Tuesday, February 10, 2015

5 things to know before you go wedding dress shopping

I've had a wide array of jobs, from mundane (Round Table Pizza) to really amazing (Disneyland), but one of the jobs that gave me the best stories was when I was a "bridal stylist." That's just a fancy term for "I sold wedding dresses." I was at that job for a little less than two years, and it was pretty cool. The absolute best part was that I got to help my older sister (Baby Kate's mom) find her wedding gown. She told me what she wanted in her dress and I said, "I know exactly which one you'll choose." I didn't tell her which one it was and when she game in with our mom, sister, and aunt in tow, she tried on 5 or 6 dresses before I put her in "the one." I cried, my aunt cried, and my sister was like, "YOU WERE RIGHT!" (And those were the best words she had ever said to me until she said, "You're going to be an aunt!)

All that to say, I learned a thing or two in that job, and if you or anyone you know are currently looking for wedding dresses, I have some information you should know that nobody else will tell you. I think this is going to have to be at least a two-part post because otherwise you'll be reading for like, 6 hours. Either I have lots of wisdom or you're a really slow reader, I'm not telling you which.

1. Bring your own undergarments. By "undergarments" I mean "anything you'll be wearing under your dress. This is usually a strapless bra, some kind of shapewear (like spanx... get the kind with the butt pockets to add lift, you won't regret it), and shoes. Most salons will provide you with a bra (or bustier if you want to get technical) and the chances of that bustier having ever been washed are about as good as the chances of Kanye every loving anybody more than he loves Kanye. And the shoes? They're supposed to put those little footsie nylons on people before letting them wear the shoes, but not everybody does that. And trust me, trying on dresses is sweaty business... so you really don't want to wear the shoes or bustier that dozens of others have sweated in. Trust me. BYOU (Bring Your Own Undergarments).

2. Don't bring an entourage. You should only bring the people whose opinions matter the most to you. When you bring all your bridesmaids, your second cousins three times removed, or your childhood babysitter. Sure, it sounds sweet and all, but do not do it. When you bring that many people you get too many opinions, and lots of people will tell you their opinions based on their own personal opinion without thinking of you. I saw this happen so many times and it broke my heart: a bride loved the dress she was wearing but then her entourage said things like, "I'm just not a fan of pickups," "I just prefer lace," "I've never liked long trains like that," and guess what? They're not the ones wearing the dress. The only opinion that matters is the bride's opinion. So bring two or three people who mean the most to you and who you know will want you to pick your favorite dress.

3a. Have an open mind. Before you shop, figure out things you like. For example, do you want strapless? Do you have a preference on the neckline? Do you like lots of beading? Tell your stylist what you're drawn toward and what you hate, and ask her to bring you what she thinks you'll like based on what you told her. She's trained to be able to pick things out for you based on what you tell her. If you have some specific dresses that you want to try on, tell her. Just remember that at most appointments you'll only try on 5 or 6 dresses. Anything more than that will take too long, and the dresses will start to run together. You don't always need to try on 50 million dresses before you find "the one."

WHAT? It's a funny. Just laugh.
3b. A dress is dead before you put it on. Don't judge a dress on the hanger. I had so many brides look at a dress on a hanger and tell me, "I really hate this dress," and then they tried it on and did a total one-eighty! When the dress is on the hanger it doesn't have any life in it and you can't really tell what it looks like. So trust your stylist and try on whatever she brings you, because you never know what you'll love once you put it on.
Yes this is exactly what happens. Trust me.
4. Be honest. If you hate a dress, take it off! If your first instinct is, "Oh my god why am I wearing a trash bag?" then tell your stylist and try on the next one. Don't try to convince yourself that you love something you really hate. (This is why you shouldn't bring lots of people with you. They'll tell you a dress is "so pretty if you just give it a chance!" but you are the one wearing the dress.)
5. Don't let your stylist talk you into "buying today" if you're not ready. Nine times out of ten your stylist truly wants you to be happy and to have the dress of your dreams, but you have to remember that selling you a dress is her job and she either: 1) has a quote of dresses she needs to sell, 2) works on commission, or 3) a combination of both 1 and 2. She'll have a bunch of tactics to get you to buy your dress asap, and some of these tactics are as follows:

"We're having a sale and it ends today! If you don't buy today you won't get the sale!"
"If you buy today I can offer you ten percent off of your veil and jewelry... but only if you buy them all today."
"Won't it feel great to be able to check this off your list?"
"I asked my manager and she said if you buy today she'll knock another fifty dollars off the price. She never does this. I don't even want to say it too loudly or else other people will hear."
"This dress is on our list of discontinued dresses, which means that any day now our corporate office will say we can't place orders for it anymore. We don't know when that's going to happen so you really should buy it today."

Of course, if your wedding is in three months or less you really shouldn't put off purchasing your dress. But if you have 6 months or more you can sleep on it for a night or two and it won't be a problem.
Ok, I think five is enough. If you're lucky I'll have some more next week or whenever I feel like it.

If you've been wedding dress shopping, do you have anything to add? Do you disagree with any of this? If you're currently looking for a dress, can I come with you to your next appointment?


  1. As a recent bride, I couldn't agree with this more!! I'd add that you should find a bridal shop that gives you some sort of "experience". The first place I went, had me behind a curtain, in the middle of the room with my mom zipping me up. It felt like I was trying on any old dress, not my wedding dress. You should receive some sort of personal experience when looking for your wedding dress!

  2. I panicked for a second when I saw this title and thought you were engaged. PANICKED. It's fine I'm fine.

  3. Ohhhh, wedding dresses. That's my favorite part of weddings! It's the only reason I miss having cable - Say Yes to the Dress marathons! The entourage advice is the best, I think. Just from watching the show, everyone has too many opinions. I'm a super indecisive person, so when I go (which, won't be for a LONG time), I need to be strategic about who I bring with me. Some of my friends know I'm indecisive and would probably take over the damn appointment for me!

  4. I'm kinda contemplating working a "fly Juliette out to your wedding dress appointments" section into my wedding budget so that you don't let me leave with anything less than my dream dress. How's that sound?

  5. Bring a flask :) Wedding dress shopping was sooooo not my favorite. Not even close. Although frankly, I'm not a fan of shopping PERIOD (except online) so I really should've known going into it. Im GLAD I dont have to do that again.

  6. I LOVE THIS POST. I love talking about wedding dresses. And wedding things in general. I bet you were the best bridal stylist ever, I wish you had been mine.

  7. You're coming here to pick out my wedding dress. Just FYI. I've already decided this.

  8. That's just a fancy term for "I sold wedding dresses." I was at that job for a little less than two years, and it was pretty cool. The absolute best part ... wweddingdresses.blogspot.com

  9. I love this post, I love talking about wedding dresses, wedding things in general. I bet you were the best bridal stylist ever i have seen, I wish you had been mine.

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