bridal gown tips

dresses

If you weren't picky about your clothing before, you will be when you choose your wedding dress.

It will be the single most important garment you will buy in your lifetime, so it has to be perfect. Shopping for a gown sounds fun but it can be intimidating.

To take the edge off of your buying experience, we've got some tips you should follow when making your purchase. Prices and styles vary greatly, and by knowing how the process works, you're well on your way to looking beautiful on your wedding day.

make it a priority

Choosing a bridal gown should be one of the first things on your to-do list. Depending on the length of your engagement, you should allow approximately nine months for the process. This gives ample time to make your decision, for the gown to arrive and you to go back for fittings and alterations.

set a budget

Most brides spend about 5% of their wedding budget on their dress. You need to factor in the cost of a headpiece, shoes, gloves and other accessories when you make your final purchases so you don't overspend. Ask about additional costs for alterations.

If you're looking for bargains, consider rental, online auctions, used on consignment, borrowed, informal and discount wedding gowns. Often these dresses look brand-spanking new after you take them to the dry cleaners for cleaning and pressing.

go on a weekday

Call ahead to the bridal shop and make an appointment for personal service. Allow yourself a generous 1-2 hours so you can try on styles on hand and look through books for additional gowns and accessories that can be ordered. Shopping on Fridays and Saturdays is usually hectic, so try a morning appointment on a slower day so you can enjoy a more relaxed environment.

take a friend

For a second opinion, take a your mother and a friend, preferably your maid of honor or a bridesmaid. Do not make this trip any more than choosing your bridal gown. The dresses for the bridesmaids and attendants can wait until after you've chosen the theme of your own dress -- then you can coordinate the styles.

Bring along preferred undergarments if you already know what you will wear underneath. Unequivocally, one of the best things you can do to help yourself reach a decision is to have your friend take pictures of you in each dress to give you an idea how you will look in pictures and refresh your memory of each dress later on. This also allows you to request the opinion of others without dragging them into the bridal shop!

dress styles

If you have a favorite designer in mind, try shopping online to cut out the middle-man. You can find discounted and downright cheap dresses if you select a style that's been discontinued, on clearance sale.

If you're looking for a vintage, renaissance or gothic wedding dress, check out your local Goodwill store before you shop at your local bridal salon. Don't choose a gown that's too trendy or you may end up looking silly in pictures years down the road. Trendy gowns are harder to sell and are less likely to be worn by relatives (think daughter) if it appears too outdated.

colors

Traditional white is the most popular color for gowns and the easiest to find. Next in line is off-white, ivory and pastel colors such as pink and blue, which are more appropriate for casual, second weddings. Whatever gown you select, don't opt for a color only because of the lower price tag. You'll regret it later on.

quality

You may not be an expert on workmanship but someone you know may have some sewing experience. This person can tell you which dresses are of better quality and more likely to stand the test of time. Sewed in beads are not near as likely to fall off than the cheaper, glued-on accents. Sometimes, you're better off buying a used, quality wedding dress than a cheap new one if you're on a limited budget.

payment

As with most of your wedding purchases, you should use your credit card for your down payment (usually half of the cost) and final payment. Get everything in writing for your own protection (and whether or not it includes alterations) to ensure the bridal salon lives up to it's promises for the perfect bridal gown.

cleaning tips

Some stains such as perfume, make-up, drinks and perspiration may not appear on your bridal gown until later, so it's important to have your dress cleaned as soon as possible. Take it to a dry cleaning facility and have it professionally cleaned.

Point out any spots you know are there and any trim or seams that need mended. If your dress is vintage, find a professional who specializes in antique fabrics who knows how to treat them with care. Remember, time is of the essence, so ask a bridesmaid or personal attendant to take the gown in for you if you're leaving immediately for your honeymoon.

related pages

today's tip

Be clean to keep the dresses clean! Arrive at your appointment with minimal or no makeup and wear your hair in an up-do or ponytail. If desired, take your hair down to try on headpieces.