Wedding Gown Shopping – What to Expect
For most women, shopping for their bridal gown is one of the highlights of being engaged. It is usually a new and unfamiliar experience, so visiting the first shop can be a bit daunting at times. When you know what to expect when you begin wedding gown shopping, the whole process becomes more fun and productive.
The first thing to expect is that most bridal salons recommend appointments. If you walk in without an appointment on a Saturday afternoon, you may be put in the very disappointing position of being unable to try on any gowns that day. In most high end salons, your bridal consultant will go into the fitting room to help you in and out of dresses while your mom and the rest of your entourage await you by a pedestal and three way mirror. Be prepared to strip down to your skivvies in front of the bridal consultant! Wear modest undies for your appointment so you will not feel to exposed. As for the consultant, she has probably seen hundreds of brides in their underwear, so don’t feel embarrassed about being undressed in front of her.
Many brides walk into a bridal salon with an idea of what they think they want. If you have pictures of gowns you like, by all means bring them. Also bring along any bridal jewelry or a family veil you are definitely planning to wear. If there is a particular gown you are hoping to see, mention it when you make your appointment. Although the salon may carry the designer, it does not necessarily mean that they stock that sample. Sometimes it is possible for salons to borrow a sample from a designer with enough advance notice. There may be a fee for this service to cover the shipping and insurance costs, although the salon may apply the fee to your deposit if you decide to order that gown.
As you try on bridal gowns, some may fit and some may not. Brides who are fortunate enough to be a sample size will find wedding dress shopping to be easier; if your dress size is smaller or larger than the sample size (usually a bridal 8, which runs small), the consultant may hold or clip the back in place to give you a sense of how the style will look when it fits properly. Then it is out to the pedestal to let your mom ooh and aah over you! When you find a gown that is a serious contender, the consultant may help you try it with a veil and your bridal jewelry.
Be aware that you will have a limited time for your appointment, which can vary by salon (typically 1 -1.5 hours). There is a good reason for this: after about an hour or two, all the white dresses just start to blend together. If you haven’t found your dream dress by then, it is best to take a break and start fresh at another appointment. Due to the time limit, you may not be able to try on every dress that interests you at that first appointment. Part of it depends on how decisive you can be. If you know a dress is not “the one”, take it off and move on to the next option. That way you can see more bridal gowns within the time slot allotted to you.
Should you be fortunate enough to find your dream wedding gown, the next thing to expect is to be measured. Measuring for a bridal gown is an art, and the consultant or seamstress will take into account not only the standard bust, waist, and hip measurements, but may look at things like the length of the gown’s skirt and torso, whether you need a cup size adjustment for the bustline, if the neckline needs to be raised, and more. The beauty of ordering a made to order designer gown is that (for a fee), many pattern changes can be made to ensure the best possible fit. Any gown will still need alterations upon arrival, but in some cases pattern changes allow for a fit that would otherwise never be possible. Then it is time to make your deposit and order your wedding gown! When you leave the salon, go grab a drink with your mom and pat yourselves on the back for a job well done.