03/29/2013 11:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Things to Keep in Mind While Gown Shopping

By Liz Sellassie, Owner and Manager of Designer Loft bridal boutique and Bridal Guide guest blogger


You just got engaged, congratulations! Before you head to the nearest bridal salon, read these 10 important tips.

1. Allow enough time

It takes most designers four to six months to deliver a completed wedding gown. And if you request any customization, like additional beading or lace, it can take even longer. Try to start your search at least a year in advance. Remember: You’ll still need another two to three months for alterations once the gown arrives.

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2. Before you shop, decide – firmly – on your budget

Then, call up bridal salons and ask if they have a good selection within that price range. Don’t let yourself fall in love with a gown that is completely beyond your budget.

3. Don't wear a black bra or panties when shopping for a wedding gown

Brides don't realize that black, purple, or navy underwear can be seen through many white bridal gowns. It really ruins the look of the gown. Instead, opt for nude or ivory underwear when shopping — and on the big day as well!

Read 10 Things No One Tells You About Gown Shopping

4. Think about the venue and time of year

If you're having an outdoor wedding in July, you may want to re-think that heavy satin ball gown. And if you're hosting a romantic barn wedding, consider ditching the beaded ball gown.

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5. You do have options besides strapless

Not everyone is comfortable in a strapless gown, and you should feel both beautiful and comfortable on your wedding day.

6. Do not feel that you have to wear a prescribed look on your wedding day

If you adore flowers, have some incorporated in your gown. If you love pink, shades of blue, or gold, choose a gown with hints of that shade — or a gown entirely in whichever color you desire. Feel free to express yourself on this most momentous day!

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7. Don't bring your entire entourage

Take just a small group with you for your first round of shopping — or just one friend or sister whose opinion you really trust. Too often, we find a bride will come in with four or five family members, all with divergent views on what the dress should look like. This heightens the bride's anxiety, rather than making it a fun and relaxed experience. Come in with a person you trust first, and edit your choices. Then, you can come back with the troops once you have found gowns that you truly love and that represent you.

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8. Don't be afraid to try on something you never anticipated

I cannot tell you how many brides come in swearing they want a ball gown, yet end up loving a slinky sheath instead — and vice versa. And brides who claim they want no beading can easily fall in love with a head-to-toe beaded number. Keep an open mind when trying on gowns; just like with dating, you never know when love will strike. 

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9. When choosing a gown, go with your heart and your instincts

Do not rely on what the trend at the moment is or which dress was worn on the red carpet last month. Instead, ask yourself: Does this dress make me feel and look beautiful? Will I love this dress in photos 10 or 20 years from today? Finally, while I do not advocate trying to please all of the bride's family members when choosing the gown, I would suggest that the bride asks and considers what her partner would love to see her wear.

10. You will need more than one fitting

Most brides think there will be one fitting appointment, then they can pick up the gown and happily walk down the aisle. But please keep in mind once your beautiful gown arrives, it normally takes four to five appointments to make the gown fit perfectly. And if you're adding a jacket, sleeves, or additional custom changes, you might need even more than five fittings. Budget enough time, especially if your weight tends to fluctuate.

Read How to Save Money on Alterations