Panache Bridal in Beverly Hills | image via Cymbeline

At Tears of Joy Events, we take great pleasure in building relationships with our clients. A big part of the synergy we create is taking the time to truly listen to what our clients say. Whether that’s finding out all about their wedding vision to becoming their trusted confidante when their mom is screaming at them about wedding decisions, as well as when their friends are thinking more about what they’d wear to the wedding rather than the person who is actually getting married.

Wedding dress shopping, in particular, is an emotional minefield. At times it can be quite enjoyable but more often than not it can be stressful and terribly confusing! Every bridal shop works differently and your experiences will vary greatly. That is why we accompany you to your gown selection and subsequent fittings to guide you gently through the process, ensure your voice is being heard, help you stay on target with our budget, and walk you through any confusing scenarios.

On today’s blog post, we decided to condense everything we’ve learned during our years of wedding planning into one quick and easy style article.

If at times, this post seems brutal, please know we don’t intend it that way. We simply want to be honest and transparent, without sugarcoating the experience. This really is essential reading for all brides-to-be out there who are about to embark on making the biggest purchase of their life. We truly do hope you find it helpful.

*Disclaimer: The points shared below are from our personal experience only and do not represent all experiences or situations.

1. Wedding dresses are expensive – do your research.

Before we entered the wedding industry, we were all under the impression that it would be easy for our clients to spend no more than $600 on a dress but in reality the choice at that price point is really very limited. We meet a lot of brides who have started dress shopping with a figure in their heads and have quickly upped it when they’ve realized what they get for their money. There is a lot of fabric used to create a wedding dress, and good quality fabric comes at a cost. Do your research. When you see a wedding dress you like in a blog or magazine, call the shop and find out the price. Once you have an idea of how much you’re going to spend, call the shops you are considering visiting and make sure your price range fits with theirs. You don’t want to waste your time going to shops that starts from $2,500 if your maximum budget is $1,500.

2. Have a budget and stick to it.

When Tears of Joy Events accompanies you to bridal boutiques, we always share the budget at the beginning of the consultation. This is not so that they may judge you and laugh you out of the shop or to embarrass you. This is to keep your shopping experience enjoyable and positive and, ultimately, guide the consultant to help you find a dress that fits within your budget. Of course, you want to try on the most expensive dress in the shop – who wouldn’t? It’s absolutely beautiful. But what will you do if you like it more than any other dress you try and it retails significantly higher than what your can afford? The concern here is not that you will feel pressured to buy it. It’s more likely that you’ll get depressed, and we want to avoid that outcome. Everyone has a budget, even if you don’t think you do. Try and establish what you’re seriously prepared to spend up to, and stick to it.

Winnie Couture Bridal Shop in Beverly Hills | image via The Knot

3. Keep your guests to a minimum – and choose wisely!

Wedding dress shopping is supposed to be fun. The temptation is to gather a group of your friends and family and to spend a lovely day ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ and sipping champagne together. But the reality is slightly different.

a) very few shops actually offer champagne (sorry to disappoint you), and

b) do you really want 5 different opinions? Are you sure you want to be zipped into a dress that puts a big smile on your face, only to be told ‘No!’ or ‘I don’t like that one’, as you step out of the changing room?

We would always advise doing the initial round of shops either on your own or with one person who you trust implicitly (your mom, sister, best friend, wedding planner hint-hint). Once you have established what you want and made a short list (short list meaning 3, not 12) of your favorite dresses, then you can ask your wider circle for their valued opinions.

4. To sample sale or not to sample sale…

We’re going to be blunt here. If you have more than 6 months to go until your wedding and a healthy budget, don’t bother with a sample sale. Sample sales are fantastic for brides who are short of time or have a very limited budget. But if you have a specific idea of what you’re after (ex: “vintage lace with a v-neck, and possibly 3/4 length sleeves”), then you’re very unlikely to find it at a sale. Dresses being sold as samples are generally those that have been discontinued by the designer or have proved unpopular in the shop. That gorgeous Vera Wang gown that you’re seeing all over the magazines? It’s not gonna be in the sample sale, sorry. But most importantly, don’t go to a sample sale if you’re at the start of your dress shopping journey as it’s very unlikely you’ll be ready to buy a dress that day, and you will feel pressured to do so.

5. Trust your sales consultant – she is very wise.

Or she should be, if she’s any good at her job! No one knows the dresses better than the person helping you. She’s not a genie in a bottle granting wishes at your command. In reality, she may not necessarily pull out the dress of your dreams the moment you walk in. But when you’re approaching the end of your consultation and you’ve ‘loved’ some but were not crazy over others, and your friends are running round plucking more off the rails that they like but have no idea what they look like on, turn to the lady helping you and ask ‘what would you recommend?’. If she knows her stuff she should, at that point, be able to suggest something that ticks most or all of the boxes, but that you didn’t necessarily pick out at the beginning of the consultation.

Lovely Bride in Pasadena | image via Lovely Bride

6. ‘It’s how you feel, not how you look.’

This has actually become our mantra in life in general because it’s true. There is a reason that many bridal shops do not allow you to take photos:

a) There is a copyright issue.

b) Photos taken on a camera phone in a beige room under dodgy, artificial lighting when you have no make-up on and your sister is too close/far away/not great at taking photos, are not going to be a true representation of how you actually look in the dress.

You do not need to remember every single dress you try on; you will naturally remember (maybe not in detail, but you will remember) the dresses that felt the best. And they are the ones that you put on your short list and visit again. I have seen too many confused brides who have image after image on their phones and are dismissing dresses because ‘my arm looks fat’ or ‘the third flower from the left is too big’. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably doesn’t look right. If it does feel right, and by this I mean if it makes you feel sexy or elegant or demure or relaxed or however you want to feel on your wedding day, well then, you’re on your way to finding your dress.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I’m not diminishing the importance of The Wedding Dress here. It is, after all, the most amount of money you will ever spend on an item of clothing, ever. But when you have narrowed it down to your final three and you’re stressing out because you love them all and you don’t know how you’re ever going to choose… Stop. Take a step back and say to yourself: ‘It’s just a dress. It’s just a lovely dress that makes me feel happy and special and that I’m going to wear the day I marry the love of my life.’ Because that’s why you’re having a wedding after all; to marry the love of your life. And he’s just going to be happy that showed up for the big event.

We do hope you found these tips helpful. Please let us know if you have any wedding dress related questions or you’d like advice on a particular aspect of wedding dress shopping or style.

We are all ears and we’d love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, leave us a question or comment below!

Want more info on preparing for your Big Day? Stay tuned! We have much more to come very soon. YAY!