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The definitive step-by-step guide to preparing for your wedding dress shopping

Wedding dress shopping is one of the most exciting wedding planning tasks for a bride. We like to think of it as a wonderful and unique journey where brides explore diverse options and finally find a magical dress that transforms them into the beautiful brides they always wanted to be.

However, the path to finding this one and the only perfect wedding dress is not simple. It is fraught with challenges and the options are endless. So, it is essential to plan for the task and avoid drowning in the endless variety of dresses presented to you.

This is where we will help you!

This step-by-step guide will prepare you for your impending wedding dress shopping and the task will not overwhelm you.

Over the next chapters, we will tell you what to expect at each stage leading to wedding dress shopping. We will also tell you how to navigate potential issues so you can enjoy the shopping experience, just like you deserve to.

Let us begin!

Step 1: Factors to consider when shopping for your wedding dress

Are you unsure of how to begin planning for wedding dress shopping?

Don’t worry, for we know exactly what will help you set your shopping criteria. These are practical factors or constraints, that directly affect your dress decision. Start by considering these factors and you will be able to narrow down your search. So, here they are!

Venue and theme 

Have you decided on a wedding theme yet? Your chosen theme will determine your venue choice and directly impact your wedding dress selection. We’ll tell you how.

Imagine you have your heart set on a beach wedding in summer. Would it be practical to wear a heavy satin gown with an elaborate train to this venue?

No!

Such a wedding dress will look inappropriate and it will also be uncomfortable.

Instead, you will have to limit your choices to dresses made from light fabrics in simple silhouettes that are comfortable for the venue and weather. Such dress choices will also tie your look to the theme of your wedding.

Budget

Wedding dresses are expensive. Nevertheless, there are options for every budget.

If budget is a constraint, you will have to stick to affordable choices. So, this is another factor to plan before you go shopping. The latest designer wedding dresses will be super-costly, while ones from previous seasons are usually cheaper in comparison. Keep this in mind when you go shopping.

Body shape and personal preferences

It does not matter how expensive or amazing a wedding dress is. It will not look good on you unless the silhouette flatters your body shape.

So, you should look for dress styles that flatter your assets and distract from less attractive parts.

If you are either plus-size or petite, you may have to tailor your wedding dress search to suit your specific requirements. Not all bridal salons stock dresses suitable for plus-sized or petite brides. So, call ahead to check whether options are available and you won’t waste time at places that don’t stock collections in your size.

It is also important to choose a style that feels comfortable since you will be spending several hours in your wedding dress. Steer clear of dresses that make you feel conscious, restrict movement, or are too bulky to handle.

So, you are now aware of the different factors to consider before you step into a wedding shop.

Next, let us look at another key step of preparing for your wedding dress shopping—choosing the right time to shop.

Step 2: Choose the right time to go shopping 

Is there such a thing as the right timing when shopping for your wedding dress?

Yes! And this is very important when making your shopping plans. We’ll tell you why.

When you place your order with a bridal salon, they pass your details to the designer. The designer then starts creating your wedding dress from scratch. Since wedding dresses are elaborate garments, the entire creation process takes months.

Once the dress is ready, it will be sent to the bridal store. However, it is not yet time to take the dress home.

You now need dress alterations to make it fit perfectly. This can take another month or so.

So, the entire process from when you place your order to taking the fitted gown home can take anywhere between six and nine months. So, this is how early you should finish your wedding dress shopping once you fix your wedding date.

If you shop too late, you jeopardize your chances of getting the gown you love. Although some designers undertake rush orders, they charge extra for it. And imagine the disappointment if the gown you love cannot be created at short notice and you must settle for something else.

Shopping too early isn’t wise either. New collections come out every six months. So, if you shop too early, you may miss looking at the latest trends.

Play it safe and plan your wedding dress shopping six to nine months before the wedding. This should leave you enough time to sort out everything and take your dress home in the weeks leading up to your wedding.

Step 3: Plan the wedding dress budget 

Your wedding dress is one of the costliest items in your wedding budget. Be clear about what you can afford to spend on it before you go shopping and you can avoid upsetting the rest of your wedding plans.

To come up with a realistic wedding dress budget, you should first understand wedding dress pricing and associated charges. Let us look at what they are in the following section.

