For some brides, wedding-dress shopping can be likened to fashion's version of Pandora's box. A nervous bride walks into a bridal boutique and is suddenly slapped in the face with racks upon racks of dresses ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
How does one begin to unravel this shopping conundrum? Not to worry, ladies. After years of working as an international celebrity and wedding fashion stylist, I bring to you my favorite tips to ensure a successful wedding-gown shopping experience.
1. Find your inspiration ... and don't let go.
Find your inspiration for how you want to look on your wedding day and bring it with you to your bridal appointment. Your inspiration can be anything: a picture of the ceremony and reception venue(s), your dream wedding shoes, a picture of your dream wedding dress or just a dream dress, a swatch of fabric in your wedding color, heirloom jewelry you plan to wear, etc. This little token will help guide you and keep you on track as you try on dresses. It is very easy to become enraptured in the experience of donning so many beautiful dresses and lose sight of your overall wedding vision as a result. A picture of the beach on which you will be marrying your beau will help you find the perfect, ethereal, effortlessly chic chiffon dress, and prevent you from buying the heavy, taffeta and tulle ball gown.
2. More is more.
When it comes to trying on dresses, remember: More is more. This applies to all brides, from those who think they know exactly what they want to those who cannot recall the last time they wore a dress. Try on one dress in every silhouette: A-line, ball gown, empire, fit and flare, mermaid, princess, and sheath. In doing so, a bride will find the silhouette that is perfect for her personality, body shape, and wedding. Once the silhouette is decided upon, a bride can focus on the finer details like fabric, color, embellishments, accessories, and so on.
3. Don't judge a dress on the hanger.
A dress can be surprising in that it may appear to be unappealing on the hanger, but once a bride puts it on, she looks and feels incredible. A dress takes on a different shape and look when on a woman's body. Remain open-minded to trying on many different dresses and be patient with yourself. You may not find your dress in your first appointment, or even the second. But, just as it takes time to find your husband or wife, it takes time to find your perfect gown. I had a celebrity bride try on 27 dresses at a fitting in order to find the perfect reception dress!
4. Keep your overall vision in mind.
This is where your token of inspiration for your overall look comes in handy. It is easy to become lost in the moment of dress shopping, develop tunnel vision, and focus solely on the dress. While the dress is crucial, you will also be wearing accessories. Once you find a dress that you love (or even like), try on everything at the same time: dress, veil, headpiece, shoes, jewelry, belt or sash, etc. This will give you an idea of your overall look. If you only liked a dress but felt it needed something special, this is a good time to find that something. Adding these accessories are especially important because it is with these details that you can make a dress off the rack look like your one-of-a-kind, custom-made gown.
While it is your big day, aesthetically a bride is a piece of the overall wedding vision. The bride, groom, venue, lighting and décor all work together to create the ambiance that your guests and you will enjoy. Imagine your ceremony from a guest's point of view sitting in the back row. What will this person see? All of the aforementioned components work together to create a magical and memorable moment.
5. Don't underestimate undergarments.
Wearing the proper undergarments is another important piece of the bridal style puzzle. They are the foundation upon which you will build your bridal outfit. They can greatly affect how you see the dress and, more important, how you feel in your dress. I suggest wearing nude seamless panties or thongs and a nude strapless bra. By wearing these undergarments, you will be able to try on a variety of dresses without being distracted by exposed bra straps, panty lines, or bright colors and patterns bleeding through the dress fabric. If your budget allows, treat yourself to a new, pretty bra and panty set. When you begin your bridal appointment feeling confident, beautiful, and/or sexy in your undergarments, you are creating a strong foundation for your dress.
6. The power of shoes.
I believe in the power of shoes and their ability to transform an outfit from mediocre to incredible. More than their aesthetic value, a beautiful pair of heels changes the way a woman walks, stands, and poses. Bring your favorite pair of heels when you shop for your wedding dress. Your shoes will affect how you look in the dress because they affect your posture. Plus, it's another excuse to wear your favorite heels!
7. Make your own rules.
This is my most important and sacred tip, which I always suggest to my clients, both men and women: Have fun with your bridal style and wear what makes you feel beautiful and confident. It is your big day, so you should feel empowered to make your own rules. Your beauty, confidence, happiness, and love are above all else the most important features of your wedding day.