My Wedding Dress Experience and Shopping Tips

So, I bought my wedding dress. SURREAL, right? I’m not going to show you what it looks like because that would be cheating, but I will tell you a little about my shopping experience. My Mom flew up to New York and we took along my future sister-in-law, Erin, as well, who I am super close with. The two of them were like little kids at Christmas they were so excited. I was kind of nervous about all the attention and the anxiety of finding something I loved, but they were sooooo pumped, which helped shake off some of my nerves and get me excited as well. Erin, who has two adorable small children, was like, “FREEDOM, GIRL’S DAY OUT!” and my Mom was like “Big city shopping, wooooo New York!” so they were definitely providing positive vibes (a must when choosing who to shop with, I might add).

We started the day with a blow-out at Dry Bar and can I just say, BRIDE PRO TIP: Get your hair done before your bridal appointments. Seriously, it makes such a huge difference. My friend Nichole did this before her bridal appointment and I was like, this is a stellar idea, I will do it as well. It helps you visualize how you will actually look on your wedding day and you aren’t distracted by your frizzy and/or flat hair as you are trying on fancy amazing dresses.

We started our shopping at Lovely Bride in Tribeca. This salon is really relaxed and carries some great unique designers that you might not find at other salons. I knew I wanted to try on dresses by Theia and Rue de Seine because I love that style. My stylist also let me browse through the rest of the salon and pick out other dresses that appealed to me, which was nice (not all salons let you do this).

Here’s where we get to some real talk though. The hardest part about bridal gown shopping is not being able to try on your real size. ALSO, and this will just kick you in the gut, bridal gowns run one or two (or even more) sizes smaller than regular dresses. Which is just kind of a mental F you. I honestly had to just not think about the number and remind myself that it’s all about how I look and feel in the dress, not what numerical value has been assigned to this piece of fabric. But since bridal salons only carry sample sizes, it can be really hard to envision how the dress would look if it fit correctly. The stylists are seriously like wizards. They will pull and tuck and pin and straighten and cinch and do all kinds of crazy shit to get that sample to look as good as possible on you—but it’s just no comparison to trying on a dress that fits you correctly.

All this is to say that we ended up with a problem at Lovely Bride: There was a gown I really really loved the look of, but the sample size they had was a bit too small for me, to the point where I could almost but not quite get it over my hips. My stylist said she could reach out to the designer to try to borrow a bigger sample, but they would have to charge me $150…just to borrow a dress to try on that I might not even purchase. I was like, thanks, but no thanks.

Our next stop was Kleinfeld’s and I honestly have to tell you that it was an amazing experience. I thought it would be too fancy or pushy or stuffy: Wrong on all counts. The first thing I did was mention the dress I had wanted to try on at Lovely Bride to my Kleinfeld’s stylist Laura Diaz (who I recommend if you’re going to Kleinfeld’s in New York!). She was like, “hold on one sec,” and whizzed off and found the dress. Their sample size was one size bigger than Lovely Bride’s and it fit! Yay!! An inch can make all the difference here people. I loved it instantly. Laura started pulling other dresses for me and made some really good selects, but she could tell I loved the first one the most. She pulled a dress with a similar silhouette that was actually my bang-on correct “bridal” size so I could see how the dress I loved would look on me when it was my size. She pulled dresses by the same designer in different shades so I could pick the best shade for my skin tone. She was a rock star. And then I said yes to the dress (she made me, I felt a little corny, but everyone clapped, so yay!).

I have to give Kleinfeld’s credit because they had the most variety of sizes and styles and it really made all the difference. I had been shopping at a few other salons before this trip and never put on a dress that made me feel anything but meh. I would think “well, I like the top of this but hate the skirt” or “this is sort of OK” or just “Ugh, no.” But at Kleinfeld’s, not only did I find my dress, I found other dresses that looked good on me. We thought we had found the dress and then my stylist kept finding me other things that looked good too and Erin was like “now I’m getting confused.” In the end, the dress I picked was just the most “me.” It looked like a dress I would wear and a style I would choose. Plus, it’s really unique and gorgeous. And now I just can’t wait to wear it!!

I pulled together my takeaways from wedding dress shopping for you into the handy below tips.

wedding dress shopping tips

My Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

  • Get your hair done before your appointment. It will make a huge difference.
  • Eat before your appointment! Do not be tempted to skip breakfast—it is not worth it. Trying on dresses is actually really exhausting and you will need energy.
  • Drink water before and during your appointment. Again, these dresses are heavy and putting them on and taking them off really can wear you out. Stay hydrated.
  • When choosing who to take with you, pick people who will be positive and supportive (I have been shocked by some of the things I’ve heard bridesmaids/mothers/sisters say to brides).
  • Limit the number of people you bring with you to your appointment. I find three at most to be the best number. And some of the shopping experiences I enjoyed the most were with just one other person (my MOH and I had a great time trying on gowns at The Bridal Garden and she helped me realize I should broaden the silhouettes I was looking at). Big groups create confusion.
  • Wear nice undergarments. Because lots of people are going to see you in them today.
  • Bring along any accessories you might want to wear and shoes with your preferred heel height. I’m planning on wearing a vintage fur that was my grandmother’s for at least part of the wedding day, so I brought it along and it definitely made an impact.
  • Don’t let the sizes bother you. My stylists said this happens to every bride, no matter their size. Whether you’re a size 0 or a size 10, finding out that your bridal gown size is not your normal dress size can be shocking. Don’t let it bother you. Concentrate on how you look and feel in the dress, not on the number stitched in the back.
  • Order the size you are now, not the size you plan to be. This is the most common advice that was given to me by other women and bridal professionals. Brides are notoriously going to lose ten pounds/drop a size by their wedding day. But making a dress smaller is not that hard. Making it bigger really, really is. Trust your tailor and order the size you measure at now, then let them make it perfect.
  • Be open-minded when you are first trying on dresses. My biggest mistake was thinking I knew which style would look good on me. I thought I needed an empire waist with an A-line skirt, but I ended up with a sheath dress that makes my booty look fab. Having an open mind and trying on different silhouettes will quickly show you what you hate (tulle skirts and anything in ivory, in my case) and what you love (unique lace patterns and dresses that make my butt look good, apparently).

I hope those tips help you!

Photo via Unsplash, by Brandon Morgan

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