Understand wedding dress costs

Most brides spend between $400 and $1700 on their wedding dress.  However, there are dresses that are more expensive or cheaper.

In any case, you should have realized that wedding dresses cost more than regular dresses. Wondering why this is so? Here are the obvious reasons.

  • Wedding dresses use expensive fabric. Most silhouettes also have several layers of fabric. This larger quantity of high-quality fabric contributes to the price.
  • Wedding dresses involve intricate details like embroidery, lace appliques, and beading. Most of these details are done by hand. The labor and time involved in creating such stunning gowns add to the price.
  • Wedding dress construction is different from that of regular dresses. Internal boning is used in many designs and the structure has several layers of fabric. This involves more effort and hence a higher cost.
  • Finally, wedding dresses by famous designers are more expensive due to the designer tag accompanying it.

These factors justify the higher costs of wedding dresses. More details on why wedding dresses are so expensive are available here, on the Southern living blog page.

One important thing that you should know when buying a wedding dress is that your expenses aren’t limited to just the cost. There are some unavoidable additional charges that you will incur, and here they are.

Unavoidable additional costs—accessories and alterations 

Apart from the price of the wedding dress, expect to spend some money on the following.

Alterations and fittings: When you order a dress, you pick a size that is closest to your actual measurements. This means that once your dress arrives you will need custom alterations to have the dress fit to your exact measurements. These alterations are additional expenses. The actual cost will depend on the extent of the changes needed. More information on wedding dress alterations are available in the following video.

Accessories: Your bridal look is incomplete without the right accessories. This includes your wedding jewelry, shoes, veil, head-piece, and undergarments. You will have to set aside a part of your wedding dress budget for this purchase as well.

Here is a video that outlines how to accessorize your wedding dress.

For more tips on choosing your wedding day jewelry, take a look at this video we created for the purpose.

Dry cleaning and preservation: Whether you decide to keep your gown after your wedding or sell it off, you must have it professionally cleaned after your wedding. Otherwise, the quality of your gown will deteriorate over time and it won’t be suitable to hand down or sell. So, factor in this cost as well.

Now you should have a better idea of how to calculate your wedding dress budget and all the factors to consider.

What if you are on a tight budget?

Although wedding dresses are expensive, there are still ways to save money on your wedding gown. Read on to find what your options are.

When your wedding dress budget is small 

How nice would it be if you could shop without limitations for the wedding dress of your dreams!

Unfortunately, this is impossible!

When the price is a constraint, there are some ways to maximize your wedding dress budget and find a fabulous dress for a bargain price.

  • Limit your dress selection to dresses that fall within budget. Resist the temptation to try on dresses that you cannot afford to avoid disappointment.
  • Remember that the more details a dress has, the costlier it will be. Choose from simple styles for better prices and dress it up with statement accessories to complete the effect. Low-cost accessories like beaded belts, vintage veils, sparkling jewelry, and shrugs can enhance your overall bridal look.
  • Look out for sales at bridal boutiques, where you can find great deals on wedding dresses. During sample sales, boutiques sell their stock at discounted prices to make space for new collections. You can score fabulous gowns at bargain prices at such sales.
  • Mix and match bridal separates to create your unique look at an affordable price. This not only lets you stay within budget but is a modern and smart approach to wedding dress shopping.

The wedding dress budget is a critical factor concerning wedding dress shopping. Once you figure it out, it is time for the next step which is researching your options.

Step 4: Do your research 

A little planning goes a long way, and we want to make sure you are well-equipped with all the information you need to make the right choice. So, we will tell you all the different things you should analyze, understand, and note down before you set foot in a bridal store.

Understand essential wedding shopping lingo 

When you attend your wedding shopping appointment, you will hear terms like mermaid, fit and flare, empire, butterfly sleeves, illusion necklines, organza, tulle and more. Do you know what these terms mean?

If not, spend some time trying to understand wedding dress lingo, so you aren’t lost and confused at your wedding shopping appointment. Here is an easy glossary of wedding dress jargon for the uninitiated.

Wedding dress necklines:

Apart from the silhouette, the neckline is another distinctive feature of any wedding dress. Apart from the square, round, and V-necklines, here are the other types of necklines seen on wedding dresses.

Strapless: Bodice cuts straight across the bust and there are no supporting straps or sleeves

Sweetheart: Strapless style where the top part of the bodice resembles a heart.

