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Choosing Your Wedding Dress: the Top Dos and Don’ts

For many brides-to-be, the most important aspect of planning a wedding is picking a dress. And you’d think it would also be the most exciting part of the experience. But the truth is that selecting the perfect wedding gown can be a high-pressure, high-stress undertaking that leaves you frustrated and upset – at least if you don’t go about it properly. When you know the dos and don’ts of buying this once-in-a-lifetime garment you can have fun and make the process a lot more efficient. Here are some tips to ensure a good wedding dress shopping experience.

DO:
1. Set a budget. Most brides are working with a pretty tight budget to begin with, and since you have to allocate a portion of funds to the venue, catering, flowers, photography, entertainment, and more, it’s important to know how much money you have for your wedding gown before you start shopping. This should help to keep you from overspending and dipping into funds meant for other aspects of your special day.

  1. Book appointments early. It’s not that bridal boutiques book up particularly far in advance, it’s that you need to order your dress early to ensure that it arrives before the wedding and you have adequate time to make alterations. It could take several months to get a popular, designer gown, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time.
  2. Pre-shop. Before you go to your appointment at the bridal salon, take the time to flip through magazines and online publications. Bring in photos of dresses you love and note the features you prefer (style, fit, embellishments, designers, etc.). This will help your attendant pinpoint your tastes and it will make the appointment go more smoothly.

DON’T:
1. Try on over-budget dresses. This is a major no-no. When you set a firm budget, tell your attendant it’s 10-20% less than your final number. There are two reasons for this. One is that attendants ALWAYS bring you one or two dresses slightly over your budget, and it would be terrible if you loved one of these but couldn’t afford it. And two, you probably forgot to account for extras like a veil, a belt, shoes, and so on.

  1. Bring too many friends to your appointment. It’s never a good idea to have too many cooks in the kitchen, and a cacophony of opinions can derail your progress when trying on wedding gowns. Bring just a couple of people (your mom, sister, and/or maid of honor, for example) and you’re likely to have a lot more success (and a lot less stress).
  2. Ignore professional advice. We get it – you like what you like. But when you’re in the dressing room trying on gowns, at least consider taking a few extra minutes to slip on the dresses suggested by your attendant. These professionals put one wedding gown after another on blushing brides all day, and it’s their job to make you look good. You might be surprised to discover that a dress you pooh-poohed on the rack turns out be THE ONE when you get it on. Your attendant is trained to select the most flattering cuts and styles while trying to work within the parameters you give them. So whether you’re trying on dresses at a Madison James trunk show or you’ve made appointments at multiple bridal salons, let the pros do their work. The choice is still yours at the end of the day, and you could just find a perfect gown that you never would have tried on otherwise.

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  3. Should You Purchase a New or Vintage Dress for Prom?
  4. The Pros and Cons of Mismatched Bridesmaid Dresses
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