When you are shopping for a wedding dress everyone says: “You’ll know it when you see it.” But what if the “aha” moment doesn’t come. No- there is nothing wrong with you. You are not wedding gown deficient. Maybe you weren’t one of those brides who have dreamt about the gown since you were 5 years old so you don’t know what to wear. Consider this: the entire décor of the wedding party and venue could potentially be based on what this dress looks like. That’s a lot of pressure for one dress. This is where logic and reason must prevail. Put aside what everyone else wants you to wear and think about what makes you happy.
First, determine the budget for the gown excluding alterations. Be realistic! If your budget is $1000, don’t expect to get an all lace or fully beaded gown even from a sample sale. Your budget will determine what kind of store to visit. With a healthy budget you have your pick of stores to see but if your budget is low there is no sense in going to a high end store only to fall in love with a dress you can’t afford. You’ll never be satisfied and will be forever looking for that dress in your budget, not going to happen. It takes at least 8 months for the entire process from ordering to fitting a gown. If time is of the essence and a regular store is out of the question than you should visit a sample sale type place where you can buy a dress off the rack, for example, The Sample Room NY. One piece of advice before visiting this type of store is to try on gowns before making an appointment. Most places like this offer no holds; everything is final sale and sold as is. Be prepared to buy because the gown might not be there if you come back another day. In addition, plan to spend about $400-$600 on average for alterations. All gowns need some alterations even gowns you custom order.
With the budget settled it’s time to determine the style. What do you want to look like? Ultimately what you are going to remember is what is in your photos. The style of the venue determines what your dress will look like too. Try on different silhouettes to see what is most flattering for your body shape. Think about what details you want such as lace, beading, plain, pleats etc. Bring inspirational pictures to your appointment. Again, be realistic. Budget determines the fabric and the details on your dress. The goal here is to look the best that you can on your special day. If your dream is to wear a poufy tulle ball gown but you are a curvy petite bride maybe you have to rethink the style. A compromise might be to do a slim a-line with a tulle overlay. It gives the same feeling as a tulle ball gown but will be more flattering to your body shape. Bring your most trusted friend/family member to shop with. No haters and you know who they are. It’s a huge temptation to want to make a big event out of shopping for your dress and to bring your mother, sister, sister-in-law, second cousin once removed on your father’s side etc. Don’t do it! You will be wasting yours and the store’s time. No decisions like this are ever made by committee. You didn’t have a committee pick your fiancé why would you have one pick out your wedding dress.
Alterations are your final step. Most brides have never had alterations done in their life outside of shortening a hem. The fitter you pick must be experienced in bridal alterations. Only a bridal fitter knows how to create a bustle (picking up the train so you can dance). Remember this is a process and there is no perfection so keep your expectations realistic. There will be natural creases in the bodice of the dress unless your dress is spandex. You will most likely do about 3 fittings. You should schedule your first fitting about 2 months before your wedding and spread them out so that the last one is just before your wedding date. Women’s bodies change from month to month and you want your dress to fit the way your body is on your wedding day. Drinking 4 marguerites the night before your fitting wouldn’t be advisable. If you don’t have 2 months don’t panic. Alterations can be done in as little as one week but know that you are going to pay for this rush service.
Picking out your wedding dress doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience as long as you go about it with humor and realistic expectations. Keep it in perspective. It’s a special dress for your special day but most importantly it’s about getting married to the one you love.
By Mindy Woon of The Sample Room NY
Mindy Woon is an owner of The Sample Room NY
All photos by Sarah Merians Photography & Video Company
Location: TriBeCa Rooftop
Jewelry: Patty Tobin Jewelry
Hair & Make-Up: White Rose Collective