Bateau: Designed in the shape of a boat and reveals collarbones, as it extends from one shoulder to the other

Illusion: Sheer or see-through neckline over the underlying bodice. Often embellished with lace or bead accents.

Single shoulder: Features a single shoulder strap and reveals another shoulder

Queen Anne: Neckline rises at the back of the neck and it has a V-neckline or scoop in the front

Halter: Straps wrap around the neck revealing a low-cut back and deep armhole

High neck: Neckline sits above the collar bones

Off-the-shoulder: Sleeves fall off shoulders to reveal décolletage and collar bones

Spaghetti straps: Thin straps support the bodice on either side

Silhouettes

Here are the most common wedding dress silhouettes.

Ballgown: Structured bodice and ample skirt with layers of fabric that fall to full length.

A-line: Fitted on top and flares away from the body at the waistline, resembling the shape of an A.

Sheath: Column-style dress that outlines the natural curves

Trumpet: Fits snugly along the bodice all the way down to the hips, from where it flares out into a full skirt. Also known as the trumpet

Mermaid: Silhouette structure similar to the trumpet, but skirt begins below the knee creating a more dramatic effect

Sleeves

The terms full sleeves, half sleeves, and three-fourth length sleeves are self-explanatory. Apart from these, there are other types of sleeve styles as follows.

Cap sleeves: Barely cover the shoulders and top of the arms, revealing the armhole

Bell: Fitted sleeves that taper into a bell-shape as it reaches the wrists

Juliet: Fitted at the wrist and puffed in the area between the shoulders and wrist

Waistlines

Basque: V-shaped defined waistline

Empire: High waist that begins just below the bust and continues into a full skirt

Dropped Waist: Bodice extends to beyond the actual waistline

Wedding dress trains

The length of fabric that extends beyond the wedding dress contributes to the overall impact and adds to the attractiveness of a dress. Based on length, the following types of trains exist.

Sweep: Short train that just brushes the floor as you walk

Court: This train extends to a foot beyond the hemline

Chapel: Longer than the court train and usually measures three to four feet long from the natural waistline

Cathedral: Dramatic train that measures over six feet from the waistline

Royal: The long train that flows to twelve feet or more length.

Wedding dress fabrics

Fabrics like chiffon and crepe are lightweight and soft. Satin and silk are also soft but have a distinguishing sheen. Taffeta is heavy with a lustrous sheen. Organza and tulle are stiff fabrics used in structured gowns. A variety of lace also appears on wedding dresses. Find out how to identify each type of wedding dress lace in our article here.

Although we have covered most of the terms you will come across when you go shopping for your wedding dress, this list isn’t exhaustive. If you would like to learn more about these terms and in greater detail, here is an article on the Brides website to help you.

Now let us move on to the next important part of your research—identifying your body type and suitable wedding dress silhouettes.

Identify your body type and shortlist best dress silhouettes

We already mentioned that not all gowns look good on all body. To improve your chances of finding a dress that is right for you, you should first identify your body type.

There are four body types: Triangle or Pear, Inverted Triangle or Apple, Hourglass, and straight or Rectangle. Each body type has its own characteristic features.

Triangle or Pear: Small bust but wide hips and waistline that lacks definition.

Inverted Triangle or Apple: Broad shoulders and a slighter lower half.

Hourglass: Well-balanced upper and lower halves and defined waistline.

Straight or rectangle: Similar proportions in the upper and lower halves and waistline not well-defined.

The right wedding dress will flatter the positive aspects and hide the less attractive traits of your body. So, find your body type and later use this information to choose the right dress silhouette for it.

This post on Who What Wear will help you use your different measurements and correctly identify your body type.  Check it out!

Here are some practical silhouette suggestions for each body type.

Triangle or Pear: Hide the larger proportions of your hips and waistline with A-line gowns and ball gowns that flare out at the waist. Avoid the trumpet and sheath, since these styles accentuate the hip and stomach area.

Inverted Triangle or Apple: A-line dresses and ball gowns with thick skirts that nip at the waistline are suitable for this body type. We do not recommend the trumpet and for this body type.

Hourglass: If you have an hourglass figure, you can carry almost any wedding dress silhouette with ease. Aim to show off your curvy figure and slender waistline with dresses that closely follow your natural curves.

