10 Things to Know Before You Go Gown Shopping


We know how easy it is to get caught up in the moment when shopping for a gown (I bought TWO dresses before finally making mine), but armed with the following advice, you should be able to walk into any salon prepped and ready to find your dream gown. 

1)When you walk into a bridal salon, just remember that everyone is there for the same purpose:  to make you look and feel fantastic as you walk down the aisle. Treat the sales staff as your team and embrace the experience.  

2)      Limit the number of people in your crew. It’s easy to get pressured into buying a gown because friends and family like it, so make sure that you genuinely value the opinions of those you bring.

3)      Wear underwear that doesn’t dig or sag and a good bra. They will help the dresses fit better, and give you confidence – and hey, since salespeople (and family!) will be seeing you in your underwear, make sure they stare for the right reasons.

4)      Eat first. Trying on wedding gowns is emotionally and physically draining and you will have a hard time making decisions if you are hangry.

5)      Stick to your budget, and do your research to find out what price points a salon carries before you go shopping. Be clear about your budget from the beginning. The salesperson won’t judge you and may even help you find hidden gems in your price range.

6)      Be honest about what works for your body. Every time I pictured my wedding gown, it was a slinky satin sheath, but my body is better suited to a corseted a-line (thank goodness I figured this out before I walked down the aisle).  At the same time, be honest about what you do and do not like. The gown specialist is familiar with the shop’s stock and will likely have great suggestions, so be open to trying on gowns other than what you thought you wanted.  On the flip side, if you don’t feel like you are being listened to, be honest with the salesperson.

6)       Do not take more than an hour at any shop. Drag it out any longer and everyone will start suffering from try-on fatigue. If you aren’t finding a gown you love, it is okay to keep looking.

7)      If you are ordering a gown, rather than buying off-the-rack, be aware that many shops ask for 5-9 months of lead time.  Waiting too much longer can incur rush fees, which can be hefty. 

8)      Budget between $300-$700 for alterations and make sure that factors into your total spend.

9)      Visit larger salons AND small boutiques. Many brides are happily surprised by the selection they find in shops that have a large variety of gowns. For the woman who loves the thrill of the hunt, a store with hundreds of gowns can usually offer a hidden gem at a great price. For brides who want a smaller, boutique experience, research is key.  Are you looking for a specific designer?  A certain “kind” of dress? Check a store’s website and Instagram to see what they offer.

10)   Remember, if you love a gown, but aren’t 100% sure about it, ask if you can take pictures of yourself in the dress and then have a few hours to think it over.  Unless you are at a sample sale, the gown will likely be there when you return. Have lunch or take a walk around the block. If you can return later by yourself, try it on again and see how you feel. If you still love it, it’s the one. If you aren’t sure about it, keep looking. Remember, many stores will not allow you to return a gown, so spend your money wisely.

Most important – when it stops being fun, stop doing it.  Planning your wedding should be joyful, not stressful, so if you need to take a step back, give yourself time – the right dress will appear when you’re ready for it.