Today’s blog post is a little different from my usual posts and I’m so excited about it! David and I got engaged November 27, 2016 and we are getting married this fall. Throughout the last three to four months of wedding planning, there have been a few things I’ve learned being on the other side of the fence. So, today I am coming to you not as a photographer, but as a fellow bride to talk about an important (and fun) part of wedding planning…wedding dress shopping!
Since my wedding is this fall, I have not shared images of my dress yet, but I did find THE ONE! There were a lot of questions I had before wedding dress shopping. How many appointments should I make in one day? Where do I make those appointments? How long would each appointment be? How do I know when it’s the one?! But, through the help of my mom and my best friend (who got married last year) we were able to prepare beforehand, and spend our time wisely while shopping. But, more importantly, we had a great time and made lifelong memories. It’s a big deal after all!
If you’re ready to search for THE dress (congratulations!) I’ve got some advice I’d love to share with you!
BEFORE YOU SHOP
It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the wedding dress language. I say language because there is much to know! Silhouettes, neck lines, colors, fabrics and so on. If you’re like me, you’ve probably been dreaming about this day and have some dresses pinned on Pinterest. When you scroll through your wedding dress board (You know, the one that has been building up with images throughout the years) ask yourself if there is a pattern in those dresses. Especially in the shape of the dress because dress shops may be organized by A-Line in one section, fit and flare in another, ball gown and so on. Knowing the terms may help you feel a little less overwhelmed when you arrive to the bridal shop. You’ll be in good hands if you’ve picked the right shop, but it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with some of the wedding dress terms.
BE OPEN TO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING
I thought I went in opened minded but, I actually had to go back after a couple of days of shopping to try on a style I had not spent much time on in the beginning of my search. And guess what, that’s the style that looked the best on me. You just never know what will look best until you try it on. So, be open to it all! Keeping your venue and its style in mind is helpful too.
MAKE A DAY OF IT
Make some appointments, go to lunch, spend time with the special women in your life! This is a once in a lifetime experience for you! On that note, I recommend sticking to two appointments per day. Three is doable, but I personally think two is the sweet spot. Appointments usually last 90 minutes, which sounds like a lot, but trust me…it flies by! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?
“LET’S START BY TAKING A SMALLISH NAP OR TWO”
From the wise words of our dear friend, Pooh Bear. It. Is. Exhausting. FUN, but you will be tired! The dresses can be heavy, so it can be physically exhausting and the emotional decision making makes it mentally tiring. Get a good night’s sleep and lean on your friend, coffee 🙂
ONE WORD: WATER
Now, you don’t want to be shopping hangry. No one likes you when you’re hangry, but whatever it is about wedding dress shopping makes you really thirsty! Some bridal shops will offer you a water bottle, but you’ll need more than just one! I went shopping in the winter time and still needed lots of water.
SPEAKING OF HANGRY…
It’s smart to pack snacks, but I found that a lunch break was very beneficial because you need some time to stop, sit down, and rest for a little bit. Plus, it’s fun to stop at a nice little lunch spot with the special women or woman in your life! It gives you time to look back at any cell phone images you took in the dresses (if the shop allows) and talk things over.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Of course there are many special women in your life, but I would recommend one to three people when wedding dress shopping. One to three people whose opinion you value and the people you want to share that special day with. Also, check in with the bridal shop before you go. Sometimes their boutiques have a limit on the number of people you can bring due to the size. My appointments were on several different days and I know my mom really valued that alone time we had during a few of our appointments when it was just me and her. This is a big day for mom too.
Wedding dress shopping happens one time so even if you feel confident on the first day, I would suggest visiting more than one bridal shop. Give yourself time. Don’t feel pressured. If you’re not sure, don’t commit. If there’s a question mark, it may not be the one. I ALMOST, pulled the trigger on the very first dress I tried on. As much as I loved the first dress, there was something that made me hesitate and I didn’t know why….until I found the one. And then I understood the difference in how I felt and how I looked. Before I said yes to my dress, I went out to two more appointments I had commited to, which was great because every dress I tried on after that, I kept comparing to that one. That further confirmed what I already felt. When I went back to the bridal shop to try on the one I couldn’t wait to get that dress back on.
WHEN YOU KNOW YOU KNOW
Just like that man you said yes to! It’s going to be all about how you feel. When you look in the mirror, what do you feel? When you don’t want to take the dress off, that’s the one! I brought two friends and my mom back to the bridal shop to try on my favorite dress and I probably stood around in it for a good 45 minutes. My mom said she could tell when I found the dress because of the huge grin on my face. That huge grin was there because I felt amazing in that dress and that’s how I knew. I said, YES to the dress, we cried, we laughed, we hugged….It was such a special day and I will never forget it.
BRIDAL SHOPS AROUND ATLANTA
There are two bridal shops I highly recommend and that is Atlanta Bride Couture (Elizabeth) in Alpharetta and Wedding Angels Boutique (Karin) in Roswell. Be sure to do some research on the shops you are thinking about visiting, read reviews, learn what their starting prices are and so on. But, let me just tell you, you won’t be disappointed by these two shops!
WHAT ARE THOSE GREEN STICKY NOTES ABOUT?
As I mentioned, when I found my dress, I went ahead and visited the other appointments I had committed to. There was one dress that caught our attention as it was very similar to my favorite dress. My mom and I took a day to step away and think things over. The next morning, my mom came to me and said, it’s so obvious. I know which one is your dress. And I knew with confidence too! We decided to write it down on a sticky note as 1st and 2nd dress. When we put our sticky notes together, they matched! That’s when we went back to try the dress on with two of my best friends and said YES to the dress! Wedding dress shopping will be a different experience for each person, but I hope this helps! I had read an article before shopping that said, don’t feel like you have to cry and that’s absolutely true. Not crying in your favorite dress does not mean it’s not the one. Just remember, if you want to waltz around the store in it for about 45 minutes, then that’s a good sign 😉
And last but not least, don’t forget to take pictures! I had to come back to you as a photographer eventually!
Always remember to have fun. There may be visits when you walk away feeling a little defeated but nothing will compare to the feeling when you say, YES to the dress. But, I have a feeling the best is yet to come. For me, that will be in October when I see David on our special day 🙂
Abby Byrd is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Atlanta specializing in joyful film photography