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Everything you need to know about finding your perfect wedding dress

By Adorn Nashville September 20, 2020 Wedding Dress Shopping

Congratulations on your recent engagement! If you’re planning on beginning the wedding dress shopping journey soon, we’re here to help. We’re experts on the entire process from beginning to end, starting with making your wedding dress appointment!

Pre-Appointment

Think you’re ready to start trying on wedding dresses? Depending on your wedding date, you may either want to wait or kick it into high gear! Most brides are aware that wedding dresses must be purchased pretty far in advance, but many women wonder when exactly to start wedding dress shopping. Timing the purchase of your dress correctly helps you avoid both rush fees and dress regret. Typically, we suggest making your bridal dress appointment 9-12 months prior to your wedding date. This timeline is in place with the goal of ordering a gown 8-9 months in advance. Although this may seem like a long wait time, wedding dresses usually take several months to come in, plus you have to budget time for alterations.

Although it may be tempting, we suggest avoiding dress shopping prior to 12 months out. Starting the hunt too early can result in dress regret later on as new collections are released. On the other hand, if you wait to start shopping until your wedding is less than 8 months out, you could find yourself being forced to pay rush fees. Give yourself time to shop around, but not too much! Exceptions to this rule include heavy alterations, destination weddings, pre-wedding bridal portraits, and anything else that will require your dress to be wearable prior to the wedding. If you’ll need your dress completed for any reason ahead of the wedding, start shopping 9-12 months prior to that day rather than your wedding date.

Once you’ve decided when to start booking bridal appointments, you may be wondering how to plan a day of wedding dress shopping. At Adorn, the first thing you’ll need to do is schedule a free consultation with one of our stylists! During this meeting, you’ll be able to explain your style and what you’re envisioning to our team. This will allow our stylists to have your preferences and goals in mind before the appointment even begins!

Next, you’ll need to do a little research to find out what it is that you’re looking for. Coming to the salon with screenshots or descriptions of certain dress styles will help point your stylist in the right direction. Being familiar with the different cuts and styles of dresses can make communicating the look of your ideal dress much easier.

Especially if you’re planning on visiting multiple dress shops in one day, make sure you plan for breaks and meals. Making sure your entourage is well fed and rested between appointments will help keep everyone’s energy levels and enthusiasm up throughout the day.

One of the most important things to narrow down about your gown is the budget. Come prepared with a number to share with your consultant so that she can focus on pulling dresses within your price range. Not being able to share a budget puts you at risk of trying on and falling in love with a gown out of your price range!

Lastly, you’ll want to come to the appointment ready to find your gown. If you go from store to store in a window-shopping mindset, it’ll make it much more difficult to commit to your wedding dress if you happen to find it. Come to your appointment ready to find the dress of your dreams, and it’ll be an easy “yes!” once you’ve found the one.

Once your appointment is booked and you’ve begun planning your appointment day, it’s time to decide who to bring dress shopping! Your bridal gown appointment is all about you, and your guests should be there to support you and make you feel beautiful. Even if you’re bringing a brutally honest friend, they still need to be able to hype you up when you fall in love with a gown! At the end of the day you’re the one making the investment and wearing the gown, so be sure to invite people who will support what you like, despite their own styles and preferences.

Typically, brides bring between 1-5 people, but our stylists recommend keeping the invite list to about 3 guests. If you can’t imagine making this decision without a certain person’s opinion, then that’s who you should bring. Stick to quality over quantity when inviting your entourage. If you’re worried about hurting feelings by keeping your entourage small, consider shopping with close friends initially then bringing the rest of your crew during the fittings. This will make them feel included without inviting additional opinions during the appointment.

If you’re a confident bride who is good at decision making, consider skipping the entourage and flying solo! Wedding dress shopping alone will leave you completely free of outside opinions and persuasions. You can always pick out your favorites alone, then bring your entourage back once you’re ready to commit to the one. Regardless of who you bring, our stylists will always be on your side. Our job is to send you to your wedding in a dress that you love and are confident in.

During the Appointment

Once it’s time for your bridal dress appointment, you may be wondering what you should wear. Although most wedding gowns feature layers and lace that cover your undergarments, lighter and slinkier dresses may be less opaque. Stick to nude undergarments to avoid any bright colors popping through the dresses while you try them on. Most bridal gowns have built-in cups, so you’re fine to skip the bra during the appointment. If you’re more comfortable wearing one, try to bring a strapless or convertible bra!

For accessories, the only one we recommend wearing to the appointment is your engagement ring! Most necklaces, bracelets, earrings, etc. tend to snag on gowns as you’re trying them on. If you know what jewelry you want to wear on your wedding day, feel free to bring it in and we can put it on you after the dress has been stepped into. The same goes for high heels! Tall shoes can be burdensome as you’re stepping in and out of different gowns. If you’re opting for the traditional floor length gown, you won’t be able to see the shoes anyways, so feel free to skip the heels. Wear shoes that are easy to slide on and off to make the dress switches a breeze.

We want you to feel both comfortable and bridal during your appointment, so whether you wear makeup is totally up to you! If you do choose to wear makeup, try to keep it simple during the appointment to prevent stains transferring onto the gown. For the same reason, spray tans are forbidden during wedding dress appointments! Spray tans tend to transfer onto the gowns and leave an orange stain, which is the last thing anyone wants during a bridal appointment.

Basically, come any way that will have you feeling bridal, comfortable, and confident and we’ll do the rest!

