How to shop for a wedding dress

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Bride trying on a gown with a friend
Shopping for a gown is something most brides look forward to all their lives
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For many brides-to-be, shopping for a wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of planning for the big day. Picking a dress that will make you feel like a princess is important. These tips will help you learn how to shop for a wedding dress.

Make a list of local bridal shops

The easiest thing to do is to locate all the shops and boutiques in your area that sell wedding gowns. The yellow pages or local telephone book will have a listing, usually complete with addresses. If the address isn't listed, simply call the shop and inquire about their location.

Decide who will help you shop

Shopping for a wedding dress is more fun if you have some special friends or family member along. Once you have a listing of the shops you would like to visit, invite someone you trust to give you an honest opinion along on the excursion. Bridesmaids, sisters or mothers are excellent shopping buddies and including them in the purchase of your gown will be an honor.

Check out the bridal magazines for ideas

Many brides pore over bridal magazines and fall in love with one of the dresses pictured in the glossy pages. If you have your heart set on a particular dress, the magazine will list the suppliers who carry the brand and you can call them before traveling to ensure that the style and size you want is in stock.

Take along pictures of the gowns you like when you shop. Even if the shop doesn't carry that brand, they may have similar styles by other designers.

Decide on a budget

Deciding upon a budget is also a good idea. Once you get into the shop and see all those lovely dresses, it may be hard to realistically think about cost, so it's best to set you budget in advance. Decide on how much you want to pay and try to stick to it. Tell your shopping companions what your limit is so they can help you stay within the right range.

Many wedding dresses are extravagant in price, however, it is possible to find a beautiful gown without going bankrupt. If your budget is tight, used wedding dresses can be found online or even in your local paper. If the budget is extremely tight, or you'd rather save your funds for other wedding expenses or after-wedding purchases like a house, consider wearing a friend's dress. Or if your mother's dress is your style and is in good shape, ask to wear hers. Most mothers would love to have their daughter wear their wedding gown, even if it means alterations.

If you're having a hard time narrowing down your choices, some people decide to purchase their shoes and headpiece prior to gown shopping. Your heels will then determine the length of dress you need and the style that will suit your headpiece or hairstyle. If you're at a loss on choosing your wedding shoes, our wedding experts offer several invaluable tips. If you are not wearing a headpiece, decide if you will be wearing your hair up or down. Many styles, such as strapless, look better when hair is up and deciding on this beforehand will help you narrow down the selection and bring your wedding day look together.

Ready to shop

Once you reach the shop, peruse the aisles and pull out the dresses you think might be what you want. Remember that dresses look different on the hanger so trying them on is necessary. Wedding dresses come in many colors, not just white so decide what shade or color looks best on you. Let the salespeople help you find the right gowns, as they know what each looks like off the hanger, but don't be afraid to say no to any gowns that just aren't your style.

Once you pick a few dresses, try them on and model them for your friends. Consider their opinions but remember that it is your wedding and you need to be happy with the dress you buy. Don't let others talk you into buying a dress that you don't absolutely love. Make sure to try on many dresses in many shops. You can always come back to a shop if you decide that one of the first dresses you tried on is the one that you want.

The extras all under

Once you have decided on your dress, another important part of buying a wedding dress is to purchasing the proper under garments. It may be easier, although possibly more expensive, to buy these right at the bridal shop to ensure you can find the pieces that are necessary. Some dresses require specialty garments like halter bras or corsets and these may be easier to find at the shop selling the dresses. You can also purchase crinolines, pantyhose and other specialty lingerie to make your dress fit perfectly.

Keeping the dress safe until the big day

The final step is to store the dress somewhere safe after you purchase it. If the bridal shop is close by, consider leaving it there until a day or two before the wedding. Tailoring may have to be done and it will be easier to leave it at the shop than to tote it back and forth. In addition, you won't have to worry about the dress being dirtied or damaged and your fiancé won't accidentally get a preview before the special day.

Knowing how to shop for a wedding dress is an important part of the planning process and one that every bride enjoys.

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