Wedding dress shopping etiquette guide
Wedding dress shopping is a very exciting experience for a bride. As her bridal gown is one of the most expensive dresses she will wear in her life, this can also make her nervous. Fortunately, you will have your entourage and bridal consultants to help you make your dress decision. And, as with everything wedding-related, there are certain etiquette rules that you should stick to, when shopping for your wedding dress too. Let us take a look at what they are.
1.Think through about who you should take along when you go shopping
You may be tempted into inviting all your friends, cousins and relatives to your shopping appointment. However, this is unnecessary and it can even do more damage than good. The ideal size of your entourage shouldn’t exceed four. Make sure you choose the right people, who share your taste in fashion and are supportive. They should provide positive inputs when you go shopping. Also remember that bridal salons may not have the space to accommodate a huge group. Even if your salon may have enough space for your huge group, it can be disruptive to the other brides shopping there. So, be considerate, and take along only those who really ought to accompany you. You can always include the rest of your gang for the alteration sessions, when they can see you in your gown!
2.Always book your appointment
Most bridal salons can only entertain brides with an appointment, when they go bridal shopping. Even if the shop you visit will be able to accommodate you on short notice, it is always suggested to book your slot before you go shopping. This will make your shopping session more efficient. When you have a prior appointment, you can not only book a time that is convenient for you, but your bridal consultant will also be able to focus on you, since she won’t be juggling appointments or be stretched for time.
3.Discuss your expectations at the start of the appointment
Bridal boutiques do not have shopping racks like you see in regular clothing shops. Instead, their inventory is stocked in a back room, from where bridal consultants pick dresses for you to try on. So, it is always good if you have a clear idea of what you want, and communicate that to your consultant. If you have pictures that you would like to see, show them to your consultant, so she knows what you are after. Additionally, if you shortlisted any dresses during your research, check if the boutique can have them ready for your appointment. When you provide this list earlier on, they should be able to have them ready for your appointment. So, you can first check these out, and move on to other options only if you aren’t satisfied with any of them.
4.Be punctual for your appointment and do not expect to stay beyond the allotted time
Just as you expect to be served on time, be respectful of the time slot allotted to you. Either call up to check whether your appointment will run on time, or arrive at least ten minutes before time. Typical wedding dress appointments run for an hour or two. However, weekend appointments may be shorter, as many brides will be shopping on these days. Book your appointment on a weekday, if you want to relax and do your shopping better. Check when the boutique has fewer appointments to decide on your slot, and be flexible if you want to enjoy your experience better. While you are at the bridal salon, make sure that you do not stall or waste any time unnecessarily. The better prepared you are for your appointment, the smoother it will progress.
5.It is important to be honest
Your consultant doesn’t know you personally to decide what would satisfy your tastes and preferences. She relies on your inputs to pick dresses for you to try. So, don’t hesitate to tell her exactly what you want. Although a dress consultant may have suggestions for you, the final aim is to make sure your dress is one that satisfies you. She will move on to other dresses and designs, based on the feedback you give about the ones that she shows first. This will help narrow down the selection to what will most likely appeal to you. So, the more details you give upfront, the quicker this can be done. If you aren’t happy with the dresses she brings out, tell her specifically which features you don’t like. Then, she can get the next dresses out accordingly.
6.Do not wear too much makeup
It is advised that you do not wear dark or smudgy makeup that may stain the dress, when you go shopping. Although your makeup shouldn’t get on the dress while you change into it, it is still risky. Lipstick in particular is notorious for staining dresses, and is very difficult to get off when it does. Your consultant may have to spend an extra amount of time and effort to get it out, if you accidentally get some on the dress. Even though the dresses on the shop floor are meant for trials, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of such small things that can make everyone’s life a lot easier.
7.Disclose your true budget
One of the biggest possible disappointments when you go wedding dress shopping, is to fall in love with a gown that you cannot afford. You should fix your bridal dress budget right at the beginning, so you know the limit to which you can stretch. Remember to also account for alteration charges and accessory rates, when planning your budget. When you attend your appointment, your consultant will ask you for your budget, and she expects you to tell her the actual amount you can afford. A few hundred extra bucks may be alright, but it is always best to look only at dresses that you can actually buy, and not try on anything that you cannot buy.
