Buying Your Wedding Dress – What No One Told You

Wedding dress shopping can be fun, and exciting, and yes, a bit stressful.  We’ve gathered ideas and advice  -things that no one ever tells you –  that relieve the stress. Have the fun – you deserve it.

Be Prepared for Bridal Sizing 

The size of your gown in bridal sizing will usually be at least one or two sizes larger than your regular clothing.  Yes that’s right you will need a larger size than you usually wear, and so does every other bride.  It can be discouraging for the bride who shops by size and refuses to wear a larger size when nothing fits.

Resist the urge to buy the smaller size “you always wear” and fit into it.  You are not making a fair comparison and only you will suffer.

It is so much easier to just cut the size tag out if it really bothers you.  And remember that no one will know what size you are wearing other than you and your consultant (and she knows how to keep a secret).

Shop True to Your Bridal Size 

If you are already depressed by bridal sizing (you’ll need one or two sizes larger  than normal sizes) you will be setting yourself up for failure if you buy a dress that is too small because you plan to lose weight before your wedding day.  Unless you have a very long time before your wedding, losing weight is going to be difficult.  It is tough already, now consider the limited time you will have to exercise, the irregular meals, and inherent stress of your wedding planning.   Now is not the time to add the stress of dieting to your life.

Buy the size that fits. And if you do lose  weight?  It is much easier to take a dress in when you lose the weight than trying to add fabric to one that is to small.

Costs You May Not Have Considered in Your Dress Budget

When you set your wedding attire budget, do not think this is the amount you have to spend on your dress.  In addition to the base piece of the gown, you’ll pay taxes, (possibly shipping) and may need special undergarments including petticoats for some styles.

Alterations can add up to as much as one-third the cost of the dress.

Dress, earrings, accessories, wedding, bridalYou will also need to consider the cost of your veil or headdress, shoes and jewelry.

And don’t forget that you will have a cleaning bill after the wedding, and possibly the cost of having your gown preserved.

Before you shop, itemize all these items and know what you are willing and able to spend within your budget.  Be realistic and know where you are prepared to cut costs, if needed,  before you shop.

Dress Embellishments Are Expensive

Beading, crystals, pearls, and hand embroidery contribute beauty and elegance to almost any wedding gown.  They also add significantly to the cost.  Embellishments are almost always applied by hand, and in our automated world, high quality handwork is costly.  It may be worth it to you to have your dress sparkle and glitter.  Just be sure to factor it into your budget before you shop.

Be Wary of Mirrors

dress, wedding, bridal Mirrors can vary greatly and make you look very different from mirror to mirror.  Some unscrupulous bridal salons may even have the mirrors that are intended to make you look smaller, which is great for the ego, but not giving you a realistic look.

Want to true idea at what you look like in your dress?  Take photos or even videos from several different angles to see what you really look like in your dress. Take lots of angles.

Don’t forget to get pictures when you are sitting, walking, dancing, etc.  Do you get the look of what you see?  Are you comfortable?

The Pedestal

Do you know why many bridal salons place the bride on a pedestal when viewing the dress?  It is because the dress will hang straighter, when it does not touch the floor AND it make you look taller.  The elongated look also makes you look slimmer.  Magic!

Step off the pedestal before you buy and look at your dress from your natural height.

Fabric Matters

Dress, wedding, bride, budget

The color, silhouette, and embellishments play a huge part in how your dress looks on you.    And the fabric itself is the key piece of how it will display on your physical frame.

Heavy, structured fabrics such as silk shantung, satin, taffeta, and laces hold their shapes and  will tend to smooth your figure.

The lighter fabrics including chiffon, unstructured silk, and organza tend to be more flowing,

Dress, wedding, bride, budget

weightless and provide a floating look.  They are less flattering for brides with curves or body features you are looking to camouflage.

Think About Your Favorite Pieces of Clothing

Why do you like your favorite top or dress so much? Fit? Fabric? Color? Neckline? Silhouette?  The compliments you get when you wear it?

Consider the best components of your wardrobe and your everyday style as you look for wedding dress styles.  When you consider those elements in your dream dress, you will find a style and look that you are comfortable with and will make you a beautiful, confident bride.

Neckline and Top of the Dress

Every aspect of your wedding dress is important.  The top will be in most of your photos, especially close up pictures during the ceremony and dancing. Make sure the gown fits comfortably when you’re sitting down, does not slide out of place when dancing,  and that the neckline won’t require adjusting throughout the big day. You’ll be more comfortable and feel more beautiful when your gown’s neckline fits you.

