Dress Shopping 101: The REAL Basics

When it comes time to choose your wedding attire, there are a lot of people that have a lot to say about what you should or shouldn't wear. So many in fact, that much of the real significance can get lost in the noise. 

In the entire wedding planning process, as in life, simplicity is key

So, where do you begin when choosing a dress? There are 5 simple steps

Step 1) Consider your Budget - The consultants on Say Yes to the Dress aren't wrong, it is a special torture to find a dress you love only to realize it costs more than your college tuition. Take some time to realistically think about how much you are willing to spend on your attire for the day, and give some thought to things like alterations, accessories and shoes as well--those things can really add to the bottom line. This is something you'll likely have to circle back to more than once as you begin the dress adventure, but this gives you a realistic place to start.

Step 2) Consider your Wedding Venue - It's easy to see a dress on the rack or in a magazine and be blown away by its beauty, but you want to make sure that your look fits your setting. A ballgown for a barefoot beach wedding might not be the look that best compliments the rest of your wedding. Take in your whole vision of how the day will look and think about what style of dress best fits what you've got in your head.

Step 3) Know Thyself - I would argue that this is one of the most important steps of the process. If you know that you intend to be the life of the party on the dance floor, you might want to consider how well your dress allows you to move. After all, you don't want to feel restricted when trying to boogie down. Will a strapless gown leave you tugging at the top all night long? Opt for a style with sleeves or gorgeous (yet supportive) straps! There is no official rulebook that states you're only wearing a formal gown if it is strapless and uncomfortable, I checked. Does wearing a full ballgown skirt make you feel like there's a 10 foot bubble between you and the guests you want to hug? Choose a more sleek style that allows you the freedom to give Auntie Em the biggest wedding day bear hug!

You have to remember that your dress is something you have to live in for what will feel like one of the longest (and shortest, believe me!) days of your life. Of course you want to look good as you pose for photos, but it's more important that you look and feel amazing as you move about & enjoy the special day. Consider yourself, your clothing habits & preferences as you choose your style, you'll be thankful you did!

Step 4) Dare to be Different! - There are no rules to looking like a bride. Everyone will know you are the bride because you'll be the one GETTING MARRIED. Throw the rulebook out the window and wear a dress that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. These days there are so many options out there (especially when you go with a custom dress!) that you can get a look that is completely your own and suits your every desire. And please, please, please ignore anything that says "If you are (pear shaped/busty/slim/petite/etc.) you must avoid these 5 styles". They don't know you, so wear what makes you happy!

Step 5) Surround yourself with Positivity - Wedding-related reality tv can make it seem like you need an entourage of 20 of your closest friends & family along with their opinions to make any wedding decisions. I'm here to tell you that is not true, especially for dress shopping. Surround yourself with people who make you feel loved and beautiful, who will be honest with you but not overbearing. Too many opinions can be quickly overwhelming!

Also, remember to check in with yourself-- dress shopping can feel like a time where every flaw or body part you feel is ripe for improvement is on full display for all to see. The truth is, no matter who you are or what you look like, you're beautiful. The trick is finding the right dress to accentuate that beauty, no matter what that looks like for you. Weddings are the time to overload on happiness and positivity. That starts with you and the people surrounding you!

Finding the perfect wedding dress should be a fun experience, so just remember to keep it simple and be true to yourself, the rest will work itself out!

Next up, Accessories and Customization: How to work in those lovely little details!