Engagement 101: What to Know about Dress Shopping

Kunbi O / Tuesday February 12, 2013

So, I was reminiscing on the day I got my first dress.. not THE dress, the first dress (here) I bought and flip-flopped on at the last minute, when it occurred to me ( yes, after 6 months it JUST occurred to me) It really is important you are mentally, emotionally, physically(ahem) prepared before setting out to find a dress. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to know you wasted much needed money on something you will never get to wear. 

So you recently got engaged. You have set a date. You have picked a venue. You are ready for the dress. Here are a few things of note.


  1. Decide on a budget and agree ( with your groom, your parents, his parents) on the vision: You can’t (actually you’re the bride you can do whatever you want but still…) wear a princess ball gown with 7 inch blinged out louboutins to a shoe-less beach wedding neither can you wear a backless strapless sheath gown to an Amish country wedding- The pieces have to fit. Before you judge, yes I know I am no expert but I hope I’m stating the obvious here. 
  2. Do your research. Take the advice from my “10 things to do after you get engaged” 
  3. Most dresses take [at least] between 4-8 months to prepare from order date. This does not include time for alterations and fittings before the big day. Fittings are scheduled from 8 weeks before the wedding and usually come in threes. It is very rare to find a bride who needs zero alterations/fittings so you should prepare to visit the store at least one more time before pick up.  I should add however, that many stores will sell the samples of dresses off the rack (as is) so have no fear if you are a time-conscious bride.
  4. Be physically prepared. I will leave it at that. Go in nice underwear with invisible lines *duh*
  5. Your first dress may or [most likely] may not be THE dress. The problem with trying on dresses for such an important day is that everything starts to tug at your emotional strings. I can’t tell you how many dresses I called THE DRESS when I put them on. Prepare to be courted … these dresses try to lure you in with their ivory charm .. and seductive lace … but my advice is that you go a couple of times just to TRY stuff on. I know it’s a little frustrating to the saleswomen but do you want to end up like me ? with a fistful of tulle and nowhere to put it ? NO? so there you go. 
  6. Do NOT feel obligated to take all your friends, family and bridesmaids on the search. I understand that you want to share every moment of your special time with them but dress-selection is a very stressful and critical step in the process. You want to be able to have a clear mind and spirit. There’s nothing wrong with going alone if you are positive you want to make the decision solo; or going with one person you know (for sure) gets what you’re looking for. Don’t feel bad.. just do it! (nike.. okay I digress)                                                                                             
  7. Stop looking the minute you swipe that card. If you are anything like me you do NOT need to continue “browsing” .. that mistake is just that- a mistake. Avoid trouble, close your eyes. 
  8. HAVE FUN. Everything happens so fast! It feels like just yesterday that I got married..Alas it has been almost 6 months . Take in every minute. 
All that being said, follow your heart! It has brought you this far…

My search for the dress was paved with dress regret and maybe some wallet-destruction but I can confidently say it was worth it. Here are some fun pictures of my journey before I finally said YES to my dress….


My Bridesmaids are so hilarious.. check out this snippet from one of our Dress-Trial days out…

Lots of Love !