Wedding dress shopping? Here are tips to help your hunt – including what (and who) to bring!
Forget the flowers, venue and cake, every bride knows that the most anticipated aspect of wedding prep is dress shopping. From magical tulle princess gowns to sleek column silhouettes, this is your chance to indulge in the dress up of your dreams. That doesn’t mean, however, that wedding dress shopping can’t be stressful or daunting. The pressure of finding “the one” (and in this case we’re not talking abut your other half!) is enough to send anyone into a spin. On top of all that, the experience of being in a bridal salon itself is hardly the same as hitting up your nearest Zara. So, we thought we’d share some words of wisdom to help prepare you before you go.
Read more: Where To Buy Your Wedding Dress In Hong Kong
Before You Go
Pinterest boards at the ready! Before you do anything, it’s a good idea to make time for a little research. Take a look at online bridal boutiques, delve into magazines and check out social media to come up with a few different styles that you love. Do this even if you’ve had your dream dress in mind since the age of six – it’s always good to have options!
Sassy Tip: For additional brownie points, educate yourself on the various bridal gown terminologies (bustles or mermaid anyone?). It’ll help you communicate much more clearly with your bridal stylist.
Have A General Sense Of Your Wedding Theme
Will you be having a traditional church wedding or an exotic destination ceremony? Do you have your heart set on a winter wonderland or a chic uptown reception? We’re not saying to have the finer details of your nuptials planned before you start shopping but, if only for practical reasons, it really helps to have a general sense of the theme, location and time of year. After all, there’s probably no point trying on a heavy, long-sleeved, full-length ball gown if you end up getting married on a beach.
Know Your Budget
In addition to theme and dress style, it’s also important to figure out a realistic idea of how much you want to spend. You don’t want to end up trying on a load of dresses that are out of your budget. Take it from us, it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and fall in love with something that’s just not affordable, which only sets you up for disappointment.
Booking An Appointment
As we’re sure you’re already aware, trying on wedding dresses requires booking an appointment. That’s because you’ll need a personal stylist to help you through the process. While policies differ from salon to salon, be prepared to pay anything upwards of $500 for this privilege – especially in Hong Kong (hey, no one said weddings were cheap!).
With this in mind, it quite literally pays to do your homework. First, narrow down a list of bridal salons that carry the dress styles and/or brands you like (that’s where the above research will come in handy). If the relevant info isn’t listed online, feel free to give them a call. From there, hunt around for customer reviews, or ask your networks for first-hand referrals. You don’t want to waste your time or money booking appointments at stores with terrible customer service.
Sassy Tip: Thinking of heading overseas to buy your gown? Bear in mind that you’ll likely have to return multiple times for fittings. Then there’s the matter of transporting it home. While it’s completely doable, it will cost you!
Generally speaking, we recommend starting the shopping process around eight to ten months in advance. Most gowns will take at least four months to make, plus you’ll need to factor in additional time for any alterations. Shopping for your dress early will ensure you don’t feel rushed or pressured into making any last-minute decisions.
On The Day
Wear Nude Underwear
Don’t let your black bra distract from how that stunning strapless number really looks on. Wear a nude strapless bra and pants, with Spanx, if desired. If you have your heart set on a backless dress, bring stick-on bra cups or nipple covers so you get the best idea possible of how the dress will look.
In order to see how the dresses will fall on the day, remember to bring heels that are the same height you intend to wear for the final look. Yes, most bridal salons will have shoes you can borrow, but what bride-to-be really wants to be sharing communal heels?
Hair And Makeup
For your initial consultation, it’s recommended not to come with a full face of heavy makeup (repeat after us, dark lippy and ivory silk are not friends). Instead, stick to your everyday beauty look. Hair-wise, it may be helpful to wear it in a similar style to how you think you might end up wearing it on the day. If this is something you’re still unsure of, we recommend going with your hair down and bringing along a hair band and hair grips for any impromptu changes.
Choose Your Entourage Wisely
Despite how it looks on TV and in movies, we think it’s better to keep your shopping entourage on the small side. Too many opinions can be overwhelming, and may drown out your own personal thoughts and feelings. Instead, bring one or two trusted friends or family members for that all-important second opinion.
Keep An Open Mind
Use your research as a starting point, but don’t let that hold you back from trying on something you wouldn’t usually go for. Best case scenario, you may end up loving it. If not, it’ll be fun to have tried on a variety of dresses (when are you going to get the chance again?).
Don’t Forget The Veil
A veil can make or break a dress, so don’t forget to factor one into your decision! If you have always thought you wanted a veil, make sure you try one on with your chosen dress. It may be that it looks better without. Or vice versa, you might not have considered a veil but realise that it’s the perfect finishing touch when you try it on.
Stand Your Ground
Yes, take into account the advice of your stylist and loved ones. However, don’t get pushed into making a decision on the spot at your first appointment. You might be told it’ll cost more a second time to try the dress on if you come back again, but that’s a small price to pay when you’re making the most expensive clothing purchase of your life.
Read more: 9 Alternative Wedding Dress Trends
Things To Remember
Shop For the Size You Are, Not The Size You Hope To Be
In the case that you do end up slimming down, it’s a heck of a lot easier to tailor a gown smaller than it is to make it bigger. On that note, don’t let bridal sizes scare you! Wedding dresses run small, which means your gown’s number may be one to two sizes bigger than usual. Don’t worry, it’s totally normal.
Be Aware Of Hidden Costs
Keep in mind that the price tag on the gowns will not be the final price you’ll end up paying. Any alterations are generally at an additional cost, not to mention the shoes and veil!
Make A Day Of It
Try and give yourself plenty of time when wedding dress shopping. Don’t go squeezing in appointments between running errands. The reason for this is twofold. First, you don’t want to go into an appointment feeling rushed or stressed – that’s just a recipe for bad decision making. Second, the process of buying your wedding dress should be fun and celebratory, finishing off with a brunch, not a dash to the grocery store.
Sassy Tip: When booking your appointments, avoid weekends if you can! Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days for any bridal salon. With more customers around, you risk getting less personal attention. Plus the dresses you want to try may be taken by someone else! Instead, head over during the week. Even if this means taking time off work, we promise it’s worth it.