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10 Tips For Choosing A Wedding Dress | Jeffrey House Photography

Tips For Choosing A Wedding Dress

By Jeffrey House Photography


I'm not a wedding dress expert - I'm a wedding photographer.  However, working in the wedding industry, keeping up-to-date on wedding industry trends, and utilizing my wedding industry resources allows me opportunities to help people like yourself.  If I can make someone's overall wedding experience a little easier or a little better, that's awesome!

When it comes to shopping for your wedding dress, you will not be short on options.  I can assure you, there are plenty of wedding gown salons offering extensive selections.  In this article, we are going to give you 10 tips for choosing a wedding dress!

10 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Dress

What bride doesn't want to look beautiful on her wedding day?  A big part of looking beautiful, is feeling beautiful.  When you feel beautiful you exude confidence and confidence is an attractive attribute.  So let's learn about 10 great tips to help you find your perfect wedding dress!

1.  Wedding Dress Budget

Unless your Kim Kardashian, you probably don't have an unlimited dress budget.  It will be essential, when determining your dress budget, to account for those "additional" costs - veil, jewelry, shoes, alterations, taxes, etc.  It will be very helpful to nail down your dress budget before entering a dress salon.  You certainly don't want to torture yourself by trying on $10,000 wedding dresses when you have a $2,000 budget.  And if you're anything like me, you naturally gravitate towards the most expensive things!  However, the wedding dress industry is pretty unique.  With a little effort and some patience, you can often find "knock-off" styles of some big name designers, but at a fraction of the cost.  Many brides have found their perfect wedding dress for $1,000 or less!

2.  Dress Shop Early, But Not Too Early

It won't take long after you get engaged for your thoughts to turn to planning your wedding, and finding the wedding dress of your dreams!  One of the last things you want to do is dress shop before you're actually ready to buy - unless, of course, you enjoy tormenting yourself.  Inevitably, if you look before you're ready to buy, you're practically guaranteed to find a dress you love and adore.  As a general rule, look to begin your dress shopping approximately 8 months before the wedding, if you're a decisive shopper.  If you tend to be picky, then you may want to give yourself a good 10 months.  10 months is good, just in case you have difficulty finding the perfect dress, so you don't make a purchase out of panic.  

3.  Wedding Gowns 101

So now you're ready to dress shop.  What's next?  Well, one of the first things you should do is determine what "silhouette style" looks best with your body shape.  Once you determine the correct style, look to see what is most flattering and consistent with your personal style.  There are a lot of variables to consider when purchasing your wedding dress, but make sure you evaluate the dress as a whole.  A big detail that is often overlooked is the top of the wedding dress.  For one reason or another the bride forgets to put adequate consideration into the top half of the dress.  As a wedding photographer, I can tell you the majority of your wedding pictures will have a strong focus on the top half of the dress, so it's essential to select a dress you adore on the top too.  

Resist the urge to go trendy!  Your wedding pictures are the keepsakes you will treasure forever.  While a wedding gown should make you feel beautiful and elegant, it should also be timeless.  You don't want to look at your pictures 10 years from now and cringe over the wedding dress you wore.       

Below is a great reference for selecting a gown silhouette style, based on your body type and skin tone, courtesy of The Knot.

4.  Who Should I Bring Dress Shopping

I think this is one of the most important tips.  Bring people you trust to give you their honest opinion and feedback.  Be very cautious about bringing too many people.  The more people you have, the more opinions you consider, the more confused you become!  If you overload yourself with too many opinions, you will quickly become frustrated.  You want your dress shopping experience to be exciting, fun, and positive.  

5.  How Many Dresses Should I Try On

Great question!  This is somewhat of a personal choice and there is no set number that makes it right or wrong.  You want to try on enough dresses to give yourself options and feel satisfied, but when you have too many options we can experience paralysis by analysis!  We become so overwhelmed that every single dress starts to look and feel the same.  You lose your ability to differentiate between dresses.  If you do reach this point, it's best to make another appointment and come back another day.  A clear mind and fresh perspective will go a long way in making the process smoother, and more enjoyable.    

