For many brides, saying "yes" to the dress is by far the most exciting step of the wedding planning process. I originally shared this post pre-covid and updated it to include recommendations from other Tie the Knot in Style brides on what you can expect if you're dress shopping this year. Before trying on your first gown, take a minute and read through our tips to help your dress shopping experience go as smoothly, and safely, as possible!
Make an appointment: You don't want to find this one out the hard way. Although some bridal boutiques may still allow walk-ins, it's doubtful that they will let you actually try on dresses. Call ahead and make an appointment so you have a dedicated associate to help you along the way! Make appointments at multiple boutiques to give yourself as many options as possible. While making your appointment, be sure to ask about their covid-19 precautions and what you can expect at your appointment. You'll likely be asked to bring only one or two guests, and to wear a mask of course!
Be prepared for short appointments and longer wait times: One of the most common protocols that bridal salons have implemented is scheduling appointments at staggered times. This often puts the salon on a tight schedule, so you may experience shorter than normal appointments. You also may have a little more waiting to do while the team sanitizes from the previous appointment. Be patient and flexible!
Make a day out of it: Be sure you don't feel rushed. Block off a day (or weekend) to give yourself time to make the right decision.
Get choosy with your entourage: It may sound like fun to bring your entire family and bridal party, but remember that every person that comes with you will bring an opinion. Additionally, you'll likely have to limit your guests to just one or two. Keep your entourage small and intimate to make your decision process easier. If you have a larger group of close friends and want to include them in the day, consider setting up a socially distant backyard brunch, dinner, or cocktails so you can share your experience with everyone after finding the one!
Do your research! Don't know the difference between sweetheart, v-neck, scoop, halter or plunge neck lines? What about ball gown, A-line, trumpet, mermaid, or sheath silhouettes? If your answer was "no." you're not alone. Spend a little time on Pinterest identifying the gowns you like, and make note of the descriptions so you come to your appointments prepared. Check out our guides to dress silhouettes and veil lengths for extra help!
Have a budget in mind: Have a rough idea of what budget you're working with ahead of time. Make sure to select styles within or close to your budget so you can be as realistic as possible while selecting potential dresses.
Dress the part: On the day of your appointments make sure you wear comfortable clothes! You'll be doing a lot of changes, so you'll want to wear something loose that you can easily take on and off, as well as something underneath that is versatile, won't stand out, and provides as much coverage as you need. A bridal associate will be in the dressing room with you helping you in and out of dresses, so consider how comfortable you are with someone else in the room before selecting undergarments.
Accessorize accordingly: One of the most important accessories to consider is you face mask. With masks required or encouraged literally everywhere you go, this one is a no-brainer. However, make sure you choose one that fits the bridal aesthetic. Not only will you want to take a ton of pictures of your dress shopping experience, but you'll also likely be wearing a mask at some point during your wedding, so having a bridal mask or one in soft, neutral colors will help you look the part! Check out this post for a few beautiful bridal masks!
Bring supplies: You want to make sure you come prepared. Many brides bring water, champagne, and snacks to help keep your spirits up, but make suer to check with the salon beforehand to determine their requirements Must-bring accessories include your wedding shoes or accessories if you have them so you can see your whole vision come to life. Pro top: If you don't have your actual wedding shoes yet, bring something similar, or a pair in a similar height so that the salon can use those while taking initial measurements.
Try something new: Come to your appointment with a few ideas in mind, but give yourself the freedom to try something new. Try necklines or silhouettes that you've never thought of before. Who knows, it may surprise you!
Bust a move: Simulate all of the different parts of your wedding day and make sure you feel comfortable moving around in the dress. Practice sitting, standing, and even dancing to make sure you love the feel of the dress in all scenarios.
Consider alterations: There are so many things that dress designers can do to alter your dress, so if you want something adjusted, just ask! Think the train isn't long enough? Ask to extend it. Think the back isn't low enough? Ask them to modify it. Want a belt? Add it! The possibilities are endless.
Don't force yourself to decide the first day: One of the most fun parts of finding the dress is the moment you get to announce you found the one. Don't get so caught up in the moment that you feel the pressure to commit. Trust your gut and make sure you're truly ready before saying "yes!"
Tell us, how did you know that you found the one?
This post was originally posted in January 2020, and has been updated to include precautions for brides trying on dresses amidst covid-19 precautions. Do you have a recommendation to add to the list? Send us a message or leave a comment!