All stressed up with nowhere to go: 8 tips to de-stress wedding dress shopping

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dress by a&bé bridal shop

Planning your wedding dress shopping strategy and getting all stressed up with nowhere to go? It's time to take a step back and look at your priorities. We've compiled a few tips to take back the dress shopping experience and de-stress the whole damned thing. Go from stressed up to dressed up in an outfit about which you'll feel awesome. Here are some tips to de-stress wedding dress shopping.

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dress by Chantal Mallett Bridal Couture

Don't count on tears

If you're a watcher of those shows where the tears must flow before the dress is chosen, this can be a hard one to manage. Try to remember that you may not be driven to hysterics by your outfit and that's totally okay. You want to feel like yourself and confident. Oh, and most of all, comfortable. Don’t second-guess yourself once you've landed on a dress you like. Just move on to the next phase of planning.

Here's a snippet from a great post, There is no THE DRESS: getting over the fantasy, and accepting the awesome reality:

A wedding dress has somehow gone from being the nicest dress you already own, to being the single most important and meaningful piece of clothing you will ever wear. That's a lot of emotional baggage to wrap into one garment!

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dress by Tara Lynn Bridal

Prioritize comfort

You'll get pulled in lots of directions trying on dresses and the pressure may get your head in the wrong place. Imagine dancing in your dress, sitting in your dress, and wearing it for lots of hours while keeping a smile on your mug. Make sure that comfort is top of mind.

Have (and stick to) a budget

Don't let family, friends, and especially salespeople push you into a budget with which you're not comfortable. Be firm in your budgetary needs and you'll feel a lot less stressed once you're looking at your receipt.

Give yourself as much time as you can

Just in case you decide to commission a custom dress, change your mind later in the game, or just don't want to feel guilty about taking your time making decisions, start shopping as early as you can. This is especially true if you are going with a more traditional bridal gown store. Aim to order your dress or outfit at least six months in advance. If you don't have this much time, that's cool too, just budget for some rush charges.

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dress by Wedding Dress Fantasy

Don't limit yourself to specific wedding dress shops

We've partnered with some amazing non-wedding dress shops, Etsy sellers, custom designers, vintage and secondhand stores, and other non-bridal boutique venues to find dresses. Don't feel like a David's Bridal-type store is your only option. Plus, custom designers are often very offbeat-friendly!

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dresses by Borrowed by Design

Don’t invite too many people to your fittings, if you can avoid it

Reiterating the "pulled in many directions" narrative is applicable here. Having many opinions will just dilute your own, which is the one that really matters. Know what you want, do your research, and feel free to pull in a couple of trusted pals to help. Or don't! Shopping alone is allowed.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions at the fitting

I tend to become Miss Polite at stores and it hinders my ability to articulate my actual worries. Don't be like me. You're paying a lot for their time, so make sure you get all your questions answered from budget concerns, delivery information, and anything at all about the dress itself.

How to de-stress wedding dress shopping
Dress by KMKDesigns. Photo by Alicia Photography

Don't worry if you find you're more drawn to something you didn't expect

Maybe you're more drawn to something offbeat and maybe you'll discover you're more traditional than you thought. Don't be married (haha) to your mind's eye of what you should look like.

Additionally, don't be pushed into dressing in a way that isn't you. If you'd rather rock a suit with a veil, that's what you need to do.


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  1. I'd also suggest going in with a spirit of exploration and an open mind, at least for the first few dress appointments. Try on a bunch of dresses in all sorts of different styles. Until you start trying on dresses, you really have no idea what will look good on you.

    Just like with all clothes shopping, you'll probably try on a TON of dresses that really don't look good on you. I think I tried on at least three dozen dresses over four or five appointments before I found "the one." And for most of them, I'd try them on, take one look in the mirror, say "nope," and take it off again. And that's okay — there were plenty of dresses out there and eventually I narrowed it down to a dress that made me feel like a million bucks (without making me spend a million bucks).

    Above all, listen to the wise words of Douglas Adams and don't panic. 🙂

    2 agree
  2. I'd add that you shouldn't feel forced to get something from any one shop. Maybe you have pushy sales people, maybe your family has always purchased gowns from Lady Smith's Wedding Gowns, or maybe your sister works at a bridal store and needs the commission from your sale. No matter what, if you're not happy with anything you try on at a particular store, don't feel like you HAVE to buy it there.

    1 agrees
  3. If you don't like something specific, tell the person at the shop who is helping you!
    When I tried on the ex-sample dress that I eventually bought I said "I love this dress, but I can't possibly wear it for my wedding because I can't sit down in it comfortably."
    The shop owner said: "Oh, that must mean the boning goes too low for you. We can totally fix that." (It was and they did fix it: the boning originally came down to mid thigh on me which meant when I sat down the bodice of the dress was trying to push my boobs into my chin.)
    She followed it up with: "I really expected this dress to sell really well but it hasn't. Maybe everyone has been thinking the same thing when they try it on but not saying anything about it, just saying they don't like the dress (!)."

    2 agree
  4. I am getting married in the next year (we are waiting to set a date) and I want a long dress that has mermaid rainbow colors like pale blue, aquamarine, purple and teal with a touch of pink. Plus size, low cost. But fabulous. I'm wondering if we could purchase a simple dress and embellish it with beaded strips, scarves, colored tulle in an assymetric way? Any suggestions will be appreciated for stores, websites, creative work arounds!

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