If you are like most women, you have been dreaming about your wedding gown since you were a little girl. Prince Charming has asked you to marry him and your dreams of walking down the aisle are becoming a reality.
When you envisioned your wedding gown
the thought of going shopping probably never entered your mind. But now it is overwhelming to think that it is your turn to walk into a bridal salon and find the dress of your dreams.
When should you start? Where should you go? What happens once you're there? We have tried to answer all your questions with our Wedding Gown - Buying Check List. From ordering to altering, here's everything you need to know.
Print This Checklist & Have Fun Shopping For Your Wedding Gown!
When to Begin
Shop early. If you are planning on wearing a custom ordered wedding gown, nine to twelve months before the wedding is ideal. Custom gowns are labor intensive - especially heavily beaded gowns. Then, once the gown arrives, it must be altered -- usually several times -- to fit you perfectly.
If you have less than six months, start shopping now and try to be flexible about your choice. Look for a ready-to-wear wedding gown or a sample gown off the rack, and then usually only a few weeks is needed for alterations.
As a rule, the less complicated the bridal gown, the less time it takes to make and fit.
9 to 12 Months Before
__ Start envisioning yourself in your wedding gown. Think about the style you will be most comfortable in. Think about how you want to look; summery, sweet, elegant, royal, sexy, sophisticated, demure etc.
__ Start learning the glossary of bridal gowns. Get the lingo down and determine which design elements will complement your body.
__ Define a specific style. Browse through the thousands of options on internet to find wedding dress designers and styles you like. Save some of your favorites and print them out. Pour over magazines and clip out the wedding gowns that appeal to you.
__ Choose the time of day and fomality of your wedding before you set out wedding dress shopping.
__ Determine the budget for your bridal gown and stick with it -- 10% of your overall wedding budget is a good guideline.
8 Months Before
__ Find two or three salons that appeal to you. Ask friends and family which bridal salons they would recommend and it never hurts to check with your local BBB. Call ahead to see if they carry the bridal gown designers you like. Call ahead and make appointments.
__ Bring along a good friend and your Mom for advice and enjoy the day!
__ Bring under garments along if you have them, many salons provide some of the essentials listed below, but they may not fit properly:
- a strapless bra or bustier
- control-top panty hose( makes slipping into a snug dress easier)
- a slip if you plan to try on sheaths or slip dresses
shoes with approximately the same heel height you plan to wear on your wedding day
- a box of tissues for when your mom sees you in your first gown
Etiquette tips in a bridal salon:
* Most salons won't allow you to browse through the racks - they'll assign you a dressing room, ask you what you're looking for, and bring wedding gowns to you.
* Cameras are basically off limits. Ask first if you really must take a photo
* The Salesgirls will want to dress you. Let them. Bridal gowns are often heavy, complicated, or fragile, and salespeople will know how to get you into and out of them.
* Never feel pressured into putting a deposit on the first bridal gown you fall in love with. Waiting a few days won't matter and the dress of your dreams may be around the corner.
* Strict cancellation and refund policies are the norm. If you order a custom bridal gown, you will not be able to change your mind.
__ As you visit each salon, make a note of the brides dresses you liked, who the designers are and write down a brief description with the price. Ask in detail about alteration costs.
__ Bridal gowns run small. The store will measure your bust, waist, and hips, consult the individual manufacturer's sizing chart, and order the size that matches your largest measurement. It is much easier and less expensive to take in a bridal dress than to let it out.
7 Months Before
__ Narrow down your gown choices and go for a second salon visit. You can return as many times as you like.
__ At the salon, ask if the wedding gown has coordinating accessories (veil or shawl) and try them on, too. Don't feel pressured to order anything: You still have time to look elsewhere for accessories.
6 Months Before
__ Order your bridal gown. Make sure the following is in writing on your receipt:
* designer name
* style number or name
* size or measurements the salon is sending to the manufacturer
* approximate delivery date
* how many fittings are included in the price (if any)
* how much money you still owe for the gown
* amount of your deposit and that it's marked paid
5 Months Before
__ Call the salon to confirm the delivery date.
__ Decide which accessories -- shoes, lingerie, jewelry, veil and tiara, wrap, gloves, outerwear, and bag -- you need and shop for them.
Once your gown has arrived
__ Have your first fitting. Invite an eagle-eyed friend or family member to come along. Bring all your accessories, too, so you can see the whole look.
4 to 5 Weeks Before
__ Have your second fitting.
* The hem of a full-length wedding gown skims the tops of the toes of your shoes
* You can move comfortably
* The wedding gown stays in place as you move
* There is no obvious wrinkling, bunching, or pulling
__ Continue to schedule fittings until you are completely satisfied.
__ Bring your maid of honor to your final fitting to learn about the wedding gown. Will she need to help with the bustle? Complicated straps or buttons? Ask the best way to remove last-minute wrinkles. Be specific - should you use an iron? On what setting? Is steaming a better option? And what if you spill something on the gown? Are there certain products you should or shouldn't use?
3 Weeks Before
__ Schedule a day and time to pick up your wedding gown from the salon. Try it on one last time, no matter what the salon says, especially if it's been a few weeks since your last fitting. Stress affects our appetites, and you don't want any last-minute surprises.
__ Pick up your wedding gown!
More wedding planning tips.