Friday, December 1, 2017

5 Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

I was the kind of girl that looked at bridal magazines in middle school. Did I pour over those glossy, satin and lace adorned pages because I was eager to tie the knot? Not in the slightest, I just LOVED the idea of wearing a beautiful gown!

Even with braces (gotta love adolescence), I felt like I could be beautiful in a wedding gown. 

The fact that this particular gown would be worn only once, while surrounded by the people I love most just added to the magic of the idea of wedding dress shopping.

Years passed and gradually I began eyeing dresses on the internet, as online shopping became more and more popular. 

With the birth of Instagram I began to follow wedding dress designers that I admired and eventually (with the newer "save" feature on the gram) had a small folder dedicated to wedding dresses I liked. 

My style preferences have changed throughout the years as I've changed, which has been fun to observe. Had I married fresh out of college, I'd be donning a huge ball gown no doubt!

There are pros and cons to marrying at different stages in life. I'm loving the seasoned confidence I feel in making somewhat unorthodox decisions for my wedding. This isn't true for all, but for me, being a little older means I really have a feel for what I want. And I'm not afraid to ask for it!

Being newly engaged, I was eager to begin the process! This Thanksgiving, with the help of my amazing wedding planner, Becky (more to come on her!), I scheduled 3 appointments at various bridal salons in Birmingham, AL while home for the holiday. 

At first I was a tad apprehensive to dress shop in the south. Was I being a little naive? YES, VERY.

While San Diego has dozens of trendy bridal stores to peruse and LA (fashion mecca) is just a short drive north, I opted to try on dresses in a location where my mother, grandmother, and sister could accompany me. I'm SO glad I did.

The South is wedding dress shopping HEAVEN. All the hospitality and warmth you could ever want and zero scarcity when it comes to both budget friendly dresses and designer gowns. Heck, I hugged every bridal stylist that helped me!

Tip: Select your shopping party WISELY.

These people can make or break your experience. Stick to those who are reliable, supportive, and people that you can't imagine your wedding day without! 

You may have a cousin or friend that you have an absolute blast with, but perhaps she's a little on the critical side when it comes to offering fashion advice. Invite her to participate in another aspect of the wedding and spare the possibility of harsh comments surrounding your dream dress. 

My sister was the perfect person to accompany me on my journey to say YES to the dress. She was complimentary and supportive, and offered advice that was practical and phrased with my feelings in mind.

Tip: Try it on even if you don't like how it looks on the hanger.

I'm serious! So many dresses the bridal consultants pulled didn't resonate with me at first glance. But I'm SO glad I was open to trying on different styles (yes, styles that were not on my Pinterest board or marked in a magazine).

That's actually how I found my dream dress!

It's important to try on multiple silhouettes to confirm what you are envisioning is what you actually want and looks good in person. Also CLIPS! They clip you into the dresses to give an idea of how the dress will look, fitted to your exact shape.

I will say sometimes the clipping doesn't do the dress justice, you may have to use your imagination to see it fitting every curve perfectly!

Tip: Tell yourself that you will start by trying on 5 different styles of dresses. 

That way you can see what you like (lace, beading, mermaid, A-line, ivory, blush etc.) and narrow from there. Believe me, you don't want to look back on your wedding dress shopping experience and wish you had tried a more adventurous neckline or unique color!


Practicality does come into play during this romanticized, fairytale of a day. While you want to look amazing during your wedding day, you also want to be able to sit down comfortably. It's a LONG day. If a dress is too tight in the thighs and butt, this could get tricky.

If you can stand all day, more power to you, get it tight! Also take a moment to feel for things like itchy material or uncomfortable straps. 

Some will sacrifice comfort for the look they want. To each their own!

Tip: Take a moment.

Between the friends and relatives you brought with you to dress shop and the bridal consultants helping you pull dresses, there can be a lot of opinions thrown at you!  Even subconsciously you may feel certain members leaning towards one dress or another. 

This was especially true for me. I'm a people pleaser. I love to make people happy! When one of my bridal consultants at the first appointment gushed over me in a particular gown, I felt inclined to like it too, simply because of her enthusiasm. 

Luckily, I asked for a few moments alone in the dressing room. I placed my hands on my heart (sounds so corny I know) and tried to center. I asked myself what I truly wanted and did my best to clear the chatter in my head.

It wasn't the easiest thing to do because I could clearly hear my darling grandmother's southern drawl loudly through the other side of the curtain as she expressed which dresses she liked and didn't like. God bless that woman!

All in all, I would say stay true to you, stay true to your heart. Weddings are an industry, geared to make money. Come back to the things that are important to you and you'll have no trouble selecting the right dress.

And a little secret, the RIGHT dress is whatever dress YOU pick. If you decide it's the one, then it's THE ONE, no matter what anyone else says. 

Whether you're newly engaged, still pining for him to pop the question, or not even in a relationship, wedding dress shopping is such an exciting event to look forward to. I hope these little tips will help you on your special day! Happy shopping! 

Special thanks to my selfless sister Madison, amazing mother Pam, and beloved grandmother Susie for sitting through a day of try-ons, taffeta, and tears! (happy tears) :)

Interested in where I shopped? See here:

Bella's Bridal and Formal, Birmingham, AL

The White Room, Birmingham, AL

I didn't make it to my 3rd appointment because I SAID YES to the dress!
When you know, you know.


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  2. Congrats on the wedding dear! I would keep the advice mind when I’m scouring the different event space Chicago venues has for shopping THE wedding dress. I’ll take my best friend out for the shopping because she knows my taste and what looks good on me, plus she is really supportive!

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  5. You look so stunning in all the wedding gown you tried!! Thank you for sharing the tips!

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