Straight or rectangle: Increase your feminine appeal with ball gowns and sheaths that create the illusion of curves. Avoid fitted styles like the mermaid and dropped waist dresses that enhance the straight contours of your body.

Find the right place to buy your wedding dress 

Remember what I told you in the beginning about factors that affect your wedding dress selection?

Based on your personal preferences, specific needs, and budget constraints, decide where to shop. The following are the options available to you.

Bridal salons: The traditional place to buy a wedding dress, you can enjoy a one-on-one session with a dedicated consultant who will take you through your choices during your appointment slot. Bridal salons have a variety of designer collections, and you can try dresses based on the ideas you communicate with your consultant.

Trunk sales: The perfect option if you want dresses only from a particular designer. New collections are introduced to such customers at highly reduced prices, so you can choose a dress at a lower price than you have to pay otherwise.

Sample Sales: This is when bridal salons sell off old stock to make space for new collections. The dresses, in this case, are either floor samples or those in the store inventory. So, there will be limited sizes and you may have to clean the gown before using it on your wedding day.

Consignment shops: This is the perfect place to find designer dresses at a discount. Good consignment stores will have dresses that are good-as-new, available at a fraction of the cost of a similar original gown.

Online: Consider this option if you have no way to shop at a real store. Online wedding dress shopping is risky and many brides have terrible experiences when choosing this route. This post sheds some light on why online wedding dress shopping isn’t a wise idea.

Compile all information and shortlist your options 

A quick question—What do you think was the idea behind all this wedding dress research?

It was to collect all relevant information and use it to narrow down choices to the right selection criteria.

As you do your research and understand about wedding dresses, collect and compile information on dress styles and features that appeal to you. Start a Pinterest board and start collecting pictures of dresses you like.

Don’t worry if you seem to fall in love with all the dresses you come across when you first begin. To narrow down your options, ask yourself the following questions

  • What features of this dress are suitable for my wedding theme?
  • What makes it suitable for the weather at the time of my wedding?
  • Why is this dress a comfortable choice for my wedding?
  • What is the stand-out feature of this dress that is most appealing?
  • Will this dress flatter my natural figure and best features?

Soon enough, you will see a pattern emerge and this will help you identify what dress features appeal most to you. This information will be of valuable help when you go shopping.

Step 5: Get ready for your shopping session 

By this stage, you have all the information you need and are ready to go shopping. So, here is what is left to do.

Choose your entourage

Your wedding dress is the most important dress you will ever choose, and you must make this decision wisely. So, invite two or three of your closest family members or friends to help you. The reason we tell you to limit the size of your party is that too many people will do more damage than good. Take along only those whose opinions really matter to you, and who can actually contribute to your decision

Book your appointment

Find a convenient time and date for your shopping appointment at the boutique you choose. Preferably have your appointment on a weekday when the salon will be less crowded.

Get everything you need for your appointment ready

Make sure that you are prepared for dress shopping by carrying all that you need for the day with you. Wear clothes that are easy to change out of. If you will be wearing heels on your wedding day, carry a pair to your shopping appointment. For more tips, visit this post. 

Understand what to expect at your bridal appointment

Every bridal dress shopping appointment is different. The better prepared you are for what to expect, the more likely you are to have a productive and pleasant shopping experience. We suggest that you read the information here, to obtain a fair idea and prepare well for your shopping trip.

Set your expectations correctly

It is easier to find the perfect gown when you are flexible and open-minded. You will have experienced bridal consultants directing you, so listen to them. Try on their suggestions even if it isn’t something you would pick. You may be lucky and find your dream wedding dress this way. Trust me, this happens all the time!

Remember that you may not always find your wedding dress on your first trip to the store. This is perfectly normal. Be patient and flexible and you are sure to find the perfect dress that completes your bridal vision with perfection.

As you prepare for your wedding dress shopping, don’t forget to visit our bridal gallery at Best for Bride for inspiration. Find an immense variety of jaw-dropping designer collections in every price range and with every feature you may seek in our collection. Shortlist your favorites and get ready to go shopping. With expert consultants, excellent infrastructure facilities and all associated services under one roof, Best for Bride is the best destination for you to find your wedding gown, whenever you are ready.

