Wedding: The Dress Shopping Experience

Obviously, I’m not going to show you my dress. So, y’know. It’s not that one. It doesn’t look remotely anything LIKE that one. And, although I adore the dress I finally got, part of me still covets that one. But that’s not the point of this post.

This post is for all of you brides-to-be who have yet to find a dress, and especially for those of you that haven’t even gone dress-shopping yet. Because I have some advice for you that will hopefully make your dress-shopping experience much better than mine was. Not that my dress-shopping experience was a nightmare, but there were a few bumps that could have been done away with.

  • Be very specific with what you want throughout the trying-on process. Not only should you have pictures, but also be very vocal about what you like and what you don’t like according to the pictures AND according to what she brings you.
    See, I followed the advice of all my magazines and ripped out a bunch of pictures of gowns that had certain features I liked– the keyhole cutouts in the back, and lace– to show my bridal consultant. I was very good and I specified that I really hated satin, because I do. What I neglected to say was that in those pictures I brought, I didn’t really like the mermaid/trumpet-style cut. In point of fact, I really hate that cut on me. I am very well-endowed about the hips, and mermaid style isn’t that flattering.
    The first two dresses  that the consultant brought me were mermaid/trumpet style. Now, after I tried both of those on, I did tell the consultant that I would like them better if they weren’t so fitted on the bottom. She sort of nodded and told me that these two were just “test” dresses to see what I liked… but, bafflingly, she kept bringing me extremely fitted mermaid-style gowns. I kept hinting that I would like less-fitted gowns, but she only brought me one gown that had a flared skirt, and then several more very fitted ones. And it wasn’t until she brought me a mermaid-style gown that was so fitted it didn’t actually FIT me and bubbled up around the hips that I finally said “Just to be different, do you have anything that’s just… fluffy and flared? I mean, just to try something totally different?”
    And, finally, she brought me what I wanted.
    Moral of the story? Don’t be too nice to your consultant. I mean… be nice, of course, but don’t be like me. I was trying to be too nice and downplay the fact that I really, really hated the fit of the dresses she was bringing me. So be vocal about it. Say “This lace is pretty, but I feel kinda insecure about how fitted it is. Do you have a dress with a full skirt and this kind of detail just on the bodice?” Y’know. Because you want to feel pretty in ALL of the dresses. Not dumpy and lumpy and rather rotund.
  • Have a price, and make sure she knows. My consultant asked me a few questions– what do you love, what do you hate, etc.– but she forgot a really important one: what’s your price point? So, she scurried off and I had to send my mother after her to let her know that we had to stop once we hit a certain dollar amount. I think the price point is probably the very first thing you should tell your consultant, and just be honest about it. Don’t be embarrassed if you have what you think is a very low price point. I mean, mine was between $300-500, which seems to be on the super low side nowadays, so it was definitely something she needed to know. You don’t want your consultant to bring you a dress that you absolutely need, and then find out it’s a bazillion dollars above what you can spend.
  • Bring encouraging friends. I didn’t mean to have an entourage when I went dress shopping, but it ended up being myself, my mother, my maid of honor, and two other friends. Which seemed like a lot to me. But none of them had very strong opinions, and rather than hate everything I tried on– even though most of it wasn’t “me”– they were fun and encouraging and only pointed out the terrible things (like the weird satin trim, or the train that looked like molting lace). Or the fact that none of the dresses the consultant brought me were actually like what I wanted.

And a few notes for bridal consultants, if there are any of you out there:

  • Be happy! My bridal consultant was nice and polite, but did not seem excited or happy to be helping me at ALL. She seemed tired, and as though she just wanted to get me into a dress and get me out of there so she could be done with it. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say maybe she had a bridezilla before me, or maybe she was just tired, or maybe she was just shy.
    But I would have had more fun if she’d been a little more responsive to my excitement and my attempts to converse with her. Because of her quietness/lack of interest in the process, I felt rushed and like I should make a choice so that she could end her day. It wasn’t a nice undertone in addition to her not listening to my comments that I didn’t like the fitted skirts of the gowns she kept bringing me.
  • Listen closely. Like I said above, as soon as she put me in a mermaid-style gown, I said I’d like it better if it wasn’t so fitted. Maybe I should have been more specific and said I wanted a full skirt, but I figured “not fitted” would translate well enough. It wasn’t until she brought me a dress so fitted that it didn’t even pull over my hips– which, in turn, made me feel kinda gross– that I finally decided to stop hinting and specifically say “fluffy skirt!” for her to bring me something. Not even my happiness in the one full-skirted gown she brought on her own made her realize she should quit bringing me the fitted ones.
  • Don’t rush it. Several of the things that made me feel as though she was rushing it: her scurrying off before asking a price point or letting me explain my pictures more, her constant “do you want to try one more, or is that it?” questions, and her lack of conversation with me (it was basically bring a dress, put it on me, have me walk out, the end. Not much conversation). It felt like she was doing her best to be polite, but she wanted to just be done.

Just to digress, I’m not saying I didn’t like the consultant, or that this was a nightmare appointment. It just wasn’t what I had hoped for– I had fun, but I felt rushed and squished into dresses that didn’t flatter my body or fit my personality– but I found a dress in the end and that’s what matters most.

But still, I hope my experience and notes can help you have a wonderful time at your own dress fitting.

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday! Happy weekend!


follow me on:
bloglovin chictopia facebook twitter pinterest



  • Trish

    oh my gosh I’ve been looking for the perfect dress for about 5 months now. I am not getting married until next August, so I’m thinking I’ll probably do the bridal boutique experiencing sometime soon. Such great tips! Thank you so much! I think I would probably be a bit nervous about coming across as demanding and bridezilla-ish too, and I need to just get over that right?
    Also, I’ve got those pesky (but lovely) hips my mama gave me too! Definitely NOT going for the mermaid tail look. 🙂

  • The_Canon_Girl

    That dress is too good to be true. I would get married in that sucker right now if I had a dude. 😀 I’m not getting married any time soon but reading your post got me in the mood for buying wedding dresses! And I can’t wait to see your actual dress.