The wedding dress is quite literally adorning the star of the day. It is one of the BIGGEST decisions the bride will make, but that doesn't mean it has to be anything less than a blast. I reached out to Stella of Stella's Bridal Boutique asking if she would share her expertise. She graciously agreed and I know you will learn some awesome things through this post!
When it comes to shopping for your Wedding Dress, there are many aspects to the process that we feel our Brides are unaware of. It is our duty to inform our Brides as best as we can so that they can be sure they have the ultimate bridal shopping experience.
Stella’s Tips and Tricks for How To have the Ultimate Bridal Shopping Experience:
TIP #1: TIMELINE
Weddings are a timeless occasion that have been going on for centuries. Fast forward to 2017 and we are living in a society where you can literally have practically anything you want by the drop of a droid! It often comes as a bit of a shock to our Brides, but it typically takes up to 6-8 months to order their wedding dress. This is because most designers are cut to order, meaning the dress needs to be made which takes several months.
The second part of the wedding dress ordering process to consider are alterations. It is suggested by Bridal seamstresses in the industry to start alterations (which practically every bride will need to ensure proper fit) 2 months out from the wedding. Basic alterations that most brides need are a hem, bustle, and maybe take-in at the bust line.
The overall order time plus alteration time can take as long as 10 months! I know in this day in age that seems impossible but Bridal is one industry that has remained very traditional in regards to the process of manufacturing wedding dresses.
So if you have a wedding set for July and it is currently March or April, chances are you are going to have to inquire about a rush fee or purchasing a discontinued sample off the rack.
What is a discontinued sample you ask?
A discontinued sample is simply a gown the bridal shop used to be able to re-order but the designer no longer manufactures.
Since bridal shops are required to order samples from the designers they carry typically twice a year, they are left with discontinued styles that they may now sell directly to the consumer at a discounted price since they have been tried on numerous times.
Discontinued styles or sample sales are a great way for a Bride to purchase a wedding dress who is on a strict budget or a short timeline.
Overall, it is important to start shopping for your wedding dress at least one year from your wedding date. This allows more than enough time to order your dress as well as complete any necessary alterations without being stressed on time.
TIP #2: SHOPPING FOR YOUR WEDDING DRESS
Finally, you have booked your bridal appointment and are going to start shopping for your dream dress! There are several questions probably running through your head, how many shops should I go to, who should I bring, what should I wear, how much do I want to spend on a dress?!!
These are Stella’s suggestions when shopping for your wedding dress:
We typically find brides set up appointments at 1-3 bridal boutiques. However, it is important for Brides to know that yes you could very well find your dream dress at the first shop and that is OKAY!! Or, don’t give up hope maybe you have been to 5 stores but still no luck, don’t be afraid to travel out of your area, there are a lot of hidden gems that can be found online or on social media that are worth the drive…aka Stella’s Bridal Boutique LOL!!
The next big question…Who Should I Bring?!!!
- We recommend 4 or less guests to attend the Bride’s appointment and this is to ensure the focus is always on the Bride and that it is an intimate shopping experience.
- It is based on our experience in the industry that when a bride brings 5 or more guests to her appointment that it is no longer about what the Bride wants but what her guests think she should get. The focus is now off the Bride and the Bride now feels she needs to please her guests. The #1 line we get when we ever extend the # of guests a Bride brings is: “You were right, I should have just brought my Mom and sister, I am feeling so overwhelmed.”
- This leads to frustration and takes away from what could have been an amazing bridal moment for our Bride if the environment would have been more controlled.
- Finally, we suggest bringing guests who are the closest to you, whose opinion you VALUE!! We always tell our Bride you can always stop in on a different day to show more family/friends the dress you have purchased.
What should I wear/bring to my appointment?
- We suggest bringing a strapless bra and some brides prefer to wear Spanx or shapewear when trying on dresses but that this is all personal preference and not needed.
- We also suggest bringing magazine clippings or sharing your Pins off of Pinterest so that we can get a better feel for the look of dress you are seeking during our sit-down consultation.
Note: Pinterest is now a girl’s BFF but what Brides need to realize is that a lot of the gowns on Pinterest albeit are stunning, they are Couture designer gowns and can range from $10,000-25,000.00.
How much should I spend on a Wedding Dress?
- We feel that when asking a Bride how much she wants to spend on a dress that it is a very personal decision and is never to be judged upon. Some brides don’t care how much they spend because the wedding dress is one of the most important aspects of their wedding. Whereas other brides could care less on getting a wedding dress and are only buying one to appease a relative.
- Typical range for the Rochester/Buffalo area for wedding dresses retail anywhere between $1,000-$2500.00. It does go up from there with certain couture designers but this is the typical industry range for a lot of current designers on the market.
- One thing to keep in mind that is a very sensitive subject is look we understand you want a lot of beadwork and lace and a ball gown, but that it is not realistic for us to match what you are seeking with a budget that is less than $1,000.00.Are there sample sales and times when shops sell gowns right off the rack that meet all of the brides needs and sell it to them for under $1,000.00? Yes, Absolutely, however this is not the norm.
- The more lace, material, detail, beadwork, (quality beadwork aka Swarovski crystals) the more $$ you need to be prepared to spend.
TIP #3: KEEP AN OPEN MIND
More times than none, a bride will come in describing how she wants to only try on Mermaid Silhouettes. She will mention how she does not want anything poofy. Well, halfway through the appointment when the stylist has pulled every mermaid style until she is blue in the face, she says screw it and pulls the poofiest ball gown she can find and says would you be willing to try this on?
At this point, the bride is feeling so defeated and already telling herself well there is no way I am finding my dress here, she reluctantly tries on the ball gown, walks out to the podium and when she looks up…BAM TEARS!!!! This whole time she was so focused on a mermaid silhouette, that when she finally trusted the stylist to pull her a gown completely out of her comfort zone (and not to mention allow the stylist to do her job) that she is now a blubbering mess and saying this is my dress, I say, “Yes to the Dress.”
However, and this one is big here ladies, this does NOT always happen. Often times the bride does fall in love with a style that meets her original description but low and behold she did not cry!! Okay so she loves the dress, she is saying she loves the dress but she did not cry so that must mean this is not the gown right? WRONG! With more reality shows than I can count about Bridal, please know that just because you are not balling your eyes out, weak at the knees pouring your heart out in front of your guests and complete strangers that this does not mean you have not found “the one.” We always ask our Brides the following:
Is this dress everything you were hoping for and imagined you would find?
Do you feel beautiful and confident wearing this dress?
Can you envision yourself walking down the aisle in this dress, do you feel like a Bride?
If you can answer yes to these questions then it is the ONE.
As a woman, we tend to over-complicate things and make it harder than what it really needs to be. Maybe you will even fall in love with the very first style at the first bridal shop you go to and know that it is okay and that does in fact happen. Or, maybe you will need to do some more research and travel to several shops until you find the boutique that vibes well with you until you find your dress. Whichever scenario happens for you, listen to your gut instinct.
We are in fact Goddesses, and so the answers are already within us.
Stella’s Bridal Boutique