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10 things that suggest you say “No” to a wedding dress

Not all brides are lucky enough to realize it when they come across the right wedding dress. Unless you have a very specific idea about the dress you want to wear, and find one that matches every one of your expectations, wedding shopping may not be so straightforward. With thousands of options and gorgeous wedding dresses that look just as good as the others, don’t be surprised if you are soon lost in a world of tulle and lace.

Here are the factors that you should pay attention to when you go shopping, so you know that when it is best to let go of a particular dress. This list will help you narrow down your choices by eliminating the dresses that will not be right. So, let’s look at when you should say “No” to a wedding dress.

When the dress is way over-budget

We cannot emphasize how important it is to first fix your wedding dress budget, and then go shopping. Wedding dresses can be as expensive as you want them to be. However, there are plenty of gems that are affordable as well. Don’t make the mistake of even trying on a dress that you cannot afford. If you fall in love with it, imagine the disappointment when you realize you simply cannot have it. And if, for some reason, you end up trying on a dress that is above budget or even think of wearing it just for the fun of it, keep in mind that you will not be buying it. The single reason that it costs more than your budget allows is enough for you to say “No” to it, this time.

Tip: When you calculate your wedding dress budget, don’t forget to account for alteration costs. This can easily add up to a few extra hundreds. So, look for a dress that will still be within your range, after the possible alteration charges that you may incur.

Your entourage is in love with it, though you aren’t

You know how it is when everyone around you seems to think this is the real deal, but you aren’t so sure. In some cases, you may be certain that this is not the dress, but your entourage may compel you to think otherwise. Don’t succumb to such pressure. Remember that no matter what the others think, a dress will simply not be best, unless you feel it yourself. Don’t force yourself to see their point of view and make the mistake of saying yes, because everyone thinks it is the one! We repeat, you do not want to be married in a dress that will leave you regretting the choice, simply because it wasn’t the one that you loved. Check out our previous article on how to choose your entourage wisely, so you minimize your chances of ending up in such a situation.

Some useful Info: Before you go shopping with your entourage, take a look at this short article on the Opinionator. Joanna Hershon tells us how she finally made her own dress decision for her wedding despite already having a dress picked out by mom, and how everything fell into place once she did. That’s something you should also consider!

When you are pressed for time

If you have been trying dresses on for the entire appointment and are satisfied almost to a great extent with the one you finally wear, do you take it? No, you shouldn’t!

Remember that your decision may be influenced by the other dresses that you tried on, and that you are running out of time and energy. Don’t make this mistake. Love a dress only because it is a dress you want to be married in, and not something you settled for. If you are saturated with lace, chiffon and organza gowns, stop the ordeal and go home. Come back for another appointment when you will be fresh and energetic. If you are almost certain that a dress is the right one, but not 100% sure, still don’t go for it. Instead go home and sleep over it. If you still find yourself attracted to the dress the next day, then it may be the one after all. Otherwise, you will be glad you didn’t finalize the decision without thinking it through, only to regret it later.

If it is not your style

The right wedding dress would be an extension of your personality, and it should reflect your taste and personal preferences. However beautiful a dress may be, if you cannot connect with it, it is best you simply say no. We have seen many brides agree to a certain silhouette just because their mom or friends think it is right and coerce them into agreeing. Other times, brides are tempted to try on the trendiest wedding dresses in the shop. However, a wedding dress is not just about the look. It is about becoming the bride that you always dreamed of being. So, if you have never turned towards a ball gown all your life, don’t do it on your wedding day. Similarly, if the latest trend statement, say a halter neck, isn’t one that you feel comfortable in, just stay away from it. Take cues from your current wardrobe and the look you love most on yourself, to decide what your wedding dress should be.

When the dress is too trendy

Fashion is always changing, even in the case of wedding dresses. So, what is in today, may be out tomorrow. We think it is best to experiment with fashion trends in your daily wardrobe, but never with your wedding dress. This is because the pictures of your wedding day will stay with you for a lifetime, long after the trends have changed. So, you don’t want to end up with a dated look, ten years from now. Use trends as a guide to find styles that really appeal to you, and enhance your natural figure and features. As award-winning bridal stylist, Ellie Sanderson tells us in this article on the Huff Post, “You can make a nod to current fashion but don’t take anything to extremes.” Stay safe with fashion trends that are good enough that you can expect them to be around for a while longer. Also, make sure that the dress features actually add to your attractiveness. Then, it won’t be a problem even if the style is no longer a fashion statement when you flip the pages of your wedding album years later.

