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Before You Shop: 5 Expert Tips to Prepare for Your Bridal Appointment

You can’t contain it, can you? The excitement of being – gasp – engaged

You haven’t stopped smiling since he popped the question, have you?

That gorgeous ring on your finger catches the light just so. As if you could possibly forget, it reminds you that forever with the one you love is on its way. “Mrs.,” here you come!

You’ve set the date. You’re working on the guest list. You add a little something to the registry now and then. You’re daydreaming about filling your venue with the colors you picked out. You’ve got your girls lined up to stand beside you. 

Now it’s time to take care of you and that gown you’ve dreamed of your whole life.

So you booked your bridal appointment. (Eep!)

You can’t wait to look at dresses. You can’t wait to find the one!

But you’ve never done this before. Wedding dress shopping is new territory. And you want to make the absolute most of this opportunity. 

How can you prepare for your bridal appointment? Do you need to do anything before you try on wedding gowns? What do you need to bring with you? Are you supposed to wear anything special? Everybody wants to come, so how do you pick who actually joins you at the salon? How do you know if you’re really ready to take a dress home? 

As the owner of Say Yes to Your Dress Bridal, I’m passionate about making sure that you have an amazing dress-shopping experience. For eight years, I’ve been helping brides with all their questions, just like the ones you have. 

Here’s a secret: Finding your perfect wedding gown starts before you ever step foot in the bridal salon. 

Want to set your bridal appointment up for success? Here are my top five tips to get ready to find your dream dress…

1.) Come with Your Dream Team

family helping bride into her wedding dress

Choose who comes with you carefully. Of course, everyone and their lapdog wants to watch you try on bridal gowns. It’s fun! But remember that this day is about you. You’re not being selfish; you’re taking in the moment. You’re giving full attention to a once-in-a-lifetime event.  

You want your nearest and dearest to help you make this decision. I always tell brides, bring the person whose opinion you most cherish. The one you trust the most. Whom you value the most. The one who’s always had your back. 

I can’t imagine a bride coming without a maternal figure, if they’re blessed with one. If your mom is still with you — or the person in your life who is like a mom — please don’t leave them out. Whether it’s your mom, stepmom, mother-in-law, aunt, or mentor, bring the woman who’s special to you. This is such a sacred moment for both of you. 

You also need to have the person with you who will make the purchasing decision. If you’re not handing over the credit card, you need to bring the person who is. When you find the dress you love, you want the one there who will let you take it home. 

As far as the rest of the group, remember that you want supporters. I’ll be there as your cheerleader the whole way, but your girls should be on your team, too. 

You know the friends and family who will stick with you, versus the ones who hold their own strong opinions. You don’t need to follow anyone else’s style on your wedding day. You don’t need to do things the way someone else would. You need to be you. You’re the bride, after all. And your fiancé wants to marry you for you — not who anyone else would try to make you. 

At my bridal boutique in McKinney, I only allow the bride plus four guests. This keeps all the focus on you. It lets you stick with only the people who will cheer you on for being you. Consider the policy your excuse to tell the wrong people, “no,” and the right people, “yes.” 

Make sure your girls are the ones who will help you have an amazing day choosing the perfect dress. 

2.) Come with a Vision

bride envisioning herself in her wedding dress

It’s hard to find the perfect dress if you’re not sure what you’re looking for.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Brides get surprised by the dress they fall in love with all the time. But you do want some ideas to point you in the right direction. There are lots of dresses, after all.

So browse styles. Check out some designs. Thumb through magazines or scroll your favorite socials. 

When you see a dress you like, think about what you like about it. Is it the neckline? The lace or beaded detailing? The waist? The fullness of the skirt? This will help you see what characteristics speak to you.

Keep in mind, though, that you are not the person in the picture, and that person is not you. You have different figures and different ways that you are uniquely beautiful. You want a gown that lets you shine. 

For example, the slit that comes up so high on the 5’10 model won’t sit the same on a 5’2 bride. And while you could stun in the mermaid dress that your friend’s friend wore… a ball gown might accentuate your figure even better

If you’re not sure, check out our “Styles of Wedding Dresses for Body Types” graphic on the website homepage. You can shine in any dress you want, but this guide can help you get an idea of how to highlight your stunning shape.

And rest at ease that your size will be here. Every bride is exquisite in every shape, so I carry gowns in bridal sizes 8-24. 

So bring ideas of what you like in a wedding dress. But also come with an understanding of your own individual beauty, so you can show off how you are gorgeous.

3.) Come with a Realistic Budget

wedding dress budget

You can’t take the dress home if you can’t buy it, right? And, odds are, you want to invest in more than just your bridal gown. To make sure you can purchase the dress of your dreams and eat wedding cake, come with your budget prepped.

As you’re working the calculator and tallying the numbers, don’t forget to include alterations. 

