It all seems like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? Saying yes to your dream wedding dress. The ooh’s and the ahh’s and the all-eyes-on-you bit while you cry in excitement and happiness surrounded by your mom and closest girl friends.

Unfortunately, reality is a lot less glamorous. At least it was for me. So here are my tips that I wish someone shared with me before I went bridal dress shopping. I wish I could tell you more details about my dress, but my fiance reads my blog, sooo… lol (hi!)

(And yes, I did say yes to my dress!)

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Set a Firm Budget

I know… you’ve heard this before. But trust me, you need to set a budget and do whatever you can to stick to it. I say this because 9 out of 10 brides that I know have gone over their budget for their dresses. When you go into a bridal salon, more often than not, one of the first questions they’ll ask you is, what’s your budget? I recommend giving them a price that’s lower than your actual budget. For example, if my “real” budget was $2,000, I would tell her $1,500.  Why? Because somehow, she will find a beautiful dress that’s just a tad bit over your budget. And you won’t be able to take your mind off of it. Better to budget really low and seem like you’re splurging when in reality, you are within your actual budget. This might not seem like a big deal, but as you get deeper into wedding planning, you will realize how important it is to stick to your budget and I have found that staying under budget for the dress has been impossible. (Why, yes, I did absolutely go over my dress budget. More than double, in fact. Umm.. moving on.)

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Share Your Expectations With Your Party

During my first bridal dress shopping trip, I brought my Mom and almost all of my bridesmaids (I have eight). My bridesmaids, for the most part, have seen my Pinterest  or we have talked about wedding dresses before. They definitely had an idea on what type of dress I was looking for (have a look at my pin board dedicated to Wedding Dresses) and found that we shared the same type of vision for the dress. I like details, lace and of course it had to show off my hourglass figure. We pretty much had the same reaction to the dresses I tried on – when I liked something, they gasped in excitement. When I didn’t, they shook their heads and made faces at me. Except my Mom. If you know my Mom, you are well aware that she is actually “a cool mom”. She looks very young for her age, dresses quite stylish (almost too stylish for her age sometimes) and I tell her everything. Or, I thought I did. Until I realized that she was in a completely different planet when it came to wedding dress shopping. I was surprised! I never even thought about the possibility that she might not like the same style as I did.

But she didn’t like what we liked. She was caught up on the wedding dress styles back in her day. Think super long train like Princess Diana. She picked out a dress for me and it was straight outta medieval times. Disaster. There was a dress that almost everyone liked and she hated it. Yeah, it was awkward. She also doesn’t have a filter (totally where I got that from) and made sure everyone knew she did not like it. So what did I do? None of the dresses in the first salon really “Wow’d” me anyway, so it was okay. But I needed to get her on our level. I gave her a bunch of bridal magazines and told her to mark which dresses she liked and that we would go through them together. Did it work? Totes Mcgoats.

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Be Patient

I went with one of my BFFs to Kleinfeld in NYC when we looked for her dress and I think the 4th dress was the one for her. It was a beautiful experience. She came out, we ooh’d and ahh’d and we started bawling like little babies. Damnit, it was just like the TV show. It was just like the movies. Another bride I met told me that her first dress she tried on was the dress. Her whole family cried and it was magical. Sooooo…. here I was thinking I would have a similar experience. I did not. I went to 3 bridal salons, visited the final salon about 3 times and tried on about 50 different dresses. I was honestly starting to feel defeated because I had waited so long to try on dresses (I started in December of last year and we’d been engaged for 2 years). And then when I least expected it, it happened.

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Keep An Open Mind

I had one type of dress in mind as my dream dress. But because I started to feel so defeated, we decided to start trying on different silhouettes. It can feel very overwhelming and borderline stressful, but if you do it right, this will be the only time you get to wear a wedding dress, so have fun with it! I am so happy I kept an open mind because I wasn’t that attracted to the dress on the hanger, but it felt like magic when I put it on. Honestly. Try on different silhouettes, patterns and even colour. I *love* red wedding dresses and have a soft spot for lighter pastel dresses, too. You might be surprised!

Hope this helps! If you have any questions, ask away in the comments. If you’ve been through the process, let me know about your dress-shopping experience – was it as you expected?! Did ya have a fairy tale moment or not really? Any tips you want to add? Share, I’d love to hear :)

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  • Ashley McKernan

    Awww, beautiful post! Can’t wait to see what you picked.

    • Thanks Ashley!! I hope I love it just as much when it arrives!! :)

  • YAAAAAYYY! Sooo excited for you! I can’t wait to see you in the dress. :)

    I totally agree with you here, especially the advice of keeping an open mind. When I started dress shopping I wanted to try on lace + fit and flare dresses that are just so gorgeous on so many. After trying them on, I actually hated lace on me. I tried on a bunch of silhouettes in the beginning (not knowing what I really wanted) and we figured out what worked better for my silhouette and personality.

    • Thanks Arianne!!
      Zomg I need to get super fit for this dress hahaha talk about fitness motivation!

      I *loved* your dress!! You looked lovely in it! Yes to trying different silhouettes!

  • Can’t wait to see your dress! I didn’t have a magic moment either. I had my dress made by a designer so when I had my final fitting I knew what I would look like in it already. I was also alone and I felt more excited than teary. :)

  • You’d better believe I’m going to be pestering you for details on your dress ;)

    I’m starting to book my appointments now – great advice!