6.  The Accessories

When you start to narrow down your dress selections, it's probably a good idea to start considering your accessory choices - veil, jewelry, shoes, and even your bridesmaid gowns.  These options and selections could play a vital role in your ultimate dress selection.  Remember, it's going to be the entire ensemble and theme that brings everything to life!

7.  To Take Pictures Or Not Take Pictures

A lot of bridal salons do not allow you to take pictures, so that quickly answers that question.  However, what about the salons that do allow it?  When trying on wedding gowns you should focus on how the dress feels, not your own self perceptions.  When we see pictures of ourselves we all tend to focus on our flaws, and be overly self-critical.  It's human nature.  When you take pictures trying on dresses, try to keep the mindset they are strictly for memorializing the experience, and not for self analysis.  Most of the time, the person taking the pictures is not a professional photographer.  It would not be uncommon at all for them to be taking pictures of you, trying on dresses, from unflattering angles.  This would cause anyone to look less than perfect.  Can you imagine missing out on your perfect dress because of a bad camera angle?

 8.  Be Open Minded & Trust Your Wedding Dress Consultant

Wedding dress consultants work everyday assisting brides-to-be in finding the wedding gown of their dreams.  They are experts and are a great resource.  Even though their suggestions may not make sense to you, keep an open mind and go with the flow!  You may find yourself falling in love with a dress you never dreamed possible.  

9.  It's Just A Number - Buy A Dress That Fits Now

Wedding gowns tend to run a size or two smaller than your everyday clothes, so don't get caught up on the "dress size number."  Again, focus on how the dress actually feels on you.  I sincerely doubt any of your wedding guests would dare approach you, on your wedding day, to inquire about your dress size - Assuming they value their own life of course!  While a lot of brides want to buy a smaller dress size with the intention of shedding a few pounds, bridal salons will tell you this rarely is the case.  Buy a dress that fits now!  It's much easier to take a dress in, then it is to let it out.  Typically, a wedding dress can be taken in up to 4 dress sizes without affecting it's appearance.  On the flip side, most dresses can only be let out 1 full size.  

10.  Don't Settle

Don't buy a dress solely based on price, frustration, panic or obligation.  Don't settle for a dress simply because it's discounted - normally $3,000, now $750!  It's only a deal if you love it, otherwise it's the worst $750 you ever spent.  And every single wedding picture will only serve to remind you of this.  If you're having difficulty finding the perfect dress, come back another day with a clear mind and fresh attitude.  Who knows, maybe the first dress you try on at the next appointment is "the dress!"  Give yourself 8-12 months to shop for your wedding dress.  A purchase made out of panic will rarely, if ever, make you happy.  

For those brides whose dress is being paid for by her parents, listen closely.  This situation can often compel a bride to buy a dress because "mom" loves it.  A bride can feel an enormous amount of guilt to buy a dress her mother loves.  After all, she's the one buying the dress.  Remember, this is your day and you deserve to wear a wedding dress that you love.  Don't be afraid to have this conversation ahead of time to establish some boundaries and ground rules, especially if you think it will be an issue.  This is supposed to be a great experience, not an experience filled with angst.  

It's All About The Experience

While many brides can become frustrated with the process of shopping for the perfect wedding dress, don't give up!  That's exactly why they call it a "process."  Some brides will walk into a salon and find the perfect wedding dress in an hour.  Other brides may feel there isn't a gown made to fit her style and/or body type.  I assure you, every bride can find her perfect dress.  It's essential to understand choosing your wedding dress is a highly emotional decision.  Brides are trying to process a lot of feelings - how the dress looks, how the dress feels, their own self-perceptions, family and friends perceptions, and how they envision their dream wedding.  Brides can feel a tremendous amount of pressure when it comes to selecting their dress.  The pressure to look magnificent.  Take a deep breath, take your time, and enjoy the experience.  It's meant to be fun.  

Have you started shopping for your wedding dress?  Share your experience with us!  We would love to hear about it!