Hey babes! It’s Laura here, (because why would Devon write a whole article about dress shopping?) There are no sales pitches, sponsored ads, or floofy ideas in here. Just some useful advice and things to keep in mind while on the quest (other than the obligatory panic about buying a piece of clothing literally the cost of several month’s rent). I’ve been to a lot of weddings by now, and seen a lot of wedding dresses. I also happen to be a HUGE nerd about dresses in general, so I wanted to compile all the tidbits I wish someone had told me before I started dress shopping.
Of course, everybody tells you to make sure you can sit in the wedding dresses you try on. But does anyone ever tell you to dance in it? Well, I think you should. One, because the right dress will make you want to dance because you’ll feel like a magical fairy queen, and secondly, because that’s the real test of how comfy it’s gonna be. If you can’t bust your favorite moves in it: look elsewhere. You may be thinking “well, yeah, it’s tight, and I can’t move my arms above my head, but it feels ok right now!” And yes, it may feel do-able now, but after 9 hours of wearing that dress, what seems ok is gonna drive you crazy. So pick something COMFY. And I’m putting comfy in all caps because I think it’s that important.
You want something care-free. What I mean by care-free is a dress that doesn’t require a lot of fuss-budgeting. Look for a dress that won’t require you to be adjusting the neckline, pulling it up or down, or straightening your skirt every few seconds. You want your wedding dress to feel like a natural extension of you, and you definitely don’t want to be worrying about it all the time during your wedding day, so be sure to pick something that once it’s on: it’s on! No fuss-budgeting required. If you’re shimmying, tucking, adjusting, or straightening a lot in the changing room, some of those issues can be solved with tailoring, but some dresses just take more effort to wear than others, so be on the look-out for effortless pieces. If you fall in love with a dress that’s fuss-budgety, but you just can’t give it up, consider a reception dress for when you definitely want to be care-free & comfy.
Consider what the fabric is made out of, especially if you care about your dress getting dirty. As a general philosophy, we think life is too short to worry about getting your dress dirty, BUT, if you are prone to care about that sort of thing, make sure you get a dress that’s forgiving towards a little dirt & dust! Even if your wedding is all indoors, you can still safely bet on having a bit of grime on the hem of your dress at the end of a long night of dancing. In general, lace is the least forgiving fabric (seriously, once lace thinks about getting dirty, it’s dirty.) On the opposite end of the spectrum: tulle. Everything and anything will get stuck in tulle, but the good news is that it pretty much all brushes right out with a little bit of patience. Satin and silk dresses withstand dust & grass fairly well, but any mishaps with any wet material (lipstick, wine, mud) show pretty clearly.
As a follow up note to this: always, always look at the quality of construction on the dress. There are some dead give-aways to a cheaply constructed dress, like having eye-hooks for the train instead of real buttons. Similarly, is the zipper closure well-hidden, or does it kind of pop out a bit, even when fully zipped? Does the lace lay flat against the skin, or does it pucker or bulge out from the fabric around it? These may sound like weird, obsessive things to care about (did I mention I’m a dress nerd??), but these kinds of issues show up in photos more than you’d think, and for as much money as wedding dresses cost, you should receive top quality construction always.
Most importantly: it’s ok to sleep on it. Visiting bridal shops can feel stressful, and it can feel super, super awkward to walk out without a dress after spending so much time with the bridal shop attendants. I, for one, am incredibly susceptible to the guilt-purchase. I’d much rather spend money than make anybody think I was wasting their time, but from one easily-guilted shopper to another: nobody should pressure you into buying your wedding dress. I repeat, not the shop employees, or your mum or your best friend or your fiance. It sounds ridiculous to council grown women on their ability to choose their own clothing, but the truth is that a lot of people will have opinions on what really “suits you” or “looks like you” when it comes to your wedding dress, but the only opinion that really matters here is yours. It is 100% absolutely ok to sleep on the decision, or pass on a dress that everyone seems to love but you. If it doesn’t make you feel like a magical, bad-ass fairie queen, it isn’t your dress, and everyone else will learn to live with your choice.
And finally, if it seems like you can’t find your dress, you can always create it. A lot of people (myself included) settled for dresses that were less than our dreams because we just couldn’t find anything that entirely matched what we wanted. And for you lovely brides, I present: the wonderful gift of the internet! There are so many amazing custom bridal boutiques online these days that can create your fairy queen bad-assery vision from scratch if you can’t find it elsewhere (some great places to start your search are Lace & Liberty and Anomalie ), so don’t give up!
Have fun, remember not to panic, and as a last little note: don’t feel pressured to be anyone’s version of a bride but yours.