sit, stand and DANCE. This will be the only way to secure your comfort on the day of the wedding. Mention your mobility preferences to your dress shop so they can help you with fabric selection. Not all fabrics are created equal, my ladies!

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11. Keep It Natural!

It may be enticing to go try on dresses with a full face of makeup and post-spray tan, but your shop will be forever thankful for you to keep it more natural during your shopping adventure.

This doesn’t mean you have to show up to your appointment looking sketch, but keeping your face clean of a lot of makeup and having CLEAN skin will help the shop in keeping dresses clean, too. Go ahead and apply your mascara beauties! Just keep the full glam look for another day!


12. And Last of All...

Finally, have FUN!! Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to be your circumstances. Have fun with it! Enjoy yourself! Even if you don’t find your perfect dress the first time you go shopping, celebrate progress! Dress shopping is NOT a race!

Your dream dress awaits you!

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