1. Try on all styles of dresses – just because it looked good on the model in a magazine, doesn’t mean it will look good on you! I definitely didn’t think I would end up with a strapless dress the first time around and didn’t realize this time around that a sweetheart neckline looked amazing on me. Remember what your mom always said, “Try it, you might like it!”
2. Use your resources – okay, for those of my friends who knew me in my “former life” when I worked for Accenture, this little motto was drilled into our heads. Who knew it would apply to weddings too?!?! For dress shopping, using your resources means that you should lean on the experts!!! If the person who runs the bridal shop, in this case, Flavia at Annapolis Formal, pulls dresses for you, then give them serious consideration. They see hundreds of brides and know what looks best on different body types.
3. Don’t be afraid of the number — you know what number I’m talking about…the size of the dress. Who cares?!?! It’s not like the size is emblazoned on the side of the dress! Buy the right size that fits you today. Don’t say, “oh I’ll lose 20 pounds, so I can buy the smaller size dress.” Why stress about it? The dress should look amazing on you, no matter the size. Be happy with you, not the number!
4. Expect the unexpected – if you know going into the dress shopping experience that their might be bumps in the road, you won’t be overwhelmed when they occur.
5. Speak up – you will have questions or moments of indecision during this process. When these moments happen…speak up! Perhaps it is that the skirt of the dress is too full or pleats are too big. Ask if they can be altered. You never know unless you ask!
6. Bring a cheering section – you will want support from a friend, bridesmaid, maid of honor and/or mom. Have a few people there to cheer you on, be a sounding board and to take notes! A side note to this item: have the RIGHT people by your side…the ones that want you to look amazing, know your facial expressions and can put aside their own likes and dislikes to know what is perfect for you!
7. Have fun! – I can honestly say without a shadow of a doubt that this dress shopping experience was F-U-N!!! I tried on tons of dresses, smiled until my cheeks hurt, spent time with friends and drank champagne! Amazing! I feel that this is how buying your wedding dress should be!
8. Don’t get discouraged – I know that my experience might not be the same as everyone’s. I have been lucky to find THE dress easily, but I know there are plenty of brides that have a hard time finding their dress. I guess because I know what it feels like to find the perfect dress, I know that the moment is worth the search. Take your time, try a new boutique, ask other friends where they got their dress and know that your dress is waiting for you!
9. Document the moment – I was so lucky to have Liz and Ryan by my side to take photos of my dress shopping experience. I’ll be able to share these with my daughter before her wedding and point to the dress and my face and say, “See, that is how you should look when you find the perfect dress!” You might not have your professional photographer in your pocket, but pick someone to take pictures of all the dresses you really like. It might even help solidify your decision after you get home and can see what you look like in photos.
10. Get excited! – I didn’t get excited about shopping for the dress until after it was over. If I could go back, I would have been more positive about the whole experience from the beginning. I would have counted down the days, pinned dresses on Pinterest and been jumping up and down before I tried on dresses. Be sure to let the worries slip away and just get excited for this once in a lifetime moment!
Again, special thanks to Elizabeth Ryan Photography for the photos and for being such wonderful colleagues and friends! Also, thanks to Flavia and her mother, Dora, at Annapolis Formal, for making my dress shopping experience one that I will remember for a lifetime!