After I worked in fashion magazines in NYC for a few years, and before I became a full time blogger, I spent a couple years here in DC working at a local bridal boutique. It was a challenging, but fun job, and now that I’m engaged, I’m so glad I have all that knowledge of how to pick out a great gown under my belt as I start the adventure of figuring our what I’ll wear on my own wedding day. While Adam and myself are leaning more towards a small, intimate ceremony and a more luxe honeymoon – that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be wearing a great dress as we say “I do”. And while you would think that having worked in bridal for so long (and already having tried on hundreds of gowns as a shop consultant – yes, you get to play dress up in the wedding gowns!) that I’d have a clear vision of exactly what I want my look to be…wrong! So that’s why I’m excited to have partnered with Stella York to share a few of my insider tips when it comes to finding the perfect gown for your big day, and to share a few of my favorites from their new spring collection.
Keep an open mind. This is a something you hear all the time when it comes to shopping for a bridal gown. I can’t tell you how many times I had a bride come in to my shop saying “I don’t want a long dress!” or “I have to have a dress with lace!” and then they ended up saying yes to the dress that was long or without lace. While it’s OK to have a vision, be open to what the bridal specialist shows you – gowns always look and feel different on the hanger than they do once you put them on. At the very least, you get to play dress up in a gorgeous gown, even if it’s not “the one” for you.
It’s all the in the details. For the girl that loves things simple, don’t tell your bridal consultant “I want something plain” because in actuality, that’s not what you actually mean. Instead of plain, use words like “delicate detailing” or “classic” or “traditional” to describe your vision. The Stella York line certainly caught my eye because of all their feminine lace and subtle detailing – exactly what I’m envisioning my dress to look like for my wedding day. No one wants to wear a dress that looks like a bed sheet, so pick a dress that has little details that will make you shine…and no, you don’t have to shine in head to toe sequins.
Think about the photos. Your wedding photographer will take a lot of photos of you on your wedding day, so make sure you love the dress from all angles. Sure an open back is amazing, but is the front equally as flattering? Does the dress puff up and look weird when you sit down? Will it wrinkle as you get in and out of the limo? Can you use the restroom by yourself wearing your dress? When you try on a gown, don’t be afraid to walk around the salon in it, sit down, dance, etc. Make sure no matter what you’re doing, the dress continues to look and feel great on you no matter what.
Wear proper undergarments. This seems like a no-brainer, but one of the most asked questions I ever received from brides pre-bridal appointment is “What should I wear underneath when I come in for my appointment?” Honestly, on your wedding day, you’ll most likely be wearing shape wear and have a bra built into the bodice of your dress. On the day of your appointment, it’s not necessary to bring all that gear when you’re going to be trying on so many dresses. I always suggested wearing a nude strapless bra and nude full cut underwear. Your bridal specialist will be in the room with you helping you in and out of the sample gowns, so while bra-less was how some brides preferred to go, always wear on the side of modest and go for the full cut underwear for your appointment.
Know your vision. While it’s important to have an open mind when trying on gowns, it’s always important to remember your vision as well. Bridal gowns are gorgeous, and the chances that you look and feel amazing in more than one gown is natural and normal. But remember the vision of your wedding. If you’re doing a backyard country style wedding, then the ball gown dress full of sequins may not be the right fit for that setting. For me, I know my wedding dress will reflect our setting, simple and elegant and not fussy for our courthouse nuptials.
The Invite List. No, I’m not talking about on your wedding day, I’m talking about who you bring to your bridal appointment. The most successful appointment I ever had with brides was when it was either the bride by herself, or when she brought one friend/relative with her. While you want the women, and maybe some of the men, to feel included in the planning process of your wedding, trying on gowns and being judged by too many people can be exhausting and a blow to your self-esteem. So many times, a bride that brought 5, 10, 15 guests with her to an appointment would come out, show a dress to everyone, and would come back into the changing room with me and sob because she couldn’t handle how vocal everyone was with their opinions. If you’re a guest invited to a bridal fitting, the first words out of your mouth when a bride comes out of the room should be “How do YOU feel in this gown?” because, honestly, that’s all that matters.
Have fun! Again, something that may seem pretty obvious, but don’t stress about the dress! The process of finding your perfect gown is meant to be fun and this one piece can really set the tone for your whole big day. Bring a bottle of champagne to the appointment (call the salon ahead of time and make sure they allow that and have glasses!) and make a yummy lunch reservation in between appointment so you don’t burn out. There are so many beautiful gowns out there now, including the new Stella York collection, that no doubt you’ll find the perfect dress that fits in your budget. Enjoy the moment and remember the real reason behind your wedding day is to celebrate love.