If the gown doesn’t match your theme

If your wedding is based on a theme, it may not be the best idea to choose a dress that doesn’t match it. For example, an ultra-modern sleek gown may look out of place at a rustic vintage wedding, just as a traditional ball gown would be inappropriate at a beach wedding. So, pick your theme and find a wedding gown that matches it, or do the reverse. Do your homework on the types of silhouettes, fabrics and gown designs that would be best for your chosen wedding theme. Then go shopping and pick a gown that is suitable for the theme, and not just one that you are attracted to at the moment.

When the dress feels uncomfortable

Although you may find yourself look amazing in a dress, you should also feel comfortable in it. Wearing anything that you aren’t accustomed to will make you uncomfortable, whether it is on any other day or your wedding day. So, stick to wearing only a dress that is comfortable and doesn’t make you extra-conscious on your wedding day. The world of wedding gowns is ruled by strapless and sweetheart neckline gowns, but this design feature isn’t for every bride. It can be pretty annoying if you have to keep pulling up your neckline throughout the day, if you aren’t used to wearing it before. So, if you have never worn a strapless gown yet, or find yourself highly uncomfortable in it, it is best to avoid this on your wedding day. Similarly, other bold wedding dress features, like a fully-exposed back or a silhouette that is too clingy may not be suitable for all brides. If you choose a dress that has sleeves, you should be able to comfortably lift your arms. Unless you can alter the design to suit your personal taste and it doesn’t drastically alter the look of the dress, it is better to continue looking.

When you find more flaws than favorites

A few alterations or custom changes are fine, when you choose a gown. But, if you think a dress is alright, but you will have to fix at least five or more things for it to be good enough for your wedding day, it certainly isn’t the right gown. When there is just that one feature that is perfect, but all the rest of the features do not appeal to you, it simply means you will have to spend a lot of time, effort and not to mention money, to fix it. Remember that every alteration costs money, and you may end up paying a lot of money if you have to make many custom changes. This is usually not worth it. You are better off looking for another gown with the features that you like.

When your mind is still on another dress

Don’t always expect to cry and get all emotional when you come across the right dress. This doesn’t happen to all brides. Sometimes, you may not be sure that you have already found the right dress, till you try on more and your mind keeps going back to the previous one. So, if you find yourself torn between two dresses, and if you seem to get nowhere with your decision, don’t try to force yourself to like the one that you are wearing. It could be that you are inclined towards the current choice only because of it’s features that are similar to your original choice. Just to make sure, step out of the dress and think objectively about both. Unless the second one has a clear advantage over the first, it may be the first that actually appeals to you. Either way, it would be a good idea to take your time to make a decision. Go home, think over it for a day or two, and then return to place your order for the one you actually love.

If the gown doesn’t look great on the body you have now

Many brides anticipate a pre-wedding weight loss, which they expect to successfully happen in the months preceding the wedding. Whether this is possible or not, do not let this factor impact your dress decision. It is always better to choose a dress that looks good on your currently, and also buy it in your current size than take it in a smaller size. If the gown doesn’t flatter you right now, it is possible that it may not look good on you even after you shed the extra pounds. And if you are unable to lose the intended weight, it would be an even bigger tragedy. So, if the dress isn’t figure flattering or attractive on you at your dress appointment, say “no” to it without hesitation.

Wedding dress shopping is exciting, but equally daunting. However, knowing your options, finding a talented bridal consultant and looking for what you want will help you find the dress of your dreams with fewer hassles. Brides before you have done it, and so can you.

To enjoy your shopping experience, and to make the right choice from the thousands of designs available, trust the talented team at Best for Bride to help you. Book your appointment with us, so we can help you make your wedding dress dream a reality. Our vast inventory of top-class, high quality designer wedding dresses are sure to impress you. So, what are you waiting for? Come visit us today!

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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.

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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 bridal gown 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

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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.

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Wedding tasting etiquette: 10 things you should be aware of

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The food that is served at your wedding has an important role in determining the overall wedding experience. Most of the guests, if not all, will look forward to the food that is provided on your wedding day. So, you do not want them to be unhappy with the meal offered, while everything else was done to perfection.