Buying Your Dress Online

There are awesome deals when buying dresses online.  Sadly, there are also poorly reproduce knock-offs.  When you shop online, be sure to read site reviews.  And if the price looks too good to be true, then it probably is.  Move on to a site you can trust.

One way to have a high quality dress is purchasing pre-owned or sample gown.  I love this website.  they save you huge money on gorgeous gowns and have a full range of sizes.  Shop early and check back often  as their inventory changes constantly.  When you see what you want, go ahead and buy as it may not be there tomorrow.  (They will also help you sell your dress after the wedding. )

The Right Undergarments 

Select undergarments to wear when trying on dresses that are similar to what you plan t0 wear on your wedding day  If you are planning a strapless dress, don’t wear a bright red bra that will be sticking out or a black thong that will show shadows through a sheer dress.

If you know you are planning to buy shape wear use it when you try on dresses.  You will get a much more realistic picture of how the dress will look on you.

For your dress shopping appointments plan to wear nude or light blue panties (they camouflage even better than white under white) , a strapless bra and the shape wear of your choice.

A Wedding Day Beauty Look for Your Dress Appointment

To get the true effect of how you will look in your dress, try to copy your wedding day beauty look as closely as possible when you are dress shopping.  Apply makeup in the style you plan to wear, and hair up or down – the way you plan to wear it on your wedding day.  You will get a much more accurate picture of your total wedding look and you will feel more beautiful as you try on dresses when you look like a bride.

The Right Shoes are Important Too

I hope you did not read this heading and think “Oh, bother, here comes the lecture about what bridal shoes should look like.”  Not to worry, it is your day and I hope you will wear the shows you want to wear – from flip-flops to heels (or the currently trending sneakers, if you like.)

When shopping, be prepared to get the real look of your dress by wearing shoes with the heel height and style you plan to wear on your wedding day.  It is your choice if you want to wear bejeweled sneakers, or sky-high stilettos.  Itwedding,shoes, bridal, accessories is your day.

Wear shoes to your dress appointments that make you the same height you will be on your wedding day and with a similar style, so you will know how they feel with your dress and you get a clearer vision of how you will look.

The style of the shoe is also significant as you move.  We walk differently and adjust our gait according to the shoes we wear.  Do your stilettos catch in the lace trim of your dress when you walk?  Do you hold your shoulders back giving the regal bridal look when you wear sneakers?  You will only get the full vision of yourself as a bride when you wear the right shoes.

Move in Your Dress

Don’t forget to walk and sit and dance in your dress when you try it on, so you will know how you feel when you move, and how the dress reacts with your movements.

Hug someone about the height of your groom.  Put your hands over your head and shout YES.  Are you having a church wedding where you will need to kneel?  Try whatever moves you are likely to do on your wedding day. Give your dress a trial run.  Does it fall into place gracefully or will someone have to be arranging your dress all day to maintain your look when you move?

Looking for a Plus Size Dress? – Call Ahead Before You Shop

wedding, dress, plus sizeMany bridal salons sell plus size wedding gowns, but only stock a few, if any, in plus sizes.  You simply are not going to be able to gauge how much you like a dress if it is four or five sizes too small.  No amount of talk from your consultant will give you the vision  to love a dress.  (I know this from personal experience.)

Call ahead and ask how many dresses they have in their samples in or near your size (remember, bridal sizing is one or two sizes different from everyday sizing.)  If you have a particular style or designer in mind, ask if they have those, and if not, ask if they can get them for your appointment.

Don’t settle for excuses.  There are lots of salons who seek the business of us curvy brides.

Bonus & Often Overlooked:

Can you fit in the bathroom stall and go to the bathroom wearing your dress?  It is going to be a very loooong day if you cannot solve this issue.

Relax and Stop Looking

When shopping, don’t settle for a dress you will not be happy with.  If you feel pressured by the consultant, your mom, or your bossy bridesmaid, stop and refuse to buy until you are sure YOU love the dress and want to wear it on your wedding day.

Now that you have found your dream dress, stop looking.  You will end up second guessing yourself about your purchase if you (or others on your behalf) keep shopping.  Your dress is perfect.  Your groom will love it.  Focus your time and energy on all the other details that will make your wedding day the one you have dreamed about since you were five years old.


Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost it you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Here are some of our other articles you will enjoy.

How to Make Your Wedding Ceremony Memorable

Vendors – 8 Things Not to Say When Talking to Wedding Vendors

Wedding on a Budget – 14 Ways to Save You Real Money


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Hugs,   Rita

2 thoughts on “Buying Your Wedding Dress – What No One Told You”

  1. Pingback: Perfect Wedding Shoes - 5 Tips for Selecting Yours - Part 1 –

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