Once your bridal appointment finally comes and it’s time to start trying on dresses, there are a few things you can tell your stylist to help your appointment go as smoothly as possible. Your appointment will be led by an experienced bridal consultant, which means that you’ll be in amazing hands. Since your stylist will be in charge of pulling the dresses for you to try on, it’s important for the two of you to be communicating the entire time.

At the beginning of the appointment, share your budget with your consultant to ensure that she’s only pulling gowns within your price range. Wedding dresses in store don’t feature price tags, so it’s up to your consultant to only put you in gowns that fit into your budget. The lack of price tags is part of why it’s best to let your consultant pick gowns for you, rather than pulling dresses yourself from around the store. Trying on a dress out of your price range is in the top 7 mistakes brides make when wedding dress shopping. Not considering extra costs, inviting opiniated family members, and partying your bridal appointment away are additional missteps that we urge you to avoid in order to make your dress shopping experience a positive one.

If there’s a certain dress feature that you especially love or hate, let your stylist know! This will help her gravitate towards the dresses you’re most likely to love and avoid dresses that are non-starters for you. Whether it’s a low back or buttons down the spine, your stylist can’t pull dresses with those details if she doesn’t know that you’re looking for them. If your wedding is especially unique, it’s extra important to share the details of the event with your stylist. Your wedding aesthetic, dress code, destination, and décor can heavily impact the dress that you’ll end up with.

Since your stylist will be pulling all of the dresses, it’s essential that you’re honest about what you like and dislike along the way. This way, she can continue pulling dresses that you will love. Telling your consultant what you don’t like about dresses will enable her to avoid pulling similar gowns later in the appointment. You won’t hurt your stylist’s feelings by being honest! All they care about is putting you in your dream dress, so let them know what you love.

Even if you don’t have a particular vision in mind, no worries! Just let your consultant know what your general style is, and she’ll help you find your perfect wedding dress.

Picking the Dress

For many brides, wedding dress shopping is the most fun part of planning a wedding. A wedding gown is a large unique purchase, and while trying on every dress you possibly can may be tempting, it can get out of hand quickly. Trying on endless dresses may sound like fun, but there are several reasons why you shouldn’t see every dress in town.

Too many choices can lead to confusion, doubt, and ultimately disheartened brides. Especially if the appointments are close together, dresses can end up blending together in your mind. Additionally, overbooking yourself with too many bridal appointments in a day can lead to exhaustion for both you and your entourage. With appointments ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours, overbooking your day can turn dress shopping from an exciting experience into a chore for everyone involved.

When it comes to choices, less is always more. Our stylists recommend trying on 6 dresses or less at each of your bridal appointments. Dresses can easily add up over time and leave you with an overwhelming number of gowns to remember and make decisions on.

In order to help you commit to a gown, try to scratch any design “itches” that you’ve had right away! Even if you think you might want a bridal gown with sleeves, try on a dress with sleeves on right away so you know what direction to go in for the rest of the appointment. This will leave you confident that you made the right decision and aren’t missing out on any dress styles.

The most important advice we can give on picking the right gown is to be open. A shockingly large percentage of brides end up falling in love and choosing a gown that is the complete opposite of what they thought they wanted. Don’t be afraid to trust your stylist and go out of your comfort zone, because you end up going home with a gown you never expected to!

Each bride is completely unique, and not everyone’s experience picking a dress is going to be the same. Some brides are more methodical with their decision, while many other brides choose to follow their heart. While there’s no sure way to predict how you’re going to decide on a gown, it can be helpful to consider how you typically make big decisions. If you’re wondering what kind of decision maker you’ll be at your appointment, check out our wedding dress shopping tips for each Enneagram type. Whether you’re an Achiever, Loyalist, or Peacemaker, our team is equipped to customize the appointment around your specific needs.

While you were probably 100% sure about saying yes to spending life with your fiancé, you might be wondering how you’ll ever commit to a wedding dress. There are a few major indicators when you’ll know that you’ve found “the one”, and we’re here to help you recognize them!

Making sure that you feel comfortable, confident, and bridal in your wedding dress is paramount, so consider how you’re feeling in each gown you try on! Are you dying to take it off or keep it on? If you’re dreading taking it off, it may be the gown for you. The same thing goes for lingering thoughts. If you can’t stop thinking about a certain dress during the appointment, or even after you’ve left, that can be a huge indicator that it’s the dress for you. Finally, if you can visualize yourself walking down the aisle in the dress and it makes you excited to marry your partner, then that just might be your wedding dress!

While finding the wedding dress for you is the goal, it can also be helpful to know when you have definitely not found the dress! The biggest indicator that the dress isn’t for you is that it’s out of your budget. Your stylist will be able to work with you to find a dress within your price range. Don’t crunch numbers to stretch your dress budget further than you’re comfortable with, and if you’re trying to, it’s not the gown for you! Secondly, if you’re considering altering every aspect of the dress, it’s safe to keep looking. Small changes to the dress are fine, but if you find yourself wanting to change the gown completely, it’s not your wedding dress. Finally, keep looking if the dress isn’t you. If you find yourself in a gown that looks amazing and has the approval of your entire entourage, but it isn’t your style at all, then that isn’t the dress for you. While it’s important to keep an open mind while dress shopping, it’s also important that you don’t get talked into a gown that you’re uncomfortable in just because your group likes it.

In short, follow your gut and say yes to the dress that makes you the happiest and most comfortable. Ready to say yes to the dress of your dreams? Make your appointment by going to our appointments page. We can't wait to see you!

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