…what to consider before buying a wedding dress

1. Do the research of trends and styles and start picking as early as possible

Walk over bridal magazines, runaway shows and websites to learn about fabrics, silhouettes, and the lexicon so you can better understand what you’re looking for.

Rip pages out of magazines, click through bridal boutiques online, explore on Pinterest and check out what celebrity brides are wearing to compile a visual file of your favourite dresses.

Then look for a connecting theme—are they all very embellished, lacy, or voluminous? Do they all have open backs? Find a couple of common features of styles you like and bring your ideas to your first appointment.

Begin shopping six to nine months before your wedding. It takes about four months for a manufacturer to make a dress and another two months to complete the alterations. Very elaborate gowns will take longer.

If you are short on time many shops do rush orders for an additional fee but your choices will likely be limited. They also may have a sale section with samples you can buy off the rack. If you’re lucky, you can get one that needs just minor alterations.

2. Walkthrough what you usually wear and what shapes

Your ideal gown’s shape is partly based on the style you like, wear the most often and what flatters your body most. Reflect on your favourite top or dress you already own. What is that makes you feel most confident and beautiful? What is it you like about it so much? Is it the fit, the fabric, the neckline or the silhouette? Whatever it is, envision the best components of your current wardrobe and your everyday style and translate those elements as shop for wedding dresses.

While it’s easy to fall head over heels for that dress you saw on Pinterest, do you actually already have anything in your wardrobe in that style or shape? Using your existing outfits as a starting point can help to define what shapes already look good on you, make you feel comfortable and flatter your shape.

If you love to rock a pencil skirt, focus on fit and flare dresses to begin with. They are both contemporary and traditional and work on many body types. If your summer outfits are all about relaxed shift dresses and smock tops then an A-line or sheath dress might be more natural choices. A voluminous ball gown adds drama but can overwhelm a petite frame. Mermaid styles show off curves like your favourite pencil skirt. And If you’re a boho girl at heart, then your wedding might not be the best time to throw on a princess dress.

Considering this, think about how you want to look when you dance. You choose the dress for yourself and it is not the wish of your parents.

3. Plan your budget

It’s no secret that wedding dresses are often the most expensive item of clothing you’ll ever buy. Figure out how much you want to spend on the wedding look and make sure you begin each boutique visit by letting them know your budget. That way you won’t lose your heart to a dress you can’t afford.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of alterations, too. Your boutique will likely have an in-house or recommended seamstress, so talk through the costs to make sure you know exactly how much of your budget you’ll need to allocate. Once the dress arrives, it may require professional pressing or steaming, which can tack on a hundred dollars or more. You will probably need to buy accessories like a veil, shoes and jewellery. Do some quick research to find out prices for these items, and take them out of the budget.

Many experts advise factoring 8-10% of your budget for your attire. This should give you some idea of how much you have to work with. If you are not sure what the state of the wedding finances is, try to figure it out or ask your fiancée before shopping. But typically a wedding ensemble, including veil, undergarments and any other accessories, account for 10% to 15% of the total wedding cost.

Don’t think of your wedding attire as only your dress. Don’t forget to budget hair and makeup either. They are factors that sometimes slip between the cracks when establishing a budget for your wedding look. 

If the dresses you like are out of your price range, consider renting a wedding dress. This can be a far more affordable way to get yourself a fantastic dress for your wedding day, especially since you probably will not wear the dress again.

4. Create an inspirational board

Take images that you have collected from your favourite wedding dresses and styles. You can print them out to make a physical collage or you can make a Pinterest board so you can access the pictures from your phone.

Sometimes making a collage or board can make sense of what kind of dresses you like. You may not really know why you like a dress when you look at it individually but if you put pictures together of different dresses you like, you may start to see similarities in style.

Make sure to consolidate your research, whether it be pictures, collages or notes.

5. Pick three adjectives to describe your wedding dress

Whether you want to feel classic, vintage, and comfortable, or romantic, glamorous, and beautiful, go into wedding dress shopping with a clear vision of how you want to look on the big day. Choosing three specific words to describe your vibe can help narrow down your dress selections.

You can even create some mission statement from your research, something like “I am looking for an off-white floor-length empire dress.”

6. Decide if you want to have a veil or a train or none of it at all

A train is a piece of fabric you can attach to the wedding dress that trails behind you when you walk. There are many varieties of trains, the most popular being the Chapel, which extends about four feet (1.2 meters) from the waist, and the Cathedral, which extends about seven feet (2.1 meters) from the waist. Trains look best on more traditional styles of dresses, such as ball gown dresses.

There are some dresses that already have a sort of built-in train, with the back of the dress trailing along the floor.

A wedding veil is a classic accompaniment to a wedding dress. You will want to buy a wedding veil after your wedding dress so that it matches the style of the dress.

When you buy your dress in Milla Nova we also sell veils that match your gown. This is a quick and convenient solution to finding a veil.

7. Book appointments early

Decide where you want to go and call stores in advance to find out which designers they carry, the price range of their dresses and if they sell accessories and provide alterations. Most salons require that you schedule an appointment. Before making the appointment, tell them your budget and a rough idea of what kind of dress you are looking for. If they say that they have dresses that fit your preferences, go ahead and schedule an appointment. Make sure your shop has plus-size samples for the style and designer you want to try on, or if not, whether they can get some in before your appointment. Nothing is worse than getting to a bridal salon and finding they only stock samples to size 10 and you have nothing to actually try on.

If possible, shop on a weekday but not during your lunch hour when you’ll be rushed. Don’t shop till you drop—limit yourself to two stores a day, so you don’t get exhausted or forget what you’ve seen.

While there isn’t a set time when you must start looking, it may be wise to start about nine months before your wedding. Your search will involve visiting several different stores and boutiques and also possibly getting your dress altered. This is why starting far in advance can be helpful.

Starting early will lower your stress concerning your dress and instead you can focus on coordinating all the other factors of your wedding.

8. Know your date, location and theme beforehand

In addition to gowns, you cut from magazines and save on Pinterest, bring photos of your ceremony and reception location to the appointment. Seeing the venue ambience can help your consultant take dresses that will be the most appropriate for the location.

While choosing the wedding attire, remember that church ceremonies often require a little more coverage, often including sleeves, while brides looking for a sexier and less traditional look will have outfits better suited to chic city venues or beach locations.

9. Prepare for the fitting

We don’t suggest to go dress shopping with messy hair and no makeup as you can come across the feeling of your not most confident self. To get the full effect, try to imitate your ideal wedding beauty look as closely as possible. You don’t have to go all out, but put on some makeup and wear your hair up or down, depending on how you plan to do it on the big day.

If you plan to wear some special accessory then take it for the fitting. Also bring the suitable underwear and high heels you plan to wear or any other heels similar height.

Planning a church wedding where you may need to kneel or sit during the ceremony, practice doing that in the gown. If you’re planning to dance till dawn try it out to make sure you can move how you want.

When you found a dress that you love, take photos from several angles, including close-ups. Also, consider taking a video of you turning in the dress and walking in it. This will help to jog your memory and to be able to compare the dresses to one another.

10. Choose your shopping team wisely

For a true testament to how you’ll look in your wedding dress on the big day, have a friend or family member take pictures and videos of you while trying dresses on. Bring someone who you fully trust and won’t make any insignificant comments.

Now that you’ve found your dream gown, stop fittings and researches. It will make you nuts if you keep looking at dresses. Remember that yours is great! Now just look forward to showing it to everyone on the big day.