Most wedding vendors offer a wedding tasting session before you book your order. With this option, you can actually see, taste, and experience the food that will be served on your wedding day. We suggest that you take your caterer up on this offer of wedding food tasting and make sure everything is just right, so there are no regrets later.

As with anything wedding-related – from the bridal shower gifts to choosing the perfect ring, there is a catering tasting etiquette that you should adhere to. We will be looking at the do’s and don’ts of wedding food tasting etiquette. But before we move to this list, let us first try to understand what you can expect at your tasting session.

What to expect at your tasting

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Tastings allow you to sample the menu you have chosen for your reception. It gives you a real idea of how the service will be, and how the food will look and taste. While some caterers offer complimentary tastings, others charge you for it. Some vendors, however, offer complimentary tasting if you sign the contract first. This is because it can end up being very expensive for the vendor otherwise.

If you are just shopping around and want to taste the food prior to committing to an order, this is also usually possible. The caterer may then ask you to pay for the food that will be served at the tasting. 

If a vendor disagrees to conduct a tasting prior to paying a deposit, you can ask him to make an exception if you would be ready to pay for it. If he refuses, think twice about booking. The service at the reception may go either way, and the last thing you want is to regret booking it without an idea of what you would be receiving.

Prior to your tasting session, you will be expected to discuss your expectations and choose the dishes you want to try, from their menu. Full-size portions are usually served, so you can actually see and experience how the wedding meal will be. The drinks that will be served, will also be included with the meal.

Now that you know what to expect at the tasting session, let us move on to the general etiquette for a successful tasting session. Follow the list we have provided, and you are sure to have a positive experience, whether you choose to go with the caterer or not.

Wedding food tasting Etiquette

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Keep your entourage limited

While many caterers offer complimentary tasting sessions for up to 4 guests, you should be able to include more if you are paying for it yourself. However, as with bridal dress shopping, it is not only good food tasting etiquette, but you can actually achieve the best results if you keep the entourage to a minimum. With more people, you can easily lose focus and this isn’t favorable for neither you nor your caterer.

Bring a small group of three to four people at the most, and they should be ones who can give honest and helpful feedback. If you have a wedding planner, she should be at the tasting. This is because she is experienced enough to look beyond basics, and can spot potential problems in the quality of food and service. She can also relate the service and dishes to how the meal would actually work at your venue, and make suggestions that will help.

Be flexible with your schedule

Remember that there are a lot of factors that go into planning a tasting session. Your caterer will have to put his staff on duty to prepare the meal, however small it may be. Different vendors handle tasting sessions in different ways. While some conduct open-house tasting sessions for a number of couples, others may give you a special session where you can have a personalized sample of what you would like for your wedding day.

In certain cases, your caterer may even ask you to attend a function that they are catering to. This may be so you can see how they conduct their service, and also sample the food as it will be done on your wedding day. Whichever be the style of your caterer, you should be able to accommodate it into your schedule, if you want to consider his services. This is also where you should consider what to wear to a wedding tasting. If you will be attending a function they are catering at, make sure you dress appropriately for the event and not look out of place.

Don’t lose focus of why you are there

A tasting session is about understanding how your reception food will be. Your caterer would prefer that you focus on the food at the tasting, instead of any other things that are going on in your life. Do not consider this as an occasion for family discussions or friendly feuds, and try to limit your conversations to the food and the wedding. Remember that your caterer will be near, observing you throughout. So, don’t be disrespectful or ignore the purpose of why you are there.

Save the serious discussions for later, unless you want to sound rude. Keep the chattering to a minimum and pay attention to what is provided. Attend your session with a notepad and camera, so you can make notes and click pictures for future reference. This will also help you better to make suggestions for changes.

Come prepared for the tasting

Apart from being prepared to take notes and pictures, it is important that you are also involved in the tasting. Plan your tasting session for a day when you do not have any other pressing engagements. Only then can you concentrate and make the most of the experience. Be mentally prepared and attentive. If you have any pressing work problems or other things on your mind, schedule the tasting for another day.

Do not eat a heavy meal or fill your stomach up with snacks, prior to your session. Neither should you starve yourself. You should be hungry enough to enjoy the session, but not too hungry to just gobble it down without recognizing if it is actually tasty. Remember that it is a full course meal that you will have. So, make sure your evening is entirely devoted to the tasting. You’ll probably also have to cancel any other plans later that day, as you will just want to crash into bed and snooze, once it’s over.

