Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wedding | Some Dress Advice.

I thought picking out my wedding dress was going to be a crazy source of stress for me.  I knew from going with my sister when she was looking for her dress that the bridal salon universe is an enigma, with a system all its own that is hard to understand from the outside.  2 things helped turn it in to a super fun experience: (1) I listened to my sister's advice and did no planning or research before my first appointments; and (2) I didn't panic mid-search (ok, I did once), and instead kept looking until I found the dress that was just right.  

I know other brides-to-be may suffer from the same "OMG where do I start?!" panic that I had at the very beginning of the search, so here are my thoughts on how to make this the lovely time it should be: 

Just Start - get some recommendations for bridal salons in your area and make a few appointments (I would only do 1-2 per day; 3 can be impossibly overwhelming) and see what happens.  Here's the key: do not worry too much about specific designers and definitely not about specific dresses in advance of those first appointments.  Just go, keep an open mind, tell the person you're working with (1) your budget range up front, and (2) anything you seriously hate and do not even want to try on, and then just see what looks good on you (you may be seriously surprised!).  You'll go through the store and pull what you like, the employee will do the same based on the parameters you give her, and just go with it.  When you start by trying to track down really specific details, dresses or collections, you'll immediately get frustrated.  Like I said, bridal salons are quirky, they don't operate like normal stores, so it is hard to find specific dresses you pinned to a Pinterest board 6 months ago (trust me).

Once you've gone through those first appointments and seen what's working and what's not, THEN go to the Internet and Pinterest and all that and look for similar ones, the rest of a collection, the rest of a designer's work, etc.  If you like this thing on this dress and that thing on another dress, then you go searching for one with both!  Now it becomes worth it to work on tracking them down.  It will be less overwhelming when you know what works on you and what doesn't already.  Of course, you can (and should!) just keep making appointments at other salons and see what else is out there.

About Appointments - I made some less than a week in advance, others a few weeks out.  It's a bit of a crapshoot on availability, but of course midday on a Saturday is the busiest time.  If you want to feel the least rushed, take the first appointment of the day, or go in the evening on a weekday.  Most salons restrict you to about an hour for the appointment, and some are really strict about it.  If you're getting serious about a dress though, or they're not busy, of course they're going to let you stick around as you're trying to decide.  Also, a lot of salons still won't let you take pictures in the dress, which I find sort of ridiculous, but so it is.  You can at least write down the style numbers and collections and find them online later, or sometimes they'll let you take "just one."  

Salons vary greatly in attitude, process, and, well, price.  To help figure out price ranges ahead of time, create a account and then search for designers a particular store carries (most salons have websites that list their designers).  They have dollar signs that correspond to different price ranges, which will give you a decent estimate.    

If you're getting close on a dress, ask questions about how they charge for alterations.  It's helpful to factor that into your dress budget as soon as possible.  Also, ask if they give a discount if you buy that day.  Lots of places do, BUT don't ever settle because you'll get a deal on the dress if you have not looked at other places yet; however, if you KNOW it's THE DRESS, then that's a nice bonus.  

Finally, don't take too many people with you to the appointments.  Too many opinions, too many distractions, not enough time for you to really think through what you want.  Moms and sisters are very good choices ;)

I found my dress in a suburb of Chicago in the fifth store I visited.  I had zeroed in on a few designers I liked from previous salons and went searching for other stores carrying them.  And, because this is the way these things go, I ended up finding a dress completely different than those designers in many ways, but it felt so right.  I can't wait for it to come in (in another few months, ugh, why does it take so long?!).

Please feel free to ask me questions about my experience, and married ladies: add any helpful hints you may have!

xo. di.

*image by Branco Prata

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thanks so much for the note! i love reading your comments. xo. di.

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