What You Need to Know Before Going Wedding Dress Shopping

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Wedding dress shopping doesn’t have to be stressful!


When beginning your search for the perfect wedding gown it can be an exciting yet overwhelming task.  With so many gown designers and styles there can be many things to consider!  Questions that may be swirling through your head include:  What style will look best on me?  How much will it cost?  How long will it take to get?  What will photograph best?   We’re here to help and offer some tips on wedding dress shopping.

Robert of Robert Bullock Bride began designing couture gowns in 1993.  He’s loves helping brides select their perfect dress and suggests “keeping it simple” by enjoying the experience “it’s your choice if you want to look back years from now and say that was the best time in my life or that was the most stressful time in my life.”

Have a Date & Venue Selected First

The venue will help you determine the style of your day and therefore guide you in selecting the appropriate gown.  The style of your gown can complement the style of your wedding and venue.  For example, you’ll never be comfortable in a ball gown on the beach in Hawaii.  Knowing your wedding date will allow your bridal consultant to recommend gowns that can be made in time for your day.  As well as coordinate the style with the season of your wedding.  A strapless organza dress is ideal for spring/summer but not necessarily for fall/winter.

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When wedding dress shopping, it’s helpful to have a date and venue set first.

What Style Gown Will Look Best?

When you’re wedding dress shopping, be sure to look online and in magazines for gown styles that you love.  It might be faster to find the designer or style you like by looking online first, rather then visiting lots of wedding dress stores.  Instagram, Pinterest, designer websites and theknot.com are great resources.  It’s important to bring these pictures to your appointment as well as to include inspirational wedding images so that your bridal consultant can get a feel for the wedding you are planning.  The more information she has, the better she can guide you towards designs you’ll love.  Keep in mind that the gowns you like the most in pictures may not end up being the style that is best for you.  Don’t get discouraged though!  Be open to trying on gowns that you don’t initially like on the hanger, sometimes these become the best surprise.

Limit Your Entourage

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When wedding dress shopping, it might be best to start by going solo to a few stores.

Make an appointment to try on gowns and bring only a few family members and/or friends whose opinion you value and trust.  If you get too many differing opinions going, it can make the choice harder on you.  If the person that is paying for the gown (aka mom) is someone you are trying to please, but you have different style preferences, talk about gowns styles before the appointment.  And remember that this is your day and it’s important you chose a gown that you love!  If you feel amazing and beautiful in your gown this will also come through in the photos.

Know Your Budget

wedding dress shopping

Know your budget when wedding dress shopping

While your wedding gown might be your favorite purchase for your big day, it’s important to know your budget.  Don’t torture yourself (or let friends & family) convince you to try on gowns that are way out of your price range because you could potentially fall in love with them.  When you’re wedding dress shopping, be sure to remember that prices vary from around $1,000 to upwards of $30,000, and you can always have something custom done to fit your body.  Be prepared for most dresses to average between 3-6 thousand dollars.

The Pressure to Say “Yes to the Dress”

We all want to have that magical experience when we fall head over heels for the perfect gown, just like you did with your soon to be husband.  If you are a rather definitive person, you’re more likely to know quickly what you will and won’t like.  This will help you narrow the selection down easily until you find the one.  If you have trouble shopping for street clothes, be prepared for a lengthier process in finding your gown, but don’t be afraid, you will find it!  Just remember to focus on how you feel in each gown and be able to describe to your consultant specific things you like and don’t like about each dress as you’re trying them on, so she can guide you.

Robert adds “not everyone has the omg, this is it moment…follow your heart with both your spouse and your dress.”

The Logistics

Most gowns are a custom ordered and take 4-5 months to be made.  In most cases, your measurements will be taken and matched to the designers size chart.  Bridal sizes are different than ready to wear clothing.  You’ll likely be 1 to 2 sizes larger in bridal, don’t panic.  You should expect to need alterations to your gown to create the perfect fit.  Ideally, you should start alterations 4-6 weeks prior to your wedding.  Most bridal boutiques will have experienced seamstresses in-house or can refer you to one.  You want to ensure that your dream gown is perfectly fitted to your figure and hemmed to the appropriate length.  Be sure to have your shoes and undergarments that you are wearing on your big day to use at your fittings.

If you don’t have time to custom order a gown, many bridal boutiques have gowns that can be purchased off the rack.  Most sample gowns are a standard size and may need additional alterations.  Some designers can offer a custom gown in under 4 months and usually charge a rush fee.

Follow your favorite designers & bridal boutiques on social media to find out about upcoming trunk shows to take advantage of event discounts.

Have Fun!

wedding dress shopping should be fun

Wedding dress shopping should be fun

This is a special time, be the center of attention, enjoy it and HAPPY SHOPPING!!!  It should be a fun experience, keep that in mind when you’re out there.

More About Robert

In 2009, wanting to reach a broader audience, Robert launched Robert Bullock Bride. This allowed Robert to design more gowns at an affordable price and bring joy to Brides who could not afford a Couture Gown. Without compromising style, he is able to give a Couture look with a timeless, elegant feel.

Many thanks to gown designer, Robert at Robert Bullock Bride in New York for contributing to this article.

Getting married or know someone who is?  We’d love to be a part of it!  Drop us a line here to start your wedding experience.

Article by Clane Gessel Photography

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Advice from a former bride <–  –> San Francisco Wedding Destination