Don’t be too intimidating at the service

There are some couples who stare and keep such a close watch, that it can seem creepy to the waiters at the service. Don’t feel like you have to be so attentive, that you intimidate the people who serve you. Stay composed and relaxed, and try to enjoy the experience of how it is. If you aren’t happy with the dried out cheese, wilted vegetables or shabby presentation, don’t look upset or openly cringe. If there are things that you aren’t happy about, don’t worry. This is not the actual thing, there is scope for improvement once you give your suggestions. You can even consider switching to another vendor if you are entirely unhappy with what you experienced at the tasting.

Don’t go overboard with the drinks

You will usually be served wine or another beverage at your tasting, and the same will usually be served at your wedding. Don’t drink too much, so you become tipsy and can’t focus anymore. Just take small sips to identify how it goes with the rest of the meal. Remember that you should have a clear head to identify how the tasting is, and too much alcohol can damage the possibilities. Not only is it good manners to not become inebriated, but it is also essential to the purpose of why you are at the place.

Be discrete when you discuss things

We know that you may want to discuss certain factors with the rest of your group, before making a verdict. There may be other things that you want to draw their attention to. If these are negative factors, don’t be too loud or overly critical when discussing it. Discuss it briefly, and keep it on a positive note. Don’t hesitate to check with your catering in-charge, if its a factor that really bothers you. But don’t get into an argument or be too patronizing about it.

Most people are open to positive criticism, but may not be too happy if you only have negative things to say. As with any other social situation, mind your manners when you voice your opinion. Be courteous and clear, but do not insult or embarrass with what you say.

Be honest with your feedback

If you enjoyed your meal, it isn’t likely that you will have much trouble saying so. Now, if it were the other way around, we know why you may feel a little hesitant to say so. Nevertheless, you should provide honest feedback. If there is anything that you would have liked to be different, make sure your chef or waiter knows. This way, they can rectify it on an actual day and make sure you are happy.

Whether it is about the food, the presentation, or the service, telling your vendor at your tasting session will help him move things around to meet your expectations. Nonetheless, be mindful of the way you say things. Even if it is a negative opinion, try to focus on the positives as well, so you don’t sound like you are reprimanding them. Be diplomatic, offer suggestions on how they can improve it, and appreciate all that you liked. This is just being plain courteous.

Tip the waiter who served you

The fact that you are at a tasting session shouldn’t alter the way you normally behave at dinner. It is in fact pretty similar, considering that there were people who served you and who were attentive to your needs, at your tasting. Even if it is a complimentary tasting, it is customary to tip the waiter who attended to you. So, make sure you do it. Do it as you would do when you eat out otherwise. Consider the total amount the meal would cost, and tip the same percentage that you would do normally for that price.

Personally thank the chef

The main person behind the scenes is obviously, the chef! You will be in touch with the catering manager or venue manager. However, remember that they are not the ones who are actually responsible for whipping up delicious food. This happens in the kitchen. The chef and his team are the star players in creating the flavors that your guests will feast on. So, it is good wedding tasting etiquette to meet them and thank them for their efforts. It is not necessary but is nice if you do so.

Request to meet personally with the chef, and appreciate and thank him for his work. This nice little gesture can do amazing things for your wedding. The chef will remember you for how nice you were, and will add that extra dose of care into his dishes for your wedding day. This can be really worth that little effort of yours.

If everything goes well and you enjoyed your tasting session, that is one thing you can strike off your wedding planning list. However, if the opposite happens, and you hated it, what do you do? If you haven’t signed the contract, you can just walk away from there and keep searching for a better option. If you have already signed the contract, consider the following options.

  • Provide specific details about what you didn’t like and ask them what they can do to change it
  • Be polite, but firm and vocal when you insist you want something changed, as it isn’t up to your expectations. It is right to expect your caterer to make adjustments to please your palate. So, don’t shy away from it and settle for food you aren’t happy with.
  • Do you have suggestions on how they can improve things? Tell them about it and see if they can accommodate these changes.
  • If they offer different menu items, make sure to taste them before you approve the change.

Visit us at Best for Bride for more wedding-related tips, advice, and shopping needs. You can find everything you need, including vendors for your wedding in our list of services. Check out our website today, and move one step closer to having a fantastic wedding day.