When I was a little girl, I used to dream about shopping for my wedding dress. Call me crazy, or a romantic, but I couldn’t imagine a more princess-like experience. Then, I grew up and started watching America’s favorite wedding dress television show and became fearful. What if the experience wasn’t what I expected? What if I couldn’t find the right dress? What if my entourage got into a knockdown drag-out fight on national television? Oh, who am I kidding… I wouldn’t be shopping on national television. But still, I started to wonder if the real-life experience would live up to my princess fantasy.
If you’re as nervous about the bridal gown shopping experience as I became, we’re here to help. We recently sat down with Leecy Fink at Celebration Bridal and Tux in Lynchburg, Virginia, and got her expert advice on how to prepare ourselves for the bridal gown quest.
A lot of brides end up choosing something they never pinned on their Pinterest page (or if you’re like me, clipped and put in your “future wedding three-ring binder”). It’s important that you come into the appointment willing to look beyond your favorite ballgown or mermaid silhouette. Leecy says that trying on different styles is very important. You may find that the look you end up choosing surprises you. And, if you don’t try on the ballgown, you may always wonder what it would have looked like. Hello Cinderella!
How many times in your life can you say you really get to have a fairy godmother? Well, this is one of them. If you can’t find “the perfect dress”, ask your consultant about customizing the dress. While not every dress can be customized, most can. Sleeves can be added, lace can be added, embellishments can often be changed, glitter can be taken away (but why?). It is important to remember when customizing a dress that you want to work with someone who has a lot of experience in the industry. Make sure you ask your consultant and the tailor about the options available to you.
You’re nervous? That’s okay (and normal). Leecy reminds us that every bride that comes through the door is nervous. Like me, you may be wondering what your entourage will think, questioning if you’ll look good in a bridal gown, be worried about knowing what your future spouse wants to see you wear on that special day. And, with the growing popularity of social media, we all have higher expectations that we compare ourselves to. But… we know all of this already. It’s important that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to have all of the answers before the appointment. It’s your consultant’s job to help guide you through the experience of finding the perfect gown (remember, fairy godmother). And, when you find that perfect gown, you may not have the “bridal moment” that we’ve all seen so many times on television. But trust yourself and follow your instinct. You’ll know when you’ve found the right dress.
Don’t bring too many people to your bridal appointment. Having too many voices in the mix can get overwhelming and can add stress to your day. Choose to bring the people whose opinions matter the most.
It’s important to be thinking ahead. Come to your appointment knowing the date (or an idea of the date) of your big day. Most gowns take 6-8 months to special order. Add to that the time for any required alterations (6-8 weeks). If you can, try to schedule your bridal appointment 8 months to a year in advance of your big day. When you don’t have 8 months to a year to plan, don’t fret. At Celebration Bridal and Tux, you can always purchase a gown straight off the floor. However, you may not have as many options of sizes, and some other shops only special-order dresses, so it’s important to make your [fairy godmother] consultant aware of your time frame at the start of the appointment.
I know, we don’t love talking about the budget. But it is important. Discuss the budget for the bridal gown with the people who will be helping you pay for the gown before you come to the appointment. There is nothing worse than finding the perfect dress and then learning that it is out of your budget. Also, be willing to ask your consultant (do I need to remind you that they are also your fairy godmother?) about payment plans and sales that the shop may be having. Finally, don’t forget that most gowns require some sort of alterations. You’ll want to consider alteration costs in the overall budget for your gown.
If there’s anything worse than talking about budget, it’s talking about size. So… don’t. Bridal gowns are sized differently than street clothes. You may be a size 6 in your favorite pair of jeans, but a 10-12 in a bridal gown. Even though we tell ourselves that “size doesn’t matter”, we all know that we can still get in our heads about it. So, don’t talk about it at your appointment. In fact, at Celebration Bridal and Tux, size isn’t even talked about in the store. Instead, the consultants place the focus on finding the perfect gown.
So there really isn’t anything to fear about the bridal gown appointment (except maybe what you’ll wear for those “say yes to the dress” Instagram photos). As Leecy reminds us, we just have to come with an open mind and trust our fairy godmother to help make the day as perfect as it can be.