1. Be sure to determine your wedding budget and wedding style. How formal is your wedding? typically the more formal the wedding the more formal the gown.
2. Start shopping as soon as the critical planning decisions are made (budget, time of year, formality, etc.). If you're having your gown designed you'll want to start as soon as possible. If you're purchasing a gown from a salon you'll need to make the decision at least 6 months prior to the wedding to avoid those crazy rush charges. Try not to take too many people with you, as all those opinions can be really overwhelming.
3. Just like there are a hundred shades of white paint, there are a lot more shades of wedding gowns! Try on a couple different shades to see which color is right on you.
4. So many designers, so many looks.....don't select your gown on looks alone. You'll be wearing this gown for several hours...walking, posing, entertaining, & dancing. Heavy fabrics with gorgeous beading can be super heavy by the end of the night. Also beware of beading that goes under your arms. I've had to cover the beading on one too many gowns when the beading has rubbed their poor little arms raw.
5. Size doesn't matter.....don't get caught up in the bridal gown sizes and run out to get a gym membership. For some strange reason the bridal industry has this cruel joke when sizing bridal gowns. Just accept they will be much smaller than your normal dress size and focus on how beautiful it is instead of the size on the tag. Most of the samples in the salons will be in smaller sizes too, and they have these lovely clamps that they use to hold the back of the gown closed for you. Again, it's normal for many of the brides in there, so your new mantra is.....size doesn't matter! Spin and twirl on ladies!
6. Try not to pre-judge a style, they look so different on the hangar. Try on several silhouettes, the one you may think you'd never wear could just be THE ONE! It should compliment your figure and also the feel of your event. Short and flirty is great for a casual, outdoor, summer setting for instance. A ball gown with cathedral train is very formal and looks great in those shots of you walking down the aisle of your family church.
- Ball gowns - Picture just about any of those Disney Princesses with their floor length, ball gown and full skirt.
- A-line - does just what it says, it's an "A" shape. This style can be very flattering and compliment those curves. It's slim at the top and then flairs out from the waist down.
- Empire - picture a high waist starting right below the bust and then flairs out.
- Sheath - I've seen so many of this style lately, it's quite popular and designers are coming out with some stunning styles. If you can pull this straight, narrow, curve-hugging look off it can be very sophisticated and sexy.
7. Trains...really how often do we get to wear trains? Unless you're a European princess with a closet full of gowns this may be the only time. (Except me...I wear my practice train quite often, makes me feel quite regal while I'm vacuuming!) There are a variety of styles and lengths to trains. Again keep in mind that once they are bustled (gathered up and attached so that you don't have to carry them all night) that some may be very heavy, so ask someone to show you how it might be bustled to get a feel for it.
8. Take your camera and snap several photos of each gown you try on from different angles and be sure to get close ups of the details. It will be super helpful after you're at your 5th salon and 42nd gown to remember why number 12 was your fav!
9. Once you've selected your gown, and spun and twirled, and dried away the tears of joy be sure to ask if you can get a sample swatch of the color and material, it will be helpful throughout your planning.
10. The bling - not only will you be trying on dazzling designer gowns, but all the accoutrement as well....veils, tiaras, jewelery...you know, the bling! Just remember the rule that when you look at yourself with everything on if your eye automatically goes to one specific item then take it off.
Last piece of advice, make an appointment. Salons are always busy and you may not get the attention you'd like (or a dressing room) if you haven't scheduled a time. Good luck and twirl on ladies!