On the inexpensive side, wedding gown alterations can cost approximately $350. The seamstress I currently refer brides to does quality work for around that price. However, it’s possible to spend much more than that

And, of course, alterations prices will vary based on how much work needs to be done on the dress. Even if the dress “fits” perfectly around your figure, it’s common to hem the length, adjust straps, and add bra cups. All this makes your dress more comfortable and flattering because it’s tailored uniquely to you.

So include alterations in your bridal gown budget. Then, when you go shopping, make sure to let your attendant know what your budget is. Clarify whether the number you give her includes alterations or not. You want to fall in love with dresses that you don’t have to overspend for. 

At Say Yes to Your Dress, I sell designer gowns off the rack. This means that you can buy the same gown you loved in a magazine, for 30%-50% off the market price. Most of my gowns range from $1000 to $1800. If you can tell me the budget you’ve set, we can find you the perfect gown in that price range. Your dreams are attainable here; they’re on the rack, waiting for you.

4.) Come Dressed for Success

undergarments for trying on wedding dresses

You don’t need to bring much with you to your bridal appointment, but you do want the right clothes. 

At Say Yes to Your Dress, I have photo ops for you to commemorate this exciting day. So, you and your girls might want to keep that in mind.

However, the biggest clothing articles to remember are the ones no one should see. Proper undergarments can make your bridal appointment go so much more smoothly.

If you have a strapless bra, that’s best. Nude or white, please. It’s so much easier to envision your wedding dress the way it will really look if there aren’t colorful bra straps poking out. You want to get the best idea you possibly can. This will help you make your decision. It will also make the pictures your mom is taking of you gazing in the mirror that much better.

The same goes for your other delicates. Nude or a light color. Preferably not underwear that creates thick lines. But for everyone’s sanitation, you should wear some. (I had to say it.) Really though, you don’t want to be distracted by the hot pink around your hips when you should be basking in a crisp white glow. Go with low-key undies today.

If you have shapewear you’re planning on wearing, bring that, too. Sometimes it changes the fit and comfort level a lot. If you don’t have any yet – or don’t want any – no worries. Just bring it if you do. Again, it’s all about getting the most accurate vision of your wedding day look. 

5.) Come Ready to Purchase

happy bride who chose her wedding dress

Lastly, to make the most of your bridal appointment, you need to be prepared to buy your dress. That means deciding and committing.

Come to the salon with the mindset that your bridal gown may be there waiting for you. Come ready to claim it and celebrate. 

As a bride, you have a lot of decisions to make. And, if you’ve been imagining your wedding since childhood, your dress is a significant choice. You want to get it right. I totally understand.

But I also see brides make life harder for themselves when they visit three, four, or five salons before choosing their wedding gown. They get tired and confused. They lose sight of what they want, and they get discouraged when they leave empty-handed. Not to mention, even the best groups of supporters get fatigued after multiple dress shop visits with you. 

Coming to your bridal appointment and saying, “We’re just looking,” hurts you the most. Brides are so much more joyful when they come ready to claim their dream dress.

On that note, you want to come with the funds in hand. Whether it’s your debit card, mom’s checkbook, or cash in grandma’s wallet, you want payment ready to go. That’s because, when you find your dream dress, you don’t want anything to stop you from taking it home. You don’t want to fall in love with a dress and then have to leave it behind. Especially not if it may not be available next time. Don’t do that to yourself. 

If you don’t have the money yet, wait. Come when you do.

One of my joys is seeing brides take home their wedding gowns immediately. In many other bridal shops, the dresses have to be ordered. It can take months for a bride’s dress to come in. Don’t get me wrong; your dream dress is worth waiting for. However, it is so freeing to leave your bridal appointment with your gown. You know exactly what you’re getting. You can start alterations immediately. And you have a glistening white task checked off of your wedding to-do list. When you buy your gown here, it’s yours today.

When You’re Ready, Come Enjoy Your Bridal Appointment

Wedding planning is an adventure – just like the new married life you’re embarking on. There are lots of unknowns. It’s hard to know if you’re making the right decisions or doing things the best way.

Choosing your wedding dress can feel stressful, especially if you don’t know how to prepare. 

But let me remind you, like I would my own children, that your wedding will be wonderful as long as you and your fiance enjoy it together. Your bridal gown is the same way. If you love it, feel beautiful in it, feel like yourself in it, and can’t wait to wear it for your fiance – what could be more perfect? 

At Say Yes to Your Dress Bridal, I’m here to help you have a memorable experience shopping for that dress. Where you know you’re valued, heard, and a little spoiled. Where you don’t just look, but find the dress that makes you feel like a bride. 

If you’re prepared for your appointment, you can make the most of these irreplaceable bridal moments. You can savor them with the ones you love. You can come home with the dress you love. 

When you’re ready to book your private dress-shopping experience, schedule your appointment here

Your perfect gown is here, waiting for you. Are you ready for it?

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