7 essential wedding shopping tips

Shopping for your gown can be the most simultaneously exciting and excruciating stage of wedding planning.

To ease the process, we’ve put together a few tried-and-true tips to make sure that bridal shop appointments go according to plan.

Pick your shopping partners carefully

Deciding who to take with you on your dress hunting quest is crucial in setting the tone of the trip. Try to limit your entourage to just two to three people – any more than that and it can become more difficult to make sure things go as planned, and to keep a fun and light atmosphere up. Most importantly, having too many opinions on offer can easily muddle what might otherwise have been a simple choice.

Keep it simple

While it’s a good idea to dab a bit of make-up on for your appointments, try to avoid anything that might end up tragically smeared on a designer gown – in other words, skip the heavy foundation and leave the red lipstick at home. Plus, wearing just light and simple make-up will make it easier to focus on the dress itself when trying to make a decision.

Remember the extras

The difference between the shoes you wear when trying on gowns and the ones you wear on your wedding day have a bigger impact on the final look than you think – even if the hem of the dress covers them. For example, a kitten heel will leave the hem sitting differently than a platform stiletto will. Similarly, doing your hair in a style similar to the one you’ll have done on the day helps to shape a vision of the final look.

No need to go full out, just a vague approximation of up or down, straight or curled, that kind of thing. Also bring along any accessories you may have already purchased, like a veil or hairpiece.


Bridal gown shopping can be utterly exhausting. Wedding dresses are often made of heavy fabric and may include weighty embellishments – so this excursion is not one you want to be making on an empty stomach. Most of all, being cranky and hungry isn’t going to make the day fun for anyone involved, so make sure to eat before your appointments and have some emergency snacks on hand, like fruit or nuts.

Timing is everything

Bridal boutiques are busiest on weekends, so try to schedule your appointments on weekdays. Not only will you be more likely to get an open slot sooner, but also the store will probably be able to give you more individualised attention and/or more of their time. Speaking of time, be sure to give yourself enough of it, too. Rather than rushing between all your appointments on one day, limit yourself to two to three a day, max, to avoid burnout.

Have something in mind…

It’s always helpful to go into with some idea of what you want to end up wearing on your wedding day, especially in terms of general style and length. Have a rifle through your wardrobe and see if you pick up any common themes or features that are central to your personal style. That way, you can give the bridal store assistant a few keywords so that she has an idea of what kind of dresses to pull for you.

When brainstorming dress ideas, do take into account your wedding venue and the general feel of your ceremony. A princess ballgown, no matter how beautiful, would be tricky to incorporate into a beach wedding, and while a sheer cocktail number probably isn’t ideal for a very formal and traditional ‘do. Have a strict budget in place, as well, and don’t be tempted to try on dresses above your price range – more often than not, it’s a one-way street to heartbreak and/or bankruptcy.

…but be open-minded

As Murphy’s Law is alive and well (as it always will be), it’s entirely possible that the dress destined to be The One is something you’d never have pictured yourself wearing. This is the beauty of being able to consult with a store assistant. As a complete outsider, they have a different perspective of you than you and your friends and family do, and with that comes the freedom to experiment.

Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t find the perfect dress right away, and don’t let yourself be pressured to settle for something you aren’t really happy with. Go with the dress that feels right to you, the dress that makes you feel beautiful and want to spin around the shop in a completely embarrassing manner.

Armed with these tips, hopefully some of the stress of the process will dissolve to make way for the jumping-up-and-down-and-squealing-in-excitement experience you deserve.