Several of my engaged friends have started looking for wedding dresses and have asked me for any tips/advice on going dress shopping so here it is:
1) Wear real underwear.
Depending on where you go dress shopping, you may be in the changing room with your mom, your bridesmaids, your sisters, cousins, and/or any future in-laws while you get dressed. They don't all need to know that you wear hot pink underwear with giant polka dots on it. Trust me.
2) Be realistic about your budget.
The price tag of the dress is only about a percentage of what the final thing will cost. Alterations, tax, and a veil added on another $1,700 to the cost of my dress. Luckily I was prepared for that. Don't get surprised or get sticker shock at the last minute. This brings me to #3.
3) Veils are really, really expensive.
When I bought my dress, I wanted to see how it would look with a veil, so the consultants at Kleinfeld brought out this gorgeous veil that went with my dress perfectly. It was $1,250. I thought that my jaw was literally going to hit the floor when I saw that! Kleinfeld told me that they could do it for $1,000 and I said no thank you. That is more than some girls spend on their dresses! Eventually I did find a great veil, but it was still not cheap. Don't get sticker shock when you see that.
4) It's ok to shop around.
Places will try to pressure you to buy the dress, veil, accessories, etc. from there at once. (Remember- most of the consultants do work on commission.) If you're not ready, don't buy into it. It's better to sleep on it and shop around than drop a lot of money on a dress you end up regretting buying. Also, when I was buying my dress, I saw a gorgeous pair of chiffon flowers for my hair that went perfectly with my dress. I wanted to get them but once again could not justify that $350 price tag. I looked around and found something nearly identical on Etsy for $40.
5) Be open minded.
I tried on a lot of dresses and all of them were nice but were just missing something. I asked the consultant what she would recommend for me. When she came back with one dress, my mom and I both looked at each other like "is she deranged?" Guess which one I bought? Don't be afraid to ask for help if you're not loving anything.
6) Don't look at the size label.
This is for your own good. Bridal runs small. Really really small. Like several sizes small. The size that you are in street clothes is most likely not the size that your wedding dress will be. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the dress size on the order form. Trust me, it's better for your self-esteem if you don't look.
7) Don't buy your shoes first.
This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it needs to be said. I have a friend who found the perfect dress online and knew that it was THE ONE. She found a pair of shoes on sale that matched the dress and asked for my advice. I told her that it was not a good idea to buy shoes until she had actually bought a dress. She ended up buying the shoes anyway because they were on sale and she was afraid that they would not be around for much longer. Turns out the dress she fell in love with did not work for her at all. Now she is stuck with a $100 pair of shoes that she can't return.