8.Be honest about it, if you have another dress shortlisted already
Sometimes brides may not stop looking even when they find a great dress, just because they aren’t sure if it is indeed the right one. If this is how you end up at the salon, it is best to be honest about it with the salesperson. That way, neither of you will be wasting time looking at options that cannot beat the existing choice. Your salesperson can show you what they think will be better than the other gown, and you can make up your mind accordingly. She will also appreciate it if you tell her why you are there, and which is the other gown, so she can plan your session accordingly. When you tell her what you like about the other dress, and why you aren’t sure if it is right, she will be able to direct you to dresses that will likely be better choices.
9.First start with low-budget options and then move on to expensive ones
If you are on a tight budget, it is wise to first look at the dresses that are on sale or have offers attached to them. Move on to expensive dresses and ones that belong to the latest collections, only if you aren’t satisfied with any that you see in the discounted section. We always think this is the better way to go about it, than the reverse. In general, the more gowns you try on, the more confused you can become. So, if budget is the main factor in your selection and you come across a gown that looks great, stop there. Don’t even think of looking at another one, or you will again end up being confused.
10.Be prepared with the right accessories
Wedding dresses are delicate garments, and you will need your shop assistant’s help to get in and out of it. So, be prepared for that by wearing appropriate undergarments in which you are comfortable. Also carry accessories that will not look out of place, with the wedding gown you intend to buy. If you are shopping for strapless styles, a nude bra is an absolute must-have. Many bridal boutiques carry undergarments to use during your appointment, but it is always better to go prepared with your own, for your appointment.
11.Check before you take pictures
Not all bridal boutiques allow you to take pictures during your appointment. If in doubt, make sure to ask before you do so. Although your intents may be pure, boutiques face the risk of their designs being copied and used elsewhere, when brides do this. So, if it is against their policies to allow photography during appointment sessions, respect it. You can find all the information about most designer dresses, online. Once you finalize your dress choice and get the paperwork done, it shouldn’t be a problem to click a few snaps. You can ask if you are allowed to take a camera along, when you book your appointment, just to confirm.
12.Be courteous to your bridal consultant
Brides ought to enjoy this special shopping experience of their lifetime. Bridal consultants get this, and this is why they go to extreme lengths to ensure your wedding shopping is an exciting experience. If you have attended such a shopping session before, you will realize how different it is from any other dress shopping experience you have ever had. While you enjoy yourself and have fun with your girlfriends, don’t forget to be polite to your bridal consultant. Appreciate her enthusiasm in searching for the perfect dress that meets your needs and also thank her for all her help, whether you find your dress or not.
13.Update the salon if you have to cancel or reschedule
Remember that you are asked to book an appointment for a reason. Bridal boutiques are busy places, that have brides in queue all the time. If, for any reason, you are unable to attend your appointment or are running late, it is polite to call and inform the shop. They may be able to reschedule your appointment for the same day, if they have other slots available. If it is a rush day, canceling your appointment will allow them to allocate the sales assistant to another bride, thus not wasting their chance to make a sale. If you have booked the appointment, but have already located a dress at another shop, do not forget to cancel your appointment for the same reason. It may be a trivial matter for you, but the shop would appreciate it if you were so polite and respected their time, just like they respect yours.
14.You don’t have to be apologetic if you can’t make your decision then and there
Bridal shops know that not all brides can make this important decision in a jiffy. Some brides have to sleep on it, to be sure they have actually found what they want. So, don’t feel bad about telling your consultant that you will be back later. It is also likely that you may have to visit a boutique more than once, to narrow down on your actual dress. This is because wedding dress shopping is physically exhausting, and you have only so much time to make a decision right there. Your bridal consultant will have seen this happen, and won’t be surprised. If anything, she may even be supportive and offer you another appointment to look at more dresses at another time.
Wedding dress shopping is fun, exciting, nervous and yet, special. It is one of the most thrilling parts of your entire wedding planning process, and something you want to remember fondly. So, take note of all that we have discussed today, and make sure you as well as all those around you remember your shopping day fondly.
Before you go shopping, you should definitely take a look at our e-book, “ What to expect at your first bridal appointment”, which can be viewed or downloaded here. And to browse through our vast and interesting collection of wedding dresses for your big day, don’t forget to check out Best for Bride’